A handful of years back, I went to a birthday party from hell. It was the thirtieth birthday of a close girlfriend I know from the club. Her boyfriend—a guy I wasn’t crazy about—had reserved a private room at a swanky restaurant in Hollywood. This crowd (I like to keep my groups of friends separate) parties pretty hard, so I knew I was in for a crazy night. I was running errands around town that day (my daily ritual and a big perk from working nights) when I got a call from an unknown number. I don’t usually pick these up, but for some dumb fucking reason I did. It was Chase’s boyfriend, Vance. Vance and I are not friends and they’ve had a ton of jealousy issues between them. I smelled trouble.

“Oh, hey Vance, what’s up?”

“I just wanted to run some of the plans for tonight by you and ask for your advice on something.”

Shit. Why did Chase give this fucknut my number? I love that girl, but she makes some whack-a-doo decisions.

“Okay” I said with some trepidation.

“I’m on my way to pick up diamond earrings for Chase. They cost twenty grand” Jaw drop. “She said she wanted diamond earrings because the only ones she ever had were stolen.”

“Mhm” I mumble. I was shocked. I know this kid has money (He’s only twenty-six), but they’ve been dating (off and on I might add) for no longer than eight months. Isn’t twenty grand a little much? I was walking on land mines.

“That’s very generous Vance. She’ll love it.” I couldn’t think of what else to say, and I desperately wanted to get off the phone. But he kept going. I was starting to get the feeling that this was just a forecast of what I was in for that night.

My stomach started to turn. “Should I get them,” he asked, than continued, “I could buy them for about eight grand from my diamond guy, but she wants Tiffany’s.”

He’s got a diamond guy? Who is this dude? Of course she wants Tiffany’s. What girl doesn’t? I went into a rushed diatribe about how Tiffany’s will keep their value and be worth more in the long run. No fucking way I’m going to be the one to tell him NOT to buy expensive diamond earrings for my friend. That’s a shit show of a situation, even though I know it’s likely they will break up next week. Or tomorrow. Wanting to change the subject, I told him about the cake and made an excuse to get off the phone. Before I hung up, he added some shit about me getting there early so the three of us could have some “special time” together first. Ugh. Here we go. I said goodbye and was suddenly hoping to get hit by a bus.

I took my time getting ready, which included a couple cocktails and a pinch of speed for head preparation. I got to the restaurant late, and sure enough, I was the first to arrive. I was trying so hard not to be the first one. I’m a timely gal, so this took actual energy, but it’s near impossible to show up after this circle of friends. Thank god my head was in the beginning of its addled state, although not nearly enough...not by a long shot. I gave them both big hugs, and I sat across from them at the table set for twelve. I immediately started looking for our server.

Originally she had over twenty people confirmed, but the number kept dwindling as the day progressed. I could tell Chase was stressed. The Tiffany bag was sitting front and center on the table. After only a few minutes (and before I could even order a drink) Chase stands up and pulls me downstairs into the bathroom. She was in a complete frenzy—apparently she knows about the earrings. She never meant for him to spend so much money and she’s freaking out. Jesus...these two. Her boy has blow, which she brought into the bathroom. I snort the two fat lines she laid down for me (even though I don’t like blow), but the tension is so palpable, I wanted anything to dull the noise. I gave her some out-of-my-mind advice about just accepting the earrings and simply saying thank you. What the fuck else was I going to say? I just wanted the night to be over. And it had just started!

Twenty minutes later, we dragged ourselves out of the bathroom. Only a couple people had arrived during our sabbatical. We kept apologizing to the wait staff. They expected a dinner party of twenty or more and there were six of us. Chase was stressed. I was stressed. No amount of drugs or booze would help, but it didn’t stop me from trying. At one point Vance drags me outside to have a talk. Lord, help me. We should have insisted on a girls’ night. I don’t remember exactly what he was saying, but my gray matter clicked in when I realized he was talking about a threesome with him and Chase. He was telling me that they spoke about it and it’s what Chase wants for her birthday. What a dick. We’re talking about a close friend of mine who is not shy. If she wanted to have a threesome, she would have just fucking told me.

Having said that, she’s also been not so secretly making moves on me since the beginning of our friendship, so there was a slim chance she was having Vance do her dirty work. I knew there was no great way of getting out of the box he was putting me in. I was stuck between a douche and a hard place. I was screwed. I didn’t trust this guy. I felt trapped and I didn’t appreciate it. There didn’t seem to be any winning scenario. If I could have self-combusted on command—taking him with me—I would have. Instead, I side-skirted the issue and ran to the bathroom to take a personal time out. Willing the clock to fast forward.

When our other friends finally arrived, I was so happy to see them I could cry. We ducked back into the bathroom and one of them lays out lines of crystal. LINESI never do speed like this, but when stuck in a purgatory birthday scenario, anything goes. Food was finally coming out when we sat back at the table. No one was eating. I nibbled on a couple things to be courteous. It was a little before midnight. We did the cake. I hate cake and singing: it’s so forced and awkward. Especially on this night. Then it was present time. She opened his last. It was the Tiffany Blue colored elephant in the room. There were two boxes in the bag. The first was a silver necklace. She put it on. But she hesitated at the second box. You could tell she didn’t want to open it. I just wanted her to rip the Band-Aid off so I could go home.

The earrings were huge. She wasn’t faking “happy” very well. She looked like how she felt: panic-stricken. It was un-fucking-comfortable. Vance was paying for the dinner and all the drinks, so everyone was being sort of artificially nice to him. Not that we wouldn’t have been, but it added another bizarre element to the mix. I motioned for her to put them on. As she begrudgingly does, Vance pulls out a card from under the earring box and hands it to me. It’s the salesperson’s card that includes information about the diamonds and the price! I discreetly handed it back to him, fearing what was about to happen. My fear realized, he hands it to one of our friends: so tacky. Why didn’t he just give her a wad of bills? He wouldn’t put that goddamn card away. He kept showing it to people. They didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to kill him. Chase was ignoring the whole thing. I didn’t blame her, but I also wanted to wring her pretty neck.

Somehow we made it to 2 a.m. without incident. A shit ton of drugs and alcohol works with this clan. I was thanking the heavens and looking forward to my couch and a salad when someone suggested we go to 4Play: a strip club on the west side that’s open until 4 a.m. I knew I was in for the long haul since this was her thirtieth birthday, but I was hoping against all hope that 2 a.m. would be the end. We were currently about six blocks from my house. Driving to the west side wasn’t very appealing, but I’m a loyal friend.

Vance wanted me to drive with them. Not a chance in hell. I made up an excuse to drive my car. I needed time alone. I also needed an exit.

The strip club was packed. It was around 3 a.m. by the time we got there. Vance handed me a large stack of ones. It was hard to totally hate the guy. In an effort to get away from him, I sat at the stage with my friends and tipped girls. Sadly, I barely spent any real time with Chase. Next time I’ll skip the big party and take her out, just the two of us.

Vance trapped me one more time by the bathroom to solicit the omnipresent threesome. I reminded him that I had a boyfriend (although it was technically a lie because my man and I had broken up the day before, but he didn’t know that) and that I was not available for said sexual activities. He looked bummed. Who knows if he even meant what he was saying. I think he just wanted to get me in trouble with Chase. I pulled her aside in a dark corner of the loud club and told her what was going on (I hadn’t mentioned it earlier because I didn’t want to add to the drama). But I wasn’t going to risk this twerp saying later that I was trying to fuck him.

4 a.m. was upon us and our group finally left the club. It had started raining. We took a quick group picture and then I ran to my car.

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