It's 2:30 in the morning and she's babbling incoherently, a small bit of drool making a run for it down her chin. She just ate, but the fact that she keeps motioning in the vague direction of her mouth likely means she'll be hungry again soon. Or, maybe she's simply trying to wipe the drool off — which, having successfully escaped her lips, is now pooling nicely in her chin dimple. She reminds me of a friend's newborn whom we met earlier in the day, and even through my quickly fading buzz I wonder: Is taking care of a drunk person the same as taking care of a baby?
She startles herself and wakes slightly, her head momentarily upright, a beautiful sleepy smile crawling across her face just before she spontaneously projectile vomits all over the back seat of the cab. While I surprisingly manage to be out of the line of fire, she is still able to impressively hit the divider, which thankfully separates us from the less impressed cab driver. After throwing down many extra bills for the ride, I am faced with the FML task of carrying her upstairs and getting her tucked in while she's shouting, "I'm a golden goddess!" and an irate neighbor is already yelling, "Shut that goddess up!"
I do all of this because she's my friend and I care for her, even though she will have zero recollection of this Exorcist reenactment the next morning over coffee when she has the audacity to ask me why I'm so tired. It's not until years later when a similar scene (minus the alcohol) unfolds at home with our infant that I realize that, yes, it turns out that all of my drunk friends were just basic training for having a baby.
It's 3 a.m. and she looks at me, her unkempt wild tuft of hair nicely accenting the strung out gaze of her steel-grey eyes, briefly calling to mind a post-2008 Gary Busey. But then, a respite; for a fleeting few seconds she is calm and on the verge of a smile, which could make these last few hellish hours worth it. But, no, instead, Gary returns and she scrunches her face, sticks out her adorable bottom lip, and lets out a piercing scream I'm certain all the neighborhood dogs can hear. She turns several shades of red that even Crayola has yet to name. She's tired and colicky and has been for hours, but refuses to sleep. She throws up after I feed her breast milk from a bottle, and then dives back into her split personality act: one minute deliriously happy, 10 minutes of Jack-Jack from The Incredibles.
It's at this point that I almost miss the days of being the Designated Get Everyone Home Friend (New York City in your 20s usually means no car). How easy and laughable the Golden Goddess seems at 3 a.m. when I'm rocking my own Tiny Inconsolable Goddess to sleep.
It's been a while since I've had a non-family girls' night out (when you're a lesbian couple with a daughter, every night is girls' night), so I ask one of my BFFs if she would help me out in trying to determine which is easier to take care of: her, when she's drunk, or my colicky infant?
Because I do have a baby, though, we decide to do a more civilized night out that will start with happy hour drinks at a local bar (or two), and will end with my BFF coming over for Apple TV and chill(ed) beer, which, for the record, is the platonic version of Netflix and Chill.
It's 6 o'clock on a Friday, and my friend, let's call her Smashley, has had one hell of a week. She's already tired and a bit cranky, which coincidentally is exactly how my daughter feels around this time because she's already preparing to fight her new 7 p.m. bedtime.
Like my baby's room, the bar is dimly lit, but the shushing I'm used to hearing and/or making is replaced with smooth jazz sounds; the white noise machine replaced with actual white noise of the people already crowded at the bar.
I get Smashley a bottle (of beer) and she relaxes instantly. We talk easily about everything and nothing, and we toy around with the idea of ordering food but decide against it. I ask her questions about work, and I can already see the bad week disappearing along with the start of her second beer, which is thankfully not causing her to throw up or even dribble.
The bar is filling up quickly, and because we aren't ordering any food, we're starting to get the stink eye from our waiter, so we decide to move on to the next spot.
Smashley stands on her own just fine, and even figures out the waiter's tip without the help of a calculator. And, while I don't ask, I assume she's maintaining full control of her bodily functions.
She's able to do math and have dry pants? Round one easily goes to Smashley.
We settle on a wine bar for our second round. With really only 1.5 beers under her belt, Smashley is OK to switch it up with some vino.
This bar is much darker, making the surrounding conversation din much more noticeable. Just like at home at this time of night, the dark encourages us to speak softly, but the white noise machine forces us to whisper loudly in order to hear the other. My partner and I basically wind up whisper shouting at each other, which is oddly enough what Smashley and I end up doing, especially as she finishes her first glass of wine and is well into her second.
Before she starts her third, though, she breaks both the cardinal rule of drinking and her seal, and thankfully does so in the women's restroom. But since I don't have to change any diapers yet, I have no issues anticipating bathroom breaks every half hour for the rest of the evening.
I notice, though, after she returns triumphantly (if not temporarily) relieved, that her eyes are starting to display a nice glassy sheen, and she's even relatively friendly when some guy approaches our table and introduces himself as Uber, before adding that he's trying to "pick her up." (Really.) It's enough to make me lose my stomach contents, but four (five?) drinks in and it has the opposite effect on Smashley, who decides she needs food in her stomach — stat.
Once again, Smashley manages to stand without issue after figuring out the bill without a problem. It's at this point I wonder if alcohol actually makes her better at math, like some Beautiful Mind cocktail.
Even with breaking the seal, I still haven't had to diaper her, carry her, or clean up any bodily fluids, so the BFF wins the second round as well. I wonder: Where is my daughter, and why isn't she taking notes? This is how it's done, baby!
Smashley is normally a pretty reserved person. In fact, when it comes to strangers, she's downright shy. So I find it amusing when she starts saying hello to random people on the way to get some meals named after numbers. Clearly, unlike my daughter, stranger danger is not an issue.
Or is it? Uber man seems to have followed us out of the bar so I quickly perform an evasive maneuver to get Smashley covertly into McDonald's, though not before she lets out a squeal/giggle (squiggle?) I've never heard her make before.
Once safely inside the Golden Arches, though, she forgets all about Uber and makes a beeline for the counter like a cute buzzed moth to a neon board flame. She orders a Chicken McNuggets meal and an amuse-bouche of McNuggets to eat even before we leave. In other words, she's drunk.
The first few nuggets go down quickly and happily, but by the fifth fried chicken boot shape, she's sullen. Regret? Her hard week coming back to haunt her? Like my daughter when she's cranky, I don't know. But I do know it's not a diaper change. Or is it? Before I can ask her what's wrong, she wordlessly leaves the table to go to the bathroom, but looks nauseated when she returns.
Uh oh. I walk her back to my place as quickly as possible, chants of "Golden Goddess" ringing in my ear. I will not have a repeat. I immediately decide that if I ever have to be in close proximity to vomit again, I can only tolerate my daughter's. Plus, while I don't know what else Smashley ate today, I do know that I don't want to find out what those crispy little boots turn into when they're reincarnated. At least with my daughter I know what she ate, and even better, it costs me zero dollars if she spits it up.
This round has to go to my daughter, because even with factoring in the Dollar Menu, it's cheaper to feed my colicky baby than it is to feed my drunk BFF. And, for as gross as it can be, I'd be more happy to clean up my little one after she's sick than grudgingly hold my friend's hair as she pukes and rallies.
Luckily for both of us, though, Smashley holds strong and rallies without puking.
The Home Stretch
Her judgment now beyond repair, Smashley decides the best thing for her when we reach my house is a bottle of Blue Moon. I try to reason with her, but she keeps shaking her head no and she looks like she's on the verge of tears. But this amateur tantrum doesn't phase me. I'm just grateful that she's giving me an idea of what she wants, unlike my daughter who, after being given the breast that she's screaming for, then likes to alternate between launching herself off it and treating it like she's a puppy and it's her chew toy (she even makes a chomping noise). What she does not do is eat, even though she's clearly hungry. It's a really fun game that usually ends with her smiling and us close to tears, so it's with this in mind that I hand Smashley the bottle. My partner throws up her hands in defeat before getting Smashley settled on the couch while I put on Trainwreck.
We're trying to limit our baby's screen time for the first couple years of her development, so I have to say that it's somewhat nice to be able to stick Smashley in front of a TV, instead of having to entertain her with made-up Sophie the Giraffe and Jeff the Dinosaur adventures. Even the toys in our infant's crib mobile have names and elaborate back stories, and it can be exhausting acting each one out, let alone keeping them straight.
I'm also excited because we haven't been able to watch a movie in a while, so the fact that our daughter happens to be asleep at this critical juncture means we, the adults, can hopefully watch the movie without disruption.
Smashed Smashley interrupts the flick constantly to babble incomplete sentences before punctuating with more squiggling, a noise that startles both my spouse and our dogs. We also have to pause things so we can get her another bottle. Half paying attention to her and half watching the movie, it takes a little while to realize that she's finally adorably passed out, and thankfully not in our daughter's Snuggabunny, which she kept insisting she could fit inside. Now we have a choice to make: finish the movie in closed-caption silence, or wake her up so she can continue to drunkenly add her own commentary. Naturally we choose what every good parent would choose:
TBH, I haven't enjoyed a movie that much in a while. Sure, we had to read via subtitles the hilarious yet touching path Amy Schumer took to find herself, but it was absolutely worth it.
When Smashley wakes during the credits she groggily says she's hungry so I feed her the French fry that's been in her hair since Amy first hooked up with Stefon. She nibbles, nods gratefully, and gets up to get ready to go as my partner calls her a real Uber.
Still squiggling and unsteady on her feet, Smashley's drunken giddiness threatens to wake our actual baby, so I throw her over my shoulder and carry her downstairs. While Smashley is a slender girl, she's also enviously long-legged, which means it's sort of like balancing a see-saw on my shoulder, and with every corner I turn, I can hear Ross Geller's voice yelling, "PIVOT! PIVOT!"
Carrying my little mashed potato lump of a baby, on the other hand, is much easier, even when she insists on flinging her head into my head, and then screams after contact is made.
So this round is a draw. While it was nice to be able to watch a movie, like our daughter, it took some time to get Smashley down. But, unlike our baby, Smashley was easily satiated with just a hair fry. Our daughter takes the round back, though, for being a cuddly bundle (and not a see-saw) to carry.
It's midnight on a Saturday, and my new regular crowd settles in. There's an inconsolable baby screaming next to me, and so when it comes to who's easier to handle, it's my drunk BFF who wins.
Images: bwats2/Flickr; Courtesy of Lacey Vorrasi-Banis (8)