Breaking the Ice: Coming Out of My Shell

By A.J. Martelli

Friday. 10:35 a.m.

I sat in the barber chair watching the stylist clip my hair. I looked on as my long, golden locks of hair fell to the floor. I had already bought some new shirts, new jeans, and new shoes. It was about 11 in the morning when she was finished and my haircut was complete.

“So, what are you doing this weekend?” my barber asked.

“Just, uh…going out with some friends,” I timidly responded.

I did not want to get into all the details about my night out. It was too complicated to explain.

Normally on Friday nights, people go out to bars. They hook up with their girlfriends or boyfriends, and do what everyone always does-drink.

Friday nights for me generally involve babysitting my cousins at home, watching Yankee games or WWE Smackdown, and falling asleep around 11 from the exhaustion brought on by the week.

But this was not any other Friday night.

Four weeks before today, after our school newspaper meeting, a few of my classmates entertained the idea of me going out to a bar. Feeling that I needed to get out more, my good friend Jennifer LaGrippo orchestrated a night out with the whole theme centered on me having fun.

She dubbed it “The A.J. Martelli Social Party” – a night spent out in the White Plains bars.

LaGrippo invited all members of the newspaper staff, giving me a certain level of comfort. A handful of them agreed to attend this event and show their support for me and my so-called “launch into society.”

Acting as cool as the other side of the pillow, I agreed to go through with it.

1:57 p.m.

I am patiently waiting for the night’s action. Working on an assignment for school I am interrupted by a text message from my friend and fellow newspaper staff member Kevin Lewis.

“Where are we meeting tonight?” Lewis asked me through the text.

I promptly responded, “Ask Jenn. She hasn’t let me know yet.”

Pondering and recognizing my skepticism, I began to wonder if I would make it to the bar safely and in one piece. I did not concern myself with anything more than arriving to the bar, being that I get lost very easily.

And realizing an even bigger problem: I had no idea which bar in White Plains we were going to.

7:07 p.m.

I heard from LaGrippo. She gave me the name and the address of the bar to meet at and told me to “Mapquest” the directions.

Yes, good old unreliable It struck even more terror into my heart.

After I gathered directions from the web, I began to get ready. I stood in the mirror for the better part of 20 minutes to ensure my looks were acceptable. I was specifically told to wear no Yankee apparel or my Nike sneakers, which everyone seemed to have a problem with.

In about an hour or so I was ready to head out and face the night, like facing the other team’s closer in the bottom of the ninth; down by three runs with the bases loaded and two outs.

I knew I had to come through in the clutch and hit a grand slam on this night.

8:44 p.m.

I am getting ready to leave. About 20 minutes ago, I received a call from my friend Micheal Robinson, another die-hard Yankee fan living in Atlanta, Georgia.

He asked me about the “A.J. Martelli Social Party” and what the idea behind it was. I explained it to him and he chuckled. To my surprise, he too went through the same thing a couple years ago when he was 22.

“My friends did the same thing to me,” he remarked. “They wanted to take me out and get me to drink and try to get me out of watching TV on the couch every Friday night.”

It sounded awfully familiar.

“Have fun. Above all else, have fun,” Robinson reminded me. “But if you really do not want to do something don’t let them make you do it. Just be yourself and stay loose. Have some drinks and have a good time.”

That conversation put my mind at ease. All I had to do was be myself. Easy enough.

Before I walked out the door, I looked in the mirror. I ran my fingers through my hair and sprayed a shot of Polo cologne on my neck, as if I was trying to impress the girl of my dreams.

With a reluctant yet confident look on my face, I walked out the door and into the night.

10:13 p.m.

My worst nightmare manifested itself. I am completely lost in White Plains.

I knew it would happen. I inherited the trait of having no sense of direction from my mother’s side of the family. My grandfather has told me several stories of how, on more than one occasion, he has gotten lost trying to find somewhere he needed to be.

Driving around aimlessly, I stopped and asked a man on the street for directions. Even with his help, I still remained confused and clueless as to where I was.

My phone buzzed. It was an incoming call from LaGrippo. Before I answered it, I knew what I was going to hear.

“Where are you? What’s going on? Did you bail on us?”

I’m lost, I don’t know what’s going on, and no, I did not bail on you.

With beads of sweat dripping down my face and feeling as panicked as a rat trapped in a maze, LaGrippo calmed me. She talked me through how to get to the bar and eventually I made it there.

Mapquest’s calculation informed me that the bar was 33 minutes from my house.

It only took me around an hour and a half.

11:04 p.m.

We are at the bar. The noise and crowd took me by surprise. John Ceravino and Alissa Weinstein, other fellow newspaper writers, walk in. The sight of familiar faces brought my once panicked mindset down to a relaxed frame of mind.

LaGrippo tells me and Lewis to go up to the bar and order a drink. Never having done this before, she had to give me directions on what to do.

“Make your way up there, tell them what you want, and they’ll give it to you.”

Unlike the directions to the bar, this was simple. The only problem was getting up to the bar. Shuffling through hordes of people, I managed to get to the front and order a beer.

Coors light. The only beer I really ever drink.

We sat in a section above all the people and tried to talk over the deafening music.

“Are you having fun?” LaGrippo shouted at me from across the table.

“Yes!” I exclaimed, hoping she would hear me.

12:40 a.m.

We’re at another bar. Our group moved away from the first bar after a few drinks and I was left sitting on a stool watching baseball highlights.

I ordered another Coors Light. This was my third drink of the night, counting the lemon drop shots I took at the first bar. The group got up and began to dance, but I remained seated. Soon enough, I realized I wasn’t watching baseball highlights anymore.

The DJ in the corner threw a loud track on the turntables. With a perplexed look on my face, I looked up and a girl was dancing in front of me on top of the bar.

It was the type of thing I had only seen in the movies. I was now seeing live and in-person. I turned around and glanced back at LaGrippo, Ceravino, Lewis, and Weinstein-all standing there smirking like know-it-all children.

Had they put this girl up to it? I didn’t even want to know.

Having no choice but to sit back and enjoy the dance, I happened to get a glimpse of two police officers outside. I noticed both of them; turning to each other pointing and laughing at me. It’s almost as if they knew this was my first time going out to a bar.

I looked at them, smiled, shrugged, and took another sip of my beer.

2:22 a.m.

I feel like I have nothing left. My eyelids seemed as though they were heavier than the weight of an 18-wheeler. The group doesn’t look fazed by it and still wants the night to roll on.

We entered another bar. As we came in I lazily watched a grown man stagger out the door. His friend did not look inebriated and was, to my best guess, the person driving him home.

I’m used to watching designated hitters on Fridays, not designated drivers.

We eventually lost track of Weinstein. I suppose she managed to let the bar atmosphere wisk her away into the night. Now it’s a four-person group: LaGrippo, Lewis, Ceravino, and myself.

We walked outside to the back of the bar. An enormous crowd of people were scattered all over the patio. I took a seat in a chair, feeling that I had burnt myself out to the absolute maximum.

Yet one member of our group was more out of it than I was.

Clenching his stomach, he regurgatated, unable to hold his alcohol. His actions prompted our removal from the bar, leaving us asking ourselves what to do next. It was already late and I was out of it.

Finding myself nauseas, I too had a stomachache. As we were being thrown out of the bar, I bent over, clenched my stomach, and vomited up my alcohol.

I now know what it feels like to drunk-puke. It is not fun.

4:15 a.m.

LaGrippo suggested we go to a diner in hopes of getting sober.

Ceravino ordered pancakes and they ordered me a bagel. My stomach, still upset from the vomiting episode, was not in the mood for it. I took small bite after small bite, but consumed about as much water as there is in the Hudson River.

I bent my head down and leaned it up against the window next to the booth we were seated at. LaGrippo began the process of asking me how I felt and if the night was worth it.

“Did you have fun?” she asked me.

“Yes,” I said. “This was certainly an experience.”

“Would you want to do this again? You know, like every weekend,” she kidded.

“I would do this again,” I replied. “I always have fun when I am with my friends, but every weekend…I cannot handle that!”

5:15 a.m. (I think)

I walked through the front door. I could hear my sister getting ready for work.

“Did I really stay out this late?” I thought to myself.

Before I plopped face first onto my bed, I tried to remember ever staying out as late as I had. A few years back, I dated a girl and some nights did not get home until 2 or 3 in the morning. My parents were always mindful about how late I stayed out and always wanted me back by a certain time.

But I’m 22 now. No curfew, no rules.

I smiled and belly-flopped onto my pillow.

“It was worth it,” I mumbled. “It was worth it.

Then, after a long night’s journey into day, I passed out.

“The A.J. Martelli Social Party” a success.