Anxiety pulsates through your body—some cave to a sweet tooth, others concede to a ranch tooth, and right now you and your alcohol tooth just can’t wait any longer. The invite on Facebook stated this soiree of “Skanks and Spanx”, “Barbarians and Librarians”, or “Chimps and Hoes” doesn’t start until ten, and, from right now, that’s over two long hours away. You jaw clenches and your teeth grind; the thirst for booze gnaws at you along with your contempt at your roommate’s proclivity for monopolizing the TV with the stale plotlines and dialogue of NCIS. With no drinks, mouthwash, or cough syrup in store, you make the logical decision to head out early armed with nothing but an unquenchable liquor appetite and a vengeful distaste for CBS dramas.
A few blocks into your quest the uncertainties start coming to mind. With effective, aggressive pregames you’d always been able to avoid this situation; frankly, this is an unfamiliar position and you’re not sure if you should continue. You tell yourself you’re just being irrational, as your brain is no longer accustomed to functioning sober for this long. It’s no use, though; you can’t stop the furious brainstorm of worst-case scenarios that begin crashing through your thoughts.
1. The Set Up: Baffled, you visualize stepping into a house that resembles what appears to be the aftermath from an impregnated tornado that was vomiting garbage. There’s encrusted sauce on everything. There’s a pile of erotically-used tissues and tube socks scattered, like true fap-nel, around the lone armchair. You’re almost expecting to find a feral dog licking a tin can in a bathtub when your host instantly breaks from their frantically procrastinated cleaning to breathe a sigh of relief at your presence. Invariably, what’ll ensue is a mandatory request to help them set up or clean in some capacity. There’s no way to shrug off the demand or make an excuse; they know you’re here for tonight’s party and that you don’t have any sudden, unexpected plans to rush off to.
2. The Liquor Store Excursion: Like a birthday without cake or most films starring Brendan Fraser, arriving early to find that a party is without booze is a textbook disappointment. Dejected, you picture becoming instantly and non-consensually entwined in the scrambling clusterfuck of housemates trying to collect money and/or finding someone over the age of twenty-one to procure fun juice. With your mere presence, you’ve entered into this whirlwind of petty, cheap, demanding roommates squabbling over making phone calls, exchanging money, and traversing to the booze emporium. Everyone recognizes the impending crisis and tempers flare. The room’s abrasively sober personalities materialize and the discussion swings from the current problems to scathingly personal jabs. Alcohol is the answer, but all you can do is sit back, ride out the shitstorm, and sear a reminder into your brain never to arrive early again.
3. The Uncomfortable Silence: You expected more people, more friends, and more buffers would be here, but you picture sauntering in only to be stuck exchanging pleasantries with the peripheral-friend of a host, who you know nothing about outside of their name. Even for attempting small talk you’re unsure where to start. The standoffish shuffling and nervous binge drinking begins; you’re both hoping for someone else to arrive to assuage this fury of awkward non-sequiturs and disconnected attempted jokes. You don’t know what you were thinking. It’s too late when you remember that you don’t go to parties to meet people; you go to parties to drink in a corner with the same six people you drink with every night.
The nightmarish horrors fade as you near the house. You’re hoping for the best; but, as The Shawshank Redemption reminds us, hope can be a dangerous thing.