The Harm in Asking: My Clumsy Encounters with the Human Race

The Harm in Asking: My Clumsy Encounters with the Human Race by Sara Barron

Book: The Harm in Asking: My Clumsy Encounters with the Human Race by Sara Barron Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sara Barron
not evoke an image of me in a diaper. I was a teenager at this point in my story, and my lesbian aspirations were not looking promising. They’d done nothing in terms of helping me seem
as
enthralling as I would’ve liked, so I forged ahead with another, better option: I would experiment with alcohol and drugs. I would drink it, and do them. I would seem wild and unique.
    I ARRIVED AT New York University in the fall of 1997. Within a month, I attended one of its famously patheticsorority parties. God bless my alma mater: Its theater program might waste your money like every under-eye cream
I’ve
ever tried, but its Greek system is one of the worst in the country. If you join, you
will
be laughed at.
    I never drank in high school, owing to a lack of social invitations and a fear of projectile vomit. Once I hit college, though, I did as young gals do and harnessed a sense of adventure. I purchased a tube of dark lipstick and a Blackstreet CD. I told my newly minted friends and put-upon acquaintances, “Hey there. I’m looking to party.”
    I did this for one whole month until finally I heard about the aforementioned sorority party. I decided to attend, and spent the week leading up to it doing dexterity exercises in my dorm room. I did wall-to-wall sprints. I deep-lunged. I quad-stretched. I made an effort to ensure that if someone did throw up in my general vicinity, I’d be nimble-footed enough to steal away.
    My overall thinking was that the vomit risk was worth it for the revels that awaited. I’d never been to an alcohol-laced party before, but I
had
seen a few John Hughes films. I hoped to go to the party and meet a beefcakey guy who hoisted girls up above his shoulders. Who’d hoist
me
up above his shoulders.
    “Put me down!” I’d yell.
    “Only if you do a shot!” he’d yell back.
    So I’d do a shot. And then another. And another.
    “You’re
crazy
!” he’d shout. “Most girls can’t handle their liquor!”
    “But
I
can,” I’d say.
    “Yes.
You
can,” he’d say. “You’re a real special lady.”
    This, in all likelihood, would be the beginning of a mostly physical relationship in which I’d use the beefcake for his body but keep him at arm’s length. The newcoolness I possessed from drinking would imbue me with that specific and awe-inspiring skill.
    I attended the sorority party with a young lady named Melanie whom I’d met in a freshman-year acting class called Masks of Commedia. Pre-party, Melanie and I had dinner in our dorm’s cafeteria. It was during this time that I carbo-loaded so as to prep my body for proper alcohol absorption. I ate one sesame bagel and two plates of refried beans. Having finished, I removed the napkin I’d tucked into the collar of my delicate chemise. I looked Melanie in the eye in much the same way Jennifer Connelly looks Russell Crowe in the eye in the movie
A Beautiful Mind
. I’m referring to that scene in which she says, “I need to believe … that something extraordinary … is possible.” I conveyed a fear of the unknown, I like to think, but also hope.
Hope
. Of meeting men who hoist women up above their shoulders. Of men who get you drunk but make you feel understood.
    “We
can
do this,” I told her. “I truly believe that we can.”
    Melanie and I arrived at the sorority party at nine p.m. on a Friday night. I had expected it to take place in some attractive Greenwich Village brownstone, and that is because I thought the sorority scene was made up of refined and wealthy ladies.
    Instead, though, it took place in a run-down apartment building just east of Union Square. A total of eight sisters lived on the first and second floors, and to host their party they used their individual apartments, the stairwell
between
the apartments, and, finally, the ground floor entryway. So when you walked in, you walked
in
.
    When
I
walked in, the process of doing so felt rather like passing from the natural world, where there was fresh air and reasonable

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