Tag Archives: uncomfortable

No. 5 – the party

22 Jan

 

The party wasn’t my idea of a good time. Full of low-grade celebrities, reality TV show participants, and flocks of supposed fans. I fit into exactly zero of these categories. I tried to look amused as I was introduced to a stream of people, all with Crest White-stripped smiles that said, aren’t you happy to meet me. It wasn’t a question, it was a fact. At least, they all thought it was a fact. No one had ever told them any different. No one had ever gripped their hand, shaking it up and down, looked them dead in the eyes and said, “hi, go fuck yourself.”

I pressed my sweaty palm into hand after hand, smiling and smiling, moving down the line the way you do at weddings and funerals.

Congratulations, congratulations. I’m sorry for your loss.

The most obnoxious of all the evening’s guests was a blonde girl by the bar. She was pretty in that way your second cousin who lives in Kansas is pretty. Ruddy, farm girl cheeks and a face that hasn’t changed since eleventh grade. Not glamorous, not sexy, just girl-next-door-who-sings-at-church-pretty. Yet, I dreaded my arrival at her outstretched little hand. Of everyone there, cameras swarmed and flashed around her the most. Her smile never wavered. She made enormous gestures with her hands when she talked, like she thought that’s what famous people do. Her wrists were both covered in many colorful Bollywood-style bracelets, which I happened to be wearing, too. I was immediately embarrassed, hoping she wasn’t going to see them and shout something like, samesies! or think I had bought them to be just like her.

As I approached the blonde girl, she smiled and looked into my face with her sparkling, yet dead eyes. It was the first time I’d ever seen someone with eyes a color so nondescript that I couldn’t tell if they were a mottled green-gray like the little rocks in the bottom of my fish aquarium, or just varying shades of dark gray over medium gray. I kept staring into them, wondering how she managed to make them sparkle. She must have thought I was enamored with her beauty. She giggled, her cheeks turning up into round little apples, pink and fresh.

“Hi, I’m Amanda Grace, it’s so nice to meet you!” It felt like she was shouting at me.

Amanda Grace. Was that her first and middle name or was her last name actually Grace? I took note of the trace of a Georgia accent in her voice. It sounded like “they” were attempting to beat it out of her with speech therapists, acting coaches, and voice lessons. Up close I noticed she had a ridiculous amount of makeup on, so much so that she may have actually had to use paint thinner to get it off. Her hair was dark at the roots and fried at the ends. More evidence of a lab-created star. I wondered if that was even her real name.

Cameras continued to flash in Amanda Grace’s face, making her eyes grow wider and her gestures become larger and larger until she was practically waving her hands wildly in the air like she was on The Price is Right and had just spun 1000 on the Big Wheel, her bracelets ringing and clanging together.

“I’m Carolyn,” I muttered. Amanda Grace beamed at me.

“Thanks for watching!” she cried into my face, leaning in as though she thought I were hard of hearing. As though her status as a reality TV star and my status as absolutely no one made some cavernous distance between the two of us she actually had to shout across for me to be able to hear her.

I just stood there, looking confused. Watching what? I thought to myself. I wanted to blurt something out, like “I don’t even know who you are,” or “oh, I don’t watch television,” or “I had these bracelets before I met you,” but I couldn’t bring myself to that level of rudeness. I was annoyed and uncomfortable at the party, but I hadn’t lost the ability to maintain some semblance of my fine upbringing. My extremely proper British grandmother would have been proud at the way I smiled politely instead, took her hand in mine and said, “You’re so welcome, best of luck to you in your future endeavors, Amanda.”

I looked down at our hands clasped together, our bracelets jangling and banging into one another to create strange music. And there between the many colorful bracelets I saw we both had scars on our wrists.

I moved down the line, shaking hand after semi-celebrity hand, in a bit of a daze and mumbling into each firm grip.

Congratulations, congratulations, I’m so sorry for your loss. 

 

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