I love drinking and driving. You’re already rolling your eyes at that statement, but hear me out. There are things people like that are considered crazy, stupid and dangerous. And they likely participate privately in these antics without ever drawing attention to themselves. I am not one of these people.
Not only because I am devoid of a social filter, but because the thing I like to do can’t be done in private. And more importantly it could kill someone. If you’re thinking, that could kill you too Sabrina, I already realize that. Unfortunately, I am not afraid to die. So I am left with a private passion that I have to shove very deep down inside myself because it’s the dumbest fucking thing on the planet.
The last time I drove super ridiculously drunk was November 17, 2011. I can remember the date cause it’s the same day I realized I am super fabulous at jail. I crashed my car into a parked car, someone called the cops and I was escorted directly to jail. I didn’t collect 200 dollars. I didn’t pass go. I did learn I could take off handcuffs, which is it’s own sort of prize. I also learned that I am a selfish, know-it-all with a death wish.
I’ll spare you all the details about the post-crash comedown but it included some of the hardest partying in my entire life. That time in my life is generally regarded as my nervous breakdown, which is funny cause almost no one I knew did anything about it. And about six-months after I crashed my car I’d finally dealt with all the court proceedings. I got off easy with a reckless driving instead of a DUI but I lost my license for 15 months.
Now that I look back on it, 15 months probably wasn’t enough, but it is what it is. Regardless,15 months seems like forever when you are taking the bus in Los Angeles. I was bartending at the time, because if people think you have a problem with booze you should definitely be serving it to strangers. I’d leave my apartment in Franklin Village and take the 210 bus on Hollywood and Vine down to Crenshaw and Venice until I would board the 733 into Mar Vista where I’d pour drinks for rummies, bowlers and neighborhoodies.
The thing about the bus is that things are always, always interesting. If you pack strangers into a confined space as though they’re sardines all sense of humanity is lost. Mostly because more than half of those people are homeless and/or mentally unstable and just looking for a place to rest for a while.
Riding the bus I smelled aromas that I didn’t even think was possible. One time, I boarded the 733 and noticed everyone was on the front half of the bus. All the windows were rolled down and the most putrid smell I’ve encountered in my life weighed heavily on the olfactory zone of each passenger. The lone rider in the back was a grinning black gentleman. His hair was wildly unkempt. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, but a tattered black blazer. He was at the very back of the bus grinning from ear-to-ear. A student wearing a Venice High School sweatshirt talked with his friends and then approached the back of the bus. His gags worsened as he approached the homeless man. As he neared, the homeless man kicked his feet up on the back of a seat and smiled harder.
"Holy fuck. It’s his feet. His feet smell that bad."
The kid ran back towards the rest of us, sticking his nose into his sweatshirt. The bus is a war zone and you have to be ready for anything. People that smell like body odor. Seats drenched in piss. People who look past you as you attempt to sit in the empty seat next to them. And people looking for a fight. I was mostly able to avoid all of these things because on the bus there is so much happening I could finally just blend in. But I also had a ritual that made sure I could avoid any and all interaction with strangers.
1. Always wear headphones. I don’t care of you never even listen to music, just plug the earbuds into your ear holes and let everyone think you’re drowning them out. In fact, it’s probably better to do this than just listen to music or your favorite podcast because if the shit hits the fan you will be completely aware of it.
2. Put on some fucking shades. Insane people are looking for someone dumb enough to make eye contact with them. I made this mistake once. A man smiled at me and I smiled back. After that he strategically kept moving backwards until he was standing right above my seat telling me he liked the way my face was, “put together.” When I got weirded out and stood up, he moved to the front of the bus and was the first person off. I stayed on until the next stop even though I would have to walk an additional three blocks home. As I walked back, I could see someone running in the distance. He was waving his arms wildly and screaming at me. Avoid this entirely by wearing sunglasses and never looking up.
3. If an insane person says they want your seat, just fucking give it to them. I once watched a crazy person hock a loogie into the mouth of a proud middle-aged woman. That white lady and her thin lips almost had a heart attack. Insanity is the currency on the bus, respect it.
4. Be nice to the bus drivers. Insane people chilling out on the bus for hours sometimes get bored and if you’re shitty to the bus driver there’s no one on there that can actually help you.
But my favorite bus adventure happened during the 15 months I was license free. Like anytime I had to be at work by 6pm, I’d start the trek from my apartment to Hollywood and Vine. When I got there a guy dressed like Dr. Who was already patiently waiting. He stared into the distance, never once blinking. As the bus approached us, he pulled out the handle from an old rotary phone and began to talk into it in hushed whispers. His eyes darted from side to side. I put on my sunglasses. I added my ear buds and sat directly across from him.
The ride on the 210 down Vine was relatively uneventful. Dr. Who eventually put his phone in his backpack and stared at his shoes. A lady who looked remarkably like Whoopie Goldberg in “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” sits next to me. I try not to look at her for too long. People come and go. The smile. They scoff. They’re tired and hungry. They have places to be. One-by-one they become faded memories.
At Crenshaw and Venice, I stand and get off the 210 making the transfer to the 733. So did Dr. Who. We wait in silence for 7 minutes. I keep checking the app that tells me when my next bus should arrive while Dr. Who stares directly into the sun. I wonder if I should tell him how bad of an idea it is to do that but then I remind myself that he’s likely pretty insane and pass on the idea.
The 733 pulls up and I wave at the bus driver. We have a quick exchange and he tells me he likes my tight. I smile and take the first seat behind the handicapped area. Dr. Who stands at the front of the bus still looking directly into the sun as we drive towards the beach. At the rear of the bus an insane woman in a bright yellow party dress perfect for her 10th birthday begins to sing. To drown her out, I put my iPod on random. The National begin to play and by the time we get to La Brea and Venice more people enter and exit. A strung out, thin man in a dress pushes her way into the seat next to where Dr. Who is standing. The princess in the back of the bus is still singing it’s like the cry of a siren but to all the insane people everywhere.
By the time we get to La Cienega I smell it. The putrid stink of someone releasing their bowels. I look down at my iPod and stare at it while my eyes water. Everyone didn’t take my approach to the situation. The strung out dude in the dress was woken from his opiate slumber by this stench. She stands up and crouches down in the middle of the bus. At this point everyone was paralyzed. She crouches over and starts sniffing at different people’s asses chanting, “SOMEONE IN HERE FARTED ON ME AND I’M GONNA FIGURE OUT WHO.”
And right at that moment the “Beetlejuice Theme Song” started to play. As I’m gripped by the bowls of insanity the junkie sniffs at Dr. Who’s ass and begins to bark. Just physically bark and then tears into him, “IT WAS YOU!”
She’s still crouched down like Smegel and pointing. The bus driver leans back and yells that he will pull this bus right over and throw out whoever’s causing the commotion. It vaguely reminds me of childhood road trips.
By now, Dr. Who stepped backwards trying to distance himself from the fart sniffer but she’s not having any of it.
"THAT MAN FARTED ON ME. I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE."
Dr. Who trips backwards, and onto the bus driver as we pull up to my stop. I swiftly exit and walked towards the bar. Minutes later I’m clocking in when my manager came behind me and asked how my day was. Without looking up I blurted out, ”I watched a maybe transsexual sniff the ass of a man dressed like Dr. Who. I’m never fucking drinking and driving again.”
Cause sometimes, the things you love lead you down a dark path and sometimes that path is the 733 bus into Venice.
Imagine you’re like in a party and somebody tells you “somebody died fast we need to go to the funeral” and you’re just like
what the fuck kind of scenario is that
a gatsby party
THE BOOKS BEEN OUT SINCE 1925 YOU ABSOLUTE PANCAKE