Wait a second… This is an orgy, isn’t it?

If only he could see himself through her eyes, then Kevin might understand just how petty and immature he comes off, so far from the tough guy persona he imagines for himself. He’d see how to her, he’s a prepubescent boy, his chubby cheeked face twisted into a pouty rage, howling about how emasculated he’ll feel without her on his arm at that miserable dinner.

“But all the other dudes will have dates. How am I gonna look?” he whines.

“What’s that got to do with me? Ask Melissa or another one of your other girlfriends if you’re so desperate for a date.”

“Daria, don’t be like that. You know I want to go with you.”

“I told you last week I didn’t want to go. You should have made other arrangements.”

She’s had enough babysitting for one semester already and the last thing she feels like doing is dolling up in her black dress and wearing heels she can barely walk in. She can’t imagine going through all that effort just to make small talk with drunk professors and pervy alumni for untold hours. Kevin has a lot to learn about her.

Instead she and Jennifer ride the 1 train downtown to a loft party at her friend Trevor’s new place. Jennifer, a new friend from her art history class is a petite brunette with a like-minded wardrobe.

“So, what’s the deal with this party?” she asks.

“Trevor is this kind of skate-punk waste-oid dude I know from home. At Christmas he told me he and his roommates have been throwing a ‘party for the ages’ like once a month. I realized it was tonight, so… It’s gotta be better than the Phi Gamma alumni party.”

“Yeah, well that shouldn’t be too difficult. What the hell is a party for the ages?”

“I think it’s just a fancy way to say ‘ecstasy party.’ You’re down aren’t you?” Daria asks.

“I’m not sure. I’ve never taken X before.” Jennifer looks down at her lap. Is she ashamed that she hasn’t taken X? Daria wonders.

“Oh, well no big deal. It’s fun. You’ll love it,” she assures her.

“Is Trevor cute? Have you guys ever messed around?”

“He is cute. I mean I wouldn’t want him for a boyfriend or anything. He’s kind of a drug addict, you know? Not really an addict, but he might as well be cuz he’s always fucking wasted. He’s definitely a fun guy, though. We haven’t slept together. I don’t know why, really. I guess the opportunity’s never come up.”

“But there’s gonna be hot guys there, right? What about his roommates?”

“Well his one roommate Kyle, not so much. That guy’s brother, though… Oh my god. The brother is this 17 year old high school kid who lives with them, cause I guess their parents are fuck-ups or something. He’s gorgeous. He’s a fucking Adonis. He could pass for 22.”

“17? That’s messed up. I can’t go there. Seriously though, these Columbia boys are killing me. Please, help me find a cool guy. Like a man, you know? The guys in my classes are such pussies!”

Daria cracks up and Jennifer joins in. The boys back on campus really are a bunch of dorks. In a way, the party downtown is a repudiation of the campus dinner/dance Kevin was begging her to attend. It’s a foothold into an identity that isn’t dependent on him, an identity with other options. She’s glad Jennifer seems to have a sense of adventure at least.

They walk what feels like the width of Manhattan from the subway station to the party. Once they are past 2nd avenue or so, the neighborhood gets worse and worse with every block. Finally they get to Avenue C and the fortress-like apartment building that belongs to the given address. Inside, she’s surprised to admit that it’s a nice apartment. Not at all what she expected given the boy’s full-time student status. Exposed brick walls and hardwood floors, 20-foot ceilings, the whole bit. Outside it looks like the Warsaw ghetto, but inside the loft is as tidy as a movie set.

Daria sits on the couch alongside her people, the familiar druggie, downtown crew she knows from high school, Trevor and Kyle and Kyle’s little brother Jason, as well as a bunch of their friends, including Mitch and his friend Vincent from NYU. Across the room, there’s a contingent of New Jersey Metal dudes, many doing their best Axl Rose impersonations. One guy, perhaps the most egregious offender, has a hairdo that would shame the guys from Motley Crüe. The hairdo’s height astounds, with blond frosted tips must have taken hours to achieve. Every time she scans the apartment she catches herself marveling at the unnatural hairdo anew. It looks like the dude has a halo around him the way he’s lit in front of the living room wall.

Gathered in another corner, a bunch of homeboys stand drinking 40’s of malt liquor, mumbling at one another, their pants hanging low off their asses. She isn’t used to seeing punks, rockers and rappers hanging out at the same party, but she’s not surprised that they’re not talking to one another. If ever there were a time for the drugs to show up, this would be it, she thinks. It wasn’t too dissimilar to a junior high school dance, or for that matter the formal dinner Kevin was most-likely enduring uptown. Is this how all socializing amongst adults occurs? Are all people awkward and stilted until they get some drugs or alcohol in them?

As if her thoughts were a cue, a shaggy haired hippy-looking dude barges in. An audible sigh escapes from Kyle who is sitting next to her on the couch. He bolts up and greets the swarthy man warmly. Within a minute or two the energy in the room changes. The music is turned up and a line forms to distribute the ecstasy. Daria buys a couple tablets from the guy and hands one to Jennifer.

“Do you think I should take like half of this… or…” Jennifer asks.

“Don’t worry about it. I don’t think anyone has ever died from an ecstasy overdose. Take the whole thing.”

“No, they just lose all their spinal fluid. I’ve read about it.”

“That’s just an old wives-tale. Go ahead and take it. Loosen up. It’s kind of the point.”

They swallow the pills and toast each other with plastic cups of wretched keg beer.

Besides the two of them, the female contingent is low, which could be worrisome for an ecstasy party. There’s a gaggle of big-boobed stripper looking chicks, clearly brought along by the metal heads. There are a few grungy looking girls scattered about the room as well, some wearing fishnets and Doc Martens like Daria. On the whole she estimates, the room is at a 33/67 girl to guy ratio. That might be a bit optimistic she decides. It’s probably more like 25/75. At least it bodes well for Jennifer hooking up. Maybe a good fuck would ratchet down her anxiety level, which would be a welcome development in Daria’s opinion.

“Jesus, Trevor, how in the world can you afford this place? It’s fucking huge!” Daria asks.

He leans in conspiratorially, “the brothers have a trust fund. Thank Christ. I could never afford to live here on my own.” His pupils are tiny pinpoints of black in an expanse of blue, despite it being quite dark in the room. He catches her staring up at him. She thinks he must imagine that she wants to fuck him, which is fine. Let him think it. What’s the harm? He’s grown cocky in the years they’ve been in NY, and truthfully better looking as his facial features settle and come into their own. He doesn’t need her encouragement in any case. He’s doing fine in the inflated ego department, all on his own.

She thinks about Kevin sitting on his lonesome, done up in his suit and allows herself a private laugh. While it’s been a little choppy these past couple of weeks, he’s a pretty great guy. When he’s not whining about a fraternity sponsored dinner formal, that is. He’s tall, good looking and not that she particularly cares, wealthy to boot. She can hardly blame him for asking her to attend the event, it’s par for the course with a frat brother, but she still manages (to blame him, that is).

Daria was shocked to discover how thoroughly integrated into student life the fraternity/sorority system was at Columbia and Barnard. In high school she would never have dreamed that she would have anything to do with a frat guy, never mind that she’d be pretty much exclusively dating one and be considering pledging a sorority herself. She wasn’t one for “sisters” but it seemed that was just how things were done uptown. It is an Ivy League school after all, and Ivy League schools have traditions. She wonders how her future sorority sisters come down on taking X with a bunch of dirt-bag, punk rockers. To their credit though, her classmates have little in common with the garden-variety meathead she’d imagined participating in the Greek system.

“Well that’s convenient. I can only imagine where your discretionary income ends up…,” she says.

“Well I do pay some rent. But yeah, it does free me up a little bit. Check this out. Come downstairs for a sec.” He leads her down a set of stairs that run along the wall. Daria steals a look at Jennifer, who is flirtatiously chatting with a handsome skinhead boy. He’s showing her his new-ish looking tattoo. Promising, she thinks. Jennifer catches her eye and Daria winks at her, just as she descends down the stairs and out of view.

Trevor flips a light switch and the subterranean room is bathed in a horrible fluorescent light. It’s easily 10 degrees cooler down here. The room is solid white with a tiled floor that combined with the artificial quality of the light and the freezing temperature gives the room a surgical feel. Upstairs, the music switches from rap to metal. She notices that along one wall, black and white prints are spread out on the floor in a disorganized pile. The photos are of snarling pit-bulls, graffiti, burnt out tenement buildings and chain-link fences, typical clichéd boy stuff. In the middle of the room there’s a generic looking futon frame as well as a table and a desk chair.

“It’s homey down here,” she says.

He gives her a double take and chuckles when he realizes she’s being sarcastic.
“Yeah, it is kind of sadistic looking, isn’t it? Clinical. It’s like some kind of demented gynecologist lives down here. I don’t know what to do to warm it up.”

“You could start with a space-heater. It’s fucking freezing!”

“Maybe this will help,” he says as he reaches across the desk, removing a sheet of paper on top of a cd case that has a bunch of pathetic little lines of what she assumes is coke laid out on it. He takes a rolled up $20 and snorts a line. He immediately follows it up with another in his opposite nostril. He holds the bill out to her.

“It’s coke, right?” She asks.

“Of course. What else would it be?” He asks, indignantly.

“No reason to get prickly. I just don’t want to snort dope tonight. I saw you nodding off at ‘The Model’ at Christmas. I figured you must have been doing H.”

Her seeming lack of judgment puts him at ease. “Yeah I snort dope sometimes. It’s good. You ever try it?”

“No. Not yet.” She says.

“You should. It’s the fucking bomb.”

She’d caught Kevin high to the gills a couple of times now. He was clearly out of his mind, high so she called him on it; he’s a on his way to being a junkie frat boy. She’d been confused at first. How could it be fun to puke your brains out for hours on end? He assured her it was worth the inconvenience of throwing up though and had pledged to do some with her, some night soon. She wants to try it; it’s what the boys are into these days. Not now though. An all-dude party surrounded by a hundred strangers didn’t strike her as the optimal time to experiment with heroin.

“Do you have a habit?” she asks.

“Fuck no, man. Dope is the fucking best. No feeling like it, but you gotta be a sucker to get a habit. It’s simple. Just don’t do it two days in a row.”

She nods and takes the rolled-up bill. She snorts a line. It tastes like chemicals and has little of the kick you get from quality coke. For better or worse, Daria knows cocaine.

“I did a little dope earlier tonight, but you have to be careful. Dope will overpower X. Coke will compliment it.”

“You think? Where did you get this? It tastes more like baby powder than coke.” She says, pinching her nose.

Trevor guffaws. “Oh excuse me, Your Highness!” His indifference to her criticism is a welcome change. It would be nice if Kevin would toughen up a little.

“I’m just fucking with you. Thanks for the line.” She ignores his hand on her hip as they mount the staircase back up into the loft.

********

An hour later, Brit-pop has hijacked the sound system. The Gallagher brothers whine, “What’s the story, morning glory” seemingly telepathically straight into Daria’s head. The coke didn’t do much for her but she’s vibrating with warmth and sisterly goodwill, a natural byproduct of the X.

She enters the kitchen looking for something besides beer to drink, before realizing the impossibility of getting to the refrigerator; the crowd is just too dense. When she turns to leave, she finds herself caught. Her feet are glued in place as she watches the human atrocity unfold before her. Cordoned off in the small-ish kitchen, two big-breasted strippers are giving a show to an agitated crowd of men. One of the women is smothering men’s faces in her tits while the other is doling out shots of watery lactation to eager male mouths, one overheated dude after another. Milk is flying in amounts Daria never took the time to imagine until this moment. A droplet hits her face, but the drug haze gives her a buffer without which she might have freaked out. She robotically wipes her face with her sleeve and steps back. The men are howling with excitement, pushing and shoving, jockeying to attain a better position to receive the woman’s liquid gift. Daria stares, struck by the brute humanity of the proposition. Is this where all guys aspire to be? Do they consciously or unconsciously want to get back to the teat? Is this the grand culmination of the masculine instinctual trajectory? She desperately hopes not, but these guys are absolutely rabid. They look like they’d kill for a mouthful.

She continues to stare, until the lactating woman takes a time out to address Daria. “You want in, honey?” the stripper barks at her. The men quiet down to watch for a moment.

“No… thanks…” Daria manages.

“Quit staring then! You’re making me nervous.” She says pulling a metal-head dude up to her teat.

Daria tries to turn away, but can’t help staring. She hates how prudish she sounds, but tasting another woman’s baby sustenance is repugnant to her. She is grateful to this woman for the experience. She will most likely never forget this moment.

“Thank you.” She says. The woman looks at her, confused and unable to make sense of her vibe and screams “What?”

“Daria!” She hears Trevor’s laughing voice from behind her. He grabs her hand and pulls her through the crowd, back into the living room. “That bitch was about to pop you!” he says as they step onto the dance floor.

“Huh, why?” Her dissociated voice echoes through her head. She tries to move in synch with the music, but it feels unnatural. It also feels like a lot of work. The song changes to more danceable rap number and the chore gets marginally, but only the slightest bit, easier. She looks over towards the couch and sees Jennifer making out with the skinhead dude.

“You were making her nervous, I guess,” Trevor says.

“Oh,” she manages. She lets her body go slack, trying to feel the music instead of reacting to it. The ecstasy buzz is so different from the everyday, so pleasant that she’s able to overcome her self-consciousness and actually just feel good. Suddenly her hypocrisy is illustrated in such a way it’s easy for her to recognize. Ecstasy isn’t just a hippy drug! It’s ok to feel good! She decides she needs to be less judgmental. Just go with the flow more often. You know?

“Don’t you wish we could just feel like this… you know, like all the time?” She puts her head on Trevor’s chest. He stops dancing and holds her.

“Totally. I mean… I feel so good right now. I just want to cuddle. Not even mess around necessarily. I’m just glad you’re here.” He rubs his cheek against hers and pulls her body tight. His stubbly chin sends shivers down her spine.

She giggles. “Totally. Well, maybe mess around a little bit.” She thinks about Kevin and wishes he were there. Oh well. Trevor breaks off and drags her toward the stairway. Daria considers resisting, but decides to stick with her newfound ethos and “go with the flow.”

He pulls her down the stairs and they flop onto the bed together. He kisses her. His mouth is tense and cold. His kisses are forceful and not what she was expecting or hoping for. At all. Her head is swimming, overloaded by sensory information. This doesn’t feel good. “Hold on…” she says. “Just lie here with me for a second.”

He gives an exasperated sigh and puts his feet on the floor. “You want another line?” She hears him snort one.

“No thanks.”

He climbs back into bed and holds her. They lay there for a few seconds and she hears him sniffle behind her. The ecstasy warmth is still surging through her. She’s still on the ascent of the X trip, thank god. She flips over to face him and kisses him softly, tenderly, trying to communicate what she’s looking for. He only sort of gets it. In no time he’s greedily slurping on her lips and grinding his pelvis into her. She can feel his boner pressed against her. “Slow,” she whispers.

He calms a little and they kiss for what feels like a long time. She manages to relax and forget about herself, to finally be in the moment. It’s liberating to exist on an entirely experiential plane, whatever that means, she decides.

Clothes slowly come off in the dark. With each garment she has to work a little bit harder to keep Kevin from invading her thoughts. Kissing a guy on ecstasy is one thing, but will she be able to keep it a secret if she sleeps with Trevor? He rolls her over again and she straddles him between her legs. She’s definitely horny and feeling great from the X but her guilt gnaws at her. This isn’t going to be guilt free. Trevor finally sticks his hand on her crotch. It feels good. He’s not pawing as roughly as she imagined he might. He’s coaxing her there. Maybe he has learned something, somewhere.

Just then she feels the futon shift and a weight settles next to her. “Uggghhh” an unfamiliar voice, a very deep voice, breaks the relative silence and a heavy, unfamiliar hand begins rubbing her boob through her bra.

“What the fuck!” Trevor shouts. She’s momentarily squashed as Trevor shoves at the enormous body. She smells the newly introduced cigarette and laundry smells radiating from the man’s clothes, now just inches from her nose.

“Hey, watch it! What?” the man’s voice booms loudly in the low ceilinged room. Daria pulls her shirt from underneath herself and tumbles from underneath the scrum of bodies. Trevor and the newcomer shove at one another on the bed. She pulls her shirt over her head.

“What the fuck are you doing, dude!” Trevor shouts.

“What do you think I’m doing? It’s an orgy isn’t it!?”

“No! No, it’s not a fucking orgy, Fuckhead! Get the fuck out of here.”

“It’s cool. It’s cool. Easy man…” the man is enormous. She wonders how he managed to get down the stairs and on top of them without either of them noticing. It seems all she can hear now is his belabored breathing. He finally manages to get his feet off the futon and she gets her first good look at him. He must be 30, if he’s a day!

“I ought to kick your ass!” Trevor is agitated. She is too, but she also wonders how much of his indignation is for her benefit.

“Kick my ass, for trying to get some action at an orgy?” She looks at him and realizes no one is kicking this guy’s ass, least of all Trevor.

“It’s not an orgy, dude! It’s a fucking party!” Trevor screams.

“Okay, okay, already. I’m going. I’m going…” Daria pulls on her skirt and watches the man and his stunted gait as he crosses the room and slowly climbs the stairs.

Trevor puts his arms around her, “I’m sorry, baby.”

“Don’t worry about it.” She starts to crack up. The man is midway up the stairs. He turns and looks down at her. She can’t stop laughing. She feels guilty but can’t stop. He’s practically bald! An enormous, bald, fat dude tried to get in on their action! The ecstasy high is still there, but has ebbed with the expended adrenaline.

Trevor leans in and tries to kiss her again, but her already tentative sexual urges have dissipated. “Trevor, I have to check on Jennifer.”

“What!? Aww, come on! She’s fine.” he whines. His tone is grating, pathetic. “That was just getting good. Come on baby! Get back in bed.”

“No. I, uh…” She pulls her skirt over her leggings and steps into her boots. “I can’t. Maybe later. C’mon let’s go get a drink. I need a drink.” He shakes his head, resigning. He sits on the bed, pulls the cd off the desk and starts chopping at the little pile with a credit card.

“I ought to kick that guys ass…” he says. She’s not sure if he’s talking to her, or… She turns and walks up the stairs anyway.

********

It’s close to 3 am when Daria rings Kevin’s buzzer and is let into the empty dorm. Upstairs he meets her at the door in his boxers and shushes her as she stumbles into the room. His roommate is sleeping he says, but she doesn’t care.

They have sex under the covers, doing their best, well he does his best, to keep quiet. She makes a point of getting off, first thing. She rubs her clit on his pelvic bone until she has a mild, if hard won orgasm. She feels vindicated, as she drifts off to sleep and takes stock of the evening. She wonders if Jennifer has a new boyfriend. She thinks of the big, old dude and his horrified face as he loped up the loft staircase.

In the morning, as they drink coffee in the student union, Kevin complains about the banal goings on at the dinner the previous evening. One would be forgiven for failing to realize her absence the previous evening had ever been an issue between them. Such is the nature of young love.

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