ten minute song, a little too long
“Hey man, you want to go to a house party? Five dollar keg cups!” My roommate had asked as we passed each other in Wiley Hall on a Friday morning between our overlapping Intro to Psychology classes. Good ole Wiley with its 900 person double auditoriums for freshman introduction classes, bigger than any movie theatre I’d ever seen. It was a silly question, because this was, after all, Friday. And we were, after all, freshmen. 18-19 years old and three weeks into our first semester, we lived for house parties. A rundown house near campus packed with sweaty, underage kids, hormones raging, interaction lubricated by cheap keg beer, it was my own personal vision of Heaven. Perhaps this week I would run into that brunette cutie with the fuck-me eyes, the one I’d talked to for a half second last weekend before the cops kicked the door open and everyone ran. She had the look of something special, that extra little bit of fire, of passion, that spark worth investigating. But then again, with 50,000 kids living in the neighborhood, the odds weren’t good, and there was no use dwelling on possibilities. Not when there was beer to be drank, beer pong titles to be defended, and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of new girls to meet, to dance with, to seduce!
Friday nights were our time to shine, to let loose, to conquer! We were the heroes of this story, we were those they sang songs about! The night belonged to those bold enough to take it; and we had boldness in spades. And when it was all over, and people had gone home coupled up or alone, we’d climb up to the roof with a bottle of whatever to watch the sun peak over skyscrapers into the manmade valley of our campus. If nothing else, I was a fantastic drunk at 18 years old.
“Hey man, you want to go to a house party? $5 a cup!” rattled my phone in the form of a text message on a random Friday afternoon as I was just leaving work. An old friend who’d recently gone back to school to finish his degree, he’d rented a room in a rundown campus house with a bunch of other students. Christ, I hadn’t been to a college house party in forever, I hadn’t been to a college anything in forever. The memories of rundown houses packed with sweaty kids celebrating their youth came back to me, the aroma of cheap keg beer filled my nostrils, visions of red keg cups glistened in my eyes. We’d grown up and moved on, the old college friends scattered around the city, and then the country, and now the world; it would be good to revisit the old scene.
It all went well until I filled up my second cup and turned to bump into a little brunette pixie with eyes of fire and passion and wonder and youth. I stared for a second too long and she gave me an awkward smile and excused herself past me. It wasn’t Her. It only looked like Her. And it all came back to me, that party ten years ago, when we’d met up for the second time. She’d caught my gaze across the beer pong table and we’d shared a smile. Later we’d shared a nice conversation, and then a kiss. Then we shared a weekend trip to the North Shore, and she shared me with her parents. We shared an apartment in Uptown and a little border collie named Mr. Chips. And then I shared too many nights with the boys and not enough with her. We shared too many fights and not enough make-ups. One day she shared a cup of coffee with a coworker, and we no longer shared a dog.
Sipping cheap beer from a red plastic cup in a rundown house, remembering that brunette pixie, and our failed attempt at a beautiful life together. Time to climb back up to the roof to stare out at the city, to wonder who else is out there. Just to get away from this city that suffocates my dreams. If nothing else, I’d turned into a sappy drunk at 28 years old.
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