How To Fit In


The other night I went to a party. I didn’t know anyone there and I wasn’t technically invited, but since it was at my next door neighbour’s house, I thought it would be rude not to make an appearance.

The party was bustling and some kind of electro music was playing and I moved towards an esky full of punch, thinking that by holding a small plastic cup, I would fit in better.

Before I could get there, a man wearing a Metallica T-shirt similar to my own and a cigarette
drooping from the corner of his mouth stopped me and asked for a light, breathing hot bourbon all over my face.

The Metallica T-shirt is part of a set of supplies I have for when I go to parties. I don’t like the band too much, but people seem to like you when you’re wearing a Metallica T-shirt. I also carry a lighter, because when someone asks you for a light, it’s nice to be able to oblige them.

After I lit his cigarette, he said, quite loudly and directly into my ear “Wicked T-shirt man.”

I panicked, thinking I should repay his compliment. Quickly, so it seems genuine.

“I like your hair” I said.

He paused for a second and looked at me.

“Are you a poofter or something?” He shouted.

“No!” I said quickly. “A friend of mine threw himself into a woodchipper yesterday, so I’m a little emotional right now.”

This was an outright lie, but it seemed to work. I guess the idea of someone committing suicide by jumping into a woodchipper is so far-fetched that he had to believe it.

“Shit, sorry dude” he said.

I didn’t say anything. I just walked towards the punch with an angry look on my face. How dare he be so insensitive to a person who’d just lost someone close to him in a terrible woodchipper suicide? The police had ruled out accidental death, due to the fact that there were no defensive wounds. If he had fallen or been pushed, he would have put his arms out to stop himself, but there were no cuts on his arms. It was only his head that had been… chipped.

I made it to the punch and started drinking and this girl turns to me and says “Hi”

“Hullo” was my reply.

I noticed that she was mostly dressed in black and her fringe had been cut a little bit too high. She was wearing black, plastic -framed glasses. Thinking quickly, I asked her “Did you see that movie on SBS the other night?”

“Oh yes” she said, “Wasn’t it wonderful?”

I actually had no opinion on the film, since I hadn’t actually seen it. I wasn’t even sure if there was a film on SBS the other night and if there was, I wouldn’t have watched it anyway because I don’t watch films. I noticed, however, that a couple behind me were having a similar conversation about a film they had recently seen, so I started splicing elements of their conversation into my own.

“I thought the imagery was fantastic, but the characters were a little one-dimensional.”

“That’s a fair point, but the chemistry between the leads seemed to go far in overcoming that” she said.

It’s difficult to disagree with someone who’s being completely vague. We talked about this movie that may or may not have existed for a good twenty minutes and I had become very opinionated about it, even though I was just recycling lines from the man standing behind me.

I heard him say “Well, Kurosawa died in 1998.”

“Kurosawa is dead” I exclaimed.

“Hmm, I don’t know, I think his influence can be seen in many…”

“Kurosawa is dead!” I repeated, slightly louder.

“Maybe you’re right” etc. etc.

Things seemed to be going well and I had grown to like the sickly fake pineapple flavour of the punch, to the point where I had drunken a few cups of it. Then she asked me “Do you like Dancer In The Dark?”

At this point I got a little confused and started singing that Bruce Springsteen song. She looked at me in an odd way. Sensing that I was beginning to lose her, I tried to encourage her to join in. She didn’t seem to share my passion for “The Boss”, but a few other people at the party did and just before I hit the chorus, I was surrounded by about seven other guys, all singing along and swaying drunkenly. Before I knew it, we had moved on to “Thunder Road”.

We were half way through “Born In The USA”, when I noticed that the girl I was talking to had moved off and was talking quite happily to a tall, thin man with longish black hair, who was wearing eyeliner. I stumbled in her direction and said loudly “Hey! Why’d you go away? And who’s this? You like him b’cause he’s got makeup on? Huh?”

“This is my friend, Trisha” she said, flatly.

I could sense a little tension in the air, so I pretended to pass out. I let my knees buckle and fell to the floor, my face about two inches from her black leather shoes. The carpet was a thick shag-pile and remarkably comfortable. I lay there not moving for a few minutes, listening to the choral interpretation of “I’m On Fire” that was going on over the other side of the room.

Maybe it was the comfortable shag. Maybe it was the choir. Maybe it was the pineapple lolly punch that caused me to fall asleep on the floor.

When I woke up, I had been moved into a bedroom and thrown onto a heavily cushioned queen bed. The only light was coming from a dim lamp on the bedside table.

And sitting next to me, damping my forehead with a cold, wet cloth. A girl with a short fringe and black, plastic framed glasses.

“I heard about your friend” she whispered.

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