It all started at the party.
Saturday night, I dragged my feet to fraternity row on Berkeley’s campus. Carla had finally convinced me to attend the “party of the year!” in a last attempt to save my social reputation. Poor Carla. She never understood I had no interest in social reputations to begin with. I was perfectly content to be alone at home with my books and my stories.
Yet, there we were, walking through the manicured lawn which lead to the Delta Delta Gamma mansion. We opened the door and I was immediately hit with the sound of blaring music and stench of alcohol. I looked at my fellow party-goers with despair. They were all so beautiful. I felt the sudden urge to run away.
“Hey, Carla, why don’t you go on without me? I think I’m gonna go home tonight.”
Carla looked at me with horror. “Go home?! We just got here!”
“I’m just not feeling up to it tonight.”
Carla shook her head and dragged me further inside. “No, no, no missy! You’re not running away this time!”
“Carla, I feel silly. Look at me, I don’t belong here!”
“Yes, you do! You, just like everyone else in this room, need to have some fun! Besides, aren’t you always talking about how you need some real world experience for your stories?”
I let out a heavy sigh. “Yeah.”
“Well, here it is! Listen, babe, all you need is some liquid courage, OK? Let’s go get you a drink.”
So we walked to the kitchen. Liquor bottles, half-eaten limes, and plastic red cups were scattered along a table. I grabbed the cleanest cup.
“You ladies need a drink?”
I turned to see a tall, gorgeous guy approach us. Although he said ‘ladies’, his eyes were entirely focused on Carla. I wasn’t surprised. Carla’s stunning Asian features turned heads everywhere we went.
“Well, it depends,” Carla said, putting on the charm she reserved for flirtation, “Who’s bartending?”
The guy extended his perfectly chiseled hand to introduce himself. “ The name’s Damon.”
“Well, then. How about a lovely drink for a lovely lady?”
Carla giggled and I rolled my eyes. I turned around to pour myself a drink. If I knew anything about Carla, I knew I’d have to prepare for a long night flying solo.
I left the lovebirds alone in their private conversation and walked around the mansion trying to find someone, anyone who was willing to be my friend for the night. No such luck. All the beautiful people were too absorbed in their beautiful conversations to notice me. I was invisible.
“Hey, you got a light?”
I turned around and faced the girl who was to change my life forever. I almost gasped in amazement. Everything about this girl was fire - her bright red hair, her electric blue eyes, her devilish smile. She was stunning.
“Uh… yeah, um.. what?” I stammered.
She grinned. “A light. You got one?”
“Oh, no. I don’t smoke.”
“Good for you,” she said and turned to walk away. “Hey!” she yelled, turning back, “I really dig your shirt.”
I looked down to see which grungy T-shirt I had selected for the night. “Oh yeah, Daft Punk. The original electro gods.”
She smiled in surprised approval. “Exactly.”
And that was that. She went back into the crowd and I joined Carla in the kitchen for a drink.
“What happened to Romeo?” I asked after finding her alone.
Carla rolled her eyes. “Ugh. He was so boring!”
“Jesus, Carla! Jude Law could walk in this room right now and you’d also find him boring.”
“He probably is. Shots?”
I took a shot of whiskey. And, another. Then, another. Needless to say, I was pretty fucked up.
“Listen!” Carla exclaimed. “Do you hear that?”
“Errrrruhhh, I don’t know whatcher talkin bout darlin” I said in a drunken slur. Carla ignored me. “That guy over there is playing guitar. Let’s watch!”
So we traveled to stare at a pony-tailed guitarist serenade a throng of girls. He sat in the middle of the room, strumming the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and other folk heros. I looked around. There wasn’t one girl in the room that wasn’t swooning. Except me, of course, and the girl with the fire hair. She looked at the girls with amusement until she saw me watching her. She threw me that same devilish smile. I looked away.