The Old Woman and the Sea of Alcohol

She sat observing the habits of those around her as she assumed a seat within the chaos that is college parties. What she loved the most about going to these ‘Ragers’ was that after joining in in the mass consumption of alcohol, you can then fade into the background and enjoy some of the best people watching there is to be had.

She had been to many a party at this point, and had settled into a routine of circulation – make an entrance and join all the party house occupants for a shot of Jameson that she always had on hand; then proceed to pop out onto the back porch that was constantly littered with a random collection of smokers and antisocials to say her hellos; and then wrap up her lap with a visit to the smoker’s den, whichever room that might be for the evening. She loved the thriving group of people and being a part of the party mass, despite not enjoying the acquaintances that she usually made at these type of functions. The people of quality are hard to discover in these settings, especially when people of quality have decided to make some less than quality decisions for the evening. This is not where she would be meeting her future husband, or even be holding conversations about marriage in the first place, but it was where she could get lost in a crowd comfortably, and always have a friend to sit with her and observe the chaos.
There is something about the nature of a college party that lends itself to autonomy and the ability to blend in with the background and observe your fellow companions. Maybe it’s that youth between the ages of 18-22 are typically more centered on themselves and what is going on in their world versus the worlds of others, even when their paths are intertwined. There is an instinct to survive that is invoked in college, that makes you have to keep focus on yourself and make sure that you make it home after a night of drinking before the Walks of Shame occur, even if that means leaving your friend on a questionable couch for the evening. This pursuit of self-preservation and extreme intoxication combined, makes for blindly drunk, selfishly focused young adults – and some of the best people watching that you will find.
She leaned back on her perch in the kitchen and watched a host of social interactions occurring in front of her, each on varying degrees of functionality. There was her friend Dan working the crowd of young, attractive ladies who had obviously shown up for the drugs and to be a spectacle that is praised and envied. There was her friend John, passionately caught up in discussing equations and geology with her roommate, his eyes wide with excitement and the flare that is a consequence of alcohol. And then there were the multitude of conversations being screamed across the room, with a tunnel vision of focus on the friend who is located outside of arm’s reach, and conversations that no longer consisted of words, but rather a combination of slurred English and sloppy body language. In the enthusiasm of consuming intoxicants and making all drunken thoughts be heard, it was easy for her to blend into the background and quietly observe.
Her friend Sam had wandered into the overflowing kitchen and found himself fitting into the crowd in a spot next to her. Filling in the small kitchen had become a game of human Tetris with such limited space and unawareness of individual surroundings. As another partier enters the small space, there is a methodic shift in the mass of the group, to allow that person space. This of course, leads to another person being ejected from the spot they had previously claimed and a constant rotation of people and vibes. The current vibe was that of lets-get-this-party-started, accompanied with an enthusiasm for alcohol consumption in an efficient manner. She loved to be surrounded by this initial phase of the party – where everyone who shows up is excited to see everyone and still interesting. It was the honeymoon phase of the party, when everyone is still optimistic that it will be an amazing evening full of life, before the reality of their decisions hit and the consequences begin to make their mark. She could see the honeymoon phase passing soon, and decided that it was time to make her momentary exit for fresh air. She made eye contact with Sam, and without a word needing to be spoken, they started another game of human Tetris and made their way outside for a smoke and a break.

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