by emily wilner
The hotel is under construction. We’’ve left our super classy and extremely effective Country-
Time-lemonade-and-12-shots concoction somewhere in a snowbank along the way, for the
birds. For the birds! My drunken companion, who had been carrying the drink, keeps repeating
this in a loud, singsongy voice and throwing her arms up toward the sky. For the birds! I want
her to shut up but I don’t know how to ask her politely.
“Please shut up,” I tell her. We enter.
The elevator is confusing, in the way that we are drunk and extremely sensitive to its movement;
we’re following a herd of perfectly coiffed females and two males (a direct inversion of Champlain’s usual ratio), and still we get off on the wrong floor twice. We find the ballroom with not a small amount of difficulty. Everything is pretty much as I expected. Girls are all having the same conversations:
“No, you’re pretty.”
“Ohmigod, I love your hair/dress/shoes/purse/makeup!”
Boys are all having the same existential crises:
“I know I’m here with ____, but did you see ___’s ass in that dress?”
“I should ask her to dance. Should I? She’s gonna say no”
“How long do I have to be here?”
There’s a photographer with a hollywood backdrop set up in the lobby so that people can remember this night for the rest of their lives. I’m not letting anyone in possession of a camera
within twenty feet of me. Platters upon platters of limp veggie sticks, cheese and moist crackers decorate the tables around which bored looking non-dancers sit and wait for inevitable death. I would usually be amongst them, but my friends are here and I’m in the mood to have a good time. We dance for a while until we’re out of breath and slightly sweaty. My feet hurt.
The bathroom is pure insanity, but my makeup isn’t going to reapply itself.
There’s retching from a nearby stall. The door flies open with a bang and I’m faced with a
swathe of pale yellow vomit-covered tulle.
“Can everybody tell I’m puking?” the girl asks the packed bathroom worriedly, lower lip trembling.
“You’re fine, no one knows”, slurs her friend as she preens in front of the mirror and meticulously applies red lipstick to her teeth and chin. The girl ducks out of view and more retching is heard, followed by a toilet flush. A green pleather high-heeled foot flops out of the stall. The toes twitch and curl, uncomfortably punctuating each heave.
Someone new has walked in, and upon spotting the foot and hearing the unpleasant noises,
turns to the girl at the sink and asks, “is your friend okay?”
“She’s fine. She is not puking.”
My hair looks okay, so it’s time for me to leave.
Coatroom, smoke break. There’s a little balcony by the bathrooms where other Future Lung
Cancer Victims of America and I fight over a tiny space heater in order to get our fixes. It’s too
cold for what everyone is wearing and we struggle to help each other light up with pale and
nearly useless fingers. There is a sense of community out here in the quiet stillness that doesn’t
exist on the dance floor inside; I am comfortable (albeit freezing) in my tight, eggshell colored
dress with strategically placed (read: revealing) geometric cutouts for the first time all night. The
dress is not mine. I’ve borrowed many things from my drunken companion for the night; the outfit, the alcohol, the fuck-it-all attitude. I look up and there’s someone leaning over a balcony
about three floors above studying us with bald curiosity.
“It’s a school dance,” I shout upwards. My voice carries easily in the dark, frigid air. “Like prom.”
To someone only slightly more inebriated than I am at this point, the pale, hovering visage might
be mistaken for the moon.
Coatroom, take three. Two girls engaged in deep conversation, their faces very close together.
Pink Satin: “Is my dress like, really weird and ugly? Like, is it bunched weird? Do I look fat? Be
honest, I can take it.” (The conversation in general suggests otherwise)
Black Velvet: “No! No, no it’s perfect, really! You look amazing, I swear. It’s beautiful, it’s incomparable, like…it’s like…”
She pauses, unable to think of anything to compare the dress to, and I have just tossed my coat
and purse into the fray of other belongings that have lost the battle for a coat hanger, so I don’t
It’s a lot emptier now, the table-sitters have decided to stop being total drags. They went home. The dance floor is a cluster-fuck of color and movement. The vice president of the student governmentis being carried around on the shoulders of several members of the rugby team, flailing so hard he nails a girl right in the face with his loafer. She almost goes down, and he doesn’t even notice. Pink Satin and Black Velvet are making out in the middle of the dance floor. A girl shimmies her rear so hard against a guy’s crotch that he actually falls backwards a few steps, his boner ready to take over the world.
Everyone’s smiling widely, eyes closed, swaying, unable to think of anywhere else they’d rather be. A collective wail goes up: WHYYY DO YOUUUU BUILD ME UP? BUILD ME UP? BUTTERCUP? BABY, JUST TO LET ME DOWWWWN? The time is 11:54pm. There is a chocolate fountain,a conga line, and several boys wearing dresses. There’s got to be an absolutely flawless metaphor for Champlain College buried somewhere under all this cheap fabric and frenetic energy.