Party Girl Excerpt, Chapter 3Sep 29, 2021
This week, I'm giving you the final excerpt from my recently re-released first book, Party Girl.
I’m just finishing a “Where Are They Now?” story on Doc from The Love Boat when Chris calls.
“What are you doing?” he asks, and I’m not sure if he means right now or in general.
“Trying to live down my post-wedding shame.” My answer is partially true and partially a complete lie. I haven’t wanted to admit it to anyone, but my mind has been a little fixated on the whole wedding ménage incident, wondering what would have happened had I not freaked out and left. Inappropriate as it was, it did turn me on. It also disgusted me, so though I’m a bit excited that Chris is calling, I had also been pseudo hoping that he would crawl under a rock never to emerge, knowing full well that he lived in LA and had my number. It probably would have been smarter to make sure that none of my ménage participants lived in my state, not to mention city, but who considers these things at the time?
“Don’t be silly,” he says. “Nothing to be ashamed of. Just some good, old-fashioned fun.”
“Ha.” I sort of say it and sort of snort it.
“I’ve been wanting to call you for a while,” he says. “But I didn’t want it to be awkward. See, I think you’re really cool, and would love to see you one-on-one but…”
Just then, the phone is snatched from his hand and I hear Mitch’s voice. “I’m in town,” he says. “I think the three of us should get together.”
Aha. So here we go. The opportunity to see this ménage through has presented itself. As I make small talk with Mitch, I can’t decide if this wedding reunion for our triumvirate is a good idea or an incredibly terrible one. It would make the ménage story even better, I think.
“Why don’t we meet at Jones at 8 pm?” I ask rather suddenly, surprising even myself. “If that works for you guys.”
“It works for us,” Mitch says, not even checking with Chris. “See you then!”
The first lemon drop goes down smoothly, so I follow it with two more. Licking the sugar off my lips, I glance at my cell phone, wondering if I should call Stephanie. She’d actually been so excited by the prospect of my meeting up with my ménage partners that she begged to come along. Not to have drinks with us, mind you—that would be a bit too normal for Stephanie—but to be somewhere in the restaurant so she could spy. I rejected the pitch on the spot but am beginning to wonder if her presence might have been comforting.
But suddenly, before I even have a chance to call her for backup, Chris arrives. Or I should say a guy claiming to be Chris walks up to me. Was he really this short? Did he actually have this much of a receding hairline last month?
“Hi there,” he chirps, enveloping me in an awkward hug. Too late, he goes for the cheek kiss, but I’m caught off-guard, and he ends up inhaling a section of my hair. Had he developed horrific halitosis since the wedding, or had I just lost my sense of smell that night? I hope my hair doesn’t capture and begin to emit his mouth stench. “Mitch is dealing with the valet.”
I motion for the waiter before he even sits down. Sipping from my lemon drop, I marvel over how much drunker I must have been than I realized the night of the wedding.
“How have you been?” I ask him as he slides into the booth.
He’s looking me straight in the eye and grinning, and the look is altogether too intense. “God, it’s great to see you.”
I smile, trying to erase the image of him shoving his tongue down my throat from my mind, and take an enormous gulp. “You, too.”
My mind is racing all over, trying to figure out what the hell I could have possibly been thinking wedding night. Had I been roofied? But wouldn’t I then be experiencing the pleasure of having my entire knowledge of Chris blocked out? I take another sip and tell myself that Mitch is going to show up and make Chris seem better. They had appeal as a duo, not as individuals.
“Hey there,” I hear from a deeper voice as Mitch slides next to me in the booth and wraps his hand around my waist so that it rests on my right love handle.
“Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” he continues, looking at me like I’m an enormous sandwich and he’s just decided to break his year-long carb-free diet. On my other side, Chris slides in so close to me that his breath seems to replace any oxygen in the vicinity. I notice that Mitch has the crater-faced complexion of someone whose adolescence was defined by acne that he attempted to pick off. I’m suddenly intensely grateful for Jones’s dim lighting.
“Drink?” I ask them, motioning for the waiter and they both nod enthusiastically. They’re sitting so close to me that I almost feel like we’re a single unit. Had they decided ahead of time to act as aggressive as possible? Or were they both only children who had absolutely no sense of what the term “personal space” meant? There was only one way to deal with this: get wasted and see if they seemed any better.
I stumble out of Jones an hour later, marveling at the fact that my ménage à trois partners had turned out to be so creepy and lame. You’re supposed to have a ménage à trois with, like, a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Jane’s Addiction and your most outrageous girlfriend, not two dorky groomsmen from a wedding that took place at your mom’s house. Why am I always getting everything so horribly wrong?
Just as the valet guy hands me my keys, I hear a guy say, “Whoa—you’re not driving.” I look up and see Gus, this slightly pudgy party guy Stephanie sometimes hooks up with. He walks over to me with his friend and snaps the keys from my hand.
I grab my keys back, outraged. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I say. “I’m fine.” My words sound slurred, even to me, which is annoying. Then I drop the keys, which doesn’t help my case, but seeing as Gus is the biggest drunk I know, I don’t appreciate being judged by him right now.
“I live eight blocks away,” I say.
“Most accidents happen when people are within two blocks of where they live.” This comes not from Gus but from his friend, a dark-haired guy with a receding hairline and glasses. He holds out a hand. “Hey, I’m Adam. We met at that party in the hills last month.”
I shake his hand and nod but have no recollection of meeting him or, in fact, having been at a party in the hills last month. I’m fairly annoyed by his recitation of this fact we’ve all heard 800 times like he’s some driver’s ed teacher. His overall sobriety bugs me, too.
“Look, you guys, I appreciate your concern but I’ve got to get out of here.” I glance at the valet parker, who’s been standing here patiently the whole time. Though he doesn’t seem to speak English, the language of you’re-too-drunk-to-drive seems to be international. I lower my voice so that he can’t hear, despite his non-English speaking. “These two guys I had a ménage with last month when I was at a wedding at my mom’s house are inside, and I told them I had to go see a sick friend to get away from them. I really need to get out of here before they come out.”
Adam’s jaw drops slightly but Gus looks thoroughly nonplussed. Gus turns to the valet. “Her car’s staying,” he says. “She’ll come pick it up tomorrow.” Then he turns to Adam. “Can you take her home? I think my E just kicked in.”
“You can put it on any station you want,” Adam says as he quickly switches the radio from NPR to, essentially, static. “Although I must confess that I like this one, if only because it sounds so much like what’s already playing in my head.”
I laugh. Even though he’s the very definition of holier-than-thou, the guy seems kind of funny. I notice an asthma inhaler sitting in the cup holder, which makes me laugh again for some reason, and then I feel incredibly self-conscious about seeming like a cackling lush.
“Look, I’m really not that drunk.” As I say this, I’m looking up at the streetlights, which seem to be blindingly bright and a bit like the strobe lights we used to use for our dance shows in high school, and they make me dizzy.
Adam doesn’t say anything. He looks like such a nice boy, I think, the kind my mom would meet and wonder why I didn’t like. He must think I’m an outrageous slut. “I mean, the whole thing I was saying about the wedding and the ménage and all that—I wasn’t really serious.” I’m not sure why I care so much about what he thinks.
“Hey, I’m not judging.” He says it the way that my alleged female friends from high school used to say, “No offense but…” In other words, he probably was.
“So, what do you do?” I ask him conversationally, but I kind of know what the answer will be. All of Gus’s friends are aspirants of some kind or another—actors, writers, directors, producers, whatever. They tend to, in fact, claim those careers in conversation, even though their rent is paid either by overly indulgent parents or some miserable job waiting tables. After only about a year-and-a-half in LA, I was already over everyone and their extravagant Hollywood dreams. Don’t they realize how few people are actually successful in these careers and that you can’t claim a career until you’ve actually made money at it?
“I’m an actor.”
“Really?” I ask. “Been in anything?”
“I had a scene in a Chris Kattan movie,” he says, “but it was cut out.”
“Oh.” I sort of feel bad for him now.
“Right now I’m waiting tables at Norm’s.” I feel worse.
“In West LA.”
Oh, dear God. I snap the radio to a random station and the song “Cecilia” starts blaring out of the speakers. I’ve always loved that song. Truthfully, the name Cecilia has always sounded enough like Amelia for me to sometimes convince myself that the song is about me. I start singing along with it, remembering the drinking game my quad mates and I used to play senior year in college, where we had to drink whenever a singer sang a woman’s name. “My Sharona,” “Come on, Eileen,” “Oh, Cecilia”—we were big into ’80s music for some reason.
“Oh, Amelia, I’m down on my knees, I’m begging you please to come home,” I sing. God, it feels good to let loose. Adam smiles uncomfortably but I don’t care about that or about the legions of people in karaoke bars who have accused me of being tone deaf. Singing this song is the first thing that’s felt okay this whole night, besides those lemon drops. I continue to sing for the rest of the car ride, imagining Mystery Perfect Man who seems to resemble Jude Law but who isn’t a famous movie star and never slept with the nanny or was married but is just begging me please to come home to him while he’s down on his—
“Amelia.” Adam is sort of shaking me awake. “Amelia.” I open my eyes.
“Whoa,” I say. “I was singing.”
“You were, but you were also kind of sleeping. It was, to be honest, strangely adorable.” Even though he’s grinning in a I’m-laughing-with-not-at-you kind of way, I’m so humiliated that I’d rather be under the car than in it. Adam clears his throat.
“This is where you live, right?” As my eyes focus on him, I notice that he looks quite anxious. “Are you okay?” he asks.
I smile brightly, defensively. “Never better.” I open the driver’s side door. “Thanks for the ride.”
I step out of the car and onto the sidewalk, almost tripping myself in my Miu Miu pumps as I add, “Even though it was completely unnecessary.” I make a mental note not to wear these shoes out at night anymore.
Adam smiles and starts the car. As I watch him drive away, I marvel at what an asshole I can be sometimes. Of course the ride was necessary. I was a wobbly, dizzy, drunken mess. I’m so focused on beating myself up over being such an asshole that it doesn’t occur to me to wonder how Adam even knew where I lived.