Corrie’s sorority had a party that she helped organize. By default, that means I helped her help. Corrie’s not really my friend as much as an attachment and I’m not a member of the sorority. Our college only has one and you either belong to it or you don’t. I don’t. Corrie might as well not. She spends all her time hanging out at my place whether she’s welcome or not.
There’s no such thing as a sorority house. The only housing on campus is a few co-ed dormitories. Ninety seven percent of us live in low rent apartments or flats nearby. Corrie’s party idea, was a haunted mansion beer bash for… as she put it… “things that get drunk in the night.” It wasn’t anywhere near Halloween, Corrie’s just a freak. But the sorority girls chipped in and rented a run down country house outside of town and we proceeded to decorate it.
Her theme involved having each of several volunteers picking out one subject from school, and then converting one room into a diorama depicting a haunting related to that subject. Corrie and I met in Psych 1045, so she picked psychology as our subject. Our room was set up as a psychiatrist’s office, complete with a couch and the ghost of Carl Jung sitting next to it in a chair. Our papier-mâché head didn’t look much like him so you had to infer his identity from other clues, which included a letter to the ghost of Sigmund Freud partially scribbled on his desk, and a copy of Memories, Dreams, Reflections in his hand. When you opened the door to leave, it pulled a string and his ghost would “throw” the book at you.
Some of the other dioramas were interesting as well, most notably the Agriculture room where you had to walk through Hamburger Hell. Stuffed sheets painted with water color hung from the ceiling representing carcasses. You had to weave your way through them. Each one had one of those moo maker toys that would fall over when you bumped it so it sounded like the whole room was mooing at you. They had a projection of charging bull come at you when you reached the other side and an empty meat hook waiting just for you.
The party started with a tour of each haunting, with the tour ending in the big living room area at the bottom of the stairs. Corrie’s middle name might be beer. She’s the only girl I ever saw who could slam a two beer bong in under five seconds and hold it. So naturally there were kegs of cold beer on ice and a table with stacks of disposable plastic cups. We socialized there for a while with music and dancing for those who cared to, but mostly drinking and flirting. An awful lot of cute guys were invited, guys being the one party requirement that was a higher priority than beer. As fate would have it, the one time I wish Stephen was there, he wasn’t. It seemed like there were more than enough cute guys to go around, but somehow I ended up stuck with Toby.
Toby is that guy. You know, “That Guy”? The one you’re sure wasn’t invited? Looks and acts kind of like his name sounds? He’s overweight, a little funny looking, has unruly hair, and he talks non-stop about things no girl cares about, like how much his last date enjoyed the sex they probably didn’t really have. You wish he had bad breath or something so you’d have another excuse to avoid him. But there comes a point somewhere between the third and fourth beers where you stop caring what the other girls are going to say to you later. Toby and I ended up on the couch back upstairs in the Psych room.
We were just sitting there, but that didn’t really matter, did it? The ghost Corrie and I built was the only witness who could testify on my behalf and by the next day I was going to have slept with him. Toby had had way more to drink than I did, which at least meant I didn’t have to worry about him actually suggesting it. His head was leaned over lazily on my shoulder, and I was keeping a guarded eye on the hand he had conspicuously placed on my leg. I sat for a while like that listening to his slurred speech droning an ever so interesting story about the pigs on his grandfather’s farm. I may be being a little sarcastic, but really it probably was the most interesting stuff he said all night. “Everyone thinks pigs are dirty,” he rambled. “But what you don’t know…” He paused so long I was about to remind him of his thought. “What you don’t know is that pigs always choose the cleanest mud to wallow in.”
My cup was empty. I wondered how many more empty cups it would take before Toby started to seem dangerously attractive. “I’m going to get another beer. You want one?” I stood up and immediately had to catch him when he had no shoulder to lean on. “Fuck the beer,” he said, “I need a fifth.” I let go tentatively after I propped him back up again, making sure he stayed upright, and picked up his empty cup. “It’s not like that was exactly your third,” I joked. I crushed one cup in each hand and walked over to throw them in Carl’s waste basket. The thought that I might forget which cup was mine was too disgusting to chance. I looked back over at him on the couch. He was pathetically drunk. “You be okay?” I asked. “Su.. stu… sss… I’ll be fine,” he said, pretending he was pretending. I shook my head and started down the stairs.
The party was thinning out some but there were still plenty of people around. And there was still plenty of beer left. I searched desperately around for someone I knew but found only a cast of strangers. I’d have settled for one of them standing alone, any excuse really, not to go back upstairs to the pigs and their bathing habits. Everyone else was quite engaged, some of them very physically. I seemed to be the only person at the whole party who had neither found a socially acceptable partner, nor left in search of one. I grabbed two fresh cups.
When I came back up with the beers, he was gone. I’d lost Toby! I whirled on the room’s only other occupant. “What’d you do with him Carl?” I demanded loudly. Carl was strangely silent. I pretended to look under the couch and then under Carl’s sheet. Carl stared at me blankly. I made a face back at him, “You just let anyone peek up your skirt don’t you?” It didn’t occur to me that my inebriated friend might have gone in search of a bathroom. I eyed the door across the room suspiciously. Toby was hiding behind it. He was going to jump out at me any minute. I walked over to the desk and peeked under it. “Oh well, Carl,” I said even more loudly. “Looks like this beer’s for you!” I set them both down and tip-toed quietly over to the door and jerked it open hard to surprise him. Whack! Carl’s book caught me right in the back of the head.
© 2010 Anne Schilde