This week’s pick comes from editor/Clouds of Hungry Dogs author Gabriel Ricard. We’ve all been to the Holiday Season parties, drunken friends, random acts of violence/sex, drugs, retirement plans, the whole nine. But Gabriel was especially smitten with this recollection of such a party from Matthew Reed during the selection process for #9, and while it didn’t make the final cut, it is deserving of a thorough immersion on your part. Dress warm and enjoy:
First Snow Party, 2005
Inexplicably, one girl showed up in a cheerleader outfit with a pair of toilet paper rolls stuffed underneath her skirt, which she flipped up several times as she sashayed down Arnie Stewart’s front hallway and into the kitchen. It was as if the girl had taken a wrong turn and ended up at this party on the way to some other, more advanced party. In just under forty-five minutes, she did a keg stand, danced too fast to Creedence Clearwater, licked Sebastian Mapson’s ear, and fell asleep on the floor next to the living room coffee table. Her friend, a second year lift-op named Sarah Peabody, put a pillow under her head and positioned her in a fetal position. For the rest of the night, people in the living room periodically paused the drinking game they were playing on the TV so someone could make sure she was still breathing.
While the mountains were still socked in by clouds, Reno, itself, had gotten little more than a dusting—snow settling aloft on grass and bushes and dampening roads, but the early date had generated more fervor for the party than usual. Arnie, whose hosting duties in recent years had been whittled down to vacuuming the living room and unlocking his front door, had spent the day fielding calls from people making sure that today was actually the day. At the party, people greeted each other as if they were in a sports bar or at a religious event, asking one another, “Can you believe it? October first, man. Fucking October first. Fucking epic.” But once everyone was sitting Indian style on the carpet, the excitement died down. You could only sustain that kind of energy for so long. After all, Jeremy Saunders had shown up forty pounds lighter, Kim Quiggly had gotten married and may be pregnant, and Kyle Landon was busy telling people where he had bumped into them over the summer: at the grocery store, at the Sparks farmer’s market, at that weird intersection over by Home Depot.
The party ebbed and flowed in the usual way. People came and went, broke things, said they were sorry. A shot ski came out–an old Rossignol with four shot glasses glued at equal intervals from tip to tail. It was passed around–four people drinking awkwardly at the same time–until the glue came undone and the shot glasses fell off. There was no nudity, or crying, or fighting. It wasn’t epic, but this was how people who bumped chairs and fitted ski boots, and pulled never-evers up off the ground, who worked through Christmas and New Years and filed for unemployment every April, who had no retirement or savings or health insurance, who lived four or five to a house, who tried their hardest not to sign leases, and who always said they were looking for other, real jobs but never did, marked their time in the world.
Most people had left by the time Mikey Peal arrived with a line of blood crusted onto his cheek and jagged tear running down the leg of his ski pants. They had predicted 18-24 inches of snow in the mountains—a record for early October in the Eastern Sierra, but the snow had been light and fluffy, and there had been no base, and it had really been more like eight or nine inches, and so after a two hour hike, he and Cody Lawrence had eked down what had looked like a huge snowfield from the parking lot, skiing on hidden rocks and logs, and, if they were lucky, grass and brush. Mikey, standing gingerly against the wall, trying to keep weight off one leg insisted it wasn’t that bad, that there had been some good turns, while Cody shook his head, mouthing the words, “Fucking never again.”