A glass of crazy, p.28
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       A Glass of Crazy, p.28

           Tina Laningham
The fact that Dad left the Kat and their unborn children in Mexico on Valentine's Day to hear me speak at a rally blew my mind.

  After Dad went back to Mexico, I still had a lot of unanswered questions about my little episode of amnesia. Fortunately, it was all on friendworld. If there's any part of your life you may have missed, you can find it there.

  I studied all the videos and I hadn't slurred my words or stumbled and fallen, like Mom that time she got drunk after finding out she was going to have to get a job. The only weird thing I found was the censored TV interview, and with the fifty-thousand-plus likes it got on friendworld, I was practically a legend. After that, it was a big joke around school that Rafa was my gay boyfriend.

  "Where do you want to go for spring break?" Megan's eyes went back and forth between Rafa and me. Yes, we were eating lunch in the cafeteria now and I'd stopped smuggling vodka into school in my water bottle. After all the confrontations about my drinking, it was time to prove once and for all that I was not a teenage alcoholic. I mean seriously, how lame is that?

  "Panama Beach," I said randomly. "And who will be Megan's boyfriend of the week?"

  "I'm not taking a boyfriend," Megan said. "I mean jeez, it's spring break."

  "How about Key West?" Rafa said. "Lots of cute guys there."

  "Cute gay guys," Megan said, giving Rafa the look. "This is about me."

  I took a bite of pizza. "How did I get stuck with not one, but two divas?"

  "Because you're lucky." Rafa winked.

  Megan sat up straight and tilted her head. "Okay, it's settled then: South Padre Island."

  "Why did you ask if you already knew?" I threw a napkin at Megan.

  Megan's mom had offered to take us to a beach for spring break. Even though my mom was still not speaking to Mrs. Applegate, she'd somehow miraculously agreed to let me go. Okay, so she didn't exactly glow like a festival of lights at the thought of me going off to some beach for spring break after my little episode of drunken amnesia. There had been a fight-a major fight. But I'd won after convincing Mom that I'd learned my lesson and there was no way I'd ever drink alcohol again for the rest of my life.

  "Let's hit the mall after school," Megan said. "I need a bikini, some dresses, a purse, makeup, sandals-"

  "I only need three things," I interrupted, "swimsuit, sunscreen, flask."

  "What's flask?" asked Rafa.

  "For alcohol," I said. "To fit in your pocket."

  "What's wrong with the water bottle?" he asked.

  "That's for school, when you don't want people to know." I looked at Rafa like he was a Martian. "On the beach, you want people to know."

  Rafa grinned.

  "Shorts, tees, tanks, tote bag," Megan's list continued, "phone case, shades, toe nail polish, did I say makeup?"

  "Yes!" Rafa and I said in unison.

  The obnoxious bell finally blasted, putting an end to Megan's never-ending shopping list.

  "I can't go to the mall," Rafa said quietly.

  Even though our relationship status had changed three times this year, Rafa and I could still read each other's minds. I slung my arm over his shoulder and whispered, "Mom's paying your way. That includes shopping."

  A beautiful smile spread across my gay boyfriend's face.

  Rafa and I climbed out of Mom's car in front of consumer paradise: The Galveston Mall. "Be back here at seven," Mom said.

  Megan thought of the Mall as her kingdom and all the people in it, her subjects, but to me it was pure chaos. When we stepped inside, Rafa's eyes widened, like Dorothy in Oz.

  Megan had said she'd be at the sunglasses booth at four o'clock and when she tried to explain where it was located in the mall, I told her I already knew. But somewhere between February and March, the sunglasses booth must have taken a fertility pill because now they were everywhere.

  "Great," I said to Rafa and started texting Megan.

  Right after hitting send, I heard Megan's voice say, "If you want to see this pair with a bikini, come to South Padre Island for spring break." When I turned around, Megan was modeling a pair of shades to a guy on the football team she hadn't kissed yet. The guy she held captive wasn't even looking at the shades. Megan glanced at her phone, then dropped it back in her purse and continued modeling.

  "She ignored my text!" I nudged Rafa. "Did you see that?"

  "Are you kidding," Rafa said. "I'm taking notes."

  When Megan spotted us, she flattened her palm against the guy's chest and pushed him away. "Go tell your friends," she said, smiling at us. By the pleading look on his face, the poor guy was not finished gaping.

  Rafa raised both arms and bowed three times to Megan.

  Megan lifted her chin and grinned. "Watch and learn, little boy. Watch and learn."

  Three purchases later, we scratched shades off our list. Megan chose wire rim, I got big, black sunglasses that covered half my face, which Megan totally disapproved of, and Rafa selected bright green. They actually looked cool, but he's so cute, all the shades made him look like a fashionista.

  I picked out a swimsuit quickly, and in the mirror, I noticed how unevenly my hair had grown back out since fairy girl whacked it off. Meanwhile, Megan had to try on every bikini in the store and Rafa was encouraging her supermodel fantasy. I decided to venture out on my own in search of flasks, even though I had no idea where to look. I started to ask the first sales person who walked by, but it was like asking someone's mother where they kept the flasks. Finally, I ran into a young girl with a department store tag pinned to her shirt.

  "Men's department," she said, like it bored her.

  Great, the man in the men's department was old enough to be my grandfather. "It's a Father's Day gift," I said. "For my dad." Ohmygod, when is Father's Day? It had to be coming up soon because the man seemed unfazed by my explanation and led me straight to the flasks.

  They were beautiful. Sleek and silver, or chrome, or whatever. I picked one up and unscrewed the little lid. How cool was that? I imagined sipping vodka from my flask on the beach at night, with live music playing, and me all golden brown. "I'll take three," I said.

  Clearly, I'd stunned the old man, but I owed him no explanation. I mean what could I say at this point? My father's a drunk? This was true, but it was none of his business and obviously there was no age requirement to buy a flask. When I returned to the bikini section, Megan had just finished making her purchase.

  "Flasks? Check," I said, holding up the bag. Megan and Rafa fist bumped me and we moved on to junior clothes.

  I'd been X-ing out the days until spring break like a prisoner counting down to freedom. Finally, the day to start packing arrived.

  "Megan, it's me," I said on the phone. "Why do you always answer like you don't know who it is?"

  "You sound cranky," Megan said with no emotion.

  "Well God, doesn't it say Abby on your phone when I call?"

  "No," she said, still uninterested in the conversation.

  "What are you doing?" I asked.

  "Painting my toes."

  "Well, what does your phone say when I call?" Now I sounded cranky.

  "My Besty."

  I waited in silence while Megan painted her toenails. Really, my heart was sinking. Sometimes I didn't like myself very much and this was definitely one of those moments.

  "Why are you so crabby?" she asked. "You better be in a good mood by tomorrow morning."

  "I know." I paced around my room. "Have you been stashing away bottles of your mom's vodka?"

  "Well, yeah, I got like one."

  "You mean one each, right?" I had a super bad feeling that's not what she meant.

  "Um, like one total," she said. "You want me to get another one?"

  "Ohmygod. Seriously?"

  "Okay, chill," she said. "I'll go see what's down there. Call you back. Jeez."

  I stared at: Call Ended. Unbelievable. I'd waited a whole month for this. And no way was she going downstairs right now with her toenails wet. I threw the phone on
the bed. Since Megan wasn't calling me back anytime soon, I went on friendworld to see what everyone else was doing for spring break. Priscilla wrote a weird post about the triple Ps going to Florida. At least something was going right.

  Rafa and his whole family stood on the porch when Mom and I pulled up in front of his house. He kissed his mom and dad goodbye and loaded a duffle bag in the trunk of our car. I had no idea how much alcohol we had for the week and I did not like surprises. Rafa rolled down the window to wave goodbye to everyone and they all waved back. Why couldn't I have a sweet, little perfect family like that?

  When we pulled up to Megan's, she was loading something in her mom's car. Instead of pulling into the circular driveway, Mom parked on the street to keep plenty of distance between herself and Mrs. Applegate. Rafa and I grabbed our bags out of the trunk.

  "Have fun, kids," Mom shouted from the window.

  Kids? I blinked slowly.

  "Abby," Mom said. "Abby, come here."

  "What! God, I'm on vacation." I rolled my bag over to Mom.

  "Be careful," she said, looking all worried.

  I shook my head and dragged my bag up the driveway. Mom was so out of touch with reality.

  Megan was already back inside when Rafa and I stashed our bags and climbed in the back seat.

  "What is wrong?" Rafa said. "You should be happy."

  I didn't realize I was scowling. I tried to relax my face and forced a weak smile. When Megan finally got in the front seat, I said, "Well?"

  "Well what?" Megan asked while Mrs. Applegate locked the front door of the house.

  "How many bottles did you get?" I whispered loudly.

  Megan held up two fingers.

  I let out a frustrated sigh.

  "Stop worrying about it," Megan said. "There'll be plenty on the beach."

  Megan was right. There would be plenty.

  Mrs. Applegate got in the car and all conversation virtually ceased. I slid down to stare out the window while Rafa listened to music.

  Six and a half hours and two not-so-funny DVDs later, we were in South Padre Island. Actually, Rafa thought the movies were hysterically funny. Megan slept in the front the entire way and I envied her because I had been in excruciating pain during the whole trip. Not physical pain, more like restlessness. I wanted to be there already.

  "Why didn't we just fly?" I asked Megan inside an enormous, glass rotating door that deposited us in the hotel lobby.

  "All the flights were booked," she said.

  While Megan and her mom went to the counter to check in, Rafa and I rummaged through brochures of fun stuff to do. I definitely wanted to go parasailing, purely for the adrenaline rush, not that I'd ever done it before, but it had to be a rush. Rafa picked up a water park brochure.

  "That's lame," I said, having been to a gazillion water parks already.

  Rafa looked hurt.

  "It's for kids," I explained.

  In the elevator, Rafa studied the water park brochure all the way up to the ninth floor.

  "Can you find your room, Megan?" Mrs. Applegate asked.

  "Yeah, we got it, Mom."

  Thick, metal doors closed tight in front of Mrs. Applegate and the elevator whisked her away to the top floor, hopefully to be seen nevermore-or at least for a week. Megan and Rafa and I jumped around in the hallway, shrieking like girls.

  Megan squished her face and squealed, "We're here!"

  "I can't wait to see the room." Rafa was still jumping up and down.

  I was just glad to be free. And I was thrilled Mrs. Applegate wanted to be free. I mean God, Mom would have gotten an adjoining room and set a curfew every night. And then she'd be bored and want to hang out with us all day. Fortunately Megan handed us our own key cards and pushed open the door, because I couldn't stop obsessing about how horrible it would have been if Mom had come.

  Our room was huge, with a living room area, a small kitchen, and another room with two big beds. "Rafa honey," Megan said, "you get the sofa bed."

  Rafa's eyes lit up. "I have my own room? My own TV? This TV is huge!"

  Megan spun around and gave Rafa the look. "Okay, first of all, if you're going to be a diva, you have to be a lot more high maintenance than that."

  Rafa had that half excited, half scared look.

  "A diva," she said slowly, "would complain that the TV's not big enough."

  Rafa grinned.

  I threw my bag on the bed next to the window because I knew diva number one wanted to be next to the bathroom, close to her makeup and hair supplies. I stared out the window and counted how many years I still had to wait to be free from all bossy adults. A little over three years seemed like forever. I wasn't sure I could make it.

  Megan threw her arms around my shoulders and screamed. "Ohmygod! Look at our view!"

  I pushed her away and rubbed my ear. "You broke my eardrum."

  "That's it!" Megan said. "You're not going to be crabby all week."

  "Well, if you weren't so annoying, I wouldn't be crabby."

  This time Megan didn't look mad, she looked hurt.

  Rafa came in and glanced at each of us, his brow furrowed. "What did I miss?"

  "Megan's being annoying," I said firmly.

  Megan rolled her eyes. "No, Miss Crabby needs a drink." Megan stormed to her bed, unzipped her suitcase, and pulled out a bottle of vodka. "Rafa, check the fridge for some orange juice. Oh wait, I forgot, she drinks it straight." Megan set the bottle on a table and gave me a hard look.

  Rafa came in carrying a tray with three cartons of orange juice and three glasses. My eyes zeroed in on Megan's. I lifted the vodka, unscrewed the cap, and chugged straight from the bottle.

  "No, no, no," said Rafa. "You spit in it."

  "It's okay." Megan pulled out the second bottle. "We'll share." She poured vodka in two glasses, looked at me and said, "Alkies need their own bottle."

  While Rafa diluted their vodka with orange juice, a wave of comfort washed over me. I didn't know if they were being mean or funny, and I didn't care. I took another swig. Alcohol burned through my nose and warmed my cheeks. Out of nowhere, a huge smile seized my face. I shouted out, "God that's good!" The fire breathing dragon was back.

  Megan and Rafa started laughing and I was relieved because I thought they'd never lighten up. To show that I was a team player, I poured some vodka in a glass and held it up to make a toast. "To the best spring break ever!" We clinked our glasses and drank the fire.

  Just as I was getting all relaxed, Megan looked out the window and said, "Everyone's at the beach."

  Rafa took the cue and went straight to his end of the room and rummaged through his duffle bag. Meanwhile, diva number one went into the bathroom with her makeup kit. I assumed all this meant we were going to the beach.

  I took my time unpacking, since diva number one would be in the bathroom for awhile. When I uncovered the shiny flasks, my heart lit up like a child unwrapping a present on Christmas morning. After lining up the three flasks and admiring them for a moment, I carefully filled mine from the bottle that contained my spit. For a boy, Rafa sure got grossed out easily. I filled the other two flasks with the germ free bottle they were sharing.

  Rafa danced over wearing a black T-shirt, white swim trunks, and his green shades. I pulled the buds out of his ears and said, "They have live music on the beach every night. You don't need these."

  "How do you know?" he asked.

  I showed Rafa a flyer next to my bed that had the lineup of live music for the week.

  "We need music in our room." Rafa started dancing again to whatever imaginary music he had going on in his head. I picked up the remote and found a good music station.

  "Ahhhhhh, I love that song!" Megan screamed from bathroom and began singing.

  I tilted my flask. The vodka flowed with the music through my body.

  "Which flask is mine?" Rafa asked.

  I smirked. "This spit free one."

  Rafa pulled out his pocket knife. He
was actually carving his initials in the bottom of the flask.

  "Okay, you do know that you kissed me once and probably got some of my spit."

  Rafa looked up from his engraving project. "I will always remember our kiss. You are the first and only girl I have ever kissed." He said it so sweetly.

  "Did you know you were gay?"

  He stared at the floor and quietly said, "I was trying to be straight."

  I guess I should have felt insulted that he didn't really mean it, but I smiled and said, "Straight is overrated." I let Rafa carve our initials on the bottoms of all the flasks. It really was a good idea. While he did that, I changed into my orange bikini and threw on a pair of shorts.

  Megan finally came out of the bathroom poised like a model and said, "How do I look?"

  "Like a total sex goddess," I said, knowing it was exactly what she wanted to hear, but it was also true. Megan was a boy magnet. It really didn't matter what she was wearing since most of her magnetism came from her attitude, but looking like that, she'd just doubled her magnetic force. Maybe I should try to be more magnetic. I stuffed my flask in my back pocket and we headed to the beach.

  - 29 -

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