Friday, June 3, 2011

Shirts-Off-O'Clock (Or: Knowing The Right Time To Leave The Room)

I was so proud of myself last night.  I went to a party and made the decision not to drink.  I then left at exactly the right time.  Really, the timing on my departure could not have better coordinated.  I narrowly avoided a scene full of nudity and angry yelling.

Allow me to recapitulate:

Jane, The World's Sweetest Pit Bull
I'm house-sitting this weekend, which means I get paid to hang out in the Hawthorne district with Jane, the world's sweetest pit bull.  It doesn't really get much better than that.  I started the job last night and was quite excited about spending some time alone in a house with a piano and a big screen TV.  I had a blast walking Jane all over Southeast Portland and was about to settle in for a night of cable television when my phone began bleeping at me. 

Apparently there was a party back at the commune.  Specifically a going-away party for one of my neighbors that is moving to Eugene.  I wasn't particularly in the party mood, but it was this girl's last night in town and I felt that it was important to go see her off with everybody.  Plus, I probably won't see her for a long time and she's a neighbor I really liked, so attendance at her goodbye party seemed polite and necessary.  So I drove back to the commune, promising myself that I wasn't going to stay out too late or get talked into doing anything wild (there was a rumor that this was going to be a key party, but I was fairly sure that was a joke). 

Things were fairly normal when I got there.  The usual suspects were gathered around the table in the kitchen drinking aquavit and eating jello salad.  I wasn't feeling the aquavit (NyQuil mixed with black licorice, anyone?), but the jello salad was quite excellent.  It was the weird kind with pretzels in it that only people from the Midwest know how to make.  I was totally suspicious of it at first but now I think I need the recipe (can anybody from the Midwest help me out with that?). 

Anyway, it was all fairly tame at first - just a bunch of hipsters and hippies sitting around eating jello.  The Poet told me about a weird encounter he had with the middle-aged musician that lives on the floor below us.  We'll call him Moody Musician.  This guy is notorious for his dramatic emotional cycles.  I am on good terms with him, but sometimes I am terrified to talk to him because he becomes hyper-sensitive when he has a bad day.  And according to The Poet, Moody Musician had entered another one of his dark periods and was having several bad days.  I don't have to interact with Moody Musician very often, so I didn't think much of this information. 

The party picked up as the bottle of aquavit was drained.  Purple Hair put on a David Bowie album and The Fonz gave a dramatic lip-syncing performance of "Let's Dance."  Soon, a lot of people were dancing.  Strangely enough, I was more in the mood to sit on the couch and pet somebody's dog.  Usually I'm all over David Bowie dance parties, but something was off last night. 

The couch turned out to be a good place to be.  Somebody yelled "UNDERWEAR PARTY" and suddenly everyone took off their pants.  Awkward.  Yeah, it was a room full of people that I like, but I didn't really want to see any of them in their underwear.  I also wasn't about to take my pants off.  Maybe I'm lame, but that's just not my idea of a good time. 

It was around 11, which isn't really that late in my world but it still seemed like a good time to head back to Jane's house.  Somebody announced that the time was almost "SHIRTS-OFF-O'CLOCK" and I took that as my cue to make an awkward exit.  I gave my friend who's moving a goodbye hug and darted out the door before the toplessness began.  The Poet followed me.  The two of us were the only people in the room who were fully-clothed.  My departure was an excellent opportunity for The Poet to escape the awkwardness and smoke a cigarette. 

So I drove back to Southeast, changed into my sweatpants, and pounded away at the piano while the dog fell asleep on the floor next to me.  It didn't take long for my phone to ring.  It was The Poet.  "Holy @#$%.  You left at exactly the right time," he said.

Apparently, when The Poet went back inside, he heard Moody Musician screaming profanities.  When The Poet got to the top of the stairs, the night-time maintenance manager was standing in the hallway in response to Moody Musician's noise complaints.  And when The Poet went into the kitchen, he found a room full of naked people being cussed out by the Moody Musician in all of his angsty, unstable glory. 

Meanwhile, Bowie was still blasting from the stereo.  Everyone was avoiding eye contact with one another and Moody Musician was screaming at everyone in sight while the maintenance manager was sheepishly trying to diffuse the situation. 

And I was in a completely different part of town.  I can't help but be somewhat astonished at my ability to avoid that situation entirely. 

The novelty of living in an artist's community is slowly but surely wearing off.  I'm busy developing my next plan.  I'm not entirely sure what that plan will look like yet, but I don't think it will involve an old retirement home this time around.   


  1. What a pretty dog! I love pit bulls!

    Nice job avoiding a dramatic situation!

  2. Yikes! There's art, and then there's just plain crazy.

    I love dogsitting! Get a comfy house and a fun pet to walk :)

  3. Wow. I wonder if the Moody Musician wouldn't have gotten so mad about the noise if everyone had kept their clothes on.

  4. Beautiful dog!!

    And I love when life let's you just narrowly miss a bad situation. I can't imagine how awkward that must have been.

    I'll keep my fingers crossed the plan for the next step comes together well for you!


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