Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A shot in the dark

I scurried over to the Puerto-Rican market last night (out of cigarettes again). The round trip usually takes about five or six minutes, and I don't think it took any longer than that last night.

On my return, however, the sidewalk was blocked by a teenager sitting spread-eagle with his back against a wrought-iron fence. He looked like he was growing out of the ground, so firmly planted and permanent. I actually started to convince myself that of course he must have been there on the first leg of the journey, but I would have recalled stepping over or around a body. He just seemed so comfortable that I momentarily mistrusted my senses.

As I approached, I realized he was making me nervous. He was watching me walk, and I spotted a few other youths on bicycles circling a parked car who I would have to pass first. I wondered briefly if they were planning to ambush me. It seemed a little overly elaborate for my neighborhood, but you never can tell.

When I finally reached the spot where I had to walk around his outstretched legs, he hoisted a large, clear vodka bottle unsteadily at me. It was nearly full.

"Wanna shot?" He could not possibly have been so much as 17 years old. It was about eight at night.

"No, thank you." It struck me as a weirdly polite response, considering the circumstances. It came out like I was refusing an aperitif at a lavish party.

"You sure?" He was visibly disappointed. I got the impression that he had planted himself there in the hopes that I would join him in a drink. Maybe he wanted to hear my stories, or he had stories of his own he thought I might like.

I was sure, but I didn't respond. I went home instead.

So I ask you, Blogreader: did I miss the chance at an exciting new drunken friend, simply by mistrusting the contents of a bottle offered by a drunken underage stranger on the street? Would you have sat and taken a long pull from the bottle and let the night go where it wanted? Or would you have done the same as me?

15 comments:

strugglingwriter said...

Strange and interesting things always seem to happen on these late night quests, or at least that's what I remember from my pre-baby days.

It would probably have been an interesting night if you would've stayed and got completely plastered with the kid. I would probably have reacted the same way you did, though.

This sounds like an interesting set-up for your next contest :)

goodthomas said...

I think perhaps you missed an adventure. A delayed ambush, or perhaps, just an evening spent sharing a bottle with a young man you did not know.

The sacrifices you would be making for an interesting story.

I envisioned the scenario playing out, of him drinking, you staring intently at the bottle lip before drinking and then him nudging you to go across the street and "buy the next couple of bottles since he didn't have his identification with him." And then him drinking more than his share.

Truthfully, I would have done the same thing. Same polite response, too. Though I would have never wondered if I should have accepted.

I like the writing here, sir T. Very nice.

Minty said...

I know I would have stopped when I was younger; I don't know what I would have done at this point. I hate feeling like I've disappointed someone, so that might have kept me there--probably to one of our detriments.

I would never have taken a drink--herpes simplex or whatever.

The Moon Topples said...

Struggly: Interesting, perhaps. But I doubt I would have felt at ease.

GT: You left out only the part where I surreptitiously wipe off the bottle's mouth before taking a drink.

Minty: I think I was also worried about what else might be in the bottle: herpes, a drug of some kind. You never, ever know.

Shameless said...

Oh what a lovely situation, Moon. You did what we all do, even when we think there may be something interesting in it. There is often more to it though, which is a shame, and so you probably avoided lots of extra baggage. Kid sitting on pavement with bottle adds up to trouble. Or does it?
A recent advert on French television: a black man approaches a string of people with an "excuse me". They all wave him off and keep walking (just another beggar or con artist )before he has a chance to say his bit. We learn at the end that he was simply wanting to know the directions to the train station. A wonderful lesson for us busy ones.

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

You know, if I was in that situation I'd have gotten nervous at the very sight of the kid sprawled out on the sidewalk and I probably would have turned around and taken a longer route home.

Chris said...

I find it sad that a 17 yr old kid is drinking on a Monday night. My heart aches for him. Where is his family or is he a street kid? Where did he get the booze? What pain is he trying to numb?

Now I'm all depressed.

kyklops said...

Hmm... it's possible that something interesting might have come out of it, but I think your polite refusal was a perfectly acceptable reponse (and was certainly more tactful than visibly wiping off the bottle before having a swig!).

I'm not sure what the police are like in Chicago, but where I come from they tend to have an extremely negative attitude about openly drinking in public...

Jay said...

I don't usually turn down free drinks, but street vodka...I'm thinking you made a good choice.

nmj said...

This is nice writing, Mr Moon.

zorak163 said...

I've got a germ phobia so there's no way I would have joined him in a drink. I would have been just as suspect of him and his motives as you were. He, on the other hand, was probably just a harmless drunken teenager.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I would have responded exactly as you did. Why would anyone be less polite than usual in any encounter? But then, I also say "excuse me" to my cat when I'm in her way.

While always curious about other peoples' worlds, I do not often join them if they are unknown to me. Remember what your mama taught you about taking candy from strangers... the same applies at least as strongly to booze offered directly from the bottle.

Liz said...

I think I would have definitely gone home. You have to trust your instincts and if your instincts are making the hair on the back of your neck rise up, it's time to go home.

Minx said...

If.....

Katie said...

Living in Glasgow has made me wary of drunken teenagers. I would have left as well.