Partying With Coco

Filed in Gather Life & Style Essential by on October 4, 2010 0 Comments
This is a short story I came across this morning, something I wrote over a decade ago. While not the best thing I ever wrote, it’s a decent read and diversion:

 

Partying With Coco

Last night, I did something I’ve rarely done in my lifetime, and hope never to do again.  I spent, no wasted, an evening “partying” with a couple dozen people I don’t know, and with whom I had absolutely nothing in common, especially a certain pothead who was the party’s honoree.  Actually, I was somewhat duped into participation in this quasi-social event by a friend who happened to be the cousin of the evening’s birthday girl.  My friend is a middle-aged, personality-disordered woman who needed a night out.  Since her car was broken down, as usual, and I was the only person still speaking to her at the time, I wound up being her ride to the party.  The ride included stopping at a local convenience store to pick up a bottle of wine.  It was at this time that my friend introduced me to her favorite libation, Cream White by Manischewitz, which she said I would love.  We purchased a liter and, thank God she was right, because that bottle became my best friend for the night.

The party was already in full swing by the time we finally arrived. The hostess, my friend’s aunt, lived in a cul-de-sac of patio homes, and cars lined the entire street, two deep. My plan to drop in, pay respects, and get out as quickly as possible, was immediately thwarted by birthday girl, who turned out to be a tiny, braid-heavy, pothead named CoCo. Aptly nicknamed, Coco was the color of dark chocolate. It was her 35th birthday, which she announced to me as she stumble-rushed us at the door. She managed to grab presents and bottles along the way. Once introduced, Coco pulled me down for a smothering hug and kiss with her amazingly strong little arms. She reeked of a mixture of alcohol, cigarette smoke, reefer, and too much cheap perfume. Immediately, I thought I was going to be sick. My head started spinning, and and I knew I was not going to be able to drive anywhere anytime soon. I have a strong sensitivity to many scents and fragrances, and within seconds I developed a blinding headache. My throat felt as though it was closing up. After finally breaking free and finding my way through the loud, dancing crowd to the closest bathroom, I sat on the toilet for as long as the other guests’ bladders would allow. I tried to compose myself and figure out a way to get out of there without being rude or losing my dinner to Auntie’s new carpet.

When I finally emerged from the hallway, the friend I’d come with was nowhere to be found.   But Coco was there, grinning and ready with a glass of the wine we’d brought. She ushered me outside to the front porch, and offered me a toke of her joint as if it was an appetizer. When I declined, Coco announced, “I like YOU!” I gave her a weak smile in return, thinking to myself the feeling couldn’t be less mutual. She was, hands down, the least attractive woman I’d ever laid eyes on in my life, and looked every bit her thirty-five years, plus four decades more. She had a scrunched up face little that resembled a little black Smurf’s, and appeared to have taken quite a number of beatings to it. Her mouth had the pursed, wrinkled, dry and dark look of women whose lips have spent too much time pursed around a smoke. And her eyes were permanently glazed. Coco had attempted to camouflage the erosion of her looks with a mass of hair extensions. It wasn’t working. My friend, her cousin, had said on the ride there that Coco was “charmingly ugly.” Apparently, there was something charming about her at certain times, because the party was attended by a multitude of Coco fans, including her current boyfriend. He was an extremely good-looking man at least ten years her junior, so I wondered what his deal was, what the appeal was. Coco’s own children, three in all, were also at the party, and ranged in age from six to eighteen. And not one of them looked a thing like Coco.

Back inside after clearing my head a bit, I scanned the crowded front rooms until I spied a couple getting up from a seat near the corner fireplace. I still hadn’t seen my friend, and realizing that I was probably trapped for the duration of the party,  I grabbed our bottle of wine from the beverage table, and made a beeline for what would be my perch for the night. I had lost Coco for the moment, so poured and toasted myself with a congratulatory glass of Cream White. Sitting on the chair next to me was a man who looked slighter older than the rest of the crowd. He looked just as uncomfortable as I felt, so I struck up a conversation, and found that he’d also been hoodwinked into providing taxi service for a friend. His next-door neighbor had gotten him out of bed, and threatened to drive his already drunk self to the party if this buddy wouldn’t get out of bed and take him. So, there we sat, resigned to hunker down until one of our wards got wasted enough to nearly pass out and be shuttled home..

I’ve never been a drinker, so I was pretty well lit when Coco-the-weed-hag discovered my hiding place a glass later. She’d decided it was time for me to dance with her. I tried to beg off, telling her I was too intoxicated at the moment to keep my balance, but she wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. Before I knew it, I had become the very uneasy recipient of a vile Coco lap dance, complete with her nasty herb breath in my face and snake-like tongue in the bowl of my ear. Coco smacked her lips and ran her tongue across the front of her tiny, pointed teeth. This was supposed to be erotic, I’m assuming, but had the effect of making me inwardly shudder and gag. As she writhed in front of me like a salted slug, she gave me squinting, sidelong glances from those glassy, heavy-lidded eyes of hers. Then she suddenly spun off, clearing the center of the living room, and going into a bizarre dance to a beat that only Coco’s ears could hear. The other party-goers, who seemed well known to Coco and her ways, were mildly amused and entertained by the display. They mostly watched for a few seconds, then returned to their drinks, food and conversations. The exceptions were Coco’s three children, whose faces had become drawn and hard. Their embarrassment and anger was painfully evident, and they withdrew from the crowd to the back bedrooms one by one. They had obviously seen the show before, and too many times.

If I’d been white, and without my Cream White, I’m sure I would have been beet-red by this time. But instead of embarrassment, I began to feel a deep sense of sorrow for this strange, little woman. Somebody had long ago sold her on the notion that to be high was to be free and most connected to the world around her. But here she was, encased in her own little world, and more disconnected than she could even see anymore. To me, she was repulsive; yet, she clearly thought she was wonderfully alluring. She thought her eyes sparkled, when they actually made her look dead inside. She thought was she was doing, had been doing for years, was harmless fun. Most of those around her knew better. Coco’s own kids knew better. I found out later that Coco had never actually raised a single one of them. That task had all fallen to her mother who, in spite of it all and sixty years old, looked a heck of a lot better than Coco. I found out later from my friend that Coco hadn’t always been unattractive. Back at home, she showed me pictures of Coco as a teenager. It saddened me. I thought about her kids, and the relationships she’d missed out on. In Coco’s world, I’m guessing the senses she was born with are now dulled beyond repair. She’ll probably never stop and take in true beauty, and smell the roses all around her. Coco would rather embrace the weed.



 

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