Sunday, September 28, 2014

The March, Chapter 34: Party Time at The March

Hey Bud, Let’s Party!
-Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Fred finished his sad beer and went home.  Rosie stayed.  She danced through the room, lighting on different tables, chatting with old regulars and friends from other bars, playing songs on the jukebox. Teasing Caleb about how much he must miss her crazy cocktailing magic.  She felt relaxed and happy, entirely confident in her position, certain her mother would back her up.  Once Tré’s money situation improved, he’d go back to being a nightclub superstar with her.  Besides, working the room at The March was a hell of a lot easier than out-sparkling everyone at Lobo. She was the kind of radiant that comes from being the most glamorous girl in the room – even in these ridiculous tennis shoes!

Brooke and Celia came in about an hour into Rosie’s performance, and she squealed with excitement to see them.  Two more girls to eclipse.  Fun!

Brooke and Celia were both generally uninterested in either eclipsing or being eclipsed.  They were having fun just being together.

Earlier in the day, Brooke had been sitting in the apartment with Teddy.  It was her night off and she was wondering what they’d do with the evening. There was a documentary playing about a meat packing plant that was supposed to be good.  But Teddy wasn’t interested. He wanted to stay home or maybe go for some drinks at The March.  But Brooke didn’t feel like cooking him dinner and doing dishes while he carried on with his ancient theories about American doom.  Not that she didn’t love to her him expound on his theories!  But, really, a break would be nice.  So she asked if he’d mind if she went out without him.  She hadn’t seen Celia in a while.

Celia and Brooke met up for Indian food way up north in their old neighborhood.  Since Brooke’s relationship with Teddy was a verboten topic, they talked a little about Celia’s burgeoning relationship with Gio and how happy she was.  They talked about Celia’s plans for a job after graduation.  Rather than pursuing a career as a buyer, which was dicey and hard to break into, she was thinking about moving into some of the new technology careers springing up.   Brooke thought that sounded great!  

“Computers instead of paper!” she said.  “That will do wonders to reduce waste.”

When the meal was finished, they went ahead and ordered their third Kingfisher.  Conversation veered away from the future and into the past.  They reminisced about their parentless teenage years.  They told old familiar stories, laughed and finished each other’s sentences.  They were having such a good time, they decided to carry on with the night.

“Let’s go to The March,” said Celia. “We’ll drink beer and play 80’s songs on the jukebox.”
Brook giggled. “Definitely.  I want someone to bring ME drinks!”

So they jumped into a cab and headed downtown.  Celia was happy to see that Jorge was still at the door and that Teddy was not at the bar.  Brooke may have been relieved by the latter, but Celia knew better than to ask.

As they chose a table, Rosie ran up to them and embraced them both.  They were surprised by her almost genuine affection, until they realized that it was coming their way courtesy expensive vodka and bullshit pretty-girl competition.  Still, when Rosie ordered them a round of lemon drop shots and suggested they play a drinking game called Thumper, Celia and Brooke decided why not?

They did the shots and started the game.

Here’s how you play Thumper: all players drum roll on the table when the leader (Rosie, natch) says, “What’s the name of the game?”  The other players yell “Thumper!”  Then the leader asks, “How do we play it?”  And the respondents yell even louder, “Dirty!”  And finally the leader asks, “And why do we play it?”  And then the players stop drum rolling and pound the table with both hands simultaneously as punctuation for each of the following words: “To get FUCKED UP!”   Each player has their own hand gesture, agreed upon before the start of the game.  And these are best if they’re a little nasty.  Celia’s signal was a middle finger.  Rosie’s was the “wanker” symbol.  Brooke did an index finger from one hand into the hole made by the index finger and thumb on the other hand.  To play the game, the leader does her own symbol and then another player’s.  That player than does her own and someone else’s.  And so on.  If you miss you turn: DRINK!

They were too old for this game.  Thumper is a game for high school kids at parents-out-of-town parties.  These twenty-somethings would claim they were playing ironically.  But not really.  Really, they were in their own world, playing the game, drinking their drinks, and laughing.

They were having a blast.

At around midnight, Will passed by The March.  He was heading home after dropping a movie off at Blockbuster (there were many midnight movie return trips to Blockbuster back in those days) and stopped to say hello to Gio.  Gio told Will about the drunk girls and the stupid game and the lemon drops. “Man,” he said, wistfully.  “I wish I wasn’t working.”

Will wasn’t working, so he decided to head in and join.  He approached the table with a round of lemon drops and said, “Is this ladies only or can anyone join?”

Rosie squealed, leaped up and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Will! It’s so awesome that you’re here!  With DRINKS!”

Brooke smiled and rolled her eyes, but a little affectionately and asked, slightly slurringly, “Do you know my sister?  This is my sister! Celia.  I love my sister.”

Celia waved from across the table and said, “I know who you are!  You’re Teddy’s nephew or something.  SHHHH!  We’re not talking about Teddy tonight.  Let’s PLAY!”

“Sounds good to me,” said Will, taking a seat.

“What’s your sign, Willie,” said Rosie.  “If you’re gonna play, you need a sign.”

“Hmmmm,” thought Will.  And then he held up the index and middle fingers of his right hand in a reverse peace sign.  “This is what they do in England when you cut someone off in traffic.”

And Rosie started the drumming and yelled, at the top of her lungs, “WHAT’S THE NAME OF THE GAME!?!?!”

And the game kicked off again.  They had such a good time.

At last call, Caleb said to GIO, “I’ll break down the bar tonight. You get your drunk friends home.”

Will, Rosie, Brooke and Celia stood outside the March in the brisk winter air as Gio tried to hail a cab.

Brooke shouted, “Let’s walk!  It’s so awesome walking home with it’s like this.  Walk walk walk!”

“Are you fucking kidding,” said Rosie. “It’s freezing outside!  And there are taxis that will drive us home and I still have $15!”

“Come on, Brooke,” said Gio, as a cab pulled up.  “Just get in with us.”

“Nononono,” said Brooke.  “I know what to do!  Celia! Come and spend the night and we can walk home together.”

“No, thank you,” said Celia.  It’s too goddamn cold to walk and you live with that creepy old man.  SHHHHH!  We’re not talking about Teddy.”

Brooke rolled her eyes and then pointed at Will.  “You can’t talk about Teddy either,” she said.  “Only people who like Teddy can talk about Teddy. But you live close, right?  Let’s walk.”

“She’s right,” said Will.  “It’s just a couple of blocks.  I don’t mind walking.”

“Are you guys sure,” said Gio, reluctant to leave them on the street.

“Oh My Goooooood!  We’re sure we’re sure,” said Brooke, and the two headed north back towards Teddy’s apartment.

“I love it at this time,” said Brooke.

“What? Freezing your nards off?” asked Will, shivering.

“Oh, quit being such a wuss,” said Brooke.   “And you need a better coat and a hat.  Now listen!”

“To what?”

“Nothing,” said Brooke. “You can hear nothing at 4:00 am in Chicago. I love that.  It’s like a secret.”

They walked down the street together, listening to their footsteps and the quiet.  Will decided that it was kind of nice.  And that he did need a better coat and a hat.

There may be something portentous in that cold, quiet air; a possibility of romance is brewing between Brooke and Will. But not yet.  Even if the shine has come somewhat off the Teddy apply, Brooke is still fully committed to that relationship and to saving the world with him.  And the gruesome specter of his loathsome cousin loomed too close when thoughts of a kiss or a reach of the hand passed unbidden through Will’s loopy brain.

When they got to Teddy’s, Brooke sang out a goodbye and headed up the stairs.  Will went home.  But in his rapidly clearing head, he wished passionately that his horrible cousin would just go away and leave Brooke alone.