By Giles Ruffer
I am going to a party. I have been invited. I bought drink and I am arriving at the time I was told to. I am the perfect guest.
Upon entering the block of flats above ‘United Colours of Beneton’ where the party is located, I find that the door is on the latch and I do not have to call up through the embarrassing intercom. I feel lucky. I walk through the front-door and two girls walk towards me. We say. ‘Hi’ to each other even though we do not know each other. I must be feeling affable too. Or maybe I do not care because they are leaving. They return later though; they are going to get drinks I find out.
I walk into the room where people are and these people look at me and say my name. I think one of them says my name wrong, but I don’t say anything. I don’t want to make a situation about it. I sit on the arm of the sofa and I am introduced to the people who did not say my name because they do not know who I am. One of them I have met already though. Later on, she will say something stupid. She will loose my respect. For now she says, ‘We’ve met before. Didn’t we bond over some band. I can’t remember what band.’ She looks around her at other people, laughing at her forgetfulness. I say, ‘I think it was Magnetic Fields.‘
There are people behind us sitting at a table. Mariachi music is playing. Magnetic Fields girl is sitting on the floor. Another girl is sitting next to her and someone I know called Tom is sitting opposite her, in front of me. The floor is made of wood and there is no carpet layering it. The people on the floor are talking. They are all strongly opposed to something. On a sofa near us two people are holding hands. I know them both, but I do not know if they are in a relationship. They are talking to each other intensely. I want to talk to them but they are talking only to each other and I cannot hear them so I cannot join in the conversation. I start thinking that maybe I should move to the arm of their sofa, lean in closely and listen to what they are talking about. If I laugh at the right places they may include me in their conversation. They may humour me for a while.
No one is talking to me. I start thinking about something else. A few weeks after I first met Magnetic Fields Girl, she got on the same bus as me. She looked past me, to a girl she knew. A better acquaintance. It turned out this girl was an old school friend. I learnt this as she spoke loudly into her mobile phone whilst on the bus. Maybe she didn’t see me. I do not think to mention it; I haven’t even started drinking.
I start drinking. I take a can of beer out of the black plastic bag I was given by the shopkeeper to carry them in, pull the ring-pull back and put my mouth over the hole-piece. The people on the floor are talking about someone. The girl who is not Magnetic Fields Girl says the person they are talking about wears a Victorian coat and is obsessed with taxidermy. In his house he has two rats in jars which he taxidermied himself. And he’s really cool. And he’s, like, a poet.
I think to myself, what does a Victorian coat look like? I think to myself that I know who it is. I think I have seen him read a poem before. He read in a cockney accent and I questioned whether it was part of the performance or his natural voice.
Magnetic Fields Girl says, ‘Poetry is cool,’ the same way someone might say that the latest Magnetic Fields album is okay, implying it is not as good as his early stuff. There is a silence after she says this and everybody seems to be looking at the floor.
I am looking at everybody. Mariachi music is still playing. I wish at this moment that I had a poem. Something I could recite to them to show them how talented and great I am. I realise I want very much to be able to please these people. They stop staring at the floor.
I mention to my friend that I think I know who they are talking about. He tells me to tell them, then tries to tell them himself, but the conversation has changed. I leave the party without telling anyone a few hours later.
Giles Ruffer was born in 1985 and lives in Brighton.
#1 by Sandra Davies on December 10, 2010 - 3:52 pm
Now I know why I don’t like parties! This is haunting in its self-centredness and emptiness and intriguing that I don’t know whether the fault is entirely the narrators or his fellow party-goers too – that I think is why this piece is clever.
#2 by katie mcdonald on December 12, 2010 - 9:52 am
I can relate to what the narrator is saying, the party where you go and sit in the toilet for a while to avoid the arkwardness of feeling/being socially inept. Self-centered perhaps but I would say that’s a by-product of his withdrawl into himself. I see the point about the emptiness but that’s what makes it so devastating, I think it’s what you see about the narrator in yourself that makes this truly magical. Very clever, I enjoyed it a lot.
#3 by DJ Berndt on December 13, 2010 - 2:18 pm
Nice work, Giles. This is a good read.
#4 by Sarah Reid on January 9, 2011 - 2:33 pm
I like this Giles. Good work.
#5 by KOZ on June 8, 2011 - 4:35 am
I LIKE THIS STORY. IT LEAVES ME WITH THE “MELANCHOLIC AFTERTASTE” THAT I SELDOM GET WITH CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE.