Last night, to wrap up the school musical after 96 hours of rehearsal, 5 performances, and enough face makeup to clog all the bathtub drains in New Zealand, Mrs. Gerund put out store-bought cake and potato chips. Therefore, it was with much regret and contrition that all ten of us lead actors and some others did slip out of the auditorium at 9:30 pm, giggling and sipping from Solo cups as we piled into a misfit fleet of vehicles suited for the “part-time high school senior” and left thirty less important cast members to plaintively mourn the end of an era over sodium and saturated fats; we were setting out to have a final “hurrah” before the curtain closed on our superiority complexes for another six months.
In school hallways, this party is now referred to in hushed whispers by those privy to such privileged information; I catch snippets of conversations like “Did you hear that he-“, “I was there, she was high on-“, or “I heard he caught them making out on the-“. My friends in senior year refuse to believe that I ever attended the event, and some even dispute its existence; my first and only high school party, it seems, has become the subject of modern-day folklore.
Being the social ham that I am, combined with the fact that my grade 10 status puts me somewhere below grass on the social food chain, I was surprised to find myself invited at all- even if it had been done nonchalantly by a peripheral attendee, 20 minutes before the event. Then, I heard that the only other grade ten in attendance would be the actor who played the title role: Peter. The news sent me into a panic; I have a tendency to not act my species around him- I can pull off “apish” at best. (Little did I know, my stuttering retorts would be the last thing he was aware of.)
All this was forgotten, however, as we crammed ourselves into the back seat of the musical’s murderer’s Mazda and set off for Hayden Doerson’s house. When we pulled up in his driveway 5 minutes later, his dad let us in, sporting the sheepish smile of a divorced parent trying to make up for his absence by allowing his son to throw a party with underaged drinking. Looking like a wounded puppy, he retreated to his upstairs bedroom and I did not see him for the rest of the night.
Immediately, the alcohol was pulled out, and everyone started taking shots. Soon, most people were drunk enough to rectify my social awkwardness, and I began to enjoy myself! We played Cards Against Humanity, watching amusedly as one particular character played a concerto on the piano (which, it was argued, has never happened while he is sober), and telephoned a girl labeled “Drunk Dial” in his contacts, who apparently answers his calls without fail and stays on the line for hours as he performs sonnets in sporadically German, Indian, and Scottish accents after his 5th shot of tequila. After he had reached the full extent of his repertoire (several times over), I left the basement to discover Peter walking, or stumbling, through the door with Lander Willis. Lander is flamboyantly gay, and, aside from his charisma, is known for his connections in the party scene. It did not take a detective to determine that Peter, eyes glistening and face bright pink, was high on marijuana for the first time.
Most of the cast flocked to Peter, laughingly asking him questions as he handled (or, mishandled) the psychoactive drug with awestruck confusion; his eyes widened as he looked for bubbles in a glass of water, the least questionable drink on tap that night. At one point, he stopped speaking to the group of grade 12 girls all hovering around him, looked directly at me, and said calmly, “You have a gentle soul.” He then proceeded to lurch over to the girl next to him and whisper loudly, “She wants me.”
“Who does, Peter?”
“All of them.”
At this, I heard someone behind me scoff. Turning, I discovered that I had been wrong about Peter and me being the only grade tens at the party; here in front of me, with an invitation perhaps even more perplexing and unorthodox than mine, was the boy from my English class who Mrs. Joyce had sent with me to dismantle the apple core/tape structure on her projector screen.
“Jonah, what are you doing here? You aren’t even in the musical!”
His reply was ambiguous, and generic, and altogether not worth noting on the internet. Something like “I have connections,” or, “I have my ways,” or some other vaguely mysterious jargon high school boys are known to use at sweaty parties early in the morning. What happened next, however, was wholly original. Indeed, the hours that followed this encounter were some of the most interesting and pleasant hours of my life, spent objectively observing drunk people with Jonah, and the student from Finland who could not drink on his exchange (nor, it seemed, speak a lick of English). At one point, we all took shots of water, being ritually accurate right down to the little clear glass- lime, salt, and all- to the cheering of a large group that was most likely unaware of how lame the situation truly was.
At the end of the night, Peter had already been put to bed by Lander, who was assisted by a flock of admirers still starstruck from Peter’s performance in the musical. As I sat with the rest of the girls at the party, and Lander, around the kitchen island, we discovered that every single one of us has feelings for Peter. Including Lander; he even admitted that part of his motivation for giving Peter the drugs was to see if he would be interested in “getting with him”.
To mimic the hipsters I so desperately try to shun, I now realize that Peter is over-hyped. I was okay with watching him from afar when I thought I was the only one; he certainly has some good qualities, but not enough to turn me into one of his groupies. The way he treated everyone at that party, like pawns in his play for popularity, was far from attractive. Last night, I realized that Peter is not the amazing guy I once thought him to be. Yet, that guy does exist; he goes to my school. He sits beside me in English. He walks with me to Chem. How have I managed to remain so perversely ham-like all this time?
I am looking forward to seeing Jonah in first period tomorrow; as you all know, dissecting Hamlet is an undisputed catalyst for romance.
Bye for now!