Me [yelling]: “Wouldn’t it be cool if when you visited your hometown you had a cool and life-changing experience – like in the movie Garden State – instead of, like, this kind of shit?”
My husband [shouting back]: “I never saw Garden State.”
Me [irritated]: “What?! We watched it together. Remember this guy goes back home because his mom dies, and he gets with a girl who has epilepsy, and he’s on lithium but stops taking it?” (OK, not the best plot synopsis but keep in mind we are yelling at one another from the distance of three feet and can barely hear over the noise).
Ralph [stubbornly]: “I never saw it.”
We’re at an “Alumni Dance” on Thanksgiving eve. My alma mater graduated about 120 my senior year so you’d think I would know a bunch of people there. But I don’t; in fact, I hardly know anyone. Everyone looks older or younger. There is cheap, assy booze, lots of cigarette smoke, and about four million clones all wearing baggy pants with boxers peeking out, baseball caps, and walking with the pronounced Eminem-cultivated-slouch. We are listening to a band called Alpha Dog playing Melloncamp’s “Hurts So Good” – not too badly, I might add. I will later sagely pronounce this band as “technically proficient, but with all the wrong instincts.”
On the other side of me is Amore, my best friend from middle- and high school. She and I are smoking and talking and trying not to fall prey to gawking. We are in agreement over who has the best boobs in the joint. As far as men go, the pickings are a little slimmer. It is only 11 PM but my eyes sting (even smokers hate smoke), I am hungry, and pissed that no one is dancing due in large part to mid-90s tripe being covered by the band. I like to dance. We do it anyway, for a song or two (including the obligatory Free hit).
What exactly is everyone here – a couple hundred or more, by the time we leave at 11:30 for a good drink at a local tavern – getting out of this event? No dancing, bad alcohol, not much mixing really. A cat-fight in the back of the room riles everyone up a bit, more than the music has all night. I wonder if I’m just leaving early and lame-assing out because I have kids. Don’t think so, though. I have shut down more than one party over the last few years. This party just isn’t working for me.
We head to the local bar – a smoke-free, clean establishment run by a local who graduated the year ahead of me. I see more people I know. Amore, Ralph and I each have a delicious, cold white russian (the only thing I could think to order) and, since the kitchen is closed, decide we have to hit the T-day leftovers for noshing. We giggle, talk to a few people in the bar, have a final smoke outside. Amore heads back to the dance to hang out with her boyfriend and friends; Ralph and I head back to my parents where our children are sleeping.
This morning Ralph leans over to me and says, “Hey, what was that movie we saw where this guy had a girlfriend and her family had lots of pets and they have a pet graveyard with all these graves? You know, he’s on medication but deciding not to take it and visiting his hometown?”
Honest to God. No ironic twinkle in his eye, either. Sheesh.