The Time I Woke up in a Police-Car

You know,” I say. “Women resist at first, but they always succumb in the end…” Lucy looks at me like I am on crack. Robyn? She just cracks up.

Allow me to explain…

I’m 21 years old and it’s a Monday evening in March. Sitting on my bed at my parent’s house after dinner, watching Two and a Half Men, I drink a whole bottle of Australian white wine – a 21st birthday present a couple of weeks ago.

Then I’m on the bus to town, Cat Stevens is in my ears, and I’m blissing out to the feeling of warm alcohol running making its way through my veins. I’m at that sweet-spot where your anxiety has disappeared but it hasn’t yet been replaced by stupidity. If I only I could feel this way all the time, I’m thinking.

At the Green Room, I buy myself some more white wine and sign up to the open mic. It’s my turn to play. I’m still conscious enough to put in a decent set, if somewhat growly and aggressive. It’s busy tonight and so the applause feels like twice as much as usual and it makes me feel like superman.

I’m having the time of my life. I drink a few more glasses of wine.

The trouble begins when I hear a voice ask “Does anybody play drums?” Before I know what’s going on, I’m sitting behind the drum kit. Later, I would learn that no sooner had the question been asked, than I had exclaimed “Me!” and run faster than a speeding bullet toward the stage, as though paranoid somebody else might get there first.

It’s Steve who needs a drummer. Steve plays soft, , sensitive acoustic material. There’s a bass player too. They talk amongst themselves, presumably about what songs we’re about to rock out to.

I pick up the drum sticks. This is fine, I think. I know what I’m doing. I can drum. I’ll just test them. I whack the snare drum. “BAM!” I find it hilarious. I do it again. The second one makes me laugh even more than the first. I look up. Steve and the bass player – and most of the people in Green Room – are looking at me.

I’ll give you something to look at, I think to myself. I do an ill-executed drum-roll, and end it with a crash cymbal. Though I hear no cheers, I am delighted with myself, and start hitting the drums almost at random. What’s everybody’s problem? Get off the stage? I’m drumming! I’m a drummer! BAM! BA-BAM! Alright, alright, I’ll wait.

Steve starts a song. I sit quietly. I nod my head. Yep. I got this. I arch my back, steeling myself for my big moment. Here it is… BA-BAM-BA-BA-BAM… oh, fuck.

I have dropped both drum-sticks on the floor, which is a shame, because the fill I was playing was dynamite, but having heard only half of it people are going to make the dangerous assumption that I’m just some drunk who can’t play the drums. I’ll show them.

I find the sticks, and I attempt to rejoin the song. But they’re playing it all wrong. Sure, Steve might have written the song, but I know how it should go – I’m a musician, remember. This is dragging, the way he’s doing it. It needs someone to light a fire under it. And if that someone has to be me, then so be it. I start drumming a little bit faster and a little bit louder. And whilst my intentions were to make the song sound better, if anything, I have made things much worse.

They stop playing, in the middle of the song, and ask me politely to stop playing the drums. I can’t argue with them. Not only because they’re right, but because I’m slowly losing the ability to string sentences together. I go back to the audience. Someone offers me a glass of water. I down it.

It was around this time that Robyn’s friend Lucy arrived. She is very beautiful. I stroll up to her, go to whisper into her ear, and realise far too late that I have forgotten how to whisper. “You know,” I said. “Women resist at first, but they always succumb in the end…” Lucy looks at me like I am on crack. Robyn? She just cracks up.

I feel like my work at the Green Room is done. I bid Robyn and Lucy farewell – “I’m going home, girls!” – and I tear off my orange cardigan and I throw it at a stranger. I leg it towards the door and I continue legging it down Fitzwilliam Street.

The next thing I know, I’m laying down on the pavement.

“Are you alright, mate?” I pick my head up to see who’s talking to me. It’s a police lady in a police car. “Where do you live, mate?”

So now I’m in the back of a police car, with two female police officers, driving down Abbeydale Road. I start humming a little bit. Dum-dum-dum-duuuuhm-duuuuhm. Then mumbling. Morning has broooo-ken. I get louder.

“Come on, girls, let’s have a sing along!” They don’t take me up on it, and their lack of enthusiasm infects me – I give up myself after a line or two more. Now I’m bored. And I start to feel uneasy.

“Excuse me,” I said.


“How do you open the window?”

“Why do you want to open the window?”

“I want to be sick.”

SCREECH. “No! No! NO!” The car stops. I wonder if I’ll have whiplash in the morning. We’re outside ALDI, on Archer Road.

“This isn’t where I live,” I said. The police lady who is in the passenger seat gets out and opens my door for me.

“You can get home from here, can’t you, mate?”

I walk up the hill, throwing up in the woods along the way, and then I’m home. It’s not even midnight yet but everybody is in bed. I wonder aloud if there are any crisps.

If you can’t share your humiliation publicly, you haven’t gotten over it yet. And if you’re not over it yet, you’ve still got this gaping wound in your heart, and it will always keep you from being 100% authentic.

Being authentic — or transparent — isn’t just about being honest. It’s about having nothing to hide.

Concealing the truth from others creates a wall between you and them. Tear down that wall by sharing what you thought you could never share, and you’ll experience a much deeper level of connection with everyone you meet.

Steve Pavlina – “Share Your Shame”


For you mega-fans out there, this story is where the lines from my song, Don Draper, “I woke up in a police-car, they didn’t want to sing along…” came from.

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