The after-party aspect of the evening was pleasant enough. We stood around chatting about various things. Everyone else got drunk, or in one case so stoned he had trouble standing up straight, and I told jokes that kept getting bawdier and bawdier as the evening rolled on. Let's just say that I started with necrophilia humor and pushed the envelope from there. At one point I turned to John and said "Bush is barely willing to tolerate you having sex with a black girl, do you really think he's going to let you fuck an Alien?" It's not the sort of thing you're supposed to say in a room full of New York liberals but the others were too drunk and shocked to complain. They laughed at my antics and I happily cranked myself up well past 11. It was the kind of night where when someone asked "What is a 'plain' cracker?" in a conversation about the fancy ones we'd had at the meeting I happily replied "Toby Keith" and took off from there. Things got a little uncomfortable later on when the stoned guy got a couple phone calls saying his son was in trouble with the cops for riding a motorcycle without a helmet or some similar offense. The hostess got pretty wasted and started talking to me about some of her fears that she was too old not to know what she wanted to do with her life and wondering whether she was still young, which was silly because she's in her 30s and that seems to be when most creative people START discovering their voice and abilities, certainly not when they achieve a set path. I think it started out as a sarcastic joke but when people are drunk things they are saying as jokes slip into seriousness in their minds. The whole night certainly helped convince me that I made the right decision to stop drinking altogether. Heck if I can make bawdy and racially insensitive jokes while sober who needs social lubrication? My unadulterated self can be less inhibited than many people are when pickled.
After a couple hours there John, Lou and I split. The dog-walker returned with her charge and the inhabitants of the house were both pretty far gone. We wandered around for awhile aimlessly and then Lou split to go home. He'd spent most of the evening talking to a potential sex-partner on the telephone anyway. John and I walked over to Washington Square park where we spent about an hour talking, mostly about women and life. It's fascinating to me how many of my fellow young people seem lost and confused, and how few of them are comfortable with that. I mean I'm not saying that I'm the most accepting person of my situation, but I'm comfortable with my discomfort, if that makes sense. Rationally I recognize that 22 is not the age where you establish the life that you're going to live for the rest of your days, not if you're lucky at least. John is a nice guy, and decently bright for someone from *ugh* Wisconsin, but he's not as self-aware or curious as he could be.
He's also had a lot of success with women, which is weird for me. I'm used to the people I hang out with being on the fringes of feminine interest. A couple have or have had girlfriends, but probably the majority have not had more than a handful of dates with the vaginaed one. John has had quite a bit more experience and was a bit of a cocksman up in Wisconsin, able to pick up girls by reputation, or so he said. He's the sort of reasonably cool but detached and emotionally unavailable guy that all the girls I wish would give me the time of day are busy clamoring over. He'd been hurt in the past and I don't think he had enough hang-ups about sex to think of himself as systematically spoiling the women of the world for those of us who would hope not to be recipients of his cast-offs, but when I said "You're the kind of guy who gives nice guys a chance with girls because you chew them up and leave them longing for someone who will be loyal and easily controlled" or something like that he seemed to agree.
He's a nice guy and we'll probably hang out at some point during the week, but I wasn't sure how to feel about the whole situation. I mean here he was, an accomplished swordsman with a current girlfriend who he doesn't love and who moved to New York with him, complaining about only having sex once every three days some weeks and talking with some melancholy about this girl he almost picked up but didn't because he's attached and wishes he could have. There I am, alone since birth, spending the better part of the last couple of days listening to The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" over and over, feeling the emptiness in the pit of my stomach, wishing like a motherfucker that there was somebody out there for me to try to direct that kind of love and emotion at, and I end up offering advice and some comfort to him. Part of it was because I feel much more comfortable giving than taking, part of it because in some ways I am more rooted and grounded in myself than he is in himself. I have the perspective that comes with suffering and trauma while I'm not sure he does. His big sadness is a girl who dumped him after they'd dated for a few months and who he says he's still in love with. I think she's something of a fantasy.
The other part of it is that I guess I just come off as something of a nice guy who people can talk to about their problems. I am. Gruff exterior and tendency to rib people mercilessly aside, at heart I care about people and I want to be able to help, honestly. I developed toughness because that sort of niceness gets exploited and unless you're emotionally strong as an ox and able to rise above it you end up either as a gruff tough guy with a heart of gold or a feckless sap. I wasn't about to let myself turn feckless. I'm trying to reduce my gruffness and be more honest though. Making a concerted effort.
Being nice is lonely in some ways, though. Nobody really cares about your problems, they'd much rather talk about their own, and while you can make friends it's like a girl repellent. Women want men who are tough and distant and whose love they think they can earn. I've heard tell various places that this changes as they get older and by 35 when their tits are starting to sag and they're starting to think about permanently settling down they seek out guys who actually care about other people, finally realizing that a man who isn't nice to others is never REALLY going to be nice to them, because character is character whether expressed in an acquaintanceship or a love relationship. I'm already a resentful jealous bastard (It's possible to be both of those things and still kind. Kind doesn't mean you are an emotional doormat who has only happy and positive care bear thoughts.) By 35 I'm going to be so disgusted by the whole thing that I'll probably have my testicles surgically removed and given to someone who has use for them.
I don't know. It was a fine evening. I'm sure that knowing more about the insecurities and worries of a woman in her early 30s and a young Wisconsin cocksman will be of use to me both as a person and a writer at some point in the future. I'm sure I sound pretty insufferable singing the old "I'm a nice guy, why won't someone love me" refrain. Cliches are cliche for a reason though. Being a supporting character in other people's lives is tough, especially when you believe that you have starring potential. I guess it's all part of the dues paying that makes up so much of what living is. I'll plunk a few more quarters in the kitty and get back to it then. You have to live to learn and grow. Hiding in the shadows only makes the inevitable return to the light that much more painful.