4 Moments I’m Glad I Let Pass Me By



The Scene: A friend and former lover’s mom’s rich husband’s basement.

The Vibe: Suburban coke vibes. White leather couch, white 80s furniture, an out of place second kitchen in an unused basement, remnants of an urban life after moving back in to mom’s place in one’s mid-20s, out of print movies, unlabled porns, a busted bed frame, minimal light because it’s dark outside and the only windows are the size of a legal pad.

The Moment: We were chain smoking and listening to “Lost Ones.” He was on the floor and I was sitting on an overturned purple (maybe pink or red) plastic crate of VHS tapes next to him, blowing smoke into a vent above the weird basement oven. After a minute of silence, he looked at my thigh and said, “What if I burned you with this cigarette right now? For the rest of your life, when you look at your leg, you’ll think of the time you let me burn you with this cigarette.” I entertained the thought of this nearly romantic, violent idea for like two seconds because at the time I thought we were friends forever. Anyway, I don’t remember what I said, probably some nervous laughter, but I know I didn’t say yes.

Hindsight is 20/20: This sums up the friendship pretty well. “Can I do this bullshit to you because I think you will probably let me get away with it?” Thank god I didn’t let him do that shit.


The Scene: The interior of a champagne-colored 2003 Hyundai Elantra on a climateless Detroit afternoon.

The Vibe: Void of all vibes, broke, running low on gas. In my Hyundai and in life.

The Moment: I showed my then-partner-in-crime a bottle of Vicodin I had been gifted as a thank you for mopping up a friend’s blood off of her parents’ bathroom floor the night she sliced her hand open, severing a tendon in her wrist. While I thought it was NBD, when I revealed it to my partner-in-crime he squealed with disbelief and rabid joy. We’d taken about three each and I wanted to die, but he was having a grand old time in my passenger seat. After dropping him off, I turned down the first residential street I came to, frantically crawled out of my car onto the ground, and threw up shiny, unnaturally transparent fluid in the far corner of a stranger’s yard. I cried a little. I heard my phone blow up to the tune of “Ignition (Remix).” “Hey. Can you come back? I think I left my CDs in your car.” I got back into my car, turned around, and as I pulled in he greeted me in the driveway. Grinning, he shoved his upper body in the passenger-side window, leaning in really close. “I guess I grabbed my shit after all. By the way, do you want to take more of those pills, while you’re here?” I shoved a handful at him and sped away. I had more vomiting and crying to do.

Hindsight is 20/20: To this day, I look back and wish I wouldn’t have gone back and said something like adult me would have said, like “I saw you take your CDs when you got out, dawg!” This left me feeling like a gullible ass, which I absolutely was. What I don’t regret is not getting out of the car to take more drugs. I came back later that night and found him curled in the fetal position in his driveway, asking me to help him take off his pants and shoes and just leave him there to sleep for a while. Screw pills.


The Scene: Working as a shop girl at my local Dirt Mall, where shoppers strolling by smoking cigarettes inside or the occasional incident of teen gang violence are not out of the ordinary.

The Vibe: Lonesome dove, deer-in-headlights vibes, tending to my slowly withering midwestern optimism after relocating to Philadelphia. This was a dark time.

The Moment: A small girl with beautiful curly blonde hair came strolling in, shaking the snow off of her puffy satin black coat. With a comforting Southern accent, she was warm and friendly. She just moved to town, was staying with some guy friends, and was looking for girls to be friends with. She casually mentioned she was job-hunting at the moment, thinking about taking a gig at Delilah’s (Amber Rose’s old Lucite-heel stomping grounds) and wanted to know if we could be friends. She introduced herself as “Erica” and asked for my phone number. “Those are the guys I’m staying with right now. They just bought me these Air Force Ones.” Suddenly the delightfully perfumed Southern Belle cloud was lifted and everything snapped into focus. She smiled and waved at two monstrous black males chewing on toothpicks, both wearing black sweat suits with creepy grins on their faces. Looking down, she was pressing her rhinestone-adorned Bebe t-shirt covered chest against me a little too close and kept smacking her over-glossed lips in the mirror. “The best way to reach me is through email.”

Hindsight is 20/20: I was really desperate for friends at this point but I gave her a fake email anyways.


The Scene: Sweets from Heaven, a now-defunct candy store I worked at for minimum wage in high school.

The Vibe: Early 2000s mall vibes. Spent my days watching Father of The Bride Part II with a heavy set woman named Rusty, who shared a mobile home with 10 people and a much talked about glass dolphin night stand. Wild pigtails, tight polo shirts, glasses, smoking weed in the parking lot while on the clock, a mouth full of cavities, and a bright orange coat with white piping that I bought at Urban Outfitters before everything cool became really muted and boring. High-strung, antsy as shit, and underage.

The Moment: A year earlier, I had become friendly with this guy in his 30s, who probably crossed a few boundaries of good judgment given our generous age gap. I had gotten him on the phone and convinced him to buy me some booze. I met him outside. We sat on a bench for a while, and he talked about forgetting his wife and kids and the sky started to turn black. I put my hand on top of his and said nothing. He pulled a thin bottle of my spirit of choice at the time (WATERMELON SCHNAPPS) from his jacket and set it on my lap. “I’m heading to my car, can I give you a ride somewhere?” I tucked the bottle in my pocket, spotting his peach-hued Malibu in the parking lot. Something about him was youthful and desirable, but it filled me with absolute confusion and instant regret. “Call me sometime.” I ducked back inside as the skies opened up and it started to pour.

Hindsight is 20/20: On Loveline, Dr. Drew always says to underage girls hanging around older guys, “When you’re his age, and you think about dating someone your age now, you are going to freak out.” This statement is categorically accurate. A week later, I retrieved the bottle of Pucker from behind a pile of Archie comics in my closet and cut class to drink while driving around at 8am. I never heard from him again.

…Or Maybe 20/100: Okay but I just looked him up on Facebook and for an old guy he is kind of totally cute! Hot DAMN I am glad I didn’t get in the car that day. WHEW!

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image – Clinton Steeds