Disclaimer: I typically try to elevate my exploits so that I do not come across as the hot mess express. However, today’s story exceeds any attempts to downplay my transgressions, so I apologize to all offended parties and promise that I am not such a sloppy fool in my typical life. Or at least in 2019.
Disclaimer 2: That’s probably a lie.
Disclaimer 3: Mom, please don’t read this.
Part I: How to Know When to Excuse Yourself From the Party
Late last year, I attended a friend of a friend’s party. “Attend” is the optimal verb because I was not explicitly invited. Instead, my friend was, and she suggested I drop by. I had met the party’s hosts on several occasions, but I would never expect them to necessarily recognize me on the sidewalk nor would any sort of friendship honestly permit the behavior I’m about to describe.
Before the party, I had been at two other gatherings where I helped myself to some beverages, including 100-proof Captain Morgan. I knew my friend had another friend visiting from out of town who we’ll call “Veronica.” I met Veronica earlier in the day, and while I had been told she was attractive and verified this claim via photos, in person she stunned the eye. I detected the faint possibility that she may be receptive to my courting.
My friend greeted me at the party. The hosts both worked in the upper echelons of their fields and fittingly lived in a historic McMansion off of Monument Avenue. Famous artists adorned their tapestried walls, and the fattest, bedazzled fir tree stood beside their baby grand piano. Everyone wore at minimum a button-down, and most of the men had blazers.
“Thank you so much for letting me come by,” I hugged the hosts.
“What can we get you to drink?” they asked.
“Honestly…” I tried to decline.
“Have your pick.”
They had three “house cocktails” at the ready in the kitchen: a French 75, a champagne cocktail, and a bellini. Otherwise, the counter was filled with champagne brands I had only heard of and never purchased: Veuve Clicquot, Moët, Krug, etc. These selections far exceeded my Mint budget.
Bellini in hand, I rejoined my friend and found Veronica. “I didn’t think you were coming,” she said.
“I had to make it to say hi.”
“Are you leaving soon?”
“What are you drinking?” I asked.
“Gin and tonic.”
“Can I try?”
Our friend interrupted us. “They’re about to sing some carols at the piano, come on!”
The party gathered at the baby grand piano. One of the hosts passed out printed choruses to “Silver Bells” and “Silent Night, Holy Night” and “First Noel.” I had to hide my laughter between singing as the entire party began belting these tunes. I kept peeking at Veronica. She kept peeking back.
I think you know where this is heading…
With much hindsight bias, I have compiled a set of guidelines for when one should excuse themselves from a party because they are “suck face drunk.” My friend used that descriptor, and I countered and still maintain that I was only “suck face receptive drunk.” Either way, these guidelines should govern your next make out session (or prevent it from happening altogether).
I will follow these guidelines with further advice on how to apologize if you do not heed this first list (aka you give into being suck face drunk). Spoiler: I did.
The party has a baby grand piano.
Someone actually plays the piano.
They pass out lyrics to accompany the pianist.
Everyone is singing, and they’re actually into it and good at it.
The champagne costs over $50 per bottle. Possibly more.
The champagne is being served in fine glassware.
You find yourself pressing your date against a mahogany, built-in wall cabinet that probably costs more than your apartment’s rent.
There are items on said wall cabinet that cost more than the cabinet itself.
The hosts are drinking from gold-rimmed glasses with Polish crystals.
You aren’t Facebook friends with the host.
You didn’t get your own invitation to this party.
You’re not even sure you’ve met one of the hosts prior to this evening.
You are splashing champagne on the wood floors.
A guest interrupts your make out to say people are talking about you in the kitchen.
Don’t continue making out.
Stop making out!
Yes, you should go outside. That’s a bit better.
Don’t straddle each other on a porch facing a public street.
Dear Gabriel, we’re on guideline 20 and you’re still going at it?!
Obviously, things did not escalate that fast, and thank Gabriel we never straddled each other on the baby grand piano (or maybe that’s suggestion #21?). Things seemed to go awry when the pianist surprised us by breaking into a melody of “Last Christmas (I Gave You My Heart).” Some other couples who possessed propriety ended up embracing or kissing around the second chorus. Veronica and I pecked on the lips.
Afterward, we refilled our drinks in the kitchen. About 30 minutes later, I remember we were alone chatting in front of the fat fir tree discussing childhood traumas and the merits of art when abruptly our hands were all over each other. With some sensibility, we thought we should relocate to the alcove with the aforementioned built-in wall cabinet where no one would notice us – except it was right beside the kitchen and the bathroom. I am someone who hates PDA, though I increasingly find myself asserting this and cringing as I admit I also gave into inebriated hypocrisy.
I did not exaggerate when I suggested another party guest tapped us on our shoulders (which must’ve been very awkward for him) to inform us that we were the talk of the kitchen. “Are we? How embarrassing,” I think I said.
“You all should come into the kitchen,” he invited us.
“We really shouldn’t.”
“We have so many questions.”
“How long have you two known each other?”
I, like any good commitmentphobe, fled the scene to the veranda where my friend was. I assumed that if I could enter another conversation, my transgressions may be forgiven and forgotten.
“How’s your night going?” my friend teased.
“You know, I needed some fresh air,” I said.
“I think that’s good for you.”
The timeline is less clear here other than Veronica somehow separately made her way to the veranda and we recommenced our previous activities. PDA-phobic me thought this was the more sophisticated (if that adjective is possible) move since we were outside and away from passersby. What we neglected to notice is that the baby grand piano sits up against a large bay window that gazes out onto the veranda and the sidewalk down below. Veronica and I found ourselves a seat beside this bay window.
Apparently, who knows WHOSE IDEA THIS WAS, the party decided they needed more music and the crowd gathered at the piano once again to sing more Christmas tunes. Meanwhile, a mere 12 inches from the pianist, separated only by glass, sat Veronica and I in full embrace.
Let me be clear: in the moment, I was not aware this was happening. For Gabriel’s sake, I am not sure why my friend or even a stranger did not emerge and just cough. Even as I type this, I am audibly saying, “Ohmigawd” with each tap on the keyboard. Instead, I discovered we had full audience engagement three nights later when the story of my debauchery was retold at a happy hour.
“Are—you—serious?” I managed. “Everyone saw us?”
“I mean, the alcove as you like to call it was not much better,” my friend quipped.
Part II: How to Apologize After You Didn’t Excuse Yourself
You may imagine my revelation and shock the following morning when I recalled my previous evening’s activities from my pillow (“FML” in size 86 font). I have done embarrassing things before, especially while drunk. In college, I puked in a stairwell. I even stole a rug once and called it a magic carpet. And I have sent plenty of texts where I needed more than a mimosa at a brunch to recover. But I have never been so aggressively passionate in a stranger’s home that I immediately wondered if I had relinquished my social standing and may never show my face to the hosts or the guests ever again. Thankfully, I was moving out of Richmond in three months so my scarlet letter would be short-stitched. Right?
Still. I had my friend to think about. She had invited me, and by extension I represented her very inappropriately and I needed to atone. I texted, “I think I need to get your friends a bottle of champagne. And maybe write a condolence note. Condolences for my behavior.”
She replied, “That wouldn’t be a bad idea.”
Typically friends laugh away misbehaviors and reassure one it was “no big deal.” In this case, I found my friend’s affirmation more damning. How bad had it been? (Remember, I didn’t know about the second piano show/make out viewing that had occurred. Ugh! I still can’t get over that.)
Given the caliber of the party, I surmised a bottle of André would be vinegar in the wound. I needed to meet the hosts at least halfway (because my foot was more than halfway into a grave) and buy something that they could at least display on their bar even if it would be on the bottom shelf. For reference, I’ve never paid for a bottle of wine that cost more than $15 unless I was at a restaurant and, even then, I scoff. I gravitate toward $5 well drinks before $40 reds. No longer – at Kroger, I purchased a $60 bottle of Moët. I know minimal of Moët other than my friend, who is somewhat a sommelier, drops that brand in conversation all the time, and also the only other bottle on the grocery shelf was Veuve Clicquot and that was $66, and I was trying to afford rent this month.
On my walk home from the store, I worried if I was to drop the bottle. Would I have to buy another? Would I starve this month?
The real soul-searching of this penance came when I realized I needed to accompany the Moët with a note. I felt I could not just drop off the bottle and write, “Happy New Year! Blessings, Cazey.” I needed to address my sins, but be neither crass nor flippant.
Dear Host and Co-Host,
Happy New Year! Thank you again for having me at your New Year’s Eve gathering. I really appreciate your hospitality, generosity, and…
I paused here. I wanted to write tolerance, but that seemed to heavy-handed. Tolerance for heavy alcohol consumption? Heavy petting? Being there? What about acceptance? But that sounded like I was coming out and/or they’d already wiped away my iniquity and invited me back.
I landed on graciousness.
I really appreciate your hospitality, generosity, and graciousness. I hope you enjoy this bottle of champagne (that is the most expensive bottle I have ever paid for in my entire 27 years of life) and it brings you great memories in 2019!
Of course, I did not include the parenthetical, but I did hope they knew I was not trying to be cheap.
“I’m about to drop off my apology gift,” I texted my friend. “I sort of hope they’re not home so I don’t have to talk about in person.”
“You shouldn’t ring the bell,” she counseled. “I think this is the sort of champagne penance you leave and let time pass.”
More evidence that this was bad. Really, really bad. Should I add a P.S. I’m sorry I’m so embarrassing. 2018’s been a rough year?
“Have they said anything?” I asked my friend.
“We texted a bit,” my friend replied.
Okay, they’d definitely said something.
I found their veranda quite a sobering sight in the daylight. I looked at the seat where Veronica and I had so intimately embraced (“Ohmigawd” just slipped out of my lips while writing this, and I reread the sentence again and said, “Ohmigawd”). I tucked the champagne penance behind a potted plant and backed away. I honestly wondered if it was enough.
Part III: Epilogue
This story finds its embarrassing conclusion the following morning when I met my friend for coffee in Carytown. My friend informed she was running late so I arrived and sought an empty table without making eye contact with any other patron.
Naturally, with only karma and no coincidence, one of the party’s hosts was at said coffee shop and promptly called out, “Hi, Cazey.”
“Oh! Hi! I didn’t see you! How are you? Good morning!” I hesitated awkwardly between finding my seat and greeting him. “How are you doing? How was your weekend?”
In hindsight, this might be the worst question I could have asked, but I was winging it.
“It was good. How was yours?”
Was that a loaded question?
“Good,” I replied. “Just slept in and laid low on Sunday. How about you?”
“We took it easy, too.”
“Thank you again for having me the other night,” I spoke carefully as I could, though remember the bull who had arguably pinned his date against the china closet at the party? Crap, that was me. “I am, um, sorry about some of my behavior. Did you get my gift?”
“We did. Thank you. It was very nice.”
“Of course. Thank you. I’m glad you had a good weekend.”
Okay, I was going to sit down now. My friend continued to take her sweet time arriving, so for several minutes I sat a table away, both of us facing each other, but looking at our phones. I considered fleeing to the restroom.
My friend finally arrived. She immediately said hi to the host, and I was grateful my antics hadn’t severed their relationship. Shortly after, he left for his office and told us both to have a good day.
“At least I can look him in the face,” I said.
“But I don’t think he’ll be inviting you to anything in the near future,” my friend replied.
“I don’t blame him.”
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