Party at Nick and Abbey's place. He told me it'd be a gaming party. It turned out to be a textbook example of why I don't do parties and other similar social venues very often.
People are getting drunk all around. We don't much enjoy drunkenness as a social exercise ("buzzy" effects from alcohol are considered merely a pleasant side effect of consumption, and inherently suspicious enjoyment in much the same way NRE is*). Nick, as it happens, is one of the few people around whom we feel comfortable when they're drunk. He gets silly and inebriated, yes, but he doesn't really change much or get unpredictable. He's just more himself than usual, in a way that's noticeably-different only insofar as it's more obvious how he relates to other, non-us people. For most everyone else, it's disconcerting.
Not really a gaming party by any description, although they do break out a card game at one point. I get the impression Abbey informed Nick he'd gotten that wrong.
Abbey is playing hostess. It's a role she takes very seriously, and it's alienating and confusing to watch. She insists her husband do all sorts of stuff you'd think the hostess would do, even when he's obviously smashed -- let the guy rest, yeah? Sometimes it's creepy. There are two categories of people for her when she gets like this: guests, and people whose responsibility it is to enable her to play hostess and feel like an accomplished adult. The only people in said category appear to have consented to play this role in a passive sense (they didn't say no), but still, it squicks to see it in action.
I could do without all the utterances of "gyp" and "Retard" flying around...
Someone has brought a baby, a little infant under one year old (I'm fairly sure, anyway -- he seems to be just a bit shy of crawling age). It isn't a problem of itself, and everyone present seems to enjoy a chance to interact with him, but eventually he must go to sleep. Parents apparently put him in the bedroom where everyone had tossed their coats to sleep alone. Understandable, and not a problem -- Nick and I discover him there when we go into the bedroom to talk privately for a bit. We spend a couple minutes very quietly cooing over the baby together and then sit down to talk. For half an hour we do this and kiddo doesn't stir or make a sound. We talk about the stuff on our minds. We talk about the kid, and about parenting. Nick doesn't want to be a parent right now, or even soon. He loves the thought in abstract but he isn't even remotely there. Abbey is insistent -- her biological clock is ticking and I get the sense this has been a point of some rather serious contention between them. Then Abbey yells for Nick from the bottom of the stairs -- apparently she wants him to make a drink for someone. Her yelling wakes up the baby, and I hastily tend to him while Nick staggers downstairs. Kiddo's tired and confused and cranky. I try to calm him -- I am a stranger, so it's not enough that I merely shush and hold him. He calms down at first, when I inspire him to imitate. Big smiles and blatantly-telegraphed "happy" language put him in a good mood, and he seems to like me, but eventually tired and confused wins out. I wind up having to walk an infant down stairs I can't even comfortably descend emptyhanded, terrified I might slip, so I can track down someone related to him. Fortunately, we get it dealt with, but still.
I'm in a lot of pain, later. It's headaches, it's social stress, it's the alcohol I took to defer those until people began filing out of the party. It's body pain as well -- I can't seem to go up or down the stairs without putting tremendous strain on my knees, enough that I'm gasping in pain with every step. I don't know what's wrong, and I have a headache. People aren't leaving as fast as I thought they would. It's early morning and still they're gathered, chatting and drinking and generally being people very loudly in my perceptual sphere. I can find quiet places, but they're not comfy. I can find comfy places, but they're not quiet. Someone is tormenting the cat within earshot. I shudder. Tess contacts me, offers to pick me up. I try to defer, instinctively, fearful of being a burden, but eventually clear sense wins out. She's offering out of concern and genuine desire to help, and I really need it. There's no way I'll be comfortable sleeping over after some of this. I just wish Nick had been given a chance to recuperate instead of getting run ragged while he was drunk until he just plain passes out. I cuddle with him and wait for Tess to arrive.
On my way out the door, someone is trying holding the cat against his will. When he yowls, pleading to be let go, they just hold tighter, maybe try to flip him onto his back. Cat has had *enough*, has had enough a long time ago, but nobody will listen. His cries and even hissing, attempts to bluff or bite are read as amusements, not signals of "Leave me the fuck alone I don't like this." The more he reacts, the more he is punished with continued holding -- he will only be released when he suffers in silence.
What kind of person does that to a cat? I want to yell at them for their lack of common courtesy, shock them into letting go, but I'll be seen as immensely scary and bizarre, and I am ashamed to say I don't intervene. I want to, it isn't right what they're doing and nobody else in the house seems to give a fuck (the one person who might is passed out downstairs -- we never got to finish our conversation), but I chicken out. Tess is here. I just need to get out of the house. Small mercy: they decide to let Mango be, satisfied with whatever pointless gesture of submission they've forced out of him.
It's too much. I'm crying by the time I get into the car.
*NRE, or New Relationship Energy, is sorta pleasant and it's all rushy and giddy. It also makes me much less coherent, rational or perspective-having, and therefore it is highly suspect whenever its effects on motivation and behavior must be taken into account. Is okay to have feelings, but one should take care to discount some portion of any such temporary, extreme mental shift when it actually matters to what you're doing. The pleasant effects of alcohol are much the same -- enough bad and impairment can come of them that they are not to be ever entirely trusted. Odd how this doesn't seem to apply to the other substances we enjoy consuming, but then, those don't seem to mess about with our passions, and grant a great deal of perspective in their own right. They are also rather less likely to cause addiction or poisoning if consumed too regularly.