It’s like the house party you’re at and you’re stuck in the kitchen listening to the Worst Life Story Ever, and all you want to do is leave but you don’t want to be rude to the person you’re talking to and you’re a little worried that the hosts might need some help with cleanup and ultimately you’re actually just way too nervous and are fairly certain you wouldn’t be able to find the door even if you had a sherpa and a map. So you lean against the kitchen counter and the party happens around you and people come and people go and you keep smiling and holding your drink and every time someone asks if they can get you another, you just smile and shake your head ‘no’ because you’ve been nursing this one for over an hour anyway.
There are people here you don’t know; an awful lot of them. Most of them are drunk and some of them are criminals and when you thought that you’d like to get out and do stuff that the “cool kids” did, you weren’t really thinking that that would end up with leaning on the counter in someone’s kitchen, listening to the most stoned guy there tell you for the fourteenth time how even though his step-dad is a really nice guy, he’s just not, you know, THERE for him like his real dad was (the real dad who, of course, took off with the girl who worked at the coffee shop and moved out to BC so they could grow weed and babies together in the pinewood forests. Same real dad who couldn’t take care of the first set of babies he had).
Most of these folks are part of your peripheral group of friends-and-acquaintances, and as the night wears on, people you do know cycle through and you finally accept another drink even though your cheeks are still hot from the last one. All the people you ever knew in high school must have been lying to you because liquor has never made you feel less inhibited or more fun; it just makes your cheeks hot and, if you’re not careful, your tongue thick and your brain too slow. This party is not the party for that but when someone passes around a joint, you take a drag because this is the year you’ve decided to leave your comfort zone.
You wave at your comfort zone as it leaves the room. It takes with it a certain darkness, a shadow that up until about twenty minutes ago was stuck to the bottoms of your feet. It’s ironic that your comfort zone looks a lot like your roommate who is also your best friend and she’s waving back from the living room, but she’s not saying “see you later!” she’s saying “come in here!” and you make your way to the living room, but you’re moving a little cautiously because that joint made things a bit more bouncy than you’d anticipated.
In the living room there’s an accidental strip tease happening and the music is very loud and your roommate and best friend shouts something in your ear about tearaway pants and you nod and point at the blonde fellow tearing his trousers apart at the crotch. That wasn’t supposed to happen, your best friend shouts, but it seems to be happening anyway and you turn away and someone is putting your turtle in their mouth. You think about salmonella, and then the word is out of your mouth like a greeting. Salmonella, you say to the person dancing partnerless with the bookcase. Salmonella, you say to the couple making out on the dishwasher. Salmonella, you say to the dog that someone’s let out of the bedroom.
This is what Vonnegut was talking about, you decide, and wonder how you got into the basement laundry room. There’s a smaller group of people in the basement, and they’re playing death metal on shitty instruments. But then, all death metal sounds shitty, and you slowly bob your head to someone growling something about fucking in coffins. Another joint appears in your hand and then you’re upstairs again, back in the kitchen, and you’re reading Vonnegut, but you’re reading it out loud and there are fifteen people seated on the floor at your feet listening intently. One woman is crying and rocking back and forth and when you ask if she’s all right, she says “Yoko Ono is my hero”, and you understand why she’s crying.
Eventually you and your roommate who is also your best friend decide that enough is enough and even though nobody else is contemplating leaving, all you want to do is lay down and there isn’t a single surface in that house that doesn’t have some kind of bodily fluid on it, or which won’t, you suspect, by the time the sun comes up. And besides, the walk will do you good. But you’re still in the kitchen and someone is taking pictures. The flash blinds you and your roommate leads you from the kitchen by the hand and on the back steps where the host removed the iron railing, you pull your best friend forward and your lips find her lips and you’re making out on the back step and it isn’t weird at all because you’ve always loved each other. Until she backs away and says, how did we get outside? And you laugh and stumble down the stairs.
Come on, come on, you say, the party’s just beginning. Let’s go home and start again.