There’s a beautiful, greasy allure to restaurants open past midnight that cater to college kids and drunks; most nights, like this night, they were one and the same.
I was on my way to Denny’s at 3 AM, fresh off a box of wine that claimed my sobriety, in the backseat of a friend’s Toyota—three of us crammed in the backseat and another in the trunk. It’s a bonding experience; college is made up of so many little moments that bind you and your friends together, and for us, heading to a Denny’s was one of them. The food is good and cheap, and most of us have already spent money on textbooks, alcohol, and Halloween—the three pillars of collegiate life.
I was there—ostensibly—with an actual purpose: I was going to interview a waitress about the late-night scene at Denny’s. Do some hard journalism that exposed the raw underbelly of late night diner life.
We got there, and there were more cars in the parking lot then I ever remember seeing, but it was Saturday night/Sunday morning and all college kids think alike. It should be an unspoken rule that no one enters a Denny’s in the daytime, sober; the food always tastes better when you forget you even ordered it, and really, no one should be hitting rock bottom when the sun is still up.
We got in, and I sat down and immediately realized I had to pee. I made my way to the bathroom, and when my bare ass touched the ice cold seat, I came to the conclusion I was drunk as fuck. It’s a universal rule that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you are never more aware of your drunkenness than when you’re alone in the bathroom. It’s the same feeling you get when you’ve been listening to Bon Iver for so long that you kind of forget you’re alive. The neon yellow and orange lights made my eyes water, and a half-second later when I closed them, I saw Jesus. He offered me some wine and told me to relax.
I don’t really know what I thought about between peeing and leaving the bathroom, but I do know I came out of the bathroom having sent an email to my professor about being drunk and a selfie to a friend that was captioned: “when ur drunk in a denny’s bathroom thinking about death.”
Ironically, this was also the night I figured out I’m kind of an existentialist drunk girl. Whatever; it’s better than the crying kind. I don’t really know how long I sat there in the bathroom, thinking. I could’ve been thinking about String Theory, but I can’t remember—a running theme throughout my weekends.
I pushed the door open, headed back to my table, sat down, and ordered some eggs and hash browns and an Oreo milkshake. I felt lucky that I wasn’t hunched over a toilet seat, talking to Jesus. I looked at my friends and felt lucky to have met them and to be alive and in the same room as them.
It felt like a music video where everything is in slow motion and kind of hazy, but there wasn’t any music playing. It felt like floating on a bed of pancakes or something. I may have actually laid down on some pancakes, actually.
The interview never happened; journalism died a little that night. Why?
Eat your heart out, Hunter S. Thompson.