Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
You can also find Monica's writing here:

Fire Escape

What's the drunkest you've ever been? So drunk you puked in the bar bathroom? Made out with a stranger? Or worse, sex with a stranger? I once read about this alcoholic gay man who was totally smashed at a singles bar. He met what he thought was an attractive man and in his drunken, amorous state, decided to dispense with pleasantries and get it on. The duo went to the drunk man's home and engaged in various nefarious sex games.

The following morning, the alcoholic woke up, and groggily observed he was still sharing his bed. When the second man awoke he rolled over and said good morning. The drunk realized he had spent a very tawdry evening with a man with Down syndrome. The smitten fellow gushed to the alcoholic: "I love you." Suffice it to say, the ashamed alcoholic went to rehab shortly thereafter.

Now, I haven't had sex with a man with Down's, but I did eavesdrop on my ex-boyfriend having sex with his date. She might have had Down's. I don't know.

I was working at a news station in Salt Lake City when I met my boyfriend. He was a reporter from the Midwest and had just transferred to Utah. Cute and funny. We hung out, had a few laughs. We had some fun. But I was still getting over Older Married Guy (OMG). Casey Roberts was someone I considered rebound guy.

On Monday I told him I thought we'd be better as friends. On Tuesday I stayed home, snarfed cookie dough and read Us Magazine. Wednesday: dinner with The Girls. By Thursday I was ready to re-enter The Scene with aforementioned Girls.

One shot of celebratory Jagermeister turned into six, and before I knew it, I was seeing double.
"S'timeferme tago". I slur to my best friend Natalie.
"To the bathroom?" Natalie is deeply engrossed in a conversation with an unidentified male. The rest of The Girls are out dancing in the club somewhere.
"Mmmmm..." I respond after what feels like a brief nap on the bar. I lift my heavy head and slide sack of potatoes style right off the stool. My bones seem to be missing. The floor is tilting like a ship in a storm. Drunk legs are not to be trusted. Particularly those encased in a pair of extra high platforms boots. I grab the edge of the bar and begin working my way toward the door. Snatches of conversations assault my ears in pops and buzzes as I make my way toward fresh air.

"Did you see the tits on that one? Fake or real?"
"-and he was like NOway.. So then she was like, whatEVER. And I said..."
"You are so over him.. You don't need him..."

I discover that completely closing one eye considerably cuts down on the double vision. Twenty feet to go. One foot in front of the other. Left, right, left. Feelin' fine. Nobody knows I'm drunk.

I'M DOWN! Woman down!

My platform boots betray me. They veer one way, my ankles choose the other and I stumble. Platforms are dangerous! Baby Spice of the Spice Girls once broke an ankle. I make a quick recovery, or what feels quick to my impaired self and bolt for the nearest exit.

Fresh air at last! I gulp deep breaths of balmy summer night air and try to remember where I am parked. It's a rather strange phenomenon actually. The drunker I get, the better a driver I consider myself. For some reason, tossing back a few shots tricks my brain into thinking I am a terribly talented automobile operator.

I stumble randomly around the parking lot for a time. Swaying left, veering right until I bump into my car. Literally. Ouch! My shin. Once inside, I take what I believe is a brief nap. Half an hour later, I realize me getting home is about as likely as a date with Brad Pitt. Aforementioned reporter, Casey Roberts, happens to live a few blocks from this particular bar. What the hell, I could go crash at his place.

The liquor pulsing through my veins transforms this terrible decision into an appealing option. In fact, the more my alcohol addled brain mulls the idea, it comes to the conclusion that I really like Casey. I miss him, even. Did I make the right decision, in breaking up with him? Maybe he is my true love and I had stupidly let him go. In fact, with the help of alcohol, now that I think about it, he’s the love of my life! Not recognizing the siren song of Jagermeister’s syrup sweet voice, I decide to get myself to Casey's house immediately.

On the short drive over I begin to feel queasy. I've never thrown up in a car before. Really, I haven't. There was the time I asked Natalie to pull over on the way home from a bachelorette party and splattered the side of the road with Cosmopolitan and chunks of double chocolate cake. This time, I don't have the wherewithall to pull over. I make a halfhearted attempt at rolling down the window and loll my head outside. I almost make it. At least I don't get anything on my super hot ensemble. The requisite "scene" gear. Little black dress and black, knee-high, platform boots.

A few zigs, a couple zags, and quite a bit more retching later, I park my car in front of Casey's apartment building. After a short struggle with my car door, I stagger up the steps and ring the buzzer. No answer. Hmmm. I wonder if he's home. I circle the building to the back parking lot and check his stall. Red jeep in place. He's home. I lurch back around the four-story apartment building. His apartment lights are on, why isn't he answering? I press the buzzer again and wait. Still no answer.

At this particularly sad juncture, one might think I'd take my sorry ass home. Or opt for a less demoralizing approach. But liquor is evil in it's deceit: it makes me think I am a fantastic dancer, a charming conversationalist and a skilled drunk driver. So you see, the fact that I'm lurching and retching my way around the ex's apartment building like a deranged stalker holds no merit with my last cognizant brain cells. They've twisted the pathetic scenario into some sort of misguided attempt at romance.

A few moments later a young woman I recognize to be Casey's neighbor pulls her rusty Honda Civic in front of the building. She unloads a bulging laundry basket from the front seat and starts up the walk. Recognizing me, she smiles, unlocks the door and continues through. I grab the heavy metal door as it swings shut and shuffle into the building.

Outside the door of Casey's third floor apartment I stop. The door is not latched. It's slightly ajar and I can hear Dido blaring from his radio. Dido? That's strange. Dido is definitely not Casey's scene. A little too Lilith Fair for his indie musical tastes. Maybe he has a secret softer side not yet revealed to me? I edge the door inward.

"Hello? Casey? Are you ho---…” I spot a strange purse on his sofa. A very girly sky blue number. Looks like something a girl who likes Dido would carry. I freeze. Thoughts whirl through my brain while sickness swirls through my stomach and climbs my throat.

I grip the doorframe while considering my options, then inch backward and quietly close the door. Then I pound on it.

"CASEY! CASEY! Are you home"

Dido continues her sultry song, and Casey continues whatever it is he's doing with girly-girl in the depths of the apartment. I rap sharply on the door with my knuckles and wait. Nothing. I stomp back down the stairs.

"Who the fuck does he think he is?

"We just broke up on Monday and by Thursday he's met someone and already deemed them bedroom worthy?

I stagger back down the stairs to the panel of apartment buzzers in the tiny lobby. I stab at Casey's buzzer, jamming it down as far as it will go. Doing this I know, sends a god-awful drone, a sound akin to a dying cow echoing through Casey's apartment inspiring whoever is inside to rush toward the entry buzzer just to end the racket. I wait, marshaling my feminine forces of outrage.


This won't do at all! I wedge a small rock between the door and the frame to prevent it from slamming shut and locking me out, then walk to the side of the building. Once again, I peer up at Casey's apartment windows. The kitchen light is on, as it was when I was upstairs at his door. I scrutinize the bedroom window, trying to gauge whether the light is on. I can't make out much. I recently helped Casey hang dark curtains in the window to block out early morning sunshine. Curses! Foiled by my own domesticity. I can't be positive, but I think the lights are off. That's trouble. WHAT IS GOING ON IN THAT BEDROOM?

At this point all rational thought takes flight. Left behind are a few brain cells, struggling to stay afloat in a gallon of Jagermeister. This makes my next move completely expected. I jump as high as I can while liquored and wearing platforms.

Fuck. Missed!

On my third jump my fingers curl around the smooth, cold metal of the fire escape ladder. I hang, suspended in the air, platforms flailing until I can swing my legs up and around the bottom rung. Should anyone happen by, they would most certainly be startled to see a wild faced girl, hair everywhere, clothed in a little black dress and platform boots, hanging upside down from the ladder, gymnastics style, by the backs of her knees.

After a pause for breath, I pull myself up. Hard part over, I tiptoe past windows as strangers sleep, make love, watch television and argue. As I ascend the third level of the fire escape I make an interesting discovery.

Casey's window is open.

The curtain is flapping gently in the summer breeze, cloth arms seductively beckoning me to come on in... Careful to keep my back securely against the brick building, I shimmy over to the black hole that is the window.

"SLURP" "SUCK" "Mmmmmm".

These disgusting pig-at-a-trough sounds slam through my soul. I hear the bed cover rustle, AND what I am certain is the sound of a zipper! Sex is not far off. Of this, I am certain. That slut bastard! Can't go a few days without picking up some dirty little tramp for a fling! I hate him! No, I love him! That said, do I sit here and listen? Do I go home? I can't go home. The sex must be stopped! Now that someone else wants Casey, his value has increased ten-fold. I must have him.

Now that I've determined to stop the sex I momentarily consider poking my head through the curtains accompanied by a cheery "Hello!"

That won't do.

I could scar him for life. More importantly, I could scar me for life! Who cares about her? I attempt to reclaim my sanity by climbing back down the fire escape. A short time later I kiss rational thought goodbye for the night as I press the buzzer and do not stop. After five minutes of solid buzzing to drown out Dido, Casey answers.

"WHAT?" He sounds angry at being interrupted. I am happy to have interrupted.

"You let me up there right now!"

"Monica? Oh my God."

"You better hope God is on your side because I am coming up there."

"Oh shit. Can I just call you tomorrow?"

"Fuck no, you asshole! We break up three days ago and you're already fucking someone else?"

My jagged tone surprises me. I actually sound like one of those scorned women from my mom's favorite soap opera.

"Monica, just calm down. Please, can we talk tomorrow?"

"No! I'm not going anywhere."

"Monica, you are crazy! You're the one that broke up with me!"

I consider this. He's right. What AM I doing here? This is ridiculous. It's three o'clock in the morning. I am officially the psycho girl that all men talk about. Whenever you ask a guy why he broke up with his ex-girlfriend he says, "She's psycho." I am that girl. Casey will tell our coworkers and they will tell other coworkers until the entire building is in on my shame.

The thought of my coworkers whispering about me drunkenly climbing Casey's fire escape to listen in on him having sex is a sobering thought.

"You're right. Sorry."

"I am?" He actually sounds disappointed.

"I'm going home." I walk slowly toward my car head high, proud of myself despite my degrading fire escape climb. I am a strong woman. I choose to be single. I don't need a man. I began driving home. I am women hear me roar! Where is my Janis Joplin CD?

Moments later I am sobbing to Casey through the dirty payphone of the gas station down the street.

"I made a mistake. I can't handle you being with another person. Please don't do anything." I beg.

"Just come over", he says. "I'm telling her to go home."

I hang up feeling pleased with myself. I won! I am irresistible! Back in my car it occurs to me that I don't love Casey. That's why I broke up with him. A few more liquor logged brain cells swim to the top of the Jager pool and shout to me.

"What the hell are you doing?" They want to know.

"I don't know!" I shout back.

"Now you have to go over there and spend the night. This obviously means the relationship is back on!" the brain cells yell at me.

It was in this fashion that I began dating Casey Roberts again, ultimately deciding to move in with him. Of course, that relationship crashed and burned two years later, big surprise. Looking back, I am ashamed to say I should have seen it all coming. But for pride, and Jagermeister, I could have avoided the carnage altogether.

Trust your instincts. You know he isn't the one, so move on! Don't stay just because you can. Don't stay just because it's someone. Cut him lose dammit! Who cares who he's dating now? In retrospect, it's fairly ironic that climbing the fire escape lead to anything but an escape.