Friday, May 29, 1998
Stone Naps Through Worst Day of Career
“Jose can drive. Jose’s sober,” someone yelled from across the Ivy taproom. Dancing and bobbing and jumping up and down completely out-of-sync to the blasting Fatboy Slim Praise You with one arm raised and hand pumping in parallel to the ceiling and other hand curved rigidly around a plastic cup half-full of Meister-Brau with the other half spilled across the front of a white tuxedo shirt with two missing studs and prominent red wine stain at chest level resembling the birthmark on Gorbachev’s bald cranium, I was not sober, so I handed Jose the keys to my car.
It was almost 3am in suburban New Jersey. I had to get to work by 8:30am in suburban Connecticut. Caught on the losing end of several games of Robopound, I had lost all ability to connect these two suburbias. I could not drive.
“But Jose can drive,” I said, a bungled reply to “Jose’s sober”.
And Jose drove. He drove a carload of formally-dressed carcasses out of New Jersey all the way back to New York City. I only remember two parts of the trip – the first when Jose pulled into a rest stop to take a nap (remember – “Jose’s sober”), and the second when Jose woke us up in a McDonald’s parking lot in the Bronx and said he was lost (if Princeton was at 6 o’clock on a clock face with NYC in the center of the clock, the Bronx would be at 1 o’clock). “Jose’s been sober all night.” (Wasn’t Jose on my Robopound team?)
Jose parked the Subaru outside of Studio 78 and faded into the cityscape around 5:45am. I crashed for almost three hours on one of the Studio’s puked-on futons and reverse-commuted my hangover all the way to my cubicle in Stamford, CT, almost one hour late.
After getting chided by some boss-type figures, it was just me and an 8-hour workday. The workday surged ahead around 11am, and would have conquered had not Blacklie called.
“I’m dying,” he said. He had been one of the bodies chauffeured around the 5 boroughs by Jose as well. “I just took a nap in the handicapped stall.”
The idea was revolutionary; such an option had never even dawned on me. So, promptly after hanging up the phone, I followed the truly professional example Blacklie had set.
I brought in some kind of work document and locked the door of the handicapped stall. I sat down on the toilet, pants around my ankles (for effect only), and put my head down on the metal handicapped bar to the side of the toilet. Every time someone entered the restroom, I would jerk my head up and rustle the paper periodically. In retrospect, I’m not sure what effect the paper rustling was intended to have – would people really believe that someone was doing quality work while sitting on the toilet? I doubt it. But, at the same time, the ruse made sense. Would anyone ever suspect that someone would sink so low as to take a nap in the handicapped stall? No, never.
After a twenty-minute snooze with minimal interruptions/paper rustling, I unlocked the stall and started out the door. Thank god I caught a fleeting glimpse of myself in the mirror before I exited – I had red lines all over my face and forehead. One look and anyone would have been able to tell I had been sleeping on the job.
I quickly reversed my step and relocked the handicapped stall door. This time I sat straight up with my head unsupported, and of course my pants around my ankles (for effect only). I had to stay there until the lines disappeared, another 15 minutes.
Then I made it to lunchtime, coasted through the afternoon, hopped in my car at 5 on the dot, and started driving all the way back to Princeton Reunions Night #2 to do it all over again. This time, Jose was not around to drive. He may have been too drunk by then.
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