The Cocktail Party
The party had been going on for a few hours. Most people had had a few drinks. Most people had confined themselves to a corner or a chair or a place by the window. A few drifted between the groups, failing to wedge themselves in permanently, failing to fully blossom into social butterflies.
Someone made a loud comment about the president.
Someone else said at least he cared about global warming.
At that, everyone looked toward the polar bear where he stood by the window, sipping at a martini and ducking his head.
“Does the president really care about global warming?” a woman with dark hair and pointed glasses asked.
The man next to her in the tweed jacket that was too warm for the overheated apartment leaned into the woman, put his hand on her upper arm, and gestured toward the polar bear.
“Please don’t,” the bear said. “I don’t want to be a ‘polar bear’ tonight. I just want to be Mike.”
Everyone felt insensitive. One man in a tight black t-shirt clapped the polar bear on the back and said, “Of course, Mike!” too loudly.
Everyone forgot about that awkward moment after Freddy showed up. Freddy came uninvited to the party of his ex-girlfriend, bringing a date who looked as though she barely knew where she was. Freddy kept an arm around her and propelled her through the party, bowling into the guests’ tight configurations squeezing her side as he slurred.
I went over to talk to Mike, and we averted our eyes from that fiasco. Then we had a very serious, very deep conversation. I told him about my dreams of becoming a writer, and how this would be very different than my current, soulless existence. He told me that he missed the polar ice cap, but how he couldn’t take being around all of the moaning anymore.
“It was a bad scene,” he said. “Everyone down there is so depressed. Everyone is always talking about this melting and that melting. You start to see that you’re really off-white compared to snow, once you look at it long enough.”
It was too much for him.
“Your coat looks lovely in the moonlight,” I said.
Mike blinked at me, and I could tell he thought I was being insincere.
I shrugged and smiled. I walked away. Freddy lunged at me with his new girlfriend, and they breathed hot booze onto my skin. I shook my head to clear it and left the party, pulling on my coat as I clunked down the stairs and outside. When I looked up at the lit windows of the party, I could see the shape of the polar bear against the window. He started to move, but I turned away before I could see what gesture he would make.
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