Despite my numerous SMH moments with Adriana, I was still in Irene fashion willing to give out friendship a “second” chance, given that we did, after all, get along fairly well, when she wasn’t pulling bullroar that made me want to choke the living Chanel out of her highness’s high horse and chuck her into a pit of vipers, and I was hoping against hope that there was still something left of our camaraderie to salvage.
The, err, second straw to break the camel’s back came one night when Adriana texted me while I was out eating Japanese with my mom and uncle in the City (ahem, San Francisco). I read the incoming message just as I was carefully placing a piece of yellowtail in my mouth.
hey girl, what’re you doing tonight?
i’m actually out to dinner with mom and uncle. wsup?
awwwww let’s go ouuuutt!!!
I considered the invite as I chewed. I had my reservations, especially given the especially savory flavor of my sashimi. But I felt somewhat inclined to go, since I hadn’t seen her in the several weeks following our Halloween blowout (a story for another time).
what time are you heading out? where to?
crash. probably soon.
Hoping I wasn’t making a terrible mistake, I replied:
i’m in the city right now and i have to go home to change first, but i’ll come back out to join afterward. too late?
of course not. see you then!
I finished dinner and managed to return home, change, then get back out to the city. It was already midnight by that point, and I probably wouldn’t reach SF until 12:30, but I texted Adriana again to make sure even the late time would still render the trip worth making. She answered in the affirmative, and I was even fortunate enough to find parking on Turk Street, a secluded one-way street just two blocks from the Tenderloin District’s Club Crash (now closed).
I entered the club in high spirits, especially when I found fairly quickly and embraced Adriana and her friend Penny, then turned and saw the crowd that night. At the time, Club Crash had mostly outlived its hype, but it was absolutely hopping that night.
“Hey Peter! Long time, Byung,” I greeted familiar faces with a hug and a happy grin. My lovely male acquaintances followed suit by buying me a few friendly rounds, and by the time I was done with the friendly salutations, I was four deep in just about 10 minutes.
Feeling sufficiently caught up, I turned my attention back to the two girls.
“Good, let’s party!” I said, ready to get my drive’s worth.
“We’re about to leave,” Adriana replied.
My jaw dropped. “You’re freaking kidding, right?”
“I think we’re going to head back. We’ve been here for a while.”
I blinked. “You do know I just got here, right?”
“Oh, Penny wants to leave,” Adriana whined, ignoring my incredulity.
I shook my head. I had a feeling that reason would overwhelm that pretty, tiny little Dior-adorned head of hers. “At least give me 10 or 15 minutes. I just had four shots,” I reminded her.
Two minutes later, Adriana tapped me.
“We’re leaving!” she shouted over the pounding music.
I wanted to wring her neck. Instead, I said, “I don’t think I’m really sober, so drive slow so I can follow you back.”
“I’ll do that,” she promised.
We got out to the street and reached our respective cars. It turned out Adriana was parked just a block behind me and would have to swing past me anyway to get to the Bay Bridge ramp so we could head back out east to Walnut Creek. Relieved that coordinating our drive would be easy, I climbed into my car and took a deep breath, before nodding to myself and turning the key in the ignition. A flash of bright red streaked past my window and went roaring down the street before disappearing with a screech around the corner.
“What the…!?” I yelled, kicking my car into gear and pulling out of my spot into the left-hand most lane. I pulled out my phone to see if I could reach her before she got to the bridge and dialed her number. She didn’t pick up.
“DAMN HER,” I growled, trying to plot out how in the hell I would catch up with her before she reached the bridge. Up ahead, I saw a car stopped dead in its tracks in my lane.
I slowly braked to a stop a full car-and-a-half’s distance behind the car, wondering what it was doing just standing there. I was just about to turn the wheel to go around the car when, out of nowhere, the car revved into a speeding reverse and backed up into my car.
I felt my car lurch. I pulled the gearshift into park and turning off the ignition, I got out of the car to see two white kids. Instinct — and their half-lidded eyes and lackadaisical speech — told me they were probably high.
“You backed up into my car. Did you even look behind you?”
“We didn’t see you,” the driver replied. He definitely looked younger than me, maybe an underclassman in college. “I think you were in my blind spot.”
I shook my head. “No way. I was almost two cars’ distance behind you.”
“I didn’t see you,” White Kid insisted.
“Let’s have insurance sort this out,” I proposed, holding out my hand. “Can I get your information?”
He scratched his head and clicked his tongue. “I, err… I don’t have insurance.”
I suppressed the urge to call the police, which in hindsight may have been a good option given the neighborhood we were in and my — but you understand that getting the 5-0 involved might not have worked out entirely in my favor either. I started tapping my feet with increasing urgency.
“You don’t have insurance?” I asked, just to confirm.
He opened his mouth as if to say something, then stopped and just shook his head.
I slapped my palm to my forehead, then pulled my phone out of my pocket. It was 1 a.m.
“Alright,” I said, clearing my throat. “It’s late, and I’m guessing we’re not going to figure anything out tonight. I’ll call my insurance tomorrow morning and see what they say. Give me your phone number for now, oh, and your email. And your driver’s license.”
“Okay,” White Kid said, stuffing his hand into his front pocket and fumbling around. It emerged from his pocket with his wallet. He handed over his driver’s license, and I wrote down everything on the card down to the issue and expiration dates. I jotted down his email address as he spelled it out for me, tearing off the corner of the paper to write down my own for him as well. Then I inputted his number into my phone and, with him there, tested the number to make sure he had given me his correct digits. He had.
Despite the possibility of White Kid’s committing a hit-and-run, I reasoned that there was nothing more I could do just at that moment, so I thanked the boy, returned to my car, and dialed Adriana.
She picked up. “Hey girl, where are you?”
“What. The. Hell.”
“I thought you were behind me.”
I rolled my eyes. “You call that driving slowly? You sped off like you were racing in Daytona!”
“Oh no, I’m sorry,” she trilled.
I considered adding that some insurance-less kid had busted up my bumper and my headlights. “Where are you right now?”
There was a pause. “Orinda.”
Orinda? Orinda was about 17 miles from where we had been in the city and just about three-fourths of the way home. “What the hell!”
“We just got here,” she protested.
“How did you get to Orinda in 10 minutes?!” I gripped the steering wheel hard as I steered the car back into the street and started finding my way to I-80. “Just, wait there.”
I made it to Orinda about 20 minutes later and met Adriana on a street just off the freeway in downtown Orinda.
“I’m so sorry, girl!” she said, jumping out of her car and skipping over to hug me. Penny exited the passenger’s side and stood up, waving blithely over the hood of Adriana’s car
“It’s fine,” I replied through gritted teeth.
“I… What happened to your headlight?” she asked, pointing.
“These guys were… Who’s that?” I inquired, pointing in return.
A curly-haired boy had climbed out of the backseat of Adriana’s two-door car. “Hey,” he said, “I’m Pablo.”
I turned back to Adriana. “You left me like that so you could come meet a boy?”
She stuck her finger in her hair and began twirling it. “He was waiting.”
“What the hell, Adriana. What the hell.”
I spun on my heels, returned to my car, and without so much as a look back, I left.