You wanna hear a story about the best Raleigh carpet cleaning service? And about the time a young whippersnapper got his butt kicked by his ex-girlfriend in the eighth grade? Of course you do. Pull up a seat and a bag of popcorn, because I’ve got one for you.

The year was XXXX and I was in the eighth grade. My friend Bennett was having people over for his birthday party. And he was going to be the first one of our friends to have a “basement party.” And I think we all know about basement parties: little to no lights, lots of music, junk food, and of course since this was a co-ed party…..the sliver of a chance to get cozy with the hot chick from class. Or maybe the girl that sat next to you. Okay, who am I kidding, in the eighth grade just about anything remotely resembling a girl would have been magnificent. But the excitement lay merely in the hopefulness of the situation and what the night potentially held in store.

So it’s the night of the party and people are slowly starting to arrive. The Cheetos and Doritos are being consumed at alarming rates and the Orange Crush and Root Beer are flowing freely. Now before I continue with this story, there are a few things I should catch you up on:

1) Bennett’s house (read: his parents house) was a very nice dwelling; one of those three-story mega houses with a small yard in a fancy neighborhood in Raleigh. I’m talking about fancy furniture, ornate decorations and art, and of course very white, plush, soft, super white carpeting. (Did I mention how fluorescently white the carpeting was?) My family lived in a different part of Raleigh – it wasn’t a rough neighborhood by any means, but it certainly wasn’t this mini-mansion with fancy carpets part of Raleigh.

2) I was newly “single”. Yeah yeah, I know that in the eighth grade, what can that really mean, right? But I had been “going out” with this girl Jane for about two months and I recently ended it with her. And as fate would have it, this birthday party would be the first time she and I would be in the same vicinity outside of school.

The party is really rocking now. And by “really rocking”, I mean most of the guest list had arrived and people had broken off into their various groups in the basement and were huddled together gossiping and joking around. As the night progressed, the groups started to mix amongst each other and before too long, Jane and her friend Michelle has made their way over to my little group, which consisted of me, Bennett, Jamal, Ricky, and Dave. Things were going fine until a few of the guys started teasing Jane about our break up. I asked them to knock it off, but they kept at it. And the next thing I know Jane is pretty worked up and is threatening to pour her can of Root Beer on Bennett. Exactly how I phrased it
could be argued for decades, but I said something to the tune of “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Now maybe I phrased it a little differently, maybe Jane was just looking for any excuse to humiliate me, or maybe she was at her breaking point from all the teasing, but the next thing I know she has dumped the entire can of Root Beer all over my head and all over my brand new “Basketball is Life” t-shirt. (If you were a kid who loved basketball in the eighth grade, you’ll understand how much this shirt meant to me).

I sat there in complete and utter shock. Did this really just happen? Am I seriously covered in Root Beer in front of the majority of the eighth grade? Did the music just stop, or am I imagining that? My friends jaws had all dropped and Jane and Michelle scampered off to the other side of the party. I grabbed a few napkins and did my best to towel off while my friends peppered me with questions “Dude, what are you going to do?” “You’re not just gonna let her punk you like that and get away with it, are you?” “Is that Root Beer still dripping off your glasses?” “Ummmm do you want me to go upstairs and get you one of my shirts?”

So for the next 20ish minutes we discussed what I would do to exact my revenge. (Hindsight being what it is, I probably should have given her that little victory and called it a night. But in the eighth grade, your pride and your perceived reputation are a big thing and I wasn’t about to sit idly by while she publicly massacred me like that.) Several options were tossed around, but in the end I decided that I was going to sneak attack her by pouring a massive amount of Orange Crush in my mouth (so she wouldn’t see me holding a can of soda and think something was up…) and then head her direction and spit it all over her as though I were a human water spout (or in this case, a human Orange Crush fountain). That would get her back for the root beer all over me and my precious shirt, and would be an equal form or humiliation.

Or so I thought.

As I began to sip the Orange Crush, it was all playing out in my head perfectly. I would nonchalantly stroll over, saddle up within a few feet of her and then spout the orange soda up into the air and onto her head. She would cry and leave the room, all my buddies would cheer / pat me on the back, the party would return to normal, and I’d be the talk of the town come school on Monday.

The time was now. I inhaled about four solid chugs of the Orange Crush can and prepared to head her direction. Four chugs was probably a bit much as my cheeks were completely puffed out and filled with soda and I’m sure I looked beyond obvious to anyone that happened to see me heading her direction.

When I got within about 4 feet, her little group saw me and parted so that it was just she and I facing each other, a la an old western showdown at high noon. Me with my puffed out cheeks, glasses and braces, and root beer-soaked t-shirt, Jane with her long blonde ponytail, jean shorts, and Gap sweatshirt. If my mouth hadn’t been full it would have been the perfect time to hit her with a classic one-liner like “You killed my father, prepare to die”, or “You feeling lucky punk? Well, are ya?”

But alas I couldn’t get words out due to the full cheeks. So I decided to just go for it. And with all my might I cocked my head back and directed my Orange Crush expectorant in her direction. The only problem was, with so much liquid in my mouth, and it having been in there so long, when I opened my mouth to project it her way, it ended up going straight down my mouth and all over me and my shirt and the nice white carpet. And in the brief millisecond as I was looking down at my shirt and realizing what had just happened, Jane charged at me, grabbed me by the collar and punched me twice in the face: once in the glasses/nose and then again just below the nose in my upper lip area. And yes, these
were actual punches, not slaps. My glasses flew off my face and I crumpled to the ground, a huge blob of tears, blood, orange soda, and root beer.

The next 10 minutes were kind of a blur. And I don’t know exactly what happened but it seemed that someone had gone upstairs to get Bennett’s parents, the lights came on, the music had stopped (for real this time), and the party was over. And I was still sitting/laying on the white carpet trying to piece together what had just happened. Someone handed me my now broken glasses and I looked around me. It looked like a murder scene. What was once soft, fluffy, fancy white carpet was now covered in blood from my nose, a huge puddle of orange soda, and little remnants of root beer. And naturally about a gallon of my tears were mixed in there as well, but those were unnoticeable to the naked eye.

Jane and Michelle had snuck out rather quickly and (we assumed) walked home. Bennett’s parents sent everyone else home while they called and waited for my folks to arrive. Luckily for me and my rear end, my Dad had been out of town, so it was just my Mom. And boy was she angry. I remember her coming in the basement and seeing me with my broken glasses and bloodied nose and soda-covered shirt and then watching her look over at the destroyed carpet. The look in her eyes was a combination of disappointment, disgust, bewilderment, and then anger. Lots and lots of anger.

I think I might have blacked out after that as I don’t remember a lot of specifics. I remember her apologizing profusely to Bennett’s parents and mentioning over and over that “he WILL be cleaning this carpet” and that “if he can’t clean the carpet back to the way it was, he WILL be paying for professionals to come in and clean it.”

And that’s exactly what happened. I did a few hours of research on carpet cleaners in Raleigh, and since I wasn’t exactly earning a paycheck yet, I looked up Groupons for carpet cleaners in Raleigh. I eventually came across Steam Giant and their prices were pretty good and they said it wouldn’t be a problem for them to help me out. So we lined them up for the next day and as part of my punishment I had to meet them over at Bennett’s house and make sure their cleaning job was up to Bennett’s parents standards and that the carpet was back to new.

It took less than an hour for them to get in and out and get the carpet back to new, so I’m forever indebted to them for saving my behind on that one.

So what’s the moral of the story here?
A) Lay down tarps if you have nice carpet and are going to let a gaggle of eighth graders drink soda and throw a party, B) If a female disrespects you in front of your friends, just let it go. Any sort of payback scenario you envision in your head is only going to backfire and make you look / feel a thousand times worse, C) if you have any sort of emergency carpet situations, be sure to hit up Steam Giant. They’re the best carpet cleaners in Raleigh (and possibly the whole world) and they weren’t nearly as expensive as I had imagined.