It’s three A.M and I find myself sitting in a very uncomfortable chair. This chair is the kind of chair you would expect to see at Your Local Thrift Store, finding itself unsold, slowly degrading each time you see it. It’s covered in this bumpy, ugly orange material with almost no padding between both it and the apparently fossilized wood cruelly molded into the form of this torture device. I’m afraid to stand up out of it, though. It may have given me Scoliosis.
I’m sitting here listening to somebody tell a joke. It’s not a very funny one, though; it’s one of those extremely racist jokes that begins with the classic, “I’m not racist, but…” and ends with a paraphrased form of the heavy metal catchphrase, “Kill ‘Em All!” I guess it would be funny if I were like, fourteen years old and an idiot. I’m not. I’m a grown man bending my bones like wire in this awful seat wondering about the type of company I keep. My brain and I have a conversation. I ask what we should do now. “Take a drink,” is the answer, and Lord, is that ever a hell of an answer.
The bottle in my dominant hand (that would be my right one) reaches my lips and gives me a kiss sweeter than that of any woman. A mixture of finely brewed poisons breaks off into different squads infiltrating my brain and my stomach and the tips of my fingers. The small group in the room with me are laughing at the joke. One of them turns to me with a fake smile and quietly tells me a rhetorical question (the tone did not end with a question mark), “Jesus Christ, was that horrible or what!” Nobody knows just who the hell the comedian is, or how he got here, but since it’s three in the morning he won’t be going anywhere so hey, let’s just humor the poor bastard. Suddenly, I worry less about the company I keep.
Time passes. The jokes about minorities have come to a thankful end. The asshole with the terrible sense of humor is passed out and given looks of scorn and some harsh words by passerbys that are unable to reach him in his deep sleep. I thought I heard somebody call the guy a “faggot.” I hope that was ironic.
His slumber was a sign of things to come. Things are winding down. What had been, before all this mess, a lively gathering of friends, associates and slightly tolerable folks, has now become a parade of tired eyes and numb limbs moving about as if underwater. I don’t watch much television, other than the channel that shows nothing but old movies. Sometimes you get gems like Rashomon or something with Audrey Hepburn. The rest of the time you get poorly made mysteries or alleged comedies starring complete nobodies who were only slightly less of a nobody even in their time. I always seem to notice something when I come to get-togethers like these: those movies always seem to have small parties in large homes attended by well-dressed, pretty white people tossing back martinis and calling each other “darling.” Time is cyclical. We are no different now than we were then. A bunch of white people downing shots of Jaegermeister and Grey Goose and cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon in expertly coordinated outfits engaged in conversations of absolute inanity. I think I may have crossed that fine line of self-parody.
The thought, combined with the liquor in my system, causes a negative reaction in my stomach. The bathroom is occupied, so I have to dash out the back door and lean my head over the balcony three stories high. The brown (or orange, hard to tell in the darkness) sickness violently smacking the pavement below is the only sound I hear. My eyes are closed, half out of drunken shame, the other half from my body’s reaction. When it’s all over, I haphazardly wipe my mouth with the sleeve of my jacket and lean back against the wall. All I can think is, Jesus Christ, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone.