Out of Place

It’s been a while since last I published anything. I started a new job a month ago and until recently didn’t have access to WordPress, not to mention being incredibly busy with training. Now that everything’s settled I’ve figured out how to get on WordPress again and I entered another writing contest (but more on that later). Here’s a story from when I first started taking writing a bit more seriously. I may turn it into a series, who knows?

The noise in the room was unbearable, and the air reeked of booze. My feet stuck to the floor, and the concrete walls of the windowless room reminded me of a prison.

During orientation week my freshman year of college, I didn’t go out every night partying like a lot of the kids. I was perfectly content to take it easy and make the adjustment to college without throwing in new things like booze and drugs. Besides, social skills weren’t my strong suit.

Partway through watching a crappy movie-I think it was Robin Hood or something-a couple people I knew from high school invited me to go out, and I thought “why not?” What’s the worst that could happen?

John thought we had to take Park Street a ways, but the rest of the group thought the house was in a different direction. I was just along for the ride; there was no point in chipping in to the conversation. After a couple wrong turns we began following the pounding bass. That had to be the right direction.

Butterflies started dancing in my stomach. I had lived a rather sheltered life, and everything I knew about college parties I learned from my friends and the media.

Finally, we stumbled upon the source of the pounding bass: a frat house.

It didn’t truly resemble a house when we got inside, more like a stylized dorm. One half looked nearly identical to my floor: a narrow, carpeted hallway with easily a dozen doors on either side. Some dude in a t-shirt and backwards hat let us in and mentioned something about the basement. I can only assume he did, since that’s where my group started meandering. That’s how I found myself in a sticky, noisy basement.

Three tables were set up with red cups on either side. It wasn’t terribly crowded- more dudes in backwards hats flirted with attractive girls while they played pong. Some people were sipping on beer, some were throwing their drinks back. Me, I just stood to the side with my friends. I couldn’t say anything to anyone, it was so loud, nor would I have known what to say. That’s when I started to regret coming.

A big guy with light brown hair and jeans walked over and started talking to us. The rest of the group engaged him with no problem. I continued to awkwardly stand there, answering questions when he asked me directly. My awkwardness wasn’t entirely my fault- more often than not the music drowned out everyone’s voices. Since joining a fraternity, I realize he was probably rushing us and asking us the basic questions such as “Where are you from?” or “What are you majoring in?” It also explained why he offered us all shots.

My heart raced. The only time I ever tried alcohol was when I was twelve. It was a sip of beer, and my uncle joked that the sheriff would arrest me that night.

However, it was college. I might as well try it, right?

I followed the group upstairs to the guy’s room. Several shot glasses lined the top of the dresser, each being filled with Southern Comfort by the guy who generously offered the shots (another rush tactic). A glass was passed to me, and I took it with my right hand. Everyone else had accepted their glass.

As we raised our glasses in a forgotten toast, I couldn’t help but wonder: is this really such a good idea?

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