The Birthday Party
Siri breaks the bitter news:
"You have arrived at your destination."
The Birthday Party
Where I only know the host
Why did I agree to this?
The car door opens and my obstinate, rebellious legs
Bring me to the front door
Just make an appearance...
"Sandra!! So glad you could make it!"
Fragile, frightened, forced smile
I'm ushered in and immediately desperate—
Desperate to prolong conversation with The One I Know
But then comes New Mom,
And she knows exactly what she's doing when she says that
Small Baby just took his first steps in the kitchen
I am abandoned.
I take off my shoes,
Wade into the frigid waters of impending acquaintances
Show teeth, make eye contact, but keep it short
Lest it be misinterpreted as an invitation to chat
Before I've eaten
Refreshments! And thank God
Otherwise I don't know what to do with my hands
And when I don't know what to do with my hands,
I look like a velociraptor
Down to my last chip
I wipe the grease on my jeans,
I am a lioness during famine.
I identify a gazelle separate from the overwhelming herd—
She's quietly studying the host's family pictures
Throw away the paper plate and
Throw myself at the gazelle
I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror—
Oh my velociraptor arms!
"Want a drink?"
I get two waters,
Exhaust every pleasantry available
Then I remember! I have equipped myself for this very moment
I ask about her family
Because I watched a YouTube video once on how to connect with anyone
Turns out her family is dead.
"Want some chips? They're great!..."
I grab chips—some for me, some for Wounded Gazelle
Mention Small Baby's first steps
Suggest we join the collective eye-feast on Small Baby
Enter kitchen with Wounded Gazelle
Small Baby takes two steps and face plants
Share sympathetic "awws" with fellow spectators
Phone timer with ringtone alarm goes off "Hello?... Oh wow... yeah, yeah; just give me a sec"
Pretend to mute phone, "Sorry, I need to go..."
Goodbye Wounded Gazelle
Goodbye The One I Know
I half slide on my shoes,
Shuffle back to my car