I’d been looking forward to this party for a couple of months already. Puppy and Kitty threw a huge joint party at their mother’s apartment in Manhattan every New Year’s Eve during high school and they continued doing it throughout college. We had known each other as toddlers and our families had taken vacations together every summer until Puppy and Kitty’s parents got divorced and they moved with their mother to New York City. I was glad to see I was not forgotten.
The college I was attending had eight hundred students. We were isolated, a little academic island in a rural area. After two and a half years, the social situation there had become complicated for me. I found myself essentially friendless, except for this guy everyone called Stoneface because he was so impassive. I was frankly elated to be heading to a party where there would be no one connected to the social mess I had made of my life at school. I was looking forward to strengthening my connections to some old friends and perhaps, with luck, making some new ones. If I was going to make it through the next year and a half, I was going to have to expand my social life beyond my school.
Many of the people at the party I’d met before, albeit only briefly. I recognized many faces but couldn’t always put names to them. There were a few exceptions. Hera, a family friend, and her boyfriend, who had, entirely by coincidence, gone to high school with me. Hera was one of those math whizzes who was bad at everything else. She was in the process of turning from a banal suburban girl into a sultry beauty with a vaguely Mediterranean appearance. Her eyes always put me in mind of a line from Homer. I liked her, and always felt that she returned the feeling, but we simply do not have enough to say to one another to be close. All my male friends who see her ask to be fixed up. I don’t know how to tell them politely that she likes really buff guys half her age. Thirty years ago, however, she was still with her high school boyfriend.
Then there was Aussie. Very tall and lanky, he was Puppy’s closest friend. That meant that I saw him at regular intervals of birthdays and visits to Kitty over the years. A year or two earlier, after running into Aussie for the millionth time, I got a phone call from him. I took the bus into New York City and we spent the day together. It didn’t go anywhere romantically, but I got to know Aussie a little bit better and he was warmer and friendlier after that.
Beyond those people, it was mainly a sea of half-remembered faces that filled Puppy and Kitty’s mother’s sprawling prewar apartment. They had moved in back in the seventies when apartments like that could still be had by people who were not fabulously wealthy. There were two entrances, one that led to the kitchen and another that led to the proper entry. Off the entry, which contained a piano and some other furniture, was the dining room and living room. A long corridor led to the bedrooms. Coats were being tossed on Puppy’s bed. The floor of Kitty’s room had some quilts and sleeping bags on it. Hera and I would both be staying over night since neither of us lived in the city and the last bus would have long since departed by the time the party was over. A second corridor going in the other direction wound through a pantry and past a small room that would have once been the maid’s room and terminated in the kitchen.
Each year the party got a little bit bigger and, as we got older, a little more drunken. Their mother would leave for the evening and let them have the place to themselves. The first year, we were all under age and what little alcohol there was was brought in surreptitiously. By the year I’m describing, about half the party was of age to drink and everyone, or almost everyone, would have expected there to be liquor. Although Puppy and Kitty were thoroughly American, this was Manhattan and they had gone to a fancy private school. Their parties frequently had a disproportionate number of foreign-born guests.
After the party was already underway, a small group of latecomers arrived. I was surprised to learn that they had gone to high school with Puppy and Kitty because their faces were unfamiliar to me. Light haired and light eyed with unusually pale skin and very clean-cut, he was not my type and I might not have noticed him except he was taller than everyone except Aussie.
Sometime shortly after midnight, I felt that I had had quite enough to drink. I was tipsy enough to feel that I was floating through the party and I didn’t want to become so drunk that I was stumbling through the party. The rest of the crowd was getting a little rowdier than they had during parties past and I started searching for a small conversation off to the edges. Aussie was unavailable. He had brought his young, sixteen year old sister with him and was being highly protective of her. Hera was in another corner smooching with her boyfriend. I wandered down the hallway that led past the pantry, away from the music and into the kitchen. There, I found a small group of about four people actively debating moral philosophy. I got myself a glass of water. There was the tall man with the pale skin and one of the others from group that came in with him. The tall one sounded as if he was English. The other was clearly American. There were two women, also one English and one American, or so I thought. A bit too symmetrical, I wondered if perhaps they were two couples and that my presence would be disruptive. I paused for a moment to listen to the conversation. The man with the English accent stopped to introduce himself and I took that as a cue that it was alright to stay.
The party elsewhere began to wind down while the five of us talked. One woman left, then the other. Eventually, only the one man and I remained. We sat on the floor and continued to argue in a friendly, cheerful way. His earnestness started looking adorable and I began to think that he wasn’t bad-looking. Trying to make a point, he took my hand. We continued to hold hands has we argued. Eventually he was stroking my cheek and my hair. It had that tension and eroticism that only happens when you can’t do what you really want to do. Kitty came in.
“Are you going to sleep soon?”
“Soon, I guess.” It seemed like the only polite thing to say. I really had no desire whatsoever to stop talking to whatshisname and could have easily stayed up all night with him.
“Okay. Well, I’m going to bed. Stay up as long as you like. Try to be quiet when you come in. Hera’s already asleep.
“Can you let yourself out when you’re ready to go. Kid, don’t forget to lock the door behind him.” With that she disappeared down the hallway.
“Mmm, where were we?” he said, continuing the argument.
With everyone gone, we found ourselves lying side by side on the hard kitchen floor. At the end of the party like that, it must have been dirty, but we were too intent on one another to notice. We kept our clothes on, but did as much as we could given that fact. I don’t know if it was the environment, the circumstance, the argument, or maybe it was just the man, but I found myself entirely intoxicated with arousal. He fondled me until I orgasmed. We embraced for a little while longer. Eventually he left and I quietly went to bed.