Sunday, December 9, 2007

See Or Be Scene It

Jonathan invited me to a party in his apartment tonight. His sister is in town (the one whose face he appears to be licking in one of his Facebook photos) and since she is under 21, he decided staying in to party would be a much better idea. Since it is well-established that we like all of the same things, he felt it was safe to invite me to a Harry Potter-themed party in which we would play Scene It (the Muggles edition) and other fun board games. Since I will take any excuse to hang out with Jonathan and I am highly competitive when it comes to games of all kinds, I was happy to sign on for the adventure. I even dragged Roommate along because I didn't want to him to feel left out or spend the evening home alone on a Saturday night.

We sojourned down to the city and descended on Jonathan's apartment with a regifted bottle of champagne (I have FIVE of them in my house and no one will ever drink them) and a plastic container of 23 store-bought bakery sugar cookies with holiday sprinkles on them (one of them accidentally fell into my mouth while bored in traffic on the West Side Highway). The cookies were a big hit and I am sure Jonathan will find a good home for the champagne this holiday season.

If I may veer off on a non sequitor for a moment... I just don't understand champagne. I have never really been wild about the taste of it (although I am also not a wine person so I am probably not the best judge). It seems fine in mimosas, but a mimosa isn't the kind of drink you can have six of. Really you just have one. The problem with champagne is that it is a commitment issue. Once you open the bottle, you have to finish the whole thing. You can't just put a cap in it again and file it away for later, like a trusty bottle of gin. And given that it is an alcohol that can only be sipped and not chugged or downed in shots, you really need to have something of an enthusiastic crowd to even bother to open the damn thing. For all these reasons, I hate champagne. It is the devil. I hope Jonathan likes it, or passes it along because I am certain now that champagne has become the 21st century version of the Christmas fruitcake.

Jonathan was already half in the bag when we arrived, which is just how I like a man. We are so alike, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when I discovered he also throws a party in the same way I do: unnecessarily intensely. Like Robert DeNiro sweeping dirt into a dustpan. So much anxiety over nothing. I wasn't there five minutes before he said, "Are you going to sit down? You just standing there is making me nervous." I felt like I was having an out of body experience. It's a dull cliche but he literally took the words right out of my mouth.

We settled in fairly quickly to a deeply nerdy game of Scene It devoted entirely to Harry Potter. I think I would enjoy (and would win handily) in a regulation game of Scene It, but although I liked the films, I only saw them once, and really couldn't remember any salient details that might have helped me out in this immediate circumstance. In between, there were plenty of jazzy conversational bits about other pop culture phenomenons and I was right in the mix with all of those. A discussion about an upcoming version of the Veggie Tales on the big screen led to my best line of the night:

"I thought after the Terri Schiavo case, the Christians were done with Veggie Tales."

It got a mixed reaction from the crowd. Maybe it was too soon. After all, my comparison a few moments later of Courtney on Survivor to a Holocaust victim went over like classic Don Rickles in Vegas, so it was definitely a group that appreciated more daring material. Jonathan laughed heartily at all my jokes which is all I really ask for in life.

Terry was there as well, although he was anxious to escape the house party at a reasonable hour and hit the bars. Roommate sat out the Harry Potter game and tried to enjoy whatever was happening on the TV screen while also desiring to join Terry in his planned escape from the fun. Unfortunately, Terry wanted to go to Barracuda, which I have previously established is a cluster fuck nightmare now that I am just too old to deal with anymore. I am convinced that one of these nights, just like the mythical rat king on 30 rock, a knot of gays will become so entangled in their own egos and drama that they will be unable to pull away and will just have to fight each other to the death to escape.

The Harry Potter portion of the evening over, Terry Goldman bailed to meet up with people who were still interested in getting laid on a Saturday night. The gaming at Jonathan's then turned to something much more up my alley: Namesake. Jonathan had raved about this game before when he first invited me over for the party. He had played it in the past and loved it so much, he found one on eBay (it is out of circulation) and bought it. In the game, much like the early scene in the movie Go where the checkers battle each other to name a famous person who's name starts with X to decide who will work the cash register, players must name famous people in a series of categories with particular first names. Jonathan's entire pop culture canon can be perfectly summed up in his illuminating examples for the name "Ethel": Ethel Mertz, Ethel Merman, or Ethel Rosenberg." Namesake could be the new gay version of the Rorschach test. I'll tell you a first name, and you tell me the first famous person that comes to mind.

I loved the game because it was right up my alley. My brain is like a dusty attic filled with old, broken pieces of pop culture just waiting to be brushed off and sat on the front lawn for strangers to bid on in a mixture of shock and wonderment. Roommate on the other hand was in a new circle of hell. It was all the things he hated most in life: socializing with people and being put on the spot about pop culture. Plus, the TV was tuned to endless episodes of "I Love New York," a show that represents everything he can't stand about the darkest low points of his beloved TV programming universe.

Unfortunately, the structure of the game play and general intoxication made the experience last for hours longer than necessary. It is always a bad idea to play board games with drunk people. They have no sense of time passing, which is always a problem, and their slowed reaction times can make something as simple as picking up and reading a card off the board take ten minutes. At two am, perilously close to the end of the game anyway, there was a general movement to call it quits and head home. It was getting late, and my earlier off-hand suggestion of Taco Bell was looking more and more necessary. Jonathan was also in the mood for making a run to the border, so he closed up his party and joined us on our fourth meal adventure.

The Taco Bell on 14th street is open until 5am on Saturday nights and by 2:30 when we arrived, the scene was in full swing. The crowd was almost entirely straight, and a mix between drunk twenty-somethings needing a greasy bite and teenagers with nowhere else to go. I suggested to Roommate that it would make a perfect video podcast. Fourth Meal: A Late Night Soap Opera. So much drama was played out between bites of chalupas that you wouldn't need to do much more than set up a camera and start shooting. Jonathan and I engaged in a deep conversation about the shared sitcom structures of I Love Lucy and the Golden Girls (did you know they both shot on the same sound stage? True!) while, to paraphrase The Remains of the Day, Roommate put his thoughts elsewhere while we prattled on endlessly.

And then, just as soon as it began, it was time to call it a night. We dropped Jonathan off and made our way back out of the city. Okay, so Roommate didn't have the best time but tonight was just the way I like it. And it was nice for a change to be at a party and not spend the whole evening worrying if everyone had enough to eat or drink. Jonathan said once that he thought he would be me in a few years. Having seen how he throws a party, I think he is already me in far too many ways. But I don't mind it, if he doesn't.


Benji said...

Derek, keep us updated on your 'gay bar' scheme. It sounds very cool and you would have an automatic network of customers with fans of your show.

Jonathan said...

For the record, I was not half in the bag by the time you arrived. On the contrary, I had only sipped on a drink while busily setting up for the guests. Also, can I comment on a phenomenon I like to call the Law of Parties. Whenever you give a set time, of course nobody arrives until about an hour after said time. But Law of Parties, addendum 2 clearly states that once that hour passes, everyone will arrive at the same time, leaving the host breathless to accommodate.

Norma said...

Champagne is not the devil. Philadelphia Ready To Eat Cheesecake Filling is the devil. You have to be wary of food sold in a tub.