There was once a time when I did not flinch at the idea of jogging up or down a flight of stairs in flip-flops, now I know better. You could say that my 5 chipped teeth and the huge doctor's bill for an examined spine might have done the trick. This is the retelling of how I lost a friend, humiliated myself, and got dumped all involving a single mishap with a cheap pair of shoes one night.
Let's begin with the positives leading up to the traumatic occasion. I was finally becoming an employee of value as a temp (if that is possible) and as such, I was getting more hours on my time card. The downside of becoming a person in demand is that now that I was getting an almost usefully sized paycheck, I ironically had no spare time to spend my cash. That didn't bother me though, because my crush Ned* was starting to notice me and I thought he was just the best. He was a fisherman who I took a surfing class from once and always seemed to be the guy there when I needed him ever after. Yeah, things were going so well, or so I thought.
Due to the fact that my social group consisted of mostly blue-collar workers, we tended to be very busy people and it was hard to schedule time together. When we did have an event it was a big deal for us all to let loose and have some fun. This need to gather was met every September in a big end of summer bash. With the excuse of celebrating my long time friend Bev's birthday, all the people in our friend group would chip in and rent a patio boat for a night. We would drink it up and eat burgers while singing badly as loud as we could. It was something we had been doing for years. Ned knew all about it and volunteered to be our designated driver for the event since he already had his boating license.
The weekend before the party Ned and I finally went on an actual date together. First, we went to a movie, then we walked around and talked for a while. I found out a lot about him, like that he used to be married to a staunch anti-alcohol activist. He said that even though he rarely drank that it turned into an argument every time his ex-wife saw anyone drink alcohol and that he threw in the towel with her after she sucker-punched at his cousin during her wedding reception for having an open bar. Not knowing what to say I reacted by mumbling "that must have been hard for you." To which he replied something to the effect of him being glad that he doesn't have to deal with her antics anymore. I guess him bringing up his ex put him in a bad mood and he took me home. In the car, we had an awkward kiss and I really hoped that our next time out together would be less depressing.
The day before the big patio boat party all the details fell into place. My job didn't need me that afternoon and my friends and I had time to book a spa day at a strip mall. After our nails were fully mani/pedi perfect we went to buy some last-minute items. My girls Bev and Molly made jokes about how I had to look "hot" for my well-tanned, emerald-eyed man. So, we went into a trampy store and picked out the most eye-patch like bikini there for me. The only shoes they sold were 6-inch high platform heels and even I knew that a night of drinks and a double-decker patio boat was a bad idea to mix with heels like that, so I didn't get them.
That night, we all met on the dock, and with Ned included there were 18 people on board. As soon as the keg was delivered we were off. It was awesome. Molly brought a karaoke machine with a stack of 90's albums. I had worn my cheap flip-flops thinking that everyone wouldn't care what I was wearing in the dark and fearing that I would trip if I wore heels and the boat rocked. Bev's boyfriend Vic* manned the grill and a couple of friends from my old job danced like it was the last day of Disco. The party was lit and I went up the stairs to check on Ned, who was probably a little bit lonely. Halfway up I was shocked to see Tara* who was Bev's sister on Ned's lap. They were moving past second base and I quietly went back to the party feeling stupid in my tiny bikini.
There I was on the sideline of one of my favorite annual events when Josh* (a friend from high-school) offered for me to do a keg stand. I told him that I had never done one. He said all I had to do was to steady myself while he and Molly's co-worker, a bartender lifted me as I chugged through a hose beer. At that moment anything was better than thinking about how my ego had been stomped by Ned and Tara the community college fail out. My first keg stand ended with beer shooting out of my nose, but the second and later third were fine-tuned acts of debauchery.
I was pretty tipsy and after some great Mariah Carey sings I got up the nerve to tell off Ned. I marched myself right up those metal steps and confronted him and Tara both. I started by calling Tara a cheap tart who got fired from Apple Bee's for stealing tequila and I told Ned that he was a wimp that wears patted insoles to hide the fact that he was short and had too long of nose hair (all true). Feeling like I had the upper hand I turned around to go back to the party. On the first step down the toe strap of my flip-flop separated from the sole and I slipped down those stairs screaming and rolling like a cartoon character until I was stopped at the bottom by the metal railing on the side of the boat. I slammed into it mouth first and it was I good thing that I had been screaming or I would have had a very cut-up lip. Instead, my teeth took the beating and I cried as Tara and Ned looked at me with both concerns and I think a stifled laugh. When I turned around everyone at the party had stopped what they were doing and I could hear a collective gasp. My tiny bikini did not protect me from the nonskid strips on the steps and the skin over my spine was ripped up and bleeding like someone had taken a cheese grater to it. The party was over.
Ned took the boat right back to the dock and Josh took me to an ambulatory care clinic. Everyone was too bummed out to carry on and the biggest party our group had every year seemed to meet its demise after that night. At the clinic, I didn't need stitches but the bill was enough to make a rich man sweat and all my extra hours on the job were gone just like that. To add insult to my injury, Tara and Ned dated for a few years after that too, and awkwardly running into them on dates was never fun. Apparently, I set into motion their relationship by being the example of what no one wants to end up like. Still, nothing lasts forever and since their break-up, I heard he goes around telling people that she is an unreformed kleptomaniac that he just couldn't save. Tara's story is that Ned cheated on her at Bev's wedding to a blender salesman. As for me, I just hate flip-flops out of all of it.
*Names were changed to protect privacy.