It was the hottest day of the year and my former roommate and I had just helped each other move into our respective new places. Still in my sweat-soaked clothes, I collapse on my couch. As soon as my head hit the cushion, the front door knocked.

I answered the door to find my new upstairs neighbor inviting me to come out to a baseball game. I am not a baseball fan, and was exhausted, but in an effort to be neighborly and maybe make some new friends, I took him up on the offer. That’s when he introduced me to our ride, Jose.

Five seconds after the car door closed, I realized Jose was drunk as fuck. The tall boy in the drink holder backed up my suspicions.

We MarioKarted through the city to the stadium, narrowly missing parked cars and bouncing off curbs, my mind raced. What kind of first impression would it make if I demanded they stop the car and let me out? Would they think I was a pussy? Would it matter who thought I was a pussy if I ended up plastered on the asphalt? Was I in an afterschool special right now?

Throughout the drive, Jose would regularly turn completely around to talk to me while he was driving and I was in the backseat. I tried to answer his questions as quickly as possible, hoping he’d stop asking them. But it just wouldn’t stop.

And then he reached under his seat and pulled out a bottle of Jack Daniels. He took a healthy swig, turned around (while blasting through an intersection) and offered me a pull. At that point I knew I had to get out of the car as soon as possible. My hand snaked its way to the door handle. If the car stopped, I would jump out, no protests, no explanation, no goodbye. Just jump out of the car.

Then we crested a hill - and I could see the stadium. We were less than half a mile away. Jose slowed down to match the pace of accumulating traffic. My anxiety level dropped. We had arrived and I was alive.

I walked home after the game.

Jose would eventually become a friend. A fun guy who would come by, party, jam, just have a swell time. But I never got in a car with him again.