My 14th Birthday Party
We were drinking in the bathrooms at the pier. This was in the years when they were still unlocked all of the time. Now most of the supposedly public bathrooms in this town are locked most of the time. Still they show up on lists printed by businesses to prove that there are plenty of pooping options for houseless people without them worrying about it. Those same lists are used to try to throw the book at people that are caught pooping where they can when they can.
Anyways, in those days the bathrooms were unlocked. We were two hundred feet from the yacht club but in a world apart. There was some kind of spring party, we heard people laughing and parking and bickering, “Can we not do this here Jane!” we heard in harsh whispers, “let’s just try to have a nice time for once!”
When we left the bathroom to find a bush to pee in (sounds funny but we had 5 people in there hanging out and so it was only polite) we saw fringe and sequins and suits shuffling.
I don’t know how the day had been exactly. If I had to guess I probably wrote a permission slip to go on a fake field trip that meant my mom wouldn’t miss me for a couple of days. I did this a lot in the months leading up to me making a break for it. Then I probably left the house to find something to get into. It was probably a pretty average Friday.
In recent years I have loved birthdays. I want big parties for me and for everybody. I want loads of birthday presents and three cakes that are mostly frosting and party favors and hats and special trips and the best sex. But back then they were not very extraverted events. They were big deals on my inside but played real cool on the outside. It was one of those secrets I was afraid would out me as a child in an adult world.
So I wandered the streets found somebody to roll with. He was an older fellow who wrote rock songs about middle school girls he obsessed over. Two of them were about me. That day one was already written, it was called “If there’s grass on the field, play ball!” I will spare you the working title, which was worse by leaps and bounds.
The second song had yet to be written, as the event that inspired it would happen later that evening. That song would be called, “40 ounce Big Bear bottle of piss.”
The two of us found three high schoolers looking for someone to buy them beer. My friend was just the dude for the job. The cost for his service was beer for him and myself. That’s how we all ended up in the bathroom. I got loud, like usual, and the high school boys started to sketch. They had parents and football privileges to worry about.
We left the bathroom and they all scattered.
At some point I was having a long talk with one of the elderly home bum prophets that regularly stopped me. They were always trying to talk some divine sense into me. I looked up after a while and my older friend had vanished.
I stumbled around to all the normal spots. None of the show venues had anything happening. The boiler room under the hipster apartments was empty. The utility room at the phone company was empty. No one was in the train tunnel. No one was at the diner. Huh.
I walked back to the bathroom. It was empty but on the floor was a half full 40. How had we overlooked that? Or had they come back for round two but gotten interrupted? I thought it was a jackpot until the gulp was in my mouth. That was not beer. And thus a punk song was born.
I didn’t puke or anything. I was not even that grossed out. I went back to the prophet and took a shot of his bottom shelf whiskey to kill the germs. Seemed like a good time to call it a night. I set off back towards my sisters’ apartment. There was a bed in the living room I would crawl into whenever I didn’t find somewhere else to go.
I am not sure how, but I had a box of birthday candles on me. I passed a very fancy new silver car sitting alone in a parking lot on my walk. I stopped and jiggled the box in my pocket. I felt a little deeper to a book of matches and I smiled the smile of someone who has just had an idea.
I lit 14 candles and stuck each one to the hood with a little drop of wax and I crawled onto the roof. I looked out over the little flames. I thought some big thoughts. I sang myself Happy Birthday. I made a wish and blew out the candles.