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Partying 101

by Henry Leyden


I went to a party yesterday, and now my head hurts.

I went to a party yesterday and attempted to balance my ever present anxiety-driven certainty that it would suck with the fantasy I always let seep into the back of my skull. That I’ll have one of those spectacular nights that are always the catalyst for growth in the coming-of-age indie film I so desperately want to be a part of. I’ll meet some new friends. A cute girl approaches me and she's just sooo interested in me– and for that reason I’m interested in her. We talk all night, something crazy happens– I fight the school bully and win, or maybe trip acid and run from the cops– I lose her to the night only to have us run into each other a week later at our shared favorite cafe, what a coincidence! The romance continues from there.

I always hold out a little hope that might happen. Problem is I just expect it to happen. The whole time I’m doing everything possible to make sure that the other part of me wins so he can laugh and feel secure in his prediction– he was right all along.


And now that I’m on my couch hollowed out, cringing at the memory of every conversation, I realize he's won again.

Tommy took us there. We went on his invite, his authority. I’m tagging along as I feel I usually am. Not that being the connect would be much better, in that case everyone's enjoyment or lack thereof is on my conscience and young people tend to be picky, there's always somewhere cooler to go or something better to do– locations change quickly. But if there's one person I’d want bringing me to a party it’d be him. My optimism for success felt high. I categorize everything as either success or failure, and I have an unfortunate disposition towards failure. Success is often upset, but he’s become so weak his appeals to me usually fall on deaf ears. Tommy doesn't have that problem. He’s friends with everyone in the room, always. He's a storyteller people want to listen to. He can read a self-help book and actually help himself. He likes himself because there’s a lot to like and he sees that. That’s strength. It takes a certain type of weakness to refuse to change. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I call him my best friend. He’s happy when he's happy and sad when he’s sad instead of perpetually being the latter.


We got there. There’s that dimensional change when you step in the door. It washes away the confidence those few drinks had built up in me, the feeble legs holding up my previously mentioned fantasy. Friends split ways. Shooting off in different directions to see other friends, all looking to flirt. I take a few more sips of my very hoppy IPA, I’m not drunk enough. I’m known for showing up with a singular tall-boy of something dark and hazy. I tell people I like the taste and that it's economical, and it’s true, but mostly it just feels more adult. At twenty that’s most of what my life feels like, masquerading as an adult. There’s a loss of security and structure when you leave your teens and it’s the first of many I’m sure, but when I look around at my peers oftentimes I feel like I’m behind.

I’m inside now, surveying. I’ve located the bathroom and the backdoor, both of which I will be attending in carefully measured out increments through the night when conversation starts to become too much.That unsettling feeling when I think I perceive them starting to become uninterested and anxious to end our exchange and so I then in turn become those things too.

How to describe this place? There’s a boom box. I fucking hate boom boxes. The light from that obnoxious disco ball welded onto the top of the speaker always seems to find my eyes, and those who own them tend to be fans of Morgan Wallen and 2016 Gucci Mane (They’re wealthy Texas whites). There's a long table with solo cups that should probably be disposed of in the type of container attached to your doctor's wall, the one for the needles. Let's rinse them with water and play rage cage! The living rooms got ridiculously large and horribly beige couches crowded around two electronic abominations mounted on the wall. Televisions have gotten too big and too cheap. I ask the host “..why two T.V’s?” There isn’t enough space on the wall so the bigger one is extended outwards, obscuring a substantial three inches on the left side of the smaller one. He tells me it’s so he and the boys can play Madden while they watch NFL Redzone at the same time. This generation is fucked. I believe I’ve arrived at my best interaction of the night. I stifle a laugh and manage a “that’s sick, man,” then quickly transition to a meaningless inquiry about his roommates and his major. Maybe if I’m fake enough he’ll offer to smoke me out. I love to smoke but hate to pay. If I get high I’ll certainly leave, which would be great and only possible because I would get to tell myself I left because I was too high and not because I was having an awful time– I am NOT a loser. Success. On the walls are the much feared flag-posters which have certainly haunted many young women. White-stright-masculine culture has moved past ‘Saturdays are for the boys’ banners, thank God, but now a massive 5x2ft American flag has Trump with a joint, sunglasses and an uzi in hand vinyl-ed onto it... he’s staring right at me. At least our hosts are fans of cinema; Talladega Nights and the Wolf of Wall Street accompany our former president.

My ‘get lucky’ fantasy has come nowhere close to being realized. One example of the paradoxical relationship I have with myself; I have little to no self-confidence and feel horribly ugly most of the time, yet every time I see a girl I think she must be attracted to me... if she isn’t I’ll kill myself. I decide to head outside for a cigarette, they also make me feel more adult. It’s taken three years to convince myself I like them– my wallet hates me.

Outside is where I shine. Things are quieter, smokeables of any kind are highly sought after, people are forced to interact with me. I strike up a conversation with one of said people. Her name is Olivia and she’s very drunk, but so am I. She’s cynical, I like that. We talk shit about the hosts, I tell her about the T.V’s, she's laughing. We debrief on the latest twitter discourse; Hasidic Jews are climbing in the sewers under synagogues in New York and our favorite semi-niche hyper-pop soundcloud rapper has just been accused of sexual assault. We’re devastated but unsurprised. She tells me she recently found out her best friend from high school has dropped out of NYU and is now a high-end escort. We debate the ethicality of the sex trade. We separate, other activities have pulled us in opposite directions. I’m plotting to find her later and ask if we could see each other in a different context.

She finds me. She says she has something to tell me and it's a secret, but she likes me, she trusts me, I just have to promise confidentiality. My heart rates up, anxieties up. I love secrets and I feel honored to be trusted. She’s very drunk. After much promising and coaxing she tells me she has a crush. His name's Asher, one of the guys I said hello to as I came in the door. He’d forgotten my name and gave me a hesitant “what's up... man.” We’d had multiple classes together. She’s worried he doesn’t reciprocate. I encourage her, try and give her confidence. I’m good at being a friend. Shortly after I find the smoking circle and get too high, I can’t be here anymore. I only text Tommy that I’m leaving, no in-person goodbyes. I take a Lime scooter three miles back to my house while I sing Cooler Than Me at the top of my lungs, it’s the most fun I’ve had all night.

Now it’s time to smoke more weed from the stash I have tucked away in my bedside drawer. In an attempt to escape my feelings through manufactured temporary pleasure I watch porn, I feel worse about myself. My head hurts.

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