For my birthday, I want to throw a house party. My parents will be out of town for the first time, and I will have the house to myself. I will be hesitant about the idea at first, but I will let my best friend Charlie convince me. I will make flyers to advertise the party, neon paper marked with sharpie letters-PARTY AT ALEX’S THIS SATURDAY 6:00 PM FREE BEER!-and a hastily drawn keg wearing sunglasses. The beer will actually not be free, because that gets expensive, so we will collect some funds the week before, discreetly. Charlie will hand out the flyers to a select group of friends. She will personally invite that reclusive guitar player/writer/artist, Jake, played by one of my more attractive friends. He will thank her for the invitation-‘’maybe I’ll drop by’’, he will say in a raspy murmur.
I want to set up my house hours too early with Charlie. She will pour popcorn and chips into plastic bowls. I will set up the keg and try, several times, to open it, and fail. ‘’We’ll just do that later’’, I will say to Charlie. We will buy a cheap porcelain bust from the thrift store. It will be my mom’s favourite statue, an expensive piece of tacky kitsch. It will be placed on a narrow pedestal in the center of the room, straddling the snack table and the dance floor. “That’s normally where it goes,’’ I will say, and I wouldn’t think of any better place for it to be. ‘’We can’t break this statue,’’ I’ll say to Charlie, ‘’It’s my mom’s absolute favourite and she would kill me!’’ With the logistics sorted out, we will spend the remaining five hours talking with electric anticipation of the night ahead of us. ‘’I can’t believe it, my first real party!’’ I will say. “I heard Jake might even be coming!’’ Charlie will say.
I want the doorbell to ring at 6:00 pm. Charlie and I will grab each other’s arms and squeal in delight. We will run to the door. I will inspect myself in the mirror one last time. Everything will be in place-heavy black eye liner, red lipstick, an experimental hairstyle that I know has failed but I will convince myself I like. I will take one deep breath and open the door. A crowd of 50 people will charge inside, yelling ‘’Party!!’’ and ‘’Free beer!!’’, fists raised in celebratory punches. My friend Theo will carry a boom box on his left shoulder and fill my house with the soundtrack for the night, a mix of obscure rock bands and popular Strokes songs. ‘’Who are all these people?’’ I will scream over the crowd. ‘’I have no idea! I didn’t invite them!’’ Charlie will yell back. We will know everyone there, because they will be our friends and we will have invited them, but for my birthday, they will be crashers.
I want them to have the best time of their lives. I want a group of 10 people to be playing truth or dare on my living room rug, and I want Charlie to get to kiss that guy she’s always had a crush on. Someone will be throwing up in the bathroom for the first time, and two of his friends will be helping him out. People will gyrate on the dance floor. In the dark corners of my house, unlikely pairs will make out. Theo will receive props from his bros as he makes his way up the staircase with two girls. Behind the closed doors of my bedroom, Theo will confess that he is actually gay –“but could you tell everybody we did it?’’ I will be sitting on the couch with a half-eaten slice of white birthday cake in my lap. I will watch them dance and I will smile for anyone who makes eye contact. I will be surrounded by people but I will feel so alone.
I want to go outside on my porch because it is all getting to be too much. I want to find Jake outside, leaning over the porch rail, with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, unlit because I don’t want second hand smoke. He will be wearing a weathered leather jacket, an obscure band tee (maybe Smith Westerns), and skinny black jeans with a well-loved copy of The Catcher in the Rye hanging out of his back pocket.
‘’Hey,’’ I will say. This will be his cue.
‘’Oh, hey,’’ He will reply. ‘’You’re the birthday girl, right?’’
I will nod, ‘’Yup. Another year!’’
‘’Happy birthday,’’ he will say.
‘’Right. Happy,’’ I will say. I will have tears coming on. If I can’t cry on cue by the time my birthday comes around, I will carry some cut up onions in my palm. I will blink back the tears and put on an over-compensatory smile. ‘’So why are you out here?’’ I will ask. ‘’You’re missing the party!’’
‘’I like the quiet,’’ he will say.
I will agree. I will break the silence after an appropriate amount of time. ‘’So how much does it suck that Smith Westerns are breaking up?’’ I will ask.
‘’I know, it killed me when I found out!’’ He’d reply instinctively, then pause-‘wait, you like the Smith Westerns too?’ his face would read, a blend of intrigue, surprise and piqued interest. This would be the same face I would have as I gradually discover our shared love of various other obscure music, movies and interests.
When I say ‘’I love nostalgic 90’s hip hop too!’’, that will be your cue to knock into me as you rush out of the house for a beer run. I will stumble forward and Jake will brace my fall. I will spill beer over his shirt. He will hold me as I apologize, embarrassed-‘’Oh god, I’m so sorry-your shirt!’’ We will make meaningful and nervous eye contact for five seconds, and then I will hear a big clash. ‘’What was that?’’ I will say, alarmed.
I want to go back inside my house and find my mom’s favourite statue in shards on the floor. Charlie will rush to my side, ‘’I’m so sorry! I don’t know how that happened!’’ she will say. ‘’My mom’s gonna kill me!’’ I will say. Jake will have followed behind me, and he will start picking up the pieces. The party will end a few hours later. I haven’t decided yet if my neighbours will call the cops, or if people will just trickle out the next morning, thanking me as they leave for throwing ‘’the best party ever’’.
I want to be left standing in my living room, assessing the damage with my eyes. Litters of popcorn, beer bottles and red solo cups will mar the floor. My couch will be turned over. Theo will be passed out on my coffee table, with a lampshade on his head and a moustache drawn on his face with permanent marker (Sorry, Theo). ‘’I’ll get some garbage bags,’’ Jake will say. ‘’I’m sooo sorry!’’ Charlie will say. I will remain speechless. At that moment, I will hear a click, the unlocking of my door. “We’re home!’’ my parents will announce as they enter. They will be home, a day earlier than expected. I will sigh in defeat, and I will go out to the hallway to explain myself.
And if it still doesn’t happen, we will just have to throw another birthday party. I don’t care how long it takes-I will come of age!