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Rehab Girl

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Due to circumstances that ended up out of my control, I missed my flight home from St. Louis yesterday. The circumstances? TV crew convergence. Every once in a great while the WWE will end up in a city during another major sporting event. In this case, the World Series was right down the street. Both TV crews met at the hotel bar.

Whenever a convergence happens, bars usually end up running out of alcohol. And usually, the day after a convergence, early morning flights are missed.

The feeling of missing a flight is right up there with root canal and proctologist visits. Airline gate workers take great perverse pleasure in taking out all their pent up frustration on dumb-assed alcohol-reeking idiots that manage to miss flights all on their own.

Fifteen minutes after my plane left without me, I meekly walked up to the ticket agent and explained my situation. I saw a demonic smile flash across her face as she pounded her keyboard.

With a smug grin she informed me, “Well, since you missed the 7:30 flight, you just might not make it home at all today, honey. All our flights for the rest of the day are sold out.” Then grinning a little wider she added, “Tomorrow too.”


I managed to refrain from throwing something at her head. I also somehow managed, in my debilitated state, to walk away and book a flight on Southwest – the flying Greyhound bus of the skies. Southwest has an ‘open seating’ policy, which means seats aren’t assigned, just get on, sit down, shut up and fly. First come, first served. Of course I was last, so I was in the last group, looking forward to a middle seat by the toilet next to a couple of overweight and underwashed old hags.

I grumbled to myself in the waiting area, swearing that I would never drink again, when suddenly a young-looking girl sat down next to me. Normally, I try very hard not to talk to people in airports or on planes, because the inevitable, “What do you do for a living?” question is asked. When I tell them I work for the WWE, they dive into their long story about “One time I met a wrestler and blah blah blah…” And once you’ve heard them all… there is no need to ever hear them again.

Instead of leading off with the question, she asked right away, “So, where are you going today?”

I looked up a little, but avoided eye contact. “Home”

She replied, “I’m going to rehab.”

Rehab? Hmm, what do you say to that? I started thumbing through my mental Rolodex. “Good for you?” Nope. “Rehab, eh?” Naah. I was at a loss. “Err… Hmmm… Oh.” was the best I could do.

Fortunately, the plane started boarding, which I figured would save me from having to continue making strange noises at this poor girl. Not quite. Unfortunately, thanks to Southwest’s ‘open seating’ policy, Rehab Girl ended up sitting next to me.

As we sat, she looked me in the eye and said, “You smell like YOU had some fun last night.”

The mental Rolodex came up blank for this one too. I heard myself murmur, “Sorry.” What else do you say to someone on their way to rehab when alcohol is reeking from every pore?

She said, “Oh, that’s OK, it smells good.” Then, we sat in silence as they demonstrated seat belt and oxygen mask functions. After that foolishness finished, my curiosity got the best of my hangover. “So, what are you feeling right now?” I asked.

“Right now? Thirsty. I wish they’d serve me a goddamn drink, and quick. I have Valium stuck in my throat. If you’re wondering,” she continued, “I don’t really need to go to rehab. I’m just going to regain my parent’s trust. They woke me this morning at four and told me I was going away to Jacksonville for thirty days to get clean. And the best part? The rehab center is picking me up in a limo!”

“Wait a minute. Regain your parent’s trust? How old are you?”


I can’t imagine. Rehab at eighteen? I bought my first motorcycle at eighteen. I crashed it at eighteen too. I don’t think I’d even had my first beer by the time I was eighteen.

She continued, “My favorite thing is Robitussen. That shit’s great! Take enough of it and it’s like a combination of LSD and ecstasy, but cheaper. Really fucks you up too. But it’s not a problem. I can stop at any time.”

Of course.

Soon we were airborne for the hour long flight. As she reached into her bag, I noticed long red scratch marks on her arm. She caught me looking and said sheepishly, “Damn cat. Got me good.”

“That’s one angry cat.”

Her voice lowered to a demonic whisper, and with a look similar to the evil gate agent she spat, “I’ll NEVER stop doing it! They can’t make me!”

Oooookkkkkayyyy… And with that information, I’d had about enough. The previous night’s excess was catching up and it was time to go to sleep. I closed my eyes and made an attempt. Noticing my attempt, my seatmate announced she was bored, and produced a box of Crayons and a Sesame Street coloring book. She chose a Cookie Monster picture and started coloring.

“This is all I brought, since they’ll search my bag as soon as I get there.”

Hey, whatever works.

The flight attendants offered drinks. I asked for water to try and make my hangover lessen. She asked for tonic water with lemon to help dissolve her Valium. When it came she confided, “It won’t be nearly as good without some gin.”

Of course not.

Downing my water in one gulp, still feeling tired, I tried again to sleep.

As the plane started it’s descent, she finished coloring her picture, tore it from the book, signed it and handed it to me – while I was still pretending to be asleep – saying, “Here. This is something for you to remember me by.”

Somehow, I don’t think remembering her will be a problem.

Good luck, Rehab Girl.

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