50: “I think your first mistake was assuming you could be normal at all”

Oscar was going to Jake and Danielle’s Christmas party, but he wasn’t happy about it. It was pretty much the last thing he wanted to do for several reasons, but mostly because of Danielle herself. He really wasn’t fond of her. The feeling was definitely mutual, not that that made it much easier to be around her. Oscar couldn’t even really work out what he’d specifically done to make Danielle dislike him so much. Getting dumped by Katy seemed to be the answer and it wasn’t as if that had been his fault. He had very much wanted to point out that he didn’t particularly enjoy that either, but in an effort to move on with his life, he was choosing to ignore thinking about all things related to Katy, which led to his second issue with Danielle and Jake’s party; the guest list.

Danielle had invited all of their high school friends, even Taylor much to Iggy’s chagrin. That included Melly and David, of course, as well as Jana and Dan, Miles and Iggy, Helen, Priscilla, and Jacklyn, who brought Joey. But Danielle also invited Katy and Ezra. She also went so far as to invite Smug Colin, who she had also met and befriended in university. The only person Oscar disliked more than Danielle was Smug Colin. He told Priscilla that he wasn’t going to go. She was fine with it. Her exact words were, “do whatever the hell you want. What do I care?” The second person he told was Miles, who didn’t take it nearly as well.

“Uh, no,” he said. “You’re going.”

“No, I’m not,” Oscar refuted resolutely. They were sitting in Oscar’s living room. Ramsay and Frank were there as well, but had refrained from joining the conversation. It was clearly a tactical move on both their parts.

“You definitely are.”

“I think you’ll find that I am not.”

“But then I’ll be alone with no one to buffer me from Danielle’s burning hatred,” Miles pressed, giving Oscar puppy dog eyes. They were usually oddly very effective, but Oscar was holding onto his resolve. He didn’t want to go to Danielle and Jake’s Christmas party. Danielle was a horrendous shrew and he would limit his exposure to her as much as possible. Besides, spending an evening listening to his ex-girlfriend talk about her upcoming nuptials to an incredibly handsome, generally perfect man with blindingly white teeth seemed like pretty much the worst thing ever.

“I don’t need you to make me feel guilty,” Oscar told Miles. “That’s why I have a mother.”

“To be fair, that’s not why,” Frank cut in.

In the end, Oscar caved to Miles’ puppy dog eyes and he agreed to go. When he texted Priscilla to tell her the good news, she sent back fourteen of the emojis that were crying from laughter.

Danielle’s Christmas party was a games night because of course it was. Oscar was pleased that he at least wouldn’t be disrupting her team numbers. Helen had originally going to be the one to disturb the order, but, after being warned by Oscar, Priscilla, and Miles alike, she had brought one of her boyfriends with her. His name was Walt, he looked like a crooked My Little Pony, and he was about as interesting as sawdust. Oscar attempted to talk to him about his rugby team on the subway ride over to Danielle and Jake’s before he gave up entirely and resolved to never speak to him again.

The very first person they saw at the party was David, who was positively delighted to see them all. He grinned and hugged each of them individually. Since he and Priscilla had arrived in a convoy with Helen, Walt, Iggy, and Miles, it took them an inordinately long time to get out of the foyer. David was beyond excited about everything, which Melly later told them was because of the baby they had on the way. It was a lovely sentiment, but it didn’t make up for the fact that Oscar had lost precious moments of his life standing in Danielle and Jake’s front hall waiting for David to finish hugging Walt, a random and stunningly dull stranger.

The next people they saw were Jacklyn and Joey. Like David was excited about everything, Oscar was excited at the sight of Joey, who had dressed up for the party. For example, his shirt had sleeves. He was wearing a black sweatshirt that had camouflage-printed sleeves to go with his torn black jeans and a pair of thinly striped blue socks. Oscar wondered if he just had a closet full of ripped black jeans, like a cartoon character.

“Hey, motherfuckers!” Joey greeted them, which was startling to even Oscar, so the shocked and horrified look he could see on Melly’s face was perhaps not unwarranted.

“Bold,” Helen remarked under her breath.

“God bless that man and the horse he rode in on,” Oscar said with a grin and wave in Joey’s direction.

The people he ran into after that were Katy, Ezra, and Smug Colin, all of whom he found in the kitchen when he went to get a beer with Walt. It was already a bad situation because he had broken his promise to himself not to spend anymore one-on-one time with Walt. And then it got much worse. Katy offered him a sad smile that matched the vaguely pitying one Ezra sent in his direction. And Smug Colin had never looked so smug.

“Oh hey, Oscar,” Smug Colin greeted him with a smirk. “Heard about your drunken disaster at Jana and Dan’s wedding.”

He snorted with laughter, pleased as punch. Oscar wanted to punch him in the face, but he refrained because of how poorly that had turned out the last time.

“It’s okay,” Katy assured him almost immediately, reaching out to pat him on the shoulder. “I don’t think anyone even noticed and we all do things we don’t mean when we’re drunk.”

“Happens to the best of us, bud,” Ezra added, nodding sympathetically along with Katy. Oscar got the impression they were attempting to be understanding and comforting, but it was having the opposite reaction in him. Part of him wanted to go get Priscilla and prove how fine he was, part of him wanted to lie down on the kitchen floor where he was standing and be done with it, and part of him still really wanted to punch Smug Colin in the face.

“Okay, that’s great,” he said, grabbing a beer from the cooler on the floor next to the door. “Amazing. Thanks.”

Then he bolted in the opposite direction, leaving Walt to deal with them on his own.

“I thought I’d be able to be normal with Katy now that I’ve had my epiphany of personal growth and all that, but apparently not,” Oscar admitted to Miles once he’d found him in the living room and explained what had happened in the kitchen.

“I think your first mistake was assuming you could be normal at all,” Miles returned, which wasn’t overly helpful.

“I think I need therapy,” Oscar said.

“It’s entirely likely,” Miles agreed.

Once everyone had settled in the living room with drinks and snacks, just before they began playing games, most likely charades, Danielle and Jake handed out Christmas gifts wearing matching Santa hats. They even had the presents in sacks. They prefaced it by saying they were just small things that they thought people might like. Oscar thought it was a pretty bold move to buy a Christmas present for people they didn’t know, like Walt and Joey. Joey, for instance, got a candle that smelled like vanilla and lavender.

“How did you know?” He asked when he opened it, looking fairly unimpressed. It was a small candle.

“They bought me ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Bleak House’,” Priscilla hissed to Oscar, Iggy, and Miles after everyone had opened their presents and were cooing over what everyone had gotten. “My Christmas present from Danielle and Jake are two long-ass, excruciatingly dull books that I actually already own.”

Priscilla had studied English at university and, as such, had since been inaccurately branded a lover of especially dry classic literature.

“I got a card that doesn’t have anything written in it,” Oscar returned, holding up his open envelope. “Didn’t even sign it.”

The other three openly stared at him in shock.

“What?” Iggy asked, laughing slightly. Oscar handed her the envelope.

“A blank card with a sparkly dove on the front of it,” he said.

“So what did you do with your blank card?” Priscilla asked, looking over Iggy’s shoulder to examine the empty envelope as well.

“I wrote ‘Merry Christmas from Oscar’ on the inside and gave it back to them,” Oscar answered. Iggy laughed so hard that the eggnog she was drinking came out of her nose.

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