It was Friday night. After a long week at work and dealing with the daily stress that comes with being a single working mom, Christin, Shawn and I decided we deserved a night out. Babysitters had been in place since Monday, outfits were a last-minute decision. Just because I was now a full-time mother, I still wanted to look pretty, well, as pretty as I thought I could. Christin and I were on a tighter schedule than Shawn, yet we made it work. Just a few hours out, at the local bar would do me some good. An opportunity to regroup without worrying about dirty diapers, playdates or the usual stress from work. The plan was for Christin and Shawn to meet me at my apartment by 9pm.
There we were, the three of us. If you were an outsider, you would say you could not find a more diverse group than Christin, Shawn and me. An insider would know we all had more in common than one would think. Little did we know, that by the end of the night, our bond would be even stronger than it already was.
PJ Pockets was our local pool joint. It had incredible greasy bar food, with a small dance floor that left a local up and coming band to play occasionally. I loved the music. Music is what feelings sound like, and tonight, tonight I just wanted to listen to the music.
We found our usual round table in the not yet crowded bar, took our seats and did what we always do. Ordered our drinks, along with an “appetizer” making sure we had something to nibble on so our our buzz did not get out of hand too fast.
PJ Pockets was quickly filling up. Somewhere between my third vodka and coke, Christin’s long island, and Shawn’s sampler platter, I noticed a line now at the door. The three of us had our table secured, and we would stay at that table until last call. Conversation flowed nicely. Never any awkwardness between us. We shared work stories, the trials and tribulations of raising kids, and we were all asked countless questions about our dating life, or lack thereof. I was single. For the first time in a long time I enjoyed this.
As Mathcbox 20’s “3am” blared from the speakers, the gentleman at the table next to us asked me if he could use the extra chair that was at our table. I did a quick glance over at his table and noticed about eight very large Samoans, with one of them left with nowhere to sit. “Sure, no problem!” He grabbed the chair, positioned it so it was next to mine, took a seat in it, while the gentleman left standing, took the now empty chair. Well. This is awkward.
I glanced at Christin and Shawn, who were looking at each other. I knew them well enough to know they were talking with their eyes. They both gave me a “nod” indicating to me “It’s okay for now, we are here.” Introductions were quickly made, while Shawn ordered another round of. I was chatting it up with my new friend, Vico. I learned that his fellow Samoans that were sitting a whopping two feet away were his brothers and cousins. This was his first night out since “coming home” (not exactly sure what that meant) and the family decided to take him out, yet here he was talking to me. As I am downing my vodka and coke, not quite sure what it was I was supposed to do or say, I found myself wondering if there was anyway possible this guy could be related to my ex. My ex was also Samoan/Tongan and if you go down the family tree long enough, it usually ends with everyone being related somehow. This kinda made me happy.
My ex was not a very good person. Some would say he was evil. Some would be right. In my own little “Jen Logic” way, I thought to myself “how funny would it be if this guy was indeed related to my ex, and somehow my ex found out that I was chatting it up with his cousin who was most likely five times removed.” Immediately I took more of an interest in what Vico had to say.
About five minutes later, Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment” was playing. I looked at Christin, she looked at me “This is our song!” and it was. We had history to that song. Apparently my excitement of hearing “Hanging by a Moment” led Vico to believe he could come in and kiss me. I am sitting there, enjoying my drink, enjoying the music, sorta-kinda enjoying Vico and then boom, he kisses me. Not a quick kiss mind you. It was a long passionate kiss, right there at the table. I was caught off guard, and then I went with it, and then, it went on a little longer than I liked and I stopped it. I pulled away, noticeing Christin and Shawn were looking at me with their eyes as big as saucers and their mouths wide open. I glance at Vico’s table hoping none of them noticed. One of the older gentlemen did not look happy at all. He was sitting there, arms crossed on his chest, pretty much “mean mugging” me. Really? It is not as if Vico had an open invitation into my mouth…even though he thought he did. Vico ended up going back to his table, and my focus was now back to Christin and Shawn, and of course my vodka and coke.
As the night progressed, the drinks kept coming. Shawn attempted to teach Christin and I how to play darts, and well, that did not end up well. Twelve plus years later, I still have the scar to prove it.
Christin and I were at our limit, and then some. Clearly we had too much to drink. With Shawn being our DD we figured, “what the hell, let’s have another before last call.” We had three more rounds.
About thirty minutes before “Last Call” I had to use the restroom. Christin asked if I wanted her to come with me. I looked towards the restroom, noticed there was no line and told her I would be fine. The restroom was empty. I could feel the vodka and coke catching up to me. I knew I had a small window to get some food into me, or else I would be useless. As I am washing my hands, the door opens. My hands are filled with cheap soapy lather, and before I knew it, Vico is behind me. He wraps his hands around my waist and starts kissing my neck. I am simultaneously trying to squirm out of his embrace while finding a way to dry my hands. “What are you doing , you can’t be in here.!” He was not letting go. My mind was racing. I was always taught how to get out of situations like this. You kick them in the balls. Vico was behind me. You go for the nose, full force, with everything you have, you always go for the nose…. again, he was behind me. I found myself wondering exactly how stupid could he be to try anything in a public restroom with a bar full of people outside.
As soon as Vico heard the bathroom door open, he took his hands off of me, yet refused to leave. “Jen, you in here, everything okay?” Christin! It was Christin. As soon as she saw Vico, and I am assuming the look on my face, she ordered me to follow her . “Let’s go, we are ready to leave.” Vico told Christin that I was okay, that I would be out in a minute, and told Christin to leave. Christin is not a stupid person and refused to leave. Although, now it put us in a tough spot. Vico was blocking the door. Trying to usher Christin out while keeping me inside. I was starting to feel dizzy thanks to my vodka and coke. I knew I had to keep it together. This guy was bound to pounce on my weakness, and I could not allow that.
Everything after that happened so fast. The restroom door opened one last time. It was Shawn. Shawn took one look at Vico, one look at Christin and me “You mother fucker, you better get out of here.” Vico ran.
Shawn asked both Christin and I if we were okay. A little rattled but fine. The three of us left the restroom with no sign of Vico or his crew in site.
We ordered our third last round. My nerves we shot to hell. Just thinking of the “what if” scenario. One would think after a situation like that, we would have sobered up real fast. Not the case. That last drink put both Christin and I over the edge. Two classy looking girls stumbling to the car. Nice. I passed out in the backseat while Christin took the front. Shawn had his hands full.
When we returned to my apartment, Shawn ordered me to stay in the car while he walked Christin up, then he would come back for me. In my drunken stupor, I decided that I could make the long walk all by myself because I was fine!
I was not fine. I was anything but fine. I passed out in the grass. My last thoughts were of Vico and what could have happened. I was being punished for something. Somehow I always seemed to mess up. My vodka and coke told me all I needed to do was sleep. Just go to sleep on the cold wet grass and in the morning everything would be fine. When Shawn found me laying on grass, he did everything in his power to get me up. I am not sure what his last words were to me, but I reluctantly got up and made that long stumbling walk to the safety of my apartment where I immediately passed out.
That night changed a lot of things. In a few short months, I would be dating Shawn, then I would break up with Shawn. Shortly after that, Shawn and Christin would give it a try. It was never weird between us. The three of us wanted each other to be happy. Shawn was the not the guy for neither Christin or myself. I hope over the years he found the right girl for him, and I hope, he never forgets how important he was to us, how in many ways, he saved both Christin and I that night. In more ways than one, that night was our Last Call.
I had been looking forward to this night for a while. I hadn’t been out in 2+ years and was overdue to for a night out with friends, not to mention, having a drink or two. A babysitter was in place, yet I was feeling anxious about leaving Kharizma for the time since she was born, other than to go to work. My good friend/babysitter assured me she would be fine, but still I shed a few tears before getting ready. As I slipped into some new jeans, and a cute top, I couldn’t help but to get excited. Jen and I hadn’t been out in years—both of us were doing the mom thing. Pulling out my favorite black boots and actually doing my hair, instead of the messy bun I was used to, made me feel good—and ready for whatever the night had in store for us.
I arrived at Jen’s about 8:45pm. Jen and I nominated Shawn to drive us—he didn’t have a choice. Outnumbered, he got in the driver’s seat and we were off.
PJ Pockets was packed. Weekends always brought the crowds out. Jen and I played some pool while Shawn stood by closely, trying to give us pointers on how to play. After seeing how we couldn’t even hit 1 ball–he walked away and got us a table. Even the most patient person can’t deal with both Jen and I at the same time. It’s like the blind leading blind. Shawn was no exception.
Being the good friend he was, Shawn had our drinks waiting at the table when we came back. Vodka and coke for Jen and for me, a long island iced tea.
I had noticed a table next to us, about 8 or 9 big Samoan guys. They were talking in their native language, so we didn’t know what they were saying, but they kept looking over at our table. We joked amongst ourselves that they were talking crap about what an odd group the three of us were. Whatever. Nothing was going to ruin this rare night out for me or Jen.
Conversation amongst the three of us was easy. We talked about our current love lives, or there lack of and, of course, the endless drama at work. There was always something going on there. The latest gossip was about an assistant manager who was caught in the office…kissing an associate. The scandal was the talk of the store—and our little table. As we were chatting away, enjoying ourselves, I saw one of the Samoan guys come over. He introduced himself as Vico, and sat down in the chair next to Jen. After some initial awkwardness, Vico joined in the conversation. He explained that he just got back into town, and was celebrating with his boys. About this time, “Hanging by a Moment” by Lifehouse began blaring over the speakers. Jen and I made eye contact and at the same time exclaimed—this is our song! So many memories of living in our old apartment was attached to this one song. Both good and bad, as you know.
I took a sip of my drink and looked up…
Jen and Vico were making out!
What did I miss?
My first instinct was to punch him out, but I knew as long as she was with Shawn and I close by, it wouldn’t get carried away. Besides, she deserved a little fun. With all she had been through with T, Jen, of all people, needed to let loose and forget about that loser. If that fun came in the form of some handsome Samoan’s lips—then so be it. Even so, my guard was up.
Shawn and I continued our conversation while Jen and Vico got acquainted.
Just as quickly as it began—it ended.
Vico whispered something in Jen’s ear and left. He went back to his table, telling all his boys about his homecoming kiss, I’m sure. Jen was on her 3rd or 4th vodka and coke, and by this time I’d lost count of how many I had.
It was a bad idea at the time, but Shawn offered to teach us how to play darts. I don’t recommend drinking and darting—the scar on Jen’s arm is a testament to that.
Last Call was nearing, both Jen and I had to get our final drinks in. Shawn ordered us our final round along with his Pepsi. Jen and I were beyond tipsy. The floor was spinning and Shawn looked like he had a third eye.
Jen got up to go to the bathroom. I offered to go with her, a habit from the good old days I guess. Back in our party days we always made sure to go together, just in case.
“I can go by myself—it’s just right there” she pointed about 10 feet away.
“Ok, I’m going to grab the check so we can split it”
Jen made her way towards the bathroom while I went to the bar area to get our tab. It took about 5 minutes to grab the waitress’s attention, but finally I walked back to the table with the check in hand.
“Where’s Jen? She’s not back yet?” I asked Shawn, after making my way back to the table.
“No, you know Jen, she’s probably fixing her hair or make-up”
He had a point. Jen always was fixing herself, making sure she looked impeccable.
Shawn and I calculated the tab, splitting it three ways.
Jen was still not back. I had a bad feeling as I got up and slowly walked (swayed) to the bathroom.
I opened the door, and came around the corner to see Vico pinning Jen to the sink.
Vico stopped struggling and turned around. Jen was able to unpin herself and turn around. The fear in her eyes is something I had seen very few times–but this was one of them. I started walking towards them, trying to keep steady.
“Jen, it’s time to go”
Vico started walking towards me, blocking my path from Jen.
“It’s okay, we are good— we’ll be out in a minute” Vico said. He was about 6’3” and 250 lbs. of pure muscle.
What the hell was I supposed to do now?
I knew I wasn’t leaving that bathroom without my friend. I knew that both Jen and I might get hurt but I wasn’t leaving. I kept saying “Jen we got to go…its last call”. I was trying to get by but he wasn’t budging. I could tell Jen was on the verge of tears.
After what felt like forever, Shawn walked in the women’s bathroom and saw the three of us standing there. He looked at Vico straight in his eyes and told him that he better get out of there now. Vico, knew he was in a losing battle, and walked out. I grabbed Jen, and the three of us quickly walked out to the table and sat down. Drinking our last drinks, Shawn kept asking if we were okay. Both Jen and I were shaken up a bit, but Shawn was too. I could tell by the way he kept looking around—presumably for Vico.
We paid our tab and somehow, with one of us on each side of Shawn, he semi-carried both of us out to the car.
Jen got in the back seat and laid down. I got in the front and seat, placing my feet on the dashboard. What just happened?
We had been in some sticky situations before, but this…this was different. This was a close call.
I awoke to Shawn telling me we were at the apartment. He told Jen he would be back for her. Slowly, with my arm slung over his neck and his arm around my waist, we made it up the stairs.
I laid down on the couch and vaguely remember Jen walking in the door with grass in her hair and on her face.
All the what-if’s were swirling in my mind. What if I hadn’t walked in when I did? What if Shawn hadn’t come in when he did? Jen and I had lived on the brink of danger for so many years—but somehow we came away virtually unscathed.
Except for tonight. This one couldn’t be forgotten.
Soon after our night out, Jen and Shawn dated for a while. It didn’t work out and somehow, Shawn and I decided to give it a shot. A few dates later, we realized we were better off just friends. He will forever hold a special place in my heart—for the time that he saved my best friend and me from something—someone bad. This was one of our last nights out for Jen and I— it was a night that we’ll most likely never forget. The night of our “last call”.