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Plenty of debris

The generalities of drunk people

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I'm still generally amazed by the debris caused by drunk people, and I'm not just talking about my dad and all the empty peanut packets he left strewn on the floorboard of our family Fairlane because, "Peanuts mask booze breath better than chewing gum. That right there is knowledge, little girl!" I'm also talking about the Local and any morning after a night when Grant bartended there. It seriously looks like the aftermath of a bomb explosion, and I probably don't need to remind you that I actually know what the aftermath of an actual bomb explosion actually looks like. For one, there is debris everywhere.

"Debris was everywhere," complained Grant about his closing shift the night before, and then he started going into specifics, which included discarded panties and the like, but I stopped him because I didn't want to think in specifics. I only wanted to think in generalities.

"Generally," he said, "the place looked like a plane wreck."

I thought that was a coincidence, because just the other day I heard a plane crash on my street again. First I should explain that, ever since I was in my early 20s, whenever I hear an explosion I always think it's due to one of two things: a plane crash or a bomb. This is due to the fact that, on the one occasion when a bomb actually did explode near me, all I did was sit there wondering why it was thundering outside when there weren't any rain clouds in the sky. I was in France, and that should explain it, because France is fucked up.

Today when I hear an explosion I am quick to categorize it with an appropriately drastic cause because I don't want to miss out again. So when I heard this most recent explosion in the middle of the night, I was certain it was a plane crash. It could not have been a bomb, I thought, because with a bomb everything explodes upward and then has to come back down, whereas with a plane wreck the crash is fairly finite after the impact, unless the pilot was trying to, like, land the plane on a suburban street, which has happened, but even then there is more of a rumbling sound than a splatter sound, so this had to be a plane wreck.

Before I went outside I turned off my porch light because I didn't want to illuminate my approaching outline as I investigated. What if the guy who brought down the plane with the shoulder-mounted grenade launcher was still nearby? I wouldn't want to give him an advantage by not having my eyes adjusted to the darkness.

Once I was outside I discerned it must have been a small plane that crashed, because other than a telephone pole, a tree and the fronts of two houses across the street, nothing seemed to have been all that demolished. Then of course there was the fact that there did not seem to be a plane anywhere ... but there was debris, I tell you. Plenty of debris.

There were just three other people standing around, one of whom was drunkenly talking on her cell phone while the other two instructed us to stay away from the wreckage. "But what caused the wreckage?" I whispered, just in case the grenade guy was waiting to launch another one in the direction of our voices. "Lightning, I think," was the answer, though no one could say for certain, as the street lights had been blown and we couldn't venture close to ground zero due to all the downed electrical lines. When the firemen arrived, the first thing they asked was, "Who's the driver of that car?"

"What car?" I asked.

"That car," they said, pointing, and it wasn't until then, with the help of the fire engine headlights, that I saw the underside of a large sedan that had evidently flipped into the front porch of the house across the street. "Lord, God!" I thought, "The driver of that car has got to be dead."

"I'm the driver of that car," slurred the girl with the cell phone. The rest of us stared at her. She looked pretty damn good for someone who just missed a curve to tear through a telephone pole, a tree and two houses to end up upside down on someone's porch.

So it wasn't a plane wreck or a bomb or a grenade launcher after all; it was just a drunk driver. The next morning my neighbors and I went out to investigate a little closer, sifting through the debris, talking to the telephone repair guy who had been charged with re-erecting the demolished pole. Evidently the floor of the flipped car had been littered with toy action figures that were now littering our neighbor's lawn. "Thank God her child wasn't in the car with her," someone said.

But I didn't want to think about the specifics. I only wanted to think in generalities, and once again I was generally amazed by the debris caused by drunk people.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).

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