“You have an incredible body,” the drunk guy says. He leans towards me on the couch. I’m still eating tortilla chips, slowly, in the manner in which new parents sometimes eat baby food to encourage their children to imitate them.
“Thanks, man. Do you want a chip? These chips are great.”
In the past few hours, the drunk guy has gone from being that guy at the party to being THAT guy at the party. We had all been up on the roof deck, an assemblage of dudes with moustaches and girls with tattoos and people with jobs like flight attendants and baristas and musicians, everyone smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. We’re on top of South Street but the chaos of the bars below doesn’t make it up as high as we are, and for the last hour or so, everyone has had a corner of their eye on the gangly drunk guy who just wants to play near the edge of the roof.
“Hey, man,” says his childhood best friend, putting his arm around him. “Come here.” The drunk guy looks him intensely in the eyes and then tells him to fuck off.
“Dude,” says my friend Kevin, who is ostensibly the one in charge, as this is his roof deck and his party. “If you don’t stop playing near the edge, I’m going to make you go downstairs for good.” He’s stern. It’s a great Dad voice. I’m impressed that someone in a Hawaiian shirt holding a red solo cup full of tequila could command authority, but he pulls it off.
The drunk guy thinks about it for a minute, and then says, “Ineedanotherdrunk.” I follow him to the kitchen.
“Hey,” I say. “Let me pour you a drink.”
I sometimes find myself becoming very maternal when I drink. It’s a survival tactic I think a lot of women adopt: I enjoy myself, but with one section of my brain firmly rooted on making sure that everyone is taking a cab safely home, or that if need be, I could help that girl throw up, or that we’re not doing anything too stupid or dangerous or illegal.
The drunk guy looks at me for a minute, then nods, slowly. I affix the cap to the bottle of tequila, pour a healthy helping of nothing into his cup, and hand him a glass of orange juice and ice. He takes a sip. “It’sreallygood.”
“Thanks,” I say.
“I wanna go back up now,” he says, slurry, looking into my eyes. “Wanna play on the roof. Those guys are being dicks.”
“Sit with me on the couch,” I say.
He follows me. I eat a few chips. He finally eats a few. I feel triumphant. I wonder if I can convince him to have some water. He asks my name again.
“Kartherine. Katrherine. It’s…… fuck, no, it’s…….” He closes his eyes for a minute, slumps back on the couch, opens his eyes and rubs them, as if waking up. “Katrherine. I don’t have a shirt anymore.”
“It’s okay,” I say. It’s true. He’s maybe six feet tall and very pale, thin, and shirtless, all glassy eyes and sprawling limbs.
“It’s just…. freckles. It’s all about the freckles.” He points to his own freckles. They are tiny compared to my own, which dot my forearms in decisive brown pinpoints. I’ve always loved them. He notices.
“Your freckles. They are…. your freckles are really beautiful.” He takes my hand, looks me in the eye, and says, “You like me.”
“I…. sure. I like you. I mean, I just met you.”
I suddenly become aware, in a crashing instant, that everyone else is at the party upstairs, that this guy is unpredictable, shirtless, and nearly incoherent, and that I don’t know what is going to happen next. The back of my spine starts to get tingly, that same reactive quality that makes me cross the street when some dude on his porch is staring at me too intensely as I walk home late at night.
He stands up, suddenly, abruptly.
“You like me. You’ll like this. I’m going to show you something. You’re really gonna like this.”
In an instant, I feel rooted to the ground and I debate calling upstairs for help or trying to make a move upstairs but, fuck, no, he’ll just follow me up and then it’ll be back to everyone trying to keep him from falling off the roof and what the hell am I going to –
“Kartherine. You like yoga?”
I watch, speechless, as a shirtless drunk guy at a party begins to show me his moves. Downward dog. Sun salutation. Warrior. Half-moon. He’s enthusiastically doing yoga, in a living room surrounded by beer bottles and artwork and a great vinyl collection and those tapestries every guy who smokes a lot of pot owns.
“I’m so good at yoga,” he says, eyes closed, almost to himself. “I’m so good at this.”
He lunges forward, steadies himself on the coffee table, poses again. “I’m just so fucking good at this.”
By the time we convince him to pass out on the couch, the party continues around him. There’s vinyl on the record player and girls dancing together and we are laughing, endlessly, late into the night. People leave, stumble into cabs, arms around their boyfriend’s shoulders or playing with their girlfriend’s hair. The booze disappears. There’s a pile of trash on the roof and a pile of people on the floor and the drunk guy sleeps on, on until morning.