This is the happiest moment of my night, and it will be ending any second now.
*Knock, knock, knock*
Speak of the Devil.
So long, chair. We will meet again.
“Happy Birthday, muddahfuckah!”
It’s Brent, some of his college buddies and a group of girls who may or may not be above the age of consent.
“Brent, I told you in the text, my birthday is two weeks from now.”
“And I told YOU in the text, I don’t give a shit. It may not be your birthday, but we’re gonna party like it’s your birthday!”
Brent clearly didn’t know how I party on my birthday.
“Where do we put the keg?”
“You got a keg?”
“Hell yeah! I spare no expense for my best-work-buddy’s birthday!”
“It’s not my birthday.”
“Then why are you holding THIS?”
Brent tossed a plastic chalice, with “B-DAY PIMP” emblazoned around the rim, in my direction.
I didn’t catch it, and it cracked.
“DUDE. What the fuck? That thing cost me like, twenty bucks!”
“ONLY twenty bucks?”
The number of people in my apartment has quadrupled since Brent and his entourage invaded my personal space, which is why I’m surprised William, our colleague, has decided to cling to me like the stench of fried food on my corporate-mandated apron.
“This is an epic birthday party, dude.”
“Yeah, man! You’ve got a keg and everything!”
“It’s not even my birthday.”
“But Brent said…”
“Brent’s an idiot. He just needed an excuse to get wasted and I was foolish enough to let him know it’s my birth month.”
Will and I broke our awkward silence by taking a sip of our drinks. As I peered down the ribs of my red-plastic cup, Angela passed through my sights. What was she doing here? If my stalker-ish calculations were correct, she should be visiting her boyfriend this weekend.
“Will, it’s been a pleasure, but I need a refill.”
“Want me to get it for you, Birthday Boy?”
“No. No I don’t.”
“Alright, man. I’ll be here.”
“Good to know.”
Note to self, avoid that area for the rest of the night.
Oh, God. She’s going in for the hug.
It feels like it.
Oh, man. She gives good hugs.
“I didn’t think I’d see you here.”
“Yeah, well, Blake had something to do this weekend, and I didn’t want to just stay home alone on a Saturday night like some kind of a loser.”
“This is a great party!”
“I spare no expense for my birthday.”
“I can see that. You got a keg and everything.”
“I really like your apartment.”
“Thanks. Me too.”
Another uncomfortable silence and another sip from my cup. As I lowered my drink I heard a raised voice coming from the bathroom.
“EWW! GROSS, DUDE!”
“Angela, it’s been a pleasure, but I need to see what that’s about.”
“No problem. I’ll be here.”
“Glad to hear it.”
Note to self, immediately return to that area.
“Jake threw up EVERYWHERE.”
“I can see that, Brent. Jake. Jake. Come in, Jake.”
“He’s out, dude.”
“I can see that, Brent. Get him out of here so I can clean all this shit up.”
“I’m sorry, dude. I really am.”
“Yeah, well, you should be.”
And just like that, Brent was gone. So was Jake. It was just me, a bucket and the second coming of our “award winning” baked potato soup.
Through the door I hear Brent persuading William to give Jake a ride home. Will was the newest addition to the wait staff, thereby making him everybody’s bitch. His sheepish demeanor wasn’t doing him any favors. I guess that’s why he flocked to me. We wear a similar wool.
Things were shaping up. The puke was gone. Will was gone. And as far as I could tell, everyone assumed I was gone. My insignificance was working in my favor. Now, to keep my presence unknown while I take these vomit cloths to the dumpster.
Shit. It’s Karen.
She “discreetly” discards her cigarette and goes in for a hug.
Even in the great outdoors, her breath smells like a bowling alley.
“Still smoking, huh?”
“Come on, it was just ONE. Give me a break.”
“Hey, I’m not your oncologist. Puff away.”
I used to be more vocal about her deadly habit. Then she started mistaking my general disapproval of self-destructive behavior for genuine interest in her well-being. And now, I’m her Angela.
“Need help with those?”
“Want me to walk with you?”
Karen talked from the dumpster to my doorstep. About what, I had no idea. I put my social skills on autopilot and let my mind drift off to a happier, lonelier place.
As we came in, Brent was on his way out.
“Hey, man! I was looking for you. I think me and some peeps are going to get pancakes. You down?”
“Nah. I think I’m going to stick around and tidy up a bit.”
“Want me to help?”
“Thanks Karen, but I’ll be fine by myself. You go enjoy some breakfast food.
“I’m not really hungry.”
“Well, I’m pretty sure they have a smoking section.”
The light in Karen’s eyes extinguished like the cigarette she smashed into the pavement.
The door closed with Karen, Brent and Brent’s peeps on the other side. I checked to see if Angela was still lingering around the kitchen.
It would’ve been nice to take one more swing at wooing her from Blake, but beggars can’t be choosers. All I’ve wanted to do since Brent knocked on my door was return to my lonely throne and let the solitude rejuvenate my spirits like a cold compress.
Just let me step over a few empty beer cups and…
Photograph by: Jaemin Riley
Written by: Mark Killian