I think it was worth it. It started off kind of serious.
I did not go to a New Year’s party tonight. (Quick question: New Year’s Eve—capitalized or not?) I stayed home and made a little movie, laboriously drawing the frames for a music video timed to Elvis Presley’s “In the Ghetto.” Though I received a few invitations to New Year’s celebrations, the fog in Los Angeles is thick tonight and I’m driving all day Saturday anyway. Parties aren’t really my thing, anyway.
The last party I attended was the joint birthday party held mostly for my cousin and partly for me in the middle of October. I drove four hours down to Provo to make my appearance on a weekend I should have spent studying for a test. After arriving, I hot-glued my mask (it was a masquerade party, after all, and the hostess was kind enough to provide maroon sequins and gold pipe cleaners to glue onto my black, plastic, half-face mask,) and mingled around. For most of the night, though, the mask sat on top of my head instead of covering my eyes—I thought it made my nose look big. I looked sharp in my new pinstripe suit and blue shirt that brought out my eyes. I think I even wore a tie.
Throughout the night I tried to start a few conversations. My cousin’s roommate’s friend, a slightly less-than-average height brunette with a cute smile, and I tried to flirt a few times. As I stood by the wall in the entryway, eyeing a lounge chair in the living room that a couple was currently salsa-dancing a little too close to for my comfort, she spoke to me: “You look like you’re having fun.”
“Yeah, this is fantastic. I’m actually waiting for that chair, but their kicks and dancing are a little dangerous to take it right now,” I replied.
“Oh, you don’t want to sit down! Don’t you want to dance?” she asked.
Heck no, I thought. Instead of that, I said, “I’m not really the dancing type. What’s your name, though?” She said her name was Kellen or something like that and she was from mid-southern California. I told her I was from LA and asked her how she liked going to school in Provo. Before answering, a Miley Cyrus song came on and most of the girls in the room ran to the dance floor to show us their choreography they’d made for that number. I laughed. “Wow, they’ve practiced,” I remarked.
“Yeah, it looks like it.” We smiled and watched for a minute, not really saying anything. "So what are you studying?” I finally asked. Another few chit-chatty comments bounced back and forth, and I went to get a drink.
Later in the night I finally took the lounge chair I wanted. I sat for no more than 20 seconds when Kellen came to me and pulled me up to dance.
“I’m not really a dancer,” I protested.
“It’ll be fun,” she promised.
I tried to wiggle back and forth and dance but didn’t feel like taking my hands out of my suit coat pockets and so I didn’t really do much but sway kind-of to the beat. “Oh, come on!” Kellen said as she took my hands from behind and started waving them in the air for me.
She did not just do that, I thought. But she did. I took it for about fifteen seconds, thinking about how my cat feels when we make him stand upright and dance, and then gently turned around and tried to start another conversation. “So are you a big dancer like a dance major, or…?”
“No, I’m studying (I forgot what she’s studying. We’ll say history.) What are you going in to?”
“I’m an English major, so I want to teach high school or be unemployed.” She laughed at that. Then she tried to start dancing again. The music blared through my head. The snacks had run out. And I was in the middle of the dance floor. I wish I could get her out of this party and have a real conversation, I thought.
That never happened. I ended up going for another drink and then snuck out under the pretense of an urgent phone call or laundry or something. I did say goodbye to her before I left, though.
The point is, I don’t like parties where you can’t get to know someone. Why, when I’m driven by intimacy and real human interaction in my relationships, would I herd myself into an over-populated room where real conversation is impossible?