“We just gotta get you drunk,” my best friend says to me.
Her words were earnest and true. I’m about to turn nineteen, and I have yet to go to a teen party. I often wonder if movies like Can’t Hardly Wait and American Pie get them right. I’m curious how alcohol might taste. I’m not wanting to get drunk, though. I just want to know how it would be to open up a bit. Maybe let a boy kiss me or even fondle me. I’m not ready for where that would lead, though, so maybe not so much.
I nod at her. Life isn’t exactly great right now. I’m coming to the realization that I might not be able to go to Texas Wesleyan University next year despite deferring already for a year. I might be stuck in this stupid town another year because I can’t afford to live out of home yet. I have no car or license, for that matter, and I’m always loaning money to my folks.
A party is sounding better every second.
“I have an idea,” she says with a sheepish grin. “What if we give you a surprise party at my place?!”
“Oh! I love it!” I say.
“I’ll ask you if you want to stay the night. And then later, I’ll say to your parents, ‘We’re going to throw her a party!'”
“Sounds foolproof. Let’s do it!” I clap my hands excitedly.
My best friend has recently moved out of home, and now she shares a trailer with another girl. It’s not exactly a big place, certainly not glamorous, but at eighteen, still in school, and working at the movie theatre, she couldn’t afford much else. Still, it is the perfect place for me to have a big party.
“I talked to your mom and dad,” she says to me two days later. She’s driving me to a local restaurant so we can meet up with a few of our friends where I will likely pay for everyone’s food just so I can feel included again.
I see the look on her face and nearly burst into tears, “The night’s ruined.”
“Pretty much…” she says.
I brace myself by digging my nails into the palms of my hands.
“You can’t stay the night,” she says.
“Get fucked,” I think out loud.
“They want you home by nine because you have work tomorrow and they don’t want to be waiting all night for you to get home.”
I kick the underside of the car’s dashboard.
“And they mentioned they may call at some point during the night too.”
“So basically they knew it was going to be a party with alcohol…”
I dig deeper into my palms til the nails break skin. The heat rushes to my cheek. I turn my head to the passenger side window, and gaze at the void.
“You need to get out of there,” my friend admits.
“I will soon,” I say. “Maybe I can pick up more shifts at the movie theatre and come live with you.”
But my heart’s not in it. My mom will never approve, and my dad will just be angry with me for hurting my mom if I do go. Not to mention the crippling debt. They need me too much.
I sit on the futon and smile at the chatter around me. As always, I’m certain the only reason I’m included is because I pay for the pizza. Strawberry daiquiris and loud music drive the message home more. I sit beside the phone, waiting for it to ring, so I can be the party pooper who says to stop the laughing and revelry. My best friend kindly makes and drinks a non-alcoholic version so I can feel included, but I don’t. Well after she leaves to drop me off and comes back, these people will be drinking, making out, dancing, whatever happens at a party. I wish I knew.
I sigh. If only my parents didn’t know where she lives, I could rebel and not come home. If only I could gather the courage to stand up to them maybe I wouldn’t be so boring. Maybe people would like me more.
I leave to go back home and try to look happy. I have to fake being surprised, after all. I have to fake the excitement of having a birthday party that my friends put together. I barely have it in me to do. But I do it anyway. My mom gives me an almost knowing smile. It mocks me and says indirectly, “You’re too young to drink anyway.”
When I finally lay my head down on my pillow, moisture sticks to my cheeks. Only one year left of my teens. I’ll never know if Can’t Hardly Wait got it right or not.