I'm a Stranger Here

The public journal of a Philadelphian in Chicago

That place where the bones of life are piled
I know somethin' has changed
I'm a stranger here and no one sees me
'Cept you, yeah you.

-- "Nobody 'Cept You", Bob Dylan

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Birthday Party

Like other parties of the kind, it was first silent, then talky, then argumentative, then disputatious, then unintelligible, then altogether, then inarticulate, and then drunk. When we had reached the last step of this glorious ladder, it was difficult to get down again without stumbling.

--George Gordon, Lord Byron
Ok, where to begin? Well, my posting last Saturday promised details about the birthday party I threw for Justin and Spiros. It took place on Fri 22 Oct, in case you may've forgotten. So, after a splendid dinner with Justin and my girl at Leona's (no need to make Tigre-Leona jokes...I took care of it for you guys), we purchased some last minute items and held our breaths. Who would come? Would we have a good time? Would there be any major fiascos? (Many of you must surely remember Drunken Jimbosaurus and his 100 Apologies? Hmm...sounds like a perfect name for a psychedelic rock mime troupe from Monterey.)

The first guest to arrive (and last to leave) that evening was Todd, a very aimiable Cancer Bio student from Allentown, Pa who brought a case of Leinenkugel Red. He actually lives two floors above me, right around the corner from Spyridon. A Dartmouth alum, he's quite easygoing and certainly enjoys his tipple. He's the kind of guest that is a Godsend of hosts everywhere: the lugubrious drunk, the one who slows down until finally collapsing into a pill-bug-like haunch. While they may be difficult to expel once the night is thru, at least you don't have to worry about drinks spilled and toilets ruined - for he just sat there throughout the night, grinning and chatting ever more ponderously until he just....stopped.

We had The Office Christmas Special playing on the telly (more on that show in a post to come), while some damn good cds I had pieced together over the years played in the background. Though some may call me "King of the Mix CD", it's really those girls in my life who drove me to such distraction that deserve the lions share of the credit.

Soon, more guests started arriving: Ann and Nhi; Nicole, who brought with her a giant bottle of vodka (a souvenier of our Costco trip the week before); Matt* and his girlfriend Victoria (case of beer in tow); Kevin* (case of beer in tow); Gülüm (4 bags of chips...and a 6 pack of Miller lite in tow); Sarah* with her boyfriend Ken (a bottle of wine in tow) and Diane* (delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies...err...in tow?). My point is everyone was extremely generous - I said food or drink would be appreciated in the invite, and nearly everyone responded. Just like you guys always did in Philly. Special props to Emina & Rodney, a fifth year grad student couple who brought an amazing homemade caramel pecan cheesecake.

Dave* was pretty drunk when he arrived - he and Azusa had been at a free showing of Farenheit 9/11 which provided free alcohol and so arrived spouting nonsense. How much of this was due to the five beers and how much due to the Leni Riefenstahl-lite he had just watched was anyone's guess. Upon being introduced to Colleen, he started with an "Oh...should I...?" And then he just froze for about 30 seconds. He then tried to explain with "Well, sorry, you know when you're in prison and...." Ok, when anyone starts talking about prison, let's just say it's a real party downer. Later bon mots included telling Ken that he resembled Peter Pan, and that they should both fly like ghosts away together to Neverland. Complete with flapping motion.

He was that bane of every party-master: the raucous drunk. He kept spilling his drinks (thanks to jerky movements), drank with impugnity (whiskey disappeared down his gullet as though it were water) and had NO VOLUME CONTROL WHATSOEVER! Sheesh..it was enough to turn my hair grey.

But really, I can't complain. Sure, I foolishly sprinkled powdered sugar all over the gingerbread birthday cake I'd baked. Think Justin blowing out the candles, and Colleen and my carpet suddenly just a bit whiter as a result. But everyone had a good time, especially my brother; I got to introduce my beloved Colleen to my friends and colleagues here. And hell, I got to see what a bunch of lushes these grad students really are.

* indicates 1st year Immunology student


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