I’m no geneticist, but I’m pretty sure there is an un-party gene. And I’m pretty sure I have said gene. In spades.
I don’t know what it is about loud alcohol-laced social gatherings that I find difficult. Except maybe the loud part. And the trying to make small talk with inebriated semi-strangers part. But I so dislike such events that I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve gathered in a bar for the purpose of socializing.
So it was more than a little amusing that I hopped in my beloved car-van last evening and drove towards downtown. At 10.45pm. By myself. To celebrate a friend’s birthday. At a bar. The expression ‘once in a blue moon’ comes to mind.
I left ‘fashionably late’ because the professor and a colleague-friend had just returned from a post-review dinner. They’d already witnessed the night-loving-masses out and about. Lining up outside a nearby nightclub. Ready to party. In weather-and-gravity-defying garb. ‘Not sure you’re going to meet the dress code,’ they joked as I ventured out in my sensible-mom-ensemble of jeans, black t-shirt and jacket.
Un-hip exterior aside, I was rather proud of myself for being fashionably late. In the ‘past’ I’ve been the lone person who showed up on time, faced with the uncomfortable task of trying to look fully at ease while standing at a table…alone. But not this time, no, I’d waited ninety minutes before skulking towards the designated venue in my hulking piece-of-metal minivan. Wearing an awesome-mom-outfit that was destined to keep me at the back of the line while younger, hipper, ‘airier’ girls walked through the door.
Being fashionably late is not all it’s cracked up to be, I learned, as I circled block after block looking for a [large] parking spot. And when I finally arrived at the venue o’ fun, there was an actual line of people snaking out the door. And two black-hooded-sweatshirt-wearing gentleman standing beside said door; a contraption that looked like an antiquated desk calendar in their hands, which they’d shake every few minutes and stare at earnestly.
A nightlife abacus for counting how many people are inside?
I stood on the pavement mulling over my perceived options. Do I stand in line? Or do I approach one of the guardians and beg for entry? I’d hardly been to a bar, much less stood in line outside a bar. My expertise in this particular situation consisted of a handful of Sex and the City episodes. So I waited in line, politely, uncertainly, and then I approached one of the judges – the one who looked like Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock.
‘I’m here for a friend’s birthday party,’ I began. And he basically said something like ‘you should have been here at 9, when it started….now you have to wait in line.’
I crept back to the line.
A very intoxicated gentleman began speaking to me. He was wearing a baseball hat, sideways, on his head and some sort of baggy houndstooth pants (clown pants?) paired with an overly colorful jacket. ‘I hope I’m not being ruuuuuude,’ he slurred, ‘but how old are you?’
And I really didn’t know how to take this remark. Was my very drunk friend telling me that I appeared too old to be standing in this particular line? That I looked like I should be hanging out with the 50+ set? Or was this just in-line banter?
I smiled the tight-lipped smile of the very sober and hoped he’d find someone else to talk to. Instead, he insisted I guess his age. ‘Twenty-one,’ I randomly selected a number. ‘Wow, you’re off by like six or seven years,’ he replied, ‘I’ll take that as a compliment.’
After what seemed like an eternity, the sweatshirts took pity on me and allowed me inside. The gathering space was crowded and loud. ‘How was your trip to New Zealand,’ I yelled-asked a fellow partygoer. She didn’t actually hear the question so she began talking about something else entirely. Because that’s how parties go. You yell out a question to someone, they hear twenty percent of the question, and launch into a conversation that has nothing to do with what you just asked, while you nod your head enthusiastically; smiling (or laughing) occasionally as evidence of your involvement in the exchange.
And then you move on to the next person.
Who happened to be a mom with three kids. We yelled-exchanged the names of our kids. And then an unknown twentysomething male approached her and asked ‘if she played hackey sack.’ We dissected this question for several minutes afterwards. ‘Do you think that’s his line,’ another mom wondered, mystified. ‘You should have said nice to meet you, I’m from 1974‘ laughed another friend.
And on that note, we called it a night. It was 12.30am and our minivans were about to turn into pumpkins.