Okay I got this, I think, as I realize that I have exactly 15 minutes to get 45 minutes into Brooklyn if I’m going to be an hour late.
I make sure my vape is in my pocket. I look for my new french dark blue galoshes because I want to rock them and I’m crazy about the stripes on the insides and the yellow detail on the back behind the ankles. They were a gift for the holidays. I say holidays instead of Christmas because this year, for the first time, an anti-Christmas vibe worked its way into my psyche. No cards, no tree, a few gifts for people I had been meaning to gift anyway but nothing over the top. In my mind the Jewish tradition of atoning during Yom Kippur before Rosh Hashanah makes a hell of a lot more sense. I would take apologies over gifts any day.
I’ve become increasingly radical these days. I’m a small short non-binary person with some hang-ups and a lot to prove. I beat this guy in a Muay Thai kicking competition at a bar in Glendale once and after that I felt like, okay, so I proved it, onto the next thing. I’m pretty neutral on the surface because I don’t like in person confrontation (I’m a millennial) but I will confront you if it comes down to it and it usually surprises people because they aren’t expecting it.
Now I’m really late. I make sure my jeans hang off my hips and that my shirt is gender neutral. I’m a little too skinny but it’s only partially because of the remnants of an old eating disorder and mostly because the news makes me too sick to have an appetite even if I am usually stoned at or around dinner time which most people would think would get the job done. I’m self-righteously vegan and internally judge everyone/anyone who is not. I mostly don’t eat entire meals anymore and subsist on things like nuts, miso barley soup and occasionally, if I’m forced to go out for sushi with Pescetarian friends, vegetable tempura.
I put a Kind bar in my jacket because I know I’ll be hungry at the party later since I haven’t had any real food yet today and it’s close to 9pm.
I prime myself with tousled messy hair to look exactly how I want to look (like I don’t care but I’m probably decent in bed) and then I blow it all by taking a tiny hit off a joint which gives me these large bloodshot eyes which I hope will wear off by the time I get to the party. I’m dreading this party because I have a general social anxiety that manifests anytime I have to go anywhere and do anything that isn’t staying at home and writing but I’m trying to be better about it.
I’m anxious about this party in particular because it will be full of people drinking and drinking is also one of those things that I don’t do which is very different from the whole vegan thing. I don’t drink because I had several excessive years in which I was doing so and I wasn’t creating art. My body can only contain so much and there were a few years there in which it only contained alcohol and I only got art accomplished on a few days in between things and then proceeded to do things like not follow through and forget to save files. Art lost.
So now I’m that person who says “ginger ale” to the bartender and has to whip out their id because bartenders assume you are not of age (I look freakishly young for 32) and basically just won’t like you if you don’t drink. At one time I cared more about tipping because I used to work in the customer service industry but now I don’t and I care more about human decency and respect and kindness.
My biggest customer service peeve though is when the cab driver is blasting the radio. The worst is when it’s talk radio and the worst talk radio hosts are the sports announcers talking about any kind of sport. But then there’s Howard Stern. I can’t stand Howard Stern. Back in college, I had an ex who wanted to get me breast implants by the guy who did all of “Howard’s girls”. The grating sound of Howard’s laugh is enough to make me lose my appetite for days. I’m fairly certain my hate towards Howard all stems back to my complicated relationship with my father who used to pick out the girls he thought were hot in my high school year book but it’s also that Howard is just piggish in his attitudes towards women and I’m generally not a fan of those who sit and pontificate all of their thoughts and ideas like they are some expert on life. Get over yourself, I want to tell him, but he’s not over himself at all and I’m not over myself and Howard and I will never see eye to eye since all he talks about are breasts and covering girls faces with paper bags if they have great bodies but ugly faces. He has a term for it he coined and everything*. He’s a total pig.
My dad and I used to look at the yearbooks together, too. I didn’t realize that not everyone did that with their dad until years later. I think about this time that he took me to see the Jungle Book at this old historic theatre and I think about this other time when my mom threw plates at us and so we escaped to see a double feature at the same movie theatre but now that I’ve escaped for good I haven’t seen my dad in years. I shouldn’t be thinking about that now. I was supposed to leave a half hour ago and I’m already considerably later than I want to be. Cobalt blue eyeliner is happening although I can’t decide if it hides or emphasizes the bloodshot nature of my eyes.
I leave the house, put my headphones in and enter the world. I get to the party, an entire apartment full of everyone I know and people I haven’t seen in years and those whom I’ve heard about but have never met. Everyone is drinking beer/wine/liquor and has been drinking for the better part of the 1.5/2/3 hours that they were there until I arrived. My friend’s ex pulls me over for a hug and talks about the play I wrote last summer that she saw a workshop of. I’m moved but mostly, at this point, hungry. I reach for my jacket and realize that since I changed last minute to match the eyeliner, the Kind bar is back at home in different jacket. I look over at the snack table and see that the remaining tortilla chips are cracked in tiny pieces and soaked in salsa.
Excuse me, I pardon myself and find some coconut nog in the fridge which is super sugary and not my vibe. I look at the label and wonder why there is so much shit in everything. My friend’s friend, this hip girl with dreadlocks, is staring at me. She asks if I’m stoned and I tell her yes and she starts talking to me slowly as though I’m in some sort of impaired state. I walk away after giving the beer in her hand a dirty look. Better stoned then drunk I want to tell her, and full of glutenous fatty beer to boot.
I go into the living room where I’m forced to tell a story that turns out to be way too intriguing and people are asking me lots of questions, so I reveal bit by bit with a huge to be continued at the end. The story is not that exciting, its just about this potential new love affair but people get really invested in matters of the heart and dating in the city so it is good party fodder and the to be continued will be digested with a full appetite either way. Some people live for parties.
My best friend who is throwing the party because it’s her birthday is one of those people. She looks fantastic and is truly in her element surrounded by all the people she’s ever loved including numerous former lovers and those who want to be her lovers and never will but stay close anyway. She’s wearing a skirt and a not-shirt and I suddenly want to be in bed with her spooning the way we have once or twice.
I feel overwhelmingly needy and want her attention to be on, only me, but I look at the glares around the room and know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Darting eyes, hungry, needy, everyone wanting, the metaphorical push/pull, take/try. A flash of disdain courses through my body as I deem their defeat inevitable. I’ve seen this before. They won’t win and I won’t either. She’ll end up with someone we will all deem less unworthy than ourselves because that’s just the nature of it and I’m already well practiced at it except for the times when she is wearing the skirts and not-shirts and I forget.
I give her a hug and wrap my hands around her thin back. I feel her bra and am tempted to unsnap it but I just touch her neck and kiss her cheek and feel secure all over again and like an asshole for being jealous of all the other people. I sometimes have this intense fear of abandonment like a rescue dog and go into a deep depression when someone I care about leaves me. The reaction is immediate, like the second they leave the room I have no more reason to live. It’s weird because most of the time I’m okay being alone. It’s one of those truths that you should never say out loud and just keep tucked away.
That’s the only way to control a tricky beast like that. Some people reveal things like this right after they get married or committed or whatever but it’s still a mistake; then the other person feels tricked. Consistency is key, or as my therapist says, you don’t need to give 100 percent of yourself to someone, 80 is plenty, which means, you know, you can have your things. A little wiggle room for some personal space. It’s like an attic. You can selectively go into the attic and bring a few choice items out to have some fun with, old school art projects or whatever but no one wants to sit in there for hours because there is no insulation and if it’s not fun for you, it’s not fun for anyone.
I slept with this girl once when I first moved to the city who asked me after if I wanted to go on a date sometime. I didn’t. She had sung some songs to me on guitar before she got herself off on top of my body. I didn’t really like her style or her voice but she was nice and so I wanted to let her know that it wasn’t her exactly it was something else, something. I started to apologize. But she put her finger to my lips and said, “Never apologize” and I was relieved. Never apologize. Then it was said again and again and again. A recurring theme. Never apologize. It was said by someone I loved, this antique dealer with a fabulous old clawfoot tub. Never apologize she said. She got me a turtle for christmas which she then lost in her expansive Tribeca loft. She did not apologize.
It’s 2 am and getting back to the Upper West Side is going to be a trek. I pry my phone away from the girl who asked to use it an hour ago so she could look up everyone’s sun and moon signs combined with the year of the rat or boar or whatever. She tells me I’m a water pig and asks, can I relate or specifically, do I feel a connection to pigs?
I zip up my coat and tell her no, I hate pigs.
I’m expecting her to tell me that’s mean but she doesn’t say anything she just hands me my phone and I don’t apologize.
**The term is “buttaface.
Urban Dictionary, Term describing someone who has an appealing physique but who’s face is unattractive.ex: I was about to flirt with this woman on the dance floor, but as I got closer I realized she had a ‘butter face’, so I went back to my table.