“Um… guys?,” whispered Ashley from behind the dressing room door. “Guys? GUYS!,” she said a few seconds later a little more urgently.
WHAT?, I thought to myself. What could be more important than this pair of blue and white heinous pair of American Eagle surfing shorts I am trying on at this very moment? I want them. I need them. I LOVE them. YOU ARE INTERRUPTING OUR LOVE AFFAIR.
“Oh… god,” I heard Johanna moan as I slowly pushed open my door to see what the problem was. Peering around the corner my eyes immediately locked onto an expanding red puddle of liquid on the floor visible from inside Ashley’s dressing room.
To preface this unfolding situation, I will let you in on a fact most who know me today wouldn’t guess… at the age of 15, I was a complete degenerate. An innocent looking, well-dressed degenerate. If I had grown up in California and 10 years later, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have been a valued member of the Bling Ring. And I would have enjoyed it.
At the age of 29, I don’t do drugs (for the most part), I don’t drive drunk and I don’t steal. The fear of the sheer embarrassment of ever being arrested keeps me from even thinking about doing something I’m not supposed to these days. I’ll leave the mug shots to Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes… who I have formed an unhealthy interest in lately. Is she crazy? Is she not? Who is allowing her access to that blue eye shadow? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
At the age of 15, consequences didn’t exist in my mind. Is this person too drunk to drive? Well, he’s puking out the window but I’ll be fine. Do I have the money to buy this black mini dress? Nope but I want it and I’m going to take it anyway. Do I know what this little blue pill is going to do? No idea but give it to me. I had no fear of the repercussions for my actions. In my underdeveloped brain, nothing bad had ever happened and nothing bad ever could. To be quite honest, I’m lucky I didn’t get into more trouble than I did as a teenager given some of the incredibly stupid decisions I made at the time. My choices did result in one 8th grade suspension, one freshman year arrest, one lifetime ban from a Connecticut Filene’s (which I am more than ok with) and many nights vomiting in or around the line of trees growing along my parents’ front lawn. Memories, people, memories.
So back to this American Eagle dressing room scene. Now that you know a little more about my fifteen year old self, it is safe to assume I was about to place those lovely shorts into my bag and stroll out of that store. You can also assume my friends were aware of what I was about to do and that they were also eyeing merchandise to pilfer. There’s only one thing better than a single thieving degenerate and that’s THREE!
As the red liquid pooling on the floor continued to grow in size, I walked towards the room. This idiot broke an ink tag, I thought to myself. How is she going to talk her way out of this one?
“Oh my god,” repeated Johanna as I pushed open the room’s door. There stood Ashley, eyes like saucers, shirt in hand, with this red liquid dripping down her arm.
As I got closed I realized it was not ink on the floor, and not only was it not ink but that Ashley was bleeding profusely from her hand.
“WHAT HAPPENED??,” I said.
“I, I, I just, I don’t know, I reached in my bag to get something to break off the sensor and I cut myself,” whispered Ashley. “I don’t know what to do, oh my god, what do we do?,” she said as she wrapped her hand in an American Eagle polo.
“You need stitches,” said Johanna. “You can’t walk out of here like that! We have to tell someone!”
“I can’t get in trouble. My mom will MURDER me. Tell them I cut myself by accident. Oh my god… oh my god!”
As Ashley continued to bleed, Johanna and I looked at each other and realized one of us had to go tell a store employee that our friend was in the midst of staging a murder scene in their dressing room before she started bleeding into the actual store. I’ve worked in retail before and one thing I can assume most customers never appreciate? Puddles of blood.
“Ok, OK, I’ll go get someone. Don’t worry, it’s gonna be fine,” I said to Ashley. Jesus Christ, you have to be KIDDING, I said to myself.
“Excuse me, miss? Um.. I think my friend just cut herself in your dressing room, err I think she might need to go to the hospital…,” I trailed off.
“What?,” she stared back at me.
“My friend, she’s bleeding, I think she cut herself.” I pointed to the dressing room.
As the sales woman followed me to the back of the store, I almost started laughing at the ridiculousness of the scene. Ashley now sat on the floor, hand wrapped in a new blood spattered version of their classic signature tee.
“Miss, I’m going to call an ambulance,” said the sales woman upon examining the situation. “Just stay there, don’t move.” Johanna and I made eye contact at this moment and began snickering a bit.
“THIS ISN’T FUNNY,” wailed Ashley. This only served to encourage us and our snickers increased to clearly audible laughter.
“If you tell anyone about this I’ll kill you both. Seriously. NO ONE CAN KNOW ABOUT THIS. PROMISE ME!”
“Uh huhh… sure,” we both promised in between fits of laughter.
For some unknown reason I cannot recall, Johanna and I drove her car to the hospital instead of going in the ambulance with Ashley. Not only did we laugh the entire way there, we continued laughing all the way to the emergency waiting room.
While sick patients walked by, parents waited with worrisome faces, we sat together sharing fits of giggles like two morons. Looking back now, the level of immaturity I was capable of achieving at fifteen is almost impressive.
After about 30 minutes, an orderly strolled out from behind the ER’s doors to ask us if we wanted to go back and see Ashley. Of course we did. And of course we continued laughing. We laughed from the waiting room to the hall and right into Ashley’s room.
The doctor who was assigned to her was still hovering over her hand and finishing up the last of her stitches. Ashley grimaced and gave us both dirty looks as we smiled back at her.
“Good job… Great job, buddy,” I said. “Seriously, shut up!,” snapped Ashley, followed by an unnecessarily harsh look from the doctor.
Johanna and I looked around the room for a few minutes while still cackling like retarded children as the doctor finished up. When she was done she asked us to wait outside while she gave Ashley directions for follow up.
It was only in the car ride home we were informed that in addition to giving her follow up directions, the doctor had shared a tidbit of wisdom with Ashley.
“You are who you surround yourself with,” the woman had said to her. “And those two may not be the best choice.”
My response? Laughter of course. Would you expect anything less?
Despite our monumental immaturity, we didn’t tell anyone. No one at school other than Ashley’s sister found out and only the three of us alone continue to mock her about it today.
Personally, I still laugh at most things inappropriately. And I don’t think it’s a sign of immaturity anymore but more a sign of my unique sense of humor. At least that’s what I tell myself anyway.