In the Heat of the Night.
by Rory Byrnes
The date: Sometime and Somewhere December, 2010. It seemed almost like a dream. It was all a blur. The people were swirling around me. They were talking, dancing and shooting small plastic balls into red plastic cups. I felt a tingling feeling on my face; blood rushing to it so that it was giving my cheeks a rosy color. After a half pack of Mike’s Hard, I was starting to feel frightfully all right. I was at my relaxation point, the point that I could almost even stand to be around half the people around me- Boys groping girls (or trying to), the pong players, the dancers, the jocks, the hipsters, the failures and even myself as a person. Everything just makes sense when youâ€™re slightly intoxicated or so I thought on that one fateful night in mid-December, 2010.
The night I realized I had become one of the lost in a world of alcohol and pretend was the night that changed the rest of my life and it made my way into memory a short while ago. I was making preparations with a friend around 7:30pm to go to a hip-hop show downtown Cedar Rapids at the Music Market. I remember the lighting in my bathroom (the kind of lighting that would be found at a drastic Kirkwood party gone wrong). It was dark, glowing and it made my skin and hair look just right with my newly dyed medium blonde hair. It was such a great lighting I thought myself the least bit attractive. Around 8:00pm we left for the show on that cold, snowy night with Paper Planes by M.I.A. playing as background music. After making a gigantic circle from my Roosevelt apartment complex we managed to bring our beverages into the venue, her bringing Hammâ€™s and I, Mikeâ€™s Hard Cranberry Lemonade. (Girly, I know.)
Fortunately, we arrived and as soon as we walked through the doorway, the music reverberated off the walls. The beat from the bass started to immediately pulse through my veins. The room was lit only by a few overhead lamps and had a yellow glow. The artists werenâ€™t amazing, mostly because they were local but they had passion for the songs they wrote and loved what they did and therefore had my attention right from the start. They definitely deserved the attention they got that night. The people surrounding me, who were also intoxicated, were able to feel the pulse and some were managing to nod their head on beat. It was a fantastic time, until it had to end and move to a house party.
This house party which was surprisingly a few blocks away had more live music. A five man band played all switching instruments every few songs. They were truly the stars of the night, especially the keyboard player. He had curly blonde hair that shot out in all different directions and that hipster look about him, the type of guy Iâ€™m know to take interest in, so naturally I stepped back to hang out against the wall until I was spotted by either more friends or old co-workers. Most had had few too many beers. Their breath reeked of alcohol (Busch Light) and most managed to slur together complete sentences while trying to stay afoot. I remember one fellow trying to grab me in the most unusual places while screaming, â€œHey Rory! Havenâ€™t seen yoooou in a while!â€ Luckily, I was able to ward him off and send him in the direction of an overly intoxicated girl. I went back to observing the dark underground around me, lit my cigarette and listened to the music that my heartbeat began to pulse to.
Iâ€™m managed to spot a guy I had once unfortunately hooked up with. He looked almost too perfect that night and Iâ€™m sure I was drunker than a sailor on a night off. The way his hair looked in the strobe lights must have got me or maybe it was the way he stood away from everyone else exactly as I did. Whatever the case might have been, I had to have him again, or so I thought. I ended up dragging him all the way to the dance floor and danced like I believed I had never danced before. The beat was pulsing through my veins and I absolutely had to let it all out. I believed I deserved it until I realized I was grinding upon someone who I did not want to be a part of my life, not now or ever. So as usual, all I could do was go back into the corner, smoke a Marlboro 27 and wait for my ride to come get me. When my ride finally came back almost an hour later, I stumble up the stairs from the immorality and out into the cold world. It was most certainly not my night.
That night was also the night my ex came pounding on my door. I tried to slam the door shut as soon as I found out who it was but his height and weight outdid mine and he pushed through. His hands clamped my shoulders and the yelling and sobbing began. I mustâ€™ve have escorted him back to his own godly apartment but I donâ€™t remember. I do remember him broken down and looking pathetic on the bathroom floor, almond eyes delusional and face slightly limp from the numbing alcohol sensation, barely managing to tell me he made a mistake and still loved me. I began to wonder how many times I would continue to babysit him and how many times I had looked as helpless and foolish. I knew it was an infinite amount and at that very moment, I realized I never wanted to return to that state again. I never again wanted to depend on something that makes me unaware of how Iâ€™m acting until Iâ€™m reminded of it the next day. I hope most my age come to realize before they have acquired a job in the so called â€œreal worldâ€ and Iâ€™m sure they will. But then again, itâ€™s only a hope.
Thereâ€™s a lot to say about a college house party. Itâ€™s a time where people can pretend. We drink enough alcohol to â€œbecome ourselvesâ€, to think weâ€™re aware of our surroundings and our sense of self. More than half of the time itâ€™s the alcohol acting or speaking for us but itâ€™s interesting to watch everyone. Weâ€™re more open and sometimes can be brutally honest. We sometimes even make life changing mistakes. We tell each other itâ€™ll be over in the morning and itâ€™s not affecting us but when weâ€™re putting aside things of old such as going to the movies or reading a book that will teach us something new. And since that night, I truly believe weâ€™re losing ourselves and who we really are.
In the Heat of the Night.