Point of View 3

Oh, damn, there’s no parking, Elaine thought, leaning forward to stare through the windshield. It was sprinkling mildly, and it was getting dark. She circled the block again, eyeing whether she’d fit into that almost-spot at the corner. Meh. Should work.

 

Parked. How do I look? Half a block to the house. Wallet? Telephone? Keys? OK, let’s go.

 

“Hey, girl! Thanks for coming. Welcome to our place,” greeted Joyce. “Did you find it all right?”

 

“Hey, there. Yeah. Yeah. It was fine,” Elaine sais as she removed her rain-sprinkled shell. “Just off the freeway. Parking was a bit tough, though.”

 

“Oh, I know! And at least half of this is ours,” said Joyce, waving to the twilight of wet parked cars along the block. “It’s tight, but it’s OK for, like, only a few hours. Our neighbors are just great!”

 

Joyce and Greg had about 20 people in their living room, plus a few others out back smoking. Joints were on the table, 24-packs were on the linoleum counter, a plastic jug of random vodka No. 3 was in the freezer. Greg had rented a keg and it was set up in a kiddie pool of ice on the back patio. Joyce was showing people around, doing the rounds.

 

“Elaine! Hey! Come over here for a sec. There’s someone I’d like you to meet,” Joyce called out, beckoning.

 

Elaine froze. That little shit. What the fuck is he doing here? Of all the fuckin’ gin joints, in all the fuckin’ towns, in all the fuckin’ world, he has to walk into…

 

“This is Jeremy!” Joyce introduced, pushing Jeremy forward by the shoulder as she introduced him to Elaine. “He works with Greg.”

 

“Hey,” Jeremy noted, his face decidedly sullen.

 

“Hey,” Elaine responded noncommittally.

 

Joyce didn’t quite tune in to the sudden iciness. “Jeremy, this is Elaine. She’s a friend of mine from college. She’s into pugs!” Joyce giggled. “Here, Elaine, show us that pic of Wilbur in the hat.”

 

“Yeah, I know about the pugs,” said Jeremy. He looked down at his red plastic cup of alcowhatever. He looked up at Elaine.

 

“You know, Joyce, I think I’ll step outside for a sec. Are the smokers out back?” Elaine asked, as she slid away, keeping Joyce between her and Jeremy.

 

“Yeah, they’re out back. Out at the keg,” Joyce slurred. She was moving on to another set of friends as Jeremy faded away over toward the speakers.

 

That little fuck, Elaine thought to herself! Damn it! I wanted to enjoy this. What the fuck is he doing here?

 

Through the sliding glass door, the patio of smokers out back offered her a cigarette and went back to its damp huddle. The green corrugated plastic roof kept the drizzle off the patio, but made the grass muddy.

 

“I swear,” Elaine muttered to herself, “I’ll never date a child ever again. Fuck that!”

 

Elaine leaned up against the keg, cigarette in one hand, and looked through the green plastic to the clouds.

 

———-

 

Well, since it was Greg who invited me, I guess I had to come, Jeremy thought.

 

Jeremy had been working on Greg’s team for a few months now. Greg was the support administrator and Jeremy was one of his developers.

 

“Hey, man, thanks for coming,” Greg greeted Jeremy at the door. “You’re a bit early, but come on in. There’re beers in the kitchen.”

 

Joyce and Greg’s place was slowly filling. It was still kind of early. At least the rain was beginning to taper.

 

Jeremy rummaged through the beer offerings, grabbing something appropriately local and appropriately hipster. Just enough. Olympia was a bit too far. Weinhard’s was about right. He eyed the frozen plastic jug of random vodka No. 3 in the freezer. Let’s just mix it all together. Maybe a joint first? Nah. Wait ’til some more people get here.

 

He hadn’t been to a party in a while. He still felt bad about what happened between him and Elaine. I mean, he just didn’t want to see her anymore. It’s not like she was a bad person or anything, it’s just that nothing was there. She was fine, I suppose, he thought, but he really didn’t want to date a boring person. A night at home on the sofa in front of the speakers with a drink and a pizza was way more fun than having to sit through a date with her. Ugh. And I’d have to go out, too! How do you tell someone that there’s just no spark? She ain’t blinkin’, baby, as what’s-his-name sings. I can’t get a light off of you. He knew that ignoring people wasn’t the best way to break up with them, but, oh well.

 

Joyce grabbed him by the shoulder and walked him across the room. Whoa. “Hey, careful, man! There’s a beverage here,” Jeremy protested as Joyce frogmarched him from the kitchen into the living room. Aha. There seems to be a bunch more people here now. Is that…? Oh, Christ.

 

“Elaine!” Joyce called out to a friend. “Hey! Come over here for a sec. There’s someone I’d like you to meet.” Joyce beckoned and pushed Jeremy forward.

 

“This is Jeremy! He works with Greg.”

 

“Hey,” Jeremy noted, looking up and then looking away.

 

“Hey,” Elaine nodded.

 

“Jeremy, this is Elaine. She’s a friend of mine from college. She’s into pugs!” Joyce giggled. “Here, Elaine, show us that pic of Wilbur in the hat.”

 

“Yeah, I know about the pugs,” said Jeremy. He looked down at his red plastic cup of alcowhatever. He looked up at Elaine.

 

Elaine sighed inwardly as she rolled her eyes skyward. “You know, Joyce, I think I’ll step outside for a sec. Are the smokers out back?” Elaine stated as she slid away, not giving two fucks about Jeremy.

 

“Yeah, they’re out back. Out at the keg,” Joyce slurred as she wandered off to another set of friends.

 

Jeremy pretended to be unperturbed. Ugh. Take a drink. Go look at the speakers.

 

———-

 

“Oh, my god. Becky!” Joyce squealed. “Look at her butt!”

 

Becky had come over early to help Joyce and Greg set up for the party. One year in their own house deserved a celebration, and the hostess with the mostess was certainly making the most of it.

 

“Yeah, I know. Who cares?” Becky countered as she poured a bag of cheeze puffs into a large wooden bowl.

 

Joyce was jazzed. The music was up, the lights were on, and she was eagerly waiting for the night to get a’rollin’. She and Becky had to hit Costco in the morning. Then over to the party supply store. It had been raining for most of the day. Her playlist was perfect: a 2010s throwback. The errands required a driver, but now that they were parked at home she could start drinking. A couple others were using Uber.

 

Greg had prepped with a keg, some 24-packs and some sort of random vodka No. 3 in the freezer. Joints and edibles were on the table. There was a bottle of some sugary cinnamon whisky in the cupboard.

 

People had begun to file in. The street was jammed with their cars. Greg’s new coworker was here a bit early, but by now there were some 20 people in their living room, plus a few others out back smoking.

 

She loved the sweat, the tension of it all. Ever since she and Greg had moved in together she always got a titillation from snooping in and around other people’s sex, other people’s affairs, and hosting parties was the best place to gossip. Same at work as it was among her friends. It wasn’t conscious mischievousness. She just enjoyed the thrill of a new lover, and vicarious was as good as it got these days.

 

She twiddled with Greg’s phone to get the music right.

 

Oh, there’s Elaine! I got to introduce her to Greg’s new coworker, she thought. Jeremy was in the kitchen. She grabbed him by the shoulder and walked him into the living room.

 

“Elaine! Hey!” she called out. “Come over here for a sec,” Joyce invited. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet.” She stepped unknowingly on a crunched cheeze puff, driving the orange dust into the carpet. “This is Jeremy. He works with Greg.”

 

They were really hitting it off, she thought to herself. This is great.

 

“Hey,” Jeremy said.

 

“Hey,” Elaine responded.

 

“Jeremy, this is Elaine. She’s a friend of mine from college. She’s into pugs!” Joyce giggled. “Here, Elaine, show us that pic of Wilbur in the hat.”

 

“Yeah, I know about the pugs,” said Jeremy, scanning the room awkwardly.

 

Elaine made a motion. “You know, Joyce, I think I’ll step outside for a sec. Are the smokers out back?”

 

“Yeah, they’re out back. Out at the keg,” Joyce hiccupped. She smiled at the pair as she continued to do the rounds. Wow, she thought. What was wrong with them? Where’s Becky? I got to ask her about that song.



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