Monday, January 09, 2006

The party

I talked to my buddy, Spesh, for about five minutes this morning. I mentioned that I had a crazy weekend. He said, "There is more to this story. Is it something I need to know?"

"Not really, but I went to a party on Saturday night and came home at 6:00am."

"There is a story there. Will it go on the blog?"

"Yes, but I'm trying to figure out how to write it. It sounds more interesting than it is. I don't want to make it too long."

"Don't be afraid to make a long story short."

"I'm not. I'm just not good at it. You know me. I specialize in making short stories long."

I learned that Spesh is leaving for Israel on January 15, possibly for good. I'm going to miss him.

True to form, I have completely failed to make a long story short.

The story actually begins on Friday night. I met Kristen at the PostSecret show (and missed a connection there with someone else--sorry about that). We didn't stay long because it was silly crowded. I was on my own for about 20 minutes and I got a feel for it. Kristen and I cut out as soon as we found each other and grabbed a beer at a nearby bar. I told Kristen a long, painful story about the Marine I corresponded with during the first Gulf War. (He was sent to the Gulf for a few months. I dated him sporadically before he left and very briefly after he came back.) She listened attentively (thanks for that) and had lots to say for herself when I stopped talking. We have a good rapport.

We had enough of the G'town bar and headed to the Hill and the recently re-opened Capitol Lounge. The place was closed for quite a while due to a fire in August. The main bar is still closed, but half of the upstairs and the downstairs bar are open. It is Kristen's place--she knows lots of people there and many of the bartenders. She is also really good at talking to people in a quiet, unassuming and friendly way. I'm reasonably friendly and outgoing, but I hold back just a tiny bit. I have a fear of imposing, which can keep me from starting conversations with strangers. I'm good at the proximity thing, but the other person has to say "hi" first. Usually. It may depend on how drunk or determined I am. I'm not saying I'm shy, but perhaps I'm a little bit afraid of rejection.

Kristen and I took possession of two seats at the five-seat bar downstairs. We happily chatted with each other, the bartenders and some of the folks who ordered drinks. By the end of the evening, we were invited to a party the next night.

We met the host of the party, John, when he and his friend, Bob, drank a "Car Bomb" and then followed it up not ten minutes later with another Car Bomb and a "Jaeger Bomb." What are these drinks? "Shot and beer" combinations that you are supposed to chug. It's disgusting. Kristen said, "I can't drink those--they make the room spin." It certainly made John sway. He was a big guy (6"4' at least and probably over 250 lbs.) and I was afraid he was going to topple over on me like a tree. Or get sick on me. Or fall asleep with his head on the bar. Surprisingly, he did none of these things. Bob, a skinny guy with fuzzy, buzzed hair, didn't get sick either, but he didn't drink a few gin and tonics in between rounds of "bombs" like John did. Bob did shout about the craziness of his actions, "Have you ever seen anything this crazy in your life? Ever?" No, we said, we never had.

John and Bob were part of a larger group that was there to celebrate the engagement of Kevin and Laura. When we met Laura, she invited us to the party on Saturday at John's house. It was her engagement party.

I said to John, "So, we're coming to your party tomorrow."

"Did I tell you about it? You should come."

"Yes, we're coming."

"You know, I'm having this party tomorrow. You should come."

"Tell me the address. I'm writing it down right now."

And I did.

Kristen and I dragged ourselves away around 2:30 am. We had the firm conviction that if we went to the party, John would have no memory of us at all.

We talked on Saturday and decided to go to the party.

When we got to John's building on Saturday night, I had some giggles and wondered what we were thinking. We rang the bell and were admitted to one of the largest apartment I've seen in this city. It was a one-bedroom, but the ceilings were high and the rooms generously sized. The building was older, so the kitchen was smallish and there was "only" one bathroom, but it was a great space. When Kevin, the groom-to-be, saw us, he was delighted, "I can't believe you came. That's hot." Laura, the bride-to-be, was also happy to see us. We also got a warm welcome from John, who, as predicted, had no idea who we were.

There were toasts to the happy couple. Kristen and I both thought it would be hilarious if we made a toast, "We've known Laura and Kevin for 20…hours. And in that time, we've come to see what wonderful, warm and caring people they are." Neither of us made a toast, but we were inappropriately included in many photos.

Kristen and I had a good time talking to each other and meeting a few of the other guests. At least two women tried to sell us on John. Now, don't get me wrong, I liked John. I even found him moderately attractive, but he had two things going against him: he is a blackout drunk and he is only 25. I could handle one of these two things, but the combination is fatal. He may grow out of being a blackout drunk (one hopes), but I don't have time to wait and see.

Against my will, I had a big ol' political fight with a fellow named "Chip." Don't tell anyone named "Chip" that you are a socialist because he will feel compelled to tell you why that is the stupidest thing in the world and follow you around the room even after you say you've had enough and walk away from him to get a snack. Bad Chip. Stop it.

After I drove Chip away, I had the exchange I mentioned yesterday with the silly boy who couldn't believe how old I was. The boy in question was Kevin, the groom-to-be. He was trying to sell us on John, who we claimed was too young for us. He's not too young for Kristen (in my opinion or hers), but she may not be down with the blackout drunk thing.

Around 1am, the party was relocated to a bar, in consideration of the neighbors. John ordered a limo to take us there; the driver was a friend of his. Neither Kristen nor I had been in a limo before, so we squeezed in with everyone else and headed out. Not surprisingly, being in a crowded limo was not particularly glamorous. It was quite similar to the sensation of being in any crowded car. Next time, I'll try riding in a limo with five people instead of ten.

Since I did a good amount of drinking at the party (two mixed drinks and two glasses of champagne), I stuck with water at the bar. Our group had dwindled a bit by the time we got there, but was still a pretty healthy size--maybe 10-12 people. I was mingling, when Kristen mentioned that Bob was looking for me. "Really? For me?" I'd gotten a bad impression of him on Friday night and I hadn't made an effort to talk to him at all. I guess my secret (from me) plan worked, because he seemed quite interested when I finally gave him a chance. In fact, I sat next to him for the majority of our time at the bar and we had a great little conversation.

Bob mentioned his extreme drinking the night before and we debated whether it was a case of socially required machismo or a friendly gesture towards John. I said it was both, because if a friend of mine dared me to drink that much, I would have said no and not lost face or damaged our friendship. I wouldn't even be teased about it. But guys do pay a price if they refuse to partake in "manly" activities. A bit deeper than I'd expected from anyone in the group, but as I got to know them better, they turned out to be an intellectually lively bunch. Bob particularly so.

When the bar made last call, and turned on all the lights, we stood up and Bob said, "So, do we have your contact info? Are we going to see you again?"

"No. But I can give you my number."

"Yes--give it to me now!" He whipped out his phone and entered my number. Then he called me immediately so I would have his number too.

However, the evening was not over. The party returned to John's place. I suppose we could have called it a night, but Kristen and I were feeling like a part of the family. On our way out of the bar, I noticed a look of pure hatred directed at me by John's sister, Jessica. I had no idea what that was about and I mentioned it to Kristen. "Oh, she hates us. It's because of Bob." Ah. I had stumbled into a little something all unawares.

When we got back to John's, the group had dwindled down to John, Jessica, Bob, Kevin (the groom-to-be), Denise (random woman from the bar who accepted John's blanket invitation to come back to his house), Kristen and I.

No one could stand poor, confused, probably alcoholic Denise, but there she was and I did my best to avoid her. Apparently she was coming on to Bob AND Kristen.

By 4:00am or so, I started to shut down. I stopped fighting my powerful need for sleep and curled up in the corner of the comfy leather sofa. I closed my eyes and listened to the conversations around me. I drifted in a twilight area where bits of conversations melded with the beginnings of dreams. I stayed on the sofa and Bob visited me. I leaned on his shoulder and told him I'd been dreaming.

At 5:30am. Yes. 5:30am. Kristen, Kevin, Denise and I left. (Bob and Jessica were staying with John.) We three put Denise in a cab and found another one to share. I was home by 5:50 and asleep by 6:00am. And despite the fact that Tabitha (the cat) had her breakfast before I went to sleep, she still thought I should get out of bed at 8:00am. I ignored her.

On Sunday, heroically, I went to meet Pele for football watching at 1:15pm. (I was only going to catch the Steeler's game at 4:30, but the rest of the football group was not going to show until 3pm. That would have left Pele holding a booth for about two hours alone. Not acceptable.) I told her the party story and she laughed at my antics. It was one crazy long night. I think that neither Kristen nor I would have stayed that long without each other. I would have worried about wearing out my welcome if I'd been on my own. Together, we provided each other with a safety net. And a darn good time.

At the football bar, I ate a little and drank coffee, diet coke and one beer. I left at the Pittsburgh half and no one was surprised. One woman said, "I can't believe you made it this long!" Me neither.

I'm tired today, but it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I'm aiming for an 11pm bedtime every night this week. We'll see how I go.

I do wonder if Bob will call. I liked him fine, and would be happy to see him again. However, I don't feel the need to make the first call. A date would be nice though. It's been weeks!

Grateful for: parties.

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