It’s midnight and I want out. The party’s been going, been “raging, dude,” for two hours now. Music is bumping. People are drinking their “dranks,” a few of them say, which is a reference to a song, an awful song, or so I’ve heard. The alcohol is wearing off, leaving me humorless and weary in a room full of laughing people.
Offers come in from all directions. No, I don’t want a cigarette. No, I don’t want to finish your drink, nor your “drank,” which, yes, I will continue to put in quotes. No, I don’t want to take a shot, not even with you, my best of new acquaintances, who will be my friend forever if I pound just one.
What I want, really, is to go to sleep, maybe drink a glass of milk beforehand, without having to say goodbye to everyone, without having people say, “Aw, man. What the fuck? It’s only 12.” But this is a wish with no possibility of being granted, and so I begin the daunting task of saying my goodbyes, starting in the backyard and working my way to the front door.
As per usual, the backyard is populated with smokers. No, I don’t have any cigarettes. No, I don’t have a light. I pee in the corner and shiver before finding a friend sitting amidst the smoke.
“Sit down,” he says.
“I’m trying to get out of here.”
“Why? It’s only 12.”
“Hey. Have you met John? John, this is Koji.”
By the time I’ve reached over and shaken the guy’s hand, I’ve forgotten his name.
“Nice to meet you,” I say. “But I’ve really got to get out of here.”
“Just sit down for one minute,” my friend says. “I haven’t seen you all night.”
Half an hour later I stand up, move into the house, onto the dance floor. A group of my friends is swaying to some slower beats which I’m not really into. I wave my hands in the middle of their circle and say I’m leaving. At that moment, techno starts playing.
My friend punches me in the shoulder and shouts, “You can’t leave on this song!”
He’s right. So I dance for that song and the next four, as they all turn out to be techno. I throw my hips around. I try to do the robot. I wrestle my friend on the floor when he tackles me. By the time the music changes I’m all sweaty. I seek out the bathroom and pee while staring up at the ceiling. Then I wash my face with cold water before returning to the dance floor with intent to leave.
“All right, I’m going, for real now,” I say, and after hugging bodies and shaking hands I ditch to the kitchen, which is the final stretch before the front door.
A group of people I don’t know are preparing tequila shots. As I try to pass, one of them taps me on the shoulder, the guy from the backyard, whose name I have forgotten.
“Hey,” he says, “This is my friend Denise. She says she knows your housemate.”
“I know Ignat,” the girl next to him says.
“Oh yeah? From where?” I ask.
“He’s in my philosophy class.”
“Well, I’m Koji. Nice meeting you.”
Again, I’ve forgotten her name before the handshake concludes, at which point the guy I met in the backyard says, “You want to take a shot with us?”
“I’ve had enough for tonight,” I say.
“You have to take one!” the now-nameless girl says.
I want to ask her for her rationale, when a friend from the dance floor runs into the kitchen and says, “They’re playing Daft Punk! You have to dance!”
Wanting to avoid the tequila above all else, I excuse myself to the dance floor, now dense with jumping people. So I dance. I slap the ceiling with both hands. I gyrate. I yell the lyrics. By the time the music finishes I need air, so I go outside, into the backyard. My sweat goes icy. I walk to the corner and pee, trying to arc the stream as high as possible.
I wipe my face with my shirt and go to where the chairs are, where the smokers are still sitting, and collapse into one of the seats. I close my eyes, lean my head back.
“I thought you left like an hour ago,” my friend says from the chair next to me.
“I tried,” I say. “What time is it?”
My friend slaps my thigh.
“Don’t worry about it. Just sit for a minute.”
KOJI FRAHM discovers cryptic messages addressed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.