Babysitting a Public Drunk

| March, 2018 | The line between narcissism and alcoholism or addiction can be blurry |

First Avenue, Minneapolis’ famous “Downtown Danceteria” was one of my absolute favorite night spots for as long as I was old enough to get in. It was a part of my life experience I’d been wanting to share with Tina for a long time. The place was always in flux, however and recent changes to the schedules, layout and formats made it less appealing in the years I’d known Tina. We had been to a show (and got cut off for reasons that continue to baffle me) in the club’s auxiliary Seventh Street Entry, but that didn’t compare to the main room.

One weekend came along when there was a main room dance night with an 80’s theme that looked like a lot of fun. Since Tina had been mirroring my music tastes, it appeared that she’d love the 80’s music and she’d had fun playing dress-up for my friend’s 80’s-themed birthday party a year or so prior. It seemed like a good opportunity, so I got tickets.

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It was a Friday night and I had to work the day of the event, so Tina was left at my mom’s house by herself until I got back. When I did, I noticed that Tina had taken the opportunity to indulge in some pre-partying and seemed to have a decent buzz going. She’d costumed herself appropriately for the theme and was sporting blue eye shadow and big hair.

She had acquired a hair crimper somewhere along the way that she’d been eager to have an excuse to use. This was the big night.

I got into some acid-washed jeans with appropriately tapered ankles and a red paisley Chess King shirt that had a storied history of it’s own.

I was excited as we entered the nightclub. It had been a while since I’d been in the black and cavernous main room. I showed Tina around half the club and we made our way to the coat check before ordering drinks at the back bar. A double shot of Windsor with a beer back for Tina and a $7.00 can of Red Bull for myself.

I thought Tina was looking pretty hot, but it wasn’t long before she was more like a hot mess.

I didn’t know how much she’d had to drink before I got back from work to pick her up, but it became apparent that it was a lot.

Tina’s behavior went quickly from fun party-mode to erratic and inexplicable. Back by the coat check at the very back of the main room, there was a dark, disused corridor that I think led to an emergency exit and maybe some “staff only” doors. Tina was drawn to it, despite being shooed out of there by staff more than once and I had to keep urging her to stay way from it. Tina attracted a lot of attention from the bouncers and it was not in any way positive. I was increasingly concerned we were going to get kicked out.

Eventually, she and I found a pocket of space to ourselves, off the main dance floor, where Tina alternated between doing some drunk girl dances and sitting down, head in hands in the international sign for “girl had way too much to drink.”

Again, she was attracting notice from bouncers. Seeming to become aware of that, she began exaggerated admiration of the engagement ring I’d given her two months prior. She wanted me to play along, like she was swooning because I’d just proposed to her there in the club.

We were probably there less than an hour before I realized I was going to have an emergency on my hands if I didn’t get Tina out of there right away. She slunk back to the forbidden dark corridor, she fell down. A bouncer approached me. “Yo, man, is she OK?”

“She’s feeling a little overwhelmed,” I said. I’m going to take her out to get some air.”

That satisfied the bouncer for the moment and he held off two others I noticed were approaching from behind him.

I got our coats and managed to coax Tina out the front entrance onto 7th Street. It was chilly but the street was bustling. I lit cigarettes for the both of us and was going to lead Tina back to my van, but she decided to lie down on the sidewalk, instead.

The streets of Downtown Minneapolis on a Friday night is not a great environment to lie down in. I was immediately concerned about the kinds of attention this could bring. I never felt unsafe around there, but also knew better than to exhibit any kind of vulnerability, because there was no shortage of people looking for opportunities. There was also no shortage of cops. They’d normally leave revelers alone, but lying down on the sidewalk was the kind of thing that would raise even their jaded antennas.

I tugged, cajoled, pleaded, urged and lifted Tina back to her feet and got her moving, stumbling and swaying back to my van and finally breathed a sigh of relief once she was strapped in and we were rolling towards home.

I felt it is was a good thing I was sober by then. We’d had a couple nights in the past when we were probably both that obliterated, but in more forgiving environs.

In the privacy of our own home, drunken Tina was much easier to look after. In public, she could become a menace. I tried to be more cautious about monitoring her level of intoxication after that, but neither alcoholics nor narcissists take well to having boundaries.

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One comment

  • Many of your stories remind me of my marriage to a female narcissist. Some times she was OK when she was drinking, other times a liability.

    She’d sometimes get drunk to the point of repeatedly falling over. And would frequently wander off chatting to random guys. I was always worried someone would take advantage of her, and she’d wander off with them. And often had to babysit her through a night out, trying to get her to slow down her drinking. Which was no fun for me whatsoever!

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