It’s 2 AM. You’ve been at your cousin’s party for the last five hours. You desperately want to leave, drive home, and collapse onto your bed. You’d love nothing more than to walk straight out of your this house while diligently avoiding eye contact with every human present. Alas, dear friend, this is Miami, where mortals are never afforded the luxury of a quick adieu. Your trials and tribulations have just begun. Prepare for the obligatory communal gauntlet arrayed before you, and add another hour and a half to your commute home.
Stage 1. You casually mention you’re getting tired. Blood is in the water. Other partiers instinctually sense your weakness. You won’t leave unscathed.
Stage 2. Caro, Danny, Alex, and Christine berate you for being lame and insist you drink for your transgression.
Stage 3. You protest, but eventually take a shot because you have no moral fortitude.
Stage 4. You chuckle uncomfortably and claim you need to wake up early tomorrow.
Stage 5. Caro reprimands you for always leaving early.
Stage 6. Danny calls you a terrible friend.
Stage 7. The rest of the party is now aware of the attempted violation of your amicable duties. They close ranks, forming a social phalanx you’ll have to breach if you ever want to see your bed again.
Stage 8. You halfheartedly commit to seeing your friends at a later date and lean in to kiss Caro on the cheek.
Stage 9. Caro pulls away, refusing your goodbye.
Stage 10. You mollify Caro for the next seven minutes until she finally accepts the kiss.
Stage 11. By now, Danny, Alex, and Christine have disappeared, forcing you to find them in the milieu before you leave.
Stage 12. You run into another friend in a circle of twelve complete strangers. You say goodbye to the former which, of course, forces you to awkwardly do the same for the dozen other possible murderers (you don’t know them).
Stage 13. A dude with a topknot whose name escapes you gives you a hug and makes you promise to call him before he leaves for South Africa. You might know him from high school, or the gym, or book club, or a hookup. He has no idea who you are.
Stage 14. You find Christine in the backyard vomiting on a garden gnome.
Stage 15. Christine cries about her ex-boyfriend for the next 12 minutes.
Stage 16. Danny shows up. He vomits on the previously aggrieved gnome.
Stage 17. Danny and Christine insist you say goodbye to Alex. You sling Christine’s arm over your shoulder to stop her from plowing into a hedge.
Stage 18. You lose Danny.
Stage 19. You find Alex and Caro making out in the pagoda.
Stage 20. You non-verbally ask Caro if she wants you to intervene.
Stage 21. Caro gives you a quintessentially ambivalent look that could mean anything from “Yes, he wants to cannibalize me,” to “Get the fuck away,” to “Do you have any Doritos?”
Stage 22. Alex stares awkwardly at you both. Christine hiccups.
Stage 23. You notice Caro has a fistful of Alex’s crotch, and walk away.
Stage 24. Christine slides off your shoulder and rolls away on the grass, giggling.
Stage 25. You decide to abandon the wayward drunkards you call friends and just leave.
Stage 26. Peter, your best friend’s cousin, involuntarily pulls you into a debate about whether men are the real victims of workplace sexual harassment.
Stage 27. You grimace through Peter’s bullshit for six minutes.
Stage 28. You excuse yourself to the bathroom.
Stage 29. You find Danny and Caro. They insist you share a ride with them.
Stage 30. Danny and Caro spend the next three minutes arguing about whether Lyft or Uber is a morally superior company.
Stage 31. Liz, Andre, and Stephanie join the discussion.
Stage 32. Everyone decides it’s late and they should all share a ride.
Stage 33. They debate whether to order two separate cars or one Uber Max.
Stage 34. Somebody brings up climate change, kickstarting a raucous conversation.
Stage 35. The conversation moves from the backyard to the living room.
Stage 36. The conversation moves to the pantry, for some reason.
Stage 37. The conversation moves to the hallway.
Stage 38. The conversation moves to the front door.
Stage 39. The conversation somehow moves back to the kitchen.
Stage 40. The conversation moves to the front porch.
Stage 41. Everyonedebates Uber vs. Lyft again.
Stage 42. Stephanie and Andre decide to drive. You kiss them goodbye. They start a new conversation about Miami’s crazy real estate market.
Stage 43. The latest conversation ends. You kiss Stephanie and Andre goodbye again. They leave.
Stage 44. You order an Uber with Liz.
Stage 45. The Uber arrives. You and Liz get in.
Stage 46. The Uber arrives at Liz’s house. You say goodbye, she opens the door, and launches into a 12-minute diatribe about her high school crush. The driver chimes in.
Stage 47. You kiss Liz goodbye again and she leaves. The Uber takes you home.
Stage 48. You arrive home. The driver won’t stop talking about Trump. You’re not listening. Your last affirmative grunt was nine minutes ago. You just want to sleep. There’s an unfamiliar sound… Is it… silence? The driver says, “Alrighty, goodnight then.” You stumble out of the car, into your house, and onto the couch. Fuck the bedroom. You found a soft horizontal surface and you’re not moving until the goddamn Apocalypse.
Stage 49. Your phone rings. It’s Liz.
Stage 50. Liz drones on for 23 minutes until your phone slips from your grasp, smacks you in the face, and slides under the couch. You don’t mind. You’re fucking asleep.
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