The venue started to look the way the organizers planned it-streamers hanging from the door frames and windows, curtains of red velvet tied to either side swept and designed to emulate the opening of a stage play, tables adorned with efflorescent vases blooming with assorted flowers all looking at you with happy optimistic faces as if to say, “this party’s gonna be a blast”. As formal as it might look and as classy as it might promise, I don’t remember having fun at any of the parties that I visited.
I’m here on account of the school paper who, after hearing about the huge catering event the Culinary Arts students would be organizing, designated me to attend and cover it so that the gazette would have a culminating article-a big year ender bang, so to speak. I was sent to the party late at night, around 7 pm to be exact, wearing a turtle neck sweater and black slacks complete with my “PRESS” ID hanging from my neck, looking totally out of place compared to all the semi-formally, cocktail dress and suit and tie clad students who prior to the party, were haggardly setting the place up to make it look like the vivacious party it is right now, the very picture of elegance and finesse, I the very picture of the opposite.
Luckily for me, I wasn’t completely alone in this project. With me was fellow “PRESS” and gazette member Georgette wearing the same ID but according to the motif, in a floral patterned mini-dress that rose above her knees and pretty little kitten pumps with plastic and cloth flower ornaments at the tip. The floral dress looked about as blooming as Georgette whose happy go lucky personality and chattiness were the epitome, the personification of springtime while I was a winter gloom. I always was the winter to everybody’s spring or summer, the black to the neon backgrounds that explode with lights. I always contrasted my surroundings, always the little black spot that made everything brighter in comparison.
There we were in the middle of the glitter and glamour of students pretending to drink wine in their borrow martini glasses filled with soda pop and juice mixture, olives sticking out from thin, tiny toothpicks. The girls guffawed and giggled faces shining bright from too much foundation and nighttime energy sweats while the boys tried to suppress their masculine rambunctiousness and adapted tumescent accents and faux manners. Georgette was busy taking pictures and that smile on her face told me that she was revelling in every moment of this function that gave and illusion of the high life, a life attained only by the wealthy. Georgette’s longtime dream had been to become a celebrity and to enter the entertainment industry and get a taste of richness and glamour, no matter what the costs and right now was the perfect time to live out her fantasies. With her DSLR she snapped picture after picture paying no particular attention to angles and focuses, acting like she was part of the paparazzi and everyone else was a star-including me whom she took stolen shot after stolen shot. I had to flash my hand before the camera lens and smudge it a bit just to get her to stop.
“Isn’t this wonderful? This is the best part of being in the gazette! They let you go to events like this and you dress up and you’re all fabulous. It makes you feel like a superstar. Now I know what being in the Golden Globes feels like. It’s intoxicating. The people, the food, the drinks, being in a dress. It all makes you feel like you’re on cloud nine. I now understand why celebrities get all snooty and egotistic. When all these good stuff come to you, you just lose all sense of being grounded and you start to float.” She rambled. I wasn’t quite sure if she was making sense but I got the whole idea of what she was trying to say. While Georgette strayed from my side and snapped away at the people, putting on a celebrity façade and going out of her way to socialise (something she didn’t do often), I remained standing in the middle looking more out of place than ever, my eccentricity apparently oozing right out of me, with arms akimbo and eyes keen like an eagle’s watching every motion everyone took paying attention to the littlest of details and imagining, writing the words down in my head hoping that I would get them exactly as they were right now when I typed them later. That’s my problem with words. I only get them right once and I’ll never get them right again.
I felt sorry for Georgette whose desperate visage was all contorted with all sorts of fake facial expressions in a futile attempt to impress the Culinary Arts students who undoubtedly all came from money. Obviously, they were in on her and knew that everything was a gigantic bluff. It gave Georgette-who was miserable with her studies-a great sense of escape, as I could see the sheer joy on her face and the elation, the bang she got out of pretending to be wealthy and classy and speaking in rich kid terms on all the wrong levels, so instead of pulling her back to save her from secret humiliation, I allowed her to revel into the moment and vowed to let her know right after the party what I and everyone else were secretly thinking. You always know if a person likes your company or not. It’s in their faces, in their eyes namely. Their eyes speak volumes louder than their voices.
Everything had become too pretentious for me that I felt I needed a breather, apart from the fact that the hullabaloo of the loud electronic music and the “inebriated” guests to organize the words in my head and start giving body and coherence to my article. This was my problem in social settings aside from being always alone, the sight of people coming together, everyone paired or group up with wide grins and laughter on their faces emanating from their lips and decorating the room, merging with the music and the movement can. All these are enough to make one feel alienated and depressed, enough to make one withdraw in a little bubble of isolation away from the gleeful crowd. I simmered in my thoughts which eventually ran from my article to the realization that I have lived nearly my entire life without one true friend. No. I don’t have one true friend. Everything that felt like it proved fugacious and was just as quick to run away from me when I was ready to embrace it. I had no choice but to eventually embrace the reality that some people aren’t meant to have any friends and I fell into that category, fit into it perfectly like the last puzzle piece. The solitude had been good for me, though and so was the drowning in my misery as it had helped me concentrate on writing and hobbies, eventually melting the sorrow and the consciousness of being alone, me learning to finally embrace my sad destiny.
I pulled a cigarette from the box in my pocket and lit it, leaning towards the balcony with my arms folded and the stick clamped between my lips, smoke puffed out into the open nighttime sky where it became as white as the dots that were the stars. I was revelling in my calmness, pushing aside all lonely thoughts when out of nowhere, from right behind me, light hands tapped my shoulders and lightly shook me. I jolted out of my skin and spun around surprised when I ought to not be.
“What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be immersing yourself in the party! Isn’t that what they told you to do?”
“Yeah but I don’t think I need too much blending in to be able to write about it. I only need one glance and I’ll know what to put. All parties are the same anyways.”
“You didn’t even interview anyone, you know, to get their thoughts about the event.” Georgette seemed to be really into this assignment and it made me wonder if she only accepted it so she could get into an exclusive event whereas she was always too lazy to finish up articles.
“Why bother?” my acerbic nature possessed me once again. “They’ll all say the same fake things anyways. Nobody ever tells the truth nowadays.” I blew smoke into the air. I felt Georgette eyeing my cigarette box the bulged out of my slack pockets. I knew her desire to seem cool but I wasn’t going to be the one to teach her how to smoke. She had always expressed a curiosity about vices but I would definitely not enable her.
“Why are you so bitter, though?” Georgette leaned against the post, sympathetically looking at me through globe round eyes.
“There’s nothing worth being sweet about this world anymore. Everyone fucks everyone else over, we one up each other. Friends become strangers in the end and we all die and turn to dust. Life has become like the movies-predictable. What else is there to be happy about when you know where you’re going to in the end?” I told her crushing my cigarette on the soil of one of the pots where a plant slowly grew. I walked past Georgette, gathering the rest of my things that were resting near the entrance doors of the venue, getting ready to exit when Georgette greeted me again with her presence, standing before me with her little handbag in tow. I quizzically looked at her which she returned with a complacent smile.
“I’m leaving.” I told her without pretensions, not considering her feelings if she meant to stay.
“That’s quite alright. I’m leaving myself.” She replied, happily walking by my side as we descended the wide and long flight of stairs leading us to the shined brown wooden doors of the venue that would usher us into freedom!
The walk outside to the terminal where we would catch a ride was long and silent but awkwardness did not reign over us. Though not speaking, our hearts understood each other and it was there that I got to know who Georgette really was-apart from the Georgette that I had seen at the party, gregarious and engaging. This Georgette was far more quiet and intuitive and seemed to know what I was thinking, erasing all impressions of naivete that I had earlier when she inquired about my article.
“Oh, there’s a ride for me. I’ll see you when I do! Don’t forget to turn in the papers!” she bade me goodbye as I saw small her in blue and white floral gown hopping up the jeep and sitting prettily down, the Georgette I knew disappearing once more in the small crowd of passengers. Her smiling face looked straight at me as the vehicle passed by and its form shrunk and shrunk as it gathered distance. I stood passively waiting for my own ride to my own destination with my bag tight against my chest.
Oddly enough, in that short silent walk Georgette and I shared, the loneliness I had felt seemed to have evaporated and I no longer felt like a stranger. In the strangeness of the party that was destined to make you feel like an outsider, you find someone who’s just as out of place as you are that you two come together and make a beautiful blend of misfit colors in the uniformity of it all.