Better Life

Close Shave: Jason Stewart

Close Shave: Jason Stewart
An uncomfortable adventure for a designated driver.

I was 21, working a retail job and trying to figure out what to do with my life when I moved into a house in Orange County with a couple of friends.

They were a few years older than me, and on one of their birthdays they threw me the keys to the car and said: “We’re going to L.A. to celebrate . . . and you’re the designated driver.”

So I got behind the wheel and took them to a few bars. By the time we pulled into a club on the Sunset Strip these two guys were very drunk.

One of them – you can call him Jeff – goes to the stripper area and watches a girl on the pole. She spins around and accidentally whacks him in the face with her Lucite heel but he was so wasted he barely flinched.

The owner of the strip club saw it happen and was really upset. He was scared that we might have a lawsuit, and he didn’t want any trouble.

He immediately recognized that I was the sober one in the group. So he pulls me into his office and says: “I’m so sorry,” and gives me a stack of free passes. This stack was so big we could basically get in the place for life.

Then the owner calls the stripper into the office and makes me watch him fire her on the spot – just to let me know how serious this was.

I gather up my friends and we leave. The guys are super drunk at this point – barely even coherent. But they want something to eat. Not: “Let’s get a taco and go home.” They want to eat. So we stop at a late night restaurant and these guys order the Thanksgiving Day special.

The works. We’re talking turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, biscuits and gravy — and they’re scarfing it all down. I thought it was pretty crazy to have a king-sized feast at that hour and I didn’t know if they had the money to pay for it.

Next thing I know, my two friends get out of their seats, walk out the door and start running away from the restaurant. The classic Dine and Ditch. To this day, I don’t know why they didn’t want to share the fact that they decided not to pay for this meal with me – the designated driver. But they didn’t.

I don’t have the money to pay for this expensive meal. I don’t know what to do. So I stand up, pull out my big stack of stripper club freebies, peel off a bunch, throw them on the table and start running after my friends.

I’m faster than they are and they’re drunk, so I get to the car first.

I open the door, start the car up. One of the guys gets in the front seat. But Jeff, the bigger guy, is kind of slow, and he’s still running.

The other guy gets out, opens the back door for Jeff. Jeff dives in headfirst. But the waiter from the restaurant is right on his tail.

The waiter has Jeff by the legs and is trying to drag him out of the backseat. Jeff gives him a couple of kicks, and the waiter sprawls out of the car. Then Jeff slams the door and I hit the gas. Just floor it. We peel out and we’re gone.

I was happy we made it out alive and got home without the cops stopping us.

I didn’t hang out with those guys much after that.

And I would like to think that the waiter and his buddies in the kitchen cut their losses, took off to the strip club after work and got their money’s worth.

Jason Stewart is a musician, DJ and podcaster living in Los Angeles.