The underwater lights of the swimming pool turned it a luminous aqua.
I stocked the porch fridge with Busch Light and hundreds of people came. Even the high school girl with mousy hair who had sold me Tostitos and toilet paper that afternoon at the grocery store came. That’s when you know you have a good party.
It was some months after Dad died and Mom had gone out of town. And so, naturally, what I did was throw The Great Party of 2004.
Of course, now I know that there's this whole body of psychology literature on how the sudden death of a parent affects a child. (A child, or maybe I should say a young adult. I was twenty, on the cusp of adulthood.) And all that literature probably has something to say about how a young person in that situation might start acting out. Or maybe how she'll bottle up all her feelings, after that sort of trauma.
I don't know, because I didn't read the literature. But I did throw a great party.
And I was working a landscaping job at the time and I had this nice tan. That’s something I inherited from Dad – not tan skin, but being really vain about wanting to be tan. I’ll tell you that Dad wasn’t much for housework, but the man was top-notch at pulling weeds around the swimming pool, a chore he did while basking in the sunshine and wearing nothing but his swim trunks.
So at The Great Party of 2004 I had this deep golden tan and I wore a miniskirt and platform heels and I really pounded the Busch Light. And people kept flocking in. They came in great herds that rounded around the back of the house from the driveway and then fanned out into the yard by the pool. And I strolled through the crowd and felt that I’d really created something, here.
But in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, “Haters gonna hate.”
A couple from a neighboring house heard the ruckus and came over with flashlights. I met them at the fence.
“How could you do this to your mother?” said the woman, her lip curling in disgust. “She’s had such a tough year.”
I felt that punch through the numbness, through the alcoholic fog. My eyes came wide open at the surprise attack.
Your mother’s had such a tough year.
I looked at the woman.
Who the hell are you? That’s what I wanted to say.
You think I’ve had a good year? I wanted to say.
You don’t have any idea what this year has been, I wanted to say.
But I didn’t say anything.
The couple left and called the police, whose arrival cleared out the party in a comical instant. One guy even drove across the front lawn to avoid the bottleneck at the driveway.
“Look, we’re wearing the same bracelet!” I said to one of the handsome police officers, when he joined me on the porch. We were both wearing yellow rubber bracelets that said Livestrong.
“Oh, look at that,” he said, holding his big wrist out against my own.
I smiled through my eyelashes. I feigned confusion over what had been so troubling about my party, my glittery success of a party, with the aqua lights and so many nice people enjoying themselves over fine American beer.
“Oh no problem now,” he said. “There won’t be anymore noise complaints now that everyone’s gone.”
That’s the luxury I had, of course, as a young cute white female standing on the porch of her family’s nice house. That I could smile through my eyelashes at the police and everything was okay.
“You have a good night now,” I said, waving goodbye as they climbed in their cruiser and drove away.