I went for a night of board games and cold cuts in Kenner....and ended up in Metairie....at 5 am....in the house of a suicidal priest without underwear.
My friend Lisa (yes, another Lisa) is a former colleague of mine. Irregularly she hosts a game night for some of her friends....mostly me, Velinda, (a former colleague of mine), Robin (a current colleague of mine)
and whoever is Lisa's current boyfriend (at the time now it's Steve... sometimes Helmut...but sometimes it's both...long story). This night is was Velinda, whom I had not seen in months, Steve, Helmut, Lisa, and Lisa's parents, who were in town for the month...yes, I did say for the month. Her parents come down from Pennsylvania and move in, to launch a month long assault on her self-esteem and to reorganize her cabinets.
Lisa's parents are nice Northern people....her step mother especially.
You know the type. They like crafting a lot.
I think her mother even blushed at the word "condiments."
It was all very polite and decorous. Lisa had put out the best dishes. She and her stepmom had made cream of mushroom soup, and the cold cuts were splayed out on the table like a centerpiece. We talked of dogs and crafting and cold cuts. It was all very nice. Lisa loves board games. I think they remind her of her mother,
so when she eagerly asked us, after dinner, "does anyone want to play games?" I said, "ok, I don't mind if we play."
Velinda, however, gave me a dirty look. She did not want to play games.
But we played. We played until Lisa's parents went to bed (early of course). After they had gone to bed, suddenly Velinda came alive, as though Daddy and Mommy had gone to bed, and we could now jump on the beds to our hearts content.
"I want to see a movie!" she announced. "I want to see "Monster" It's got lesbians in it."
It was late, but she insisted. So we all dutifully filed into Lisa's bedroom
and looked up the times for the theater online. Surely enough, there was a very late (12:40 am ) showing.
No one really wanted to go, except Velinda, but with enough cajoling, we found ourselves in Lisa's van, barreling down the interstate, in a mad dash to get there on time. We only barely made it.
We watched the movie. It was searing and depressing....just exactly, it seems, the type of movie Lisa hates. As for me, well, it made the 5th depressing movie in a row I'd seen.
Mostly we were all just exhausted. When the movie let out, it was 3 am.
Stumbling back to the van, exhausted by lack of sleep and the harrowing sight of Aileen Wuoronos's descent into hell still fresh in our minds, Steve pulled out his cell phone. He had gotten multiple calls while in the theater it seems. He had not noticed them there.
There was a lot of frantic calling. We were only half awake and half paying attention. We just wanted to go to bed.
Eventually we were told what the situation was. It seems that Lisa had forgotten her cell phone in the van, and all the while we were in the movie someone had been
calling Steve, trying desperately to get in touch with her.
It was Lisa's parents.
They had been awakened by a friend of Lisa's who had called for her at her home while we were away. It sounded important, they said. She needed to call him now, they said. It was past 3 am.
So she called him. Listening to her talk to him on the phone, it was not hard to figure out what had happened.
He had taken 20 sleeping pills because his 16 year old black (gay) lover had left him. (again?) He, by the way, is a 50 something year old priest.
The next thing I know, we are back on the interstate driving frantically to Metairie. Lisa's driving, in the best of circumstances can be, how do I say it politely... "exciting."
Poor Lisa, who had just seen a movie she hated, did not want to see, who only wanted to be in bed now, was now forced into counselling a suicidal friend over the phone, while weaving frantically, through traffic, with three others in tow.
She sounded angry. Lisa is famously *always* happy.
But not now.
Eventually we found ourselves...all 4 of us....at a suburban house in Metairie. We all tiptoed in, awkwardly.
Steve had never met her friend, never seen him. I've only met him once...as has Velinda (the time he called her "highly inappropriate" at our garage sale...when Velinda climbed into the car of a migrant worker/customer and solicited a phone number for a date).
And now we're at his suicide.
Velinda, Steve and I stayed in what looks like the den, a tackily decorated room, full of pasteboard Walmart furniture and religious knick nacks. On a glass table I could see a sheet of looseleaf.
It's the suicide note. (looseleaf? How much tackier still? Sorry)
I didn't know what to do, none of us did, so I played awkwardly with the cat, who was confused but friendly. It seems we're in the underaged lover's aunt's house...but I'm not sure.
In the front room...very overly decorated, with loud velveteen furniture, Lisa is talking to her friend, who insists that she not call 911. She does anyway.
"But I don't have any underwear on!" I keep hearing him say hazily.
Lisa is still pissed. All she wanted to do was go to bed, and now here she is. Here *we* all are.
Suddenly the room is flooded with red flashing lights and siren noise. There are cops, paramedics suddenly in the front room. I peek out the back window, the cat between my legs, noticing what looks like homemade rat poison in milk jugs lined up along the pantry shelves. There's an ambulance outside and multiple cop cars. I can hear her friend slurringly arguing with the cops about leaving. He insists that he doesn't want to go to the hospital. He keeps repeating that he has no underwear on. They threaten him with force, and he goes. We tentatively get back into the van.
From the back window I can see them loading Lisa and her friend up in the ambulance.
Oh, and an overweight neighbor in the middle of the street with a cell phone, blocking traffic.
They don't seem to be in any hurry.
Steve takes us back to Lisa's house for us to get our cars and go home. It's 5 or so in the morning.
Just a few minutes ago, while I'm typing this in fact, Lisa calls me,
"Hi Hon," she says. "Just wanted to see if you'd like to come over for games Saturday night."
"Sure," I say
The Tyranny of Hairdressers - McCall's Magazine, January 1966.