Wild Night

In which our heroine befriends the guy who slept in her Corolla. Sort of.

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“Wild night?” my roommate sat down on the corner of my bed and asked.

“What are you talking about?” I had never had a wild night in the year I lived in Boulder, but I was flattered that she thought I was capable of pulling one off, and I wanted to hear more about this wild night of mine. I stretched out in my bed. It came from a dumpster, but it was king sized, and it was a good bed.

“That guy in your car,” she said. “Did you guys have a fight?”

“What?” I thought back on the night before. I remembered watching the dog obedience class in the park across the street from our porch, and then, when the class was over, throwing crackers at the squirrels while they had really loud sex on the porch banister. It was wild, but not the kind of wild I think she would have woken me up to talk about.

“You don’t know the guy in your car?” she asked.

“Definitely not.” I put shorts on and Katie followed me outside. Legs were hanging out of the back seat of my Corolla. We approached slowly. They were hairy man’s legs. We got up closer, and there in the back seat, in a nest of tennis shoes, books, and clothing, was a whole sleeping man. I was moving to the west coast in a few days, and everything I owned was packed up in the back seat of that car.

“Get out of my car,” I said. The man woke up. “What are you doing in my car?” I asked.

He pulled himself out of the nest. He was maybe six feet tall with a reddish goatee. He was scared. “I don’t know…”

I lowered my voice some. “Did you take anything?”

I leaned into the back seat. There was a huge mess of underwear, textbooks, and Rollerblades on the seat he had been sleeping on. A large bag of art supplies ripped by a protractor was on the floor. Nothing was missing, and unfortunately it was all still in the manner that I had packed it. I wished he had stolen some of it.

The guy rubbed his eyes and looked at Katie, who had not accused him of anything, while he tried to remember how he had come to sleep in the back seat of a stranger’s Corolla. “I can’t remember…God, I’m sorry…My buddies and I were drinking a lot…I’m not from here…I think my buddy lives over there.” He pointed to a similar salt box home across the park. It seemed like a believable story. He couldn’t explain why he had thought sleeping in the back seat of a Corolla packed with junk was a good idea, but I couldn’t remember if I had locked the back seat or not. I thought probably not.

We invited him in so he could go to the bathroom and recover some. Katie and I hadn’t seen each other for a couple of days, so we had a lot to discuss about moving. Katie found an extra toothbrush so the guy could brush his teeth. I told her I didn’t think our scum lord was going to be that strict about our deposit as long as we cleaned some. She said she would buy paper towels. I let the guy drink water from the only cup left in the cupboard. He rubbed his neck and said he thought he might have used a bag of colored pencils as a pillow.

“I’m really sorry, but man you were so mad,” he said.

“Well, you were in my car, sleeping on everything I own,” I said.

“Yeah, I was really scared, I was like who is this person yelling at me?”

“Yeah, well I didn’t know who you were, and you were sleeping on my stuff, you know?” This went on for a while and then he apologized some more and went home to his friend’s house.

He came back in the afternoon with his friends and a bottle of wine to say sorry again. I had just finished a call to my student loan lender, and I was feeling profoundly lonely. I said they could come back when Katie got home to drink the wine and maybe have a barbecue. I forgot we didn’t have any plates, or food, and that we never did have a grill.

It didn’t matter, though. They showed up too drunk to care about food. We all hung out for a while, and then his buddies left, and Katie went to bed. The guy who spent the night in my car started to talk a lot about being a homeowner and fully employed. I really didn’t know why he would talk about that. It made me sad. I guess he was trying to tell me that normally he was an upstanding citizen, and that he didn’t pass out in just anyone’s car — I was special. We made out on the porch.

After a while he said, “I woke up in your car this morning; shouldn’t I wake up in your bed tomorrow?” It was a golden line, yes, but I was afraid of STDs among other problems, so he went home to his buddy’s house, which I bet was a more comfortable place to sleep than the back seat of my car anyway. •

When Emily Maloney is not traveling the globe, she lives at home with her mom in Oregon. Her column Emily’s World appeared weekly on The Smart Set. She can be reached at emilymaloney@yahoo.com.

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