Don’t do this. The story I am about to tell is true. It happened fifteen years ago, so we can laugh at it now, but, please, don’t think this means I am endorsing the actions of any of the characters involved.
I was coming home for Thanksgiving from university in Kingston, Ontario thumbing it two and a half hours to Toronto. The first car to stop was a woman in her forties. Opening the door of her mini van, the first thing that hits me is the smell of the alcohol, punching me in the face.
Now a smart person would have just closed the door and gone for the next ride, but, I am not a smart person. I get in, and the first thing she asks to me is, “Do you want a drink?”
Now I think I should probably get as drunk as she is so that if we do crash, I won’t feel it. I remember my recent reading of The Way of The Tao: the drunk man falls off the horse softer than the sober man. I think, let’s be that drunk man.
She tells me to help myself and I look back in her mini van which she’s converted to an open bar. She’s got bottles of gin, rum, vodka, beer, wine, whiskey, tequila, with mix of Coke, Sprite, orange juice, tomato, Clamato juice, she even had salt shakers and lemons and limes.
I start mixing myself a drink when she says, “Can you make me one, too?”
So now I’m mixing my driver’s gin and tonic heavy on the tonic.
And after an hour, Diana and I are singing together, we’re sharing secrets, like she told me she’s an alcoholic, (though, I’d kinda figured that one out opening the door of her mini van), and I told her my fear of peacocks.
When we drove into Pickering, Diana said her brother worked in the Pickering Mall, and we should stop in and see him. She told me that her brother didn’t like her picking up hitch hikers, and that it’d be best if we pretended that we were old high school friends. Did I mention that I’m twenty years old in this story and Diana’s in her forties?
We walk arm in arm like drunken sailors, leaving the mini van in the parking lot packed with Thanksgiving Friday shoppers, to find her brother at work.
Of course her brother works in a bar. He pours us more drinks and after many free rounds of scotch and sodas, Diana confesses that she thinks she’s too drunk to drive the rest of the way to Toronto.
‘You’ve driven drunk all the way from Moncton! Now you realize you’re too drunk? We’re in Pickering! We’ve almost made it! We’re only one town away!’
I tell her I need to get my bag out of her car. We get out in the parking lot, 6pm the Friday before Thanksgiving, the lot is jammed with cars and we can’t remember where we’d left hers. We walked around for two hours looking for that fucking minivan. Do you know how many minivans are parked in the Pickering parking lot the Friday before Thanksgiving?
After two hours we found it. We hugged like we’d just climbed Everest. We embraced like we’d just done the single greatest thing two people had ever done together.
It was hard saying good bye, after all we’d been through, after all we’d meant to each other. We were pretty plastered, and it brought out the dramatic side in both of us. We embraced for one last time, tears in our eyes, promising never to forget each other.
Diana, if you’re out there reading this, you can see, I kept my promise.