[Here’s where we left off: Leeann was not the first person to go on the Tube. First was a floor mat boyfriend (not Joe) of mine, then a crackjass that RR dated, Marcel, the calculus teacher that BF/R swore was “spawned from the depths of hell,” and a guy who I thought was a true friend but wound up breaking my heart. Leeann’s boyfriend made it on the list pretty early. But she didn’t make it on the list until October 1997. That night. The night we walked home from the bar.]
Here’s the background. When we lived in the dorms, BF/R and I had suitemates called, um, Kara and Valerie. Kara and Valerie and I became good friends first, and then the next year BF/R moved into the dorm and she and RR and K and V and I all became a little group. When we’d had enough of the dorms, we decided to move into the same apartment complex. K and V wanted a roommate to share the rent, so they put an ad in the school’s roommate finding service, and of all the applicants, Leeann seemed the most normal. That’s saying a lot about the other applicants, although you don’t know it yet. Anyway, we took a vote on which of the potential applicants should get the room, and we all agreed the Leeann seemed like the most normal, although her boyfriend got a unanimous five votes for “on the creepy side.”
Nate—that was his name—Nate had a sad kind of life. His parents supported him through college. They gave him $900 a month to live on, and he had three roommates, all of whom used drugs. Keep in mind that this was eight years ago when prices were lower and that it was a small college town where expenses weren’t that high. Two weeks into the month he’d have no money and nothing to show for it. Once he dropped her off for tutoring and then later came by her apartment looking for her, because he couldn’t find her where he said he’d dropped her off, at the science building on campus. Only that’s not where he’d dropped her off. His eyes were always bloodshot. He was very unsympathetic when her fish died. And he was easily the WORST driver EVER. But Leeann didn’t think he was on drugs. What did we know about it? He said he wasn’t, and that’s all there was to it. And she didn’t seem to mind that he dropped out of school and didn’t tell her for something like three months.
So during the summer Leeann started telling us that on top of everything else, Nate hits her. We convinced her to break up with him. About two months after that she got back together with him, said we’d misunderstood, and couldn’t understand why we didn’t particularly care for him. She was one of those really, really annoying females who just doesn’t think she’s worth anything unless she’s got a boyfriend.
It just so happened that in October (the 15th, to be exact), our other roommate, Kelly, turned 21. She was the last of the group to reach that coveted age. We had a tradition in our circle that on birthdays, we always celebrated with just us “girls.” Always. That was the rule. Leeann had a better idea. She invited Nate.
Leeann also happened to be a world-class passive-aggressive wimp. I think she knew what I thought of Nate (because I’d told her), so I guess she thought she’d sneak it past me. I was in my room when I heard her tell the other gals not to tell me about it. Like they were going to keep that to themselves. Like I wouldn’t say anything to his face. I knew the other girls weren’t happy about it, but I also knew that by this time they’d already had to put up with so much of her weirdness that they weren’t going to say anything too blunt, and Leeann didn’t pick up on subtle hints. So BF/R and I went outside, ostensibly so BF/R could smoke, and we sat on the stairs and waited. A little while later, Leeann came out by herself and started to walk past us. I stopped her and said we wanted to have a little chat.
“So,” I said, “what’s this about you inviting Nate to Kelly’s birthday party?” As you can see, I’m very tactful. She was taken aback. Isn’t that a great turn of phrase? And it describes exactly how she looked. Taken aback. Eyes wide, startled expression. See, people like her don’t know what to do when someone raises their hand and says, “I call bull---.” They are taken aback. They start to flounder. They flail. They lie.
After a few false attempts that I parried nicely—the key is to remain calm and just keep calling them on their ever-changing story—she threw out a whopper. The fact is, while the other girls weren’t necessarily going to come out and say they didn’t want him there, if asked directly, they wouldn’t hide their feelings. So she made an error when she blurted out:
“I asked Kara and she said it was ok.”
“Bull----,” I immediately shot back. Yes, dear readers, I swore. I didn't yell at her, but I did swear. Absolutely no way Kara had agreed to inviting Nate, and I couldn't believe Leeann had the nerve to say that. Kara hated Nate and would never outright say it was ok. Besides, it wasn’t her birthday, so she couldn’t give permission. So I called Leeann on it.
She was taken aback.
Her response? She turned around and ran away.
Seriously. Turned around. Ran—ran—away.
This time, I was taken aback. BF/R and I just looked at each other. We didn't know what to say. We'd never seen anything like it.
We never heard another word about it from her until the night of the party, although Kara did let me know that Nate had been uninvited. We were going to take two cars because in addition to BF/R, RR, Kara, Valerie, Kelly, and me, our former roommate, Hillary [this pseudonym thing is hard!], was going, as well as her cousin Jane. So that meant we needed two designated drivers. Most of us weren’t exactly drunks, but safety first! After all, it was Kelly’s 21st birthday. Jane volunteered to drive my car, and Leeann volunteered to drive her car. Nobody asked her. She volunteered. She also volunteered to hold Kelly’s I.D. because Kelly didn’t have pockets in her skirt. Then Hillary said she’d take her own car because she was leaving early.
So we get there, and our upstairs neighbors Jamie and Eric show up. We don’t know Jamie that well, but Eric was a sort of friend, so we were happy to see them. We have a good time dancing the night away. After a bit, Hillary said goodbye and left. After we’d been there maybe an hour and half, that’s when we noticed Leeann. Specifically, that’s when we noticed that Leeann wasn’t there to be noticed. She was gone. We couldn’t find her anywhere.
That’s strange, we thought. She must be here somewhere. Hmm. We asked around the group. “Oh,” Jane said. “She left.” We were taken aback.
That can’t be right. She was our designated driver. And maybe we haven’t had much to drink and could drive ourselves home, but first we’d need a car for that.
“Left? Is she, um, coming back?” “Uh, I don’t think so.” “Did she say anything?” “No, she just left when Hillary did.” Ok, ok, ok. Don’t get mad. Breathe in and out. Deeeeep breaths.
Later we found out what happened. I talked to Hillary about it, and she said that she told Leeann she was leaving, and Leeann said she wanted to leave as well, but she was afraid we’d make her stay. Accurate assumption, there, Leeann. Yes, yes we would have. Hillary didn’t know Leeann was our designated driver, so she said that if she was worried about it, just leave without telling us. Hillary knew we could be overbearing at times and could certainly gang up on Leeann. She didn’t know that Leeann had no spine. She didn’t know that all it would take for us to “make” Leeann stay was to suggest that she ought to. That’s how I wound up with a cat. We were at the animal shelter, and she picked a cat up out of its cage, and I said, and this is an exact quote, “Oh, are you getting a cat?” Later it turns out that she got the cat because I had talked her into it. But Hillary was just trying to avoid a fight.
About that time our neighbors said they were heading home, so we decided we’d better get a ride home with them because we cannot all fit in my car that Jane is driving. But then Jane says she wants to go home, too. She’s the other designated driver, so we said, no, she had to stay. By this time we’ve explained what’s happening to the rest of the gals out on the dance floor, and Kelly, the birthday girl, has an unhappy realization.
“That’s ok,” she said, “I can drive.” We looked at her, because we’re all thinking if there’s one person tonight who won’t be in a state to drive anywhere, it will be her. Not so, it turns out. When Leeann left, she didn’t tell anybody, including Kelly. And that meant she hadn’t given Kelly back her I.D. So Kelly, on her 21st birthday, was the only person in the group who could not buy a drink that night.
Ok, all is fine and good. We get in Jamie’s car, and we’ve gone, oh, 50 feet, when Jane makes him stop. She announces that Jamie has had too much to drink and she won’t ride home with him. Jamie, on the other hand, won’t let anyone drive his car. This is a problem. Jane gets out of the car. We can’t let her walk home by herself, so BF/R and I get out, too, and Eric decides to be chivalrous and get out as well. Jamie zooms off.
In Jane’s defense, it takes a lot of guts to speak up when you think someone’s had too much to drink. In Jamie’s defense, he’d had about two beers the whole evening.
So we’re walking. We’re not anticipating having to walk too far because it’s a small town, nothing is too far away, and surely we can find someone we know to give us a ride. Keep in mind that us girls are wearing “dancing shoes,” i.e. heels. Jane is walking very fast. We get about one street down from the club when Eric realizes that we’re right by the home of someone he knows. He says we can get a ride home with her.
No, no, that’s not good enough for Jane. She doesn’t know this person, and she won’t get in a car with a stranger. Ok, but, um . . . ok, keep walking.
We’re walking, we’re walking. The walking has an unpleasant effect on Jane. After around five minutes, Eric realizes that we’re getting close to his sister’s apartment. She can drive us home. Yea! No more walking. Nope, nothing doing. Jane also doesn’t know Eric’s sister. At this point, as she later admitted, she was just being stubborn and was too embarrassed to admit it. Jane starts walking faster and faster, and pretty soon, she’s a good 50 feet ahead of us, getting further and further away. We tried to make her slow down. No such luck. Finally the street we were on dead-ended onto another street. Civilization was to the right. Naturally, she went left. Eric goes after her. We are thoroughly sick of both of them by this time, and we head right. Right to the McDonald’s, to a pay phone. BF/R has a phone call she wants to make. She has something to say.
She dials Leeann’s number. The answering machine picks up. She calls back. Leeann finally picks up. Keep in mind that we’ve walked about a mile and half in heels by this point.
B/FR: It’s [BF/R]. We need you to come pick us up.
Ok, I didn’t hear the rest of Leeann’s side of the conversation, but I did hear BF/R’s. For example, I heard her explain where we were. I heard her reaction when Leeann said that no, she would not come pick us up. BF/R said calmly, “You are our designated driver. Come pick us up.” A moment later, she said, “Kara’s not here, come pick us up.” A moment later, “Kara’s not here. We’re at McDonald’s.” Then she reminded Leeann that she had ditched us, we were stranded, come pick us up. This goes on for about a minute, BF/R getting increasingly angry, when finally she starts banging the receiver against the phone, shouting, “Kara’s not [expletive] here, come pick us up!”
Yeah, that didn’t work so well. Apparently [this is her story], Leeann thought we were still at the club and that BF/R was drunk. I’m not sure why. She seemed pretty lucid to me. At first, I mean. Before she started hitting the phone.
So, anyway, we are stuck walking the rest of the way home because the only people whose phone numbers we know are back at the club, and besides, at this point we’re really, really mad. Unfortunately, the rest of the walk—another good mile and a half—is mostly down a two-lane road with no streetlights and lots of greenery. It’s a neighborhood, but it’s one of those where the houses are set way back and there’s a lot of trees in the front so you can’t see the houses. I guess it’s a good thing that we were so angry because one thing I’m afraid of is the country. Under normal circumstances, I would have spent the whole walk petrified that some critter was going to come running out at us, probably foaming at the mouth. As it was, I was too busy becoming angrier and angrier with every step of my three-inch heels.
As we get about a short block from the apartment, Eric picks us up. Apparently he beat us home somehow. Thanks for the rescue. That last block would have been killer.
So he drops us off at apartment and then heads back out to look for Jane, who he lost somehow (she was ok, she’d gone to the grocery store and gotten a friend to pick her up). We get up to the door, and that’s when we realized that we didn’t have our keys. They were with Jane. Jane, our designated driver. Grrrr.
Ok, so now what? Well, we have a spare key. It’s in Leeann’s apartment. Lucky for us, we know she’s home. We walk over there and knock on the door. No answer. We knock a little harder. No answer. We knock a little harder. No answer. We walk around the apartment to the other side (these apartments, by the way, were pretty much duplexes). We go to her window. The lights are out, but the window is open. We have to get into the flowerbed to get to it, but we knock on the window. No answer. We can’t see in through the screen, but we’re pretty sure she’s in there.
We’re standing there, in the bushes, knocking on her open window, when the sprinklers come on.
Yes, you read that right.
We get out of the flowerbed, now dripping wet, and walk back around to the door. This time, I practically kick the door down while I’m yelling “give me my key!” Finally she came to the door. She looks at us and says—I’m not making this up—she says, “What’s wrong?”
All I could say, through clenched teeth, was “give.me.my.key.”
Later that night, when Valerie and Kara got home, they saw that Leeann had written on their dry erase board “why does everyone hate me?”
So that, ladies and gentlemen, is how she wound up on the Tube of Death. There were other reasons as well. For example, let’s take the cat that I had apparently talked her into getting. I said she could keep her at my place if she paid half the pet deposit. That way neither of us would have to pay the whole thing. Later, I asked her for my $200. She said she’d never agreed to that. Yes you did, I said. Yes, you did, said the eyewitnesses. She cried. Then she said she would pay me. After we had that exact conversation three times, I gave up. That’s why she’s on the TOD. Because what else can you do with someone like that?