Jan 27, 2009, 04:17AM

An Open Letter to Everyone At the Party Last Night

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Photo by brownpau

Dear friends:

I am seething because Craig tried to throw my t-square at my ceiling fan. I invited everyone from the bar over to my place and one thing led to another. We were playing the "Hey-let's-throw-magic-markers-at-my-ceiling-fan" game, one of my inventions. The game has few rules: No pens or pencils, or anything else for that matter, goes up—just magic markers—and also shield your eyes so as to keep from going blind when they spin out wildly in your direction. It's a wonderful game full of ducking and shrieking. One went out the window. Blue. Everyone was having a great time and then Craig decides to throw pencils at my ceiling fan, like that's fun—"Hey, I have an idea, let's throw daggers at my ceiling fan!"

What an asshole. I took them away from him and told him pencils were too sharp and thus dangerous. He just laughed and when I turned my back to set up the jams in preparation for the taste test, grabbed more from my drawing table. Eventually, he began throwing his shoes.

A few moments after I chased him down, he disappeared for a little while, and I was relieved. Then I discovered him hiding in the bathroom. Concerned for his health, after having overheard a series of grunts emanating from the other side of the door, I left the others in the den and approached the bathroom with a bottle of Pepto Bismol. When I knocked, the door fell open, and I saw him down on his knees on the tile floor. He wasn’t sick. He’d been trying to wrench the toilet from the wall—in order to throw, etc. He managed only the lever and some chrome piping, thank God!

The water from the broken pipe rained out hard into the bedroom. Seeing this, Caroline and Janice stripped down to their swimsuits and began running through the sprays of water, giggling and turning their faces away from the spout, screaming ecstatically like from a wonderful torture. I mentioned that this wasn't at all in the order of things, but they just brushed me off as if I were an old schoolteacher.

In the other room Craig threw the pipes up, while Jacob and Jacob argued about Hemingway and Fitzgerald. I worked fast at correcting their grammar, particularly their misuse of the subjunctive. I decided the past belonged to the subjunctive mood and began saying things like, “When I were born, and when I were 21,” as if the past were a conditional, as if it were a wish. Across the room, Alex and Jonathan were playing “fantasy publishing house,” swapping authors back and forth between FSG and Norton at a breakneck pace. Rushdie was in the air shrouded in ambivalence!

Beside me Jacob and Jacob had resolved their argument by introducing a new argument. “Wallace!” Jacob yelled. “Stevens!” countered Jacob before knocking over a few of the jams they erupted into a blur of fists on the Oriental rug. “If I were lucky enough to have Wallace and Stevens in a room together,” said Alex philosophically as he came over and broke up their fisticuffs, “I would beat Wallace furiously with Stevens.” Jacob and Jacob looked at each other ashamed, before Alex was joined by Jonathan, who suggested we all place bets on an imaginary boxing match between Dionysus and Apollo. “But how shall we determine the winner?” Jacob and Jacob asked at the same time. “I’ll do it!” I interjected and took out my stopwatch.

But then we switched games again. Jacob stood up, ducked quickly as a pipe came toward him—Craig, by the window, was laughing and unscrewing a shutter—before resuming his position. Opening the book in his hand, Jacob began speed-reading aloud the final passage of the Madeleine from Proust’s Overture—“And as in the game wherein the Japanese amuse themselves by filling a porcelain bowl with water and steeping in it little pieces of paper which until then are without character or form, but, the moment they become wet, stretch and twist and take on colour and distinctive shape, become flowers in our garden and in M. Swann's park, and the water lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea!” he last got out with his last breath and snapped the book shut.

“36 seconds!” I called out the time.

“Beat that, Jacob!” gasped Jacob bitterly.
Janice and Caroline came out of the sprinklers finally, soaking wet, their lips blue, and their teeth chattering violently. I told them they'd catch their death if they kept at it and then I gave them towels and mixed some fresh Kool-Aid for everyone. Alex sat on the couch and said he liked the way the Kool-Aid gave him that pink mustache. “It makes me look older,” he said proudly.

Gradually the night turned into morning, and they all filed out one by one. But before they left I recorded their heights on the inside of my apartment door. When Craig left he tried to rip the door from its hinges, and looked up pensively at the suddenly still fan—I’d turned it off.

This is why people don't throw parties anymore, I thought afterward; Craig might light your couch on fire all in good fun. What an asshole! After a quick survey of the damage, I began the slow clean up—removing the jellybeans from the electrical sockets, the jam from the door hinges, etc.    

And why am I writing you now? It occurs to me that I’d invited you all over to play the Magic Marker Game again next week, and thought it only polite to formally rescind the invitation. I am contacting all my friends and acquaintances thus to inform them that the Magic Marker Game will no longer be played within my dwelling. I’ve been cleaning up all morning; a difficult project having found pink and yellow highlighter marks on the ceiling near the fan where it’s been hard to reach. After straining unsuccessfully while standing on top of a chair, I sat back down, just where I’d been sitting last night. Then reactivating the fan, I began throwing open bottles of Whiteout, covering my eyes after each pitch, crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

Still, I guess there are some nice things about the impromptu remodeling—from out of the bathroom the water keeps coming and has collected so that my bed has begun to float. This morning, I woke up at sea which was not all that terrible, as I have always felt at home beside large bodies of water. It has made transportation somewhat difficult however. I’ve had to dismantle my backgammon set, now useless anyway (Craig threw the chips, too, and not all were retrieved. They are lost somewhere in the deep of my rooms, among the coral of soggy novels and dumbbells, which were also almost thrown, though luckily I was able to wrestle them away before he moved on to the hamsters), and have fashioned the flats of each side into a kind of oar, which is how I’ve made my way to the computer to send out this missive. But now I must go. According to my calculations, by five tonight the water will have risen and begun to fall from the window, and so I am in the process of dismantling my coffee table for parts—If I am to depart from these rooms with any grace at all, I will require a barrel.

Yours sincerely,

  • I had some sort of Greek moonshine called tsipouro last night and my hallucinations were nowhere near this fun. I feel like this should have been titled "Iris Smyles' 115th Dream". Brilliant.

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  • Marx Brothers, Mad Max, Zelda, F. Scott and Iris party in zany hell. Proust and his magic cookie writhe in envy. So do I.

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  • Tsiboro! Very hard to come by in the states, I've found, and as a regional alternative to Ouzo, albeit much stronger and less sugary,it's even unavailable in many parts of Greece. I hope you enjoyed it with heavily garlic infused mezes. Stinigiamas!

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  • Hey I know this perfect place that would love to publish all of your wonderful, creative and incredibly interesting writing!!! It's called LiveJournal!!!!!!!!!

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  • If only all game were full of ducking and shrieking. Proust definitely could have used more of both. Superb as always!

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  • Vastly superior to ouzo, agreed. My friend smuggled it into the country in a water bottle, apparently. And sadly no mezes...only really bad British pizza. So it goes.

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  • Great article, as always, Iris. That marker game sounds dangerous though. And did that guy really bust one of your pipes. If he did that to me, I'd kill him. Beat him with the pipe. Bury him in my neighbors backyard. Clean up the blood. Tell the cops I haven't seen him.

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