Bittersweet, or Chasing Stationary Girls

When the door first opens, you will see a girl behind it. She is neither quiet nor exuberant; not shy, but far from bold. She will greet you without enthusiasm, and show you inside. Thank her, and smile. She won't smile back.

In the kitchen, you will meet two other girls. They are both single, but they're not your type. The moment you cross the threshold into the room, they will stop talking and look up, hopeful. Introduce yourself, but don't stare at the nearer one for too long. The farther one will offer you a drink. Accept it, and walk back out.

The hallway is dark, but leads to a brighter room. This room is loud and crowded. You will see friends, and you will see people you have never seen before. Probably, you won't see them again. Your attention will be caught at first by a girl who staggers into you at the door. She'll apologize precariously, and you'll smell alcohol. Help her balance, and send her into the kitchen, where the talking girls will make room and give her a glass of water. I would tell you not to look at the drunken girl's cleavage, but you will anyway. (She won't remember.)

Once you are assured of the drunken girl's wellbeing, enter the loud room again, this time for real. There is a beautiful girl in the middle of the room with long, shiny hair and iridescent skin. You could watch her all night, but you won't. Later, she will approach you and strike up a conversation. If you are lucky—or perhaps not so lucky—she will take you upstairs. This is her house. She knows where she's going, but if you follow her, you will end up lost. At that moment, however, she will be dancing with your best friend, and you will be jealous. Instead of watching them smiling and laughing, you will turn away towards one of the girls standing along the wall.

Don't talk to the first one; she won't listen. Instead, just introduce yourself. And when she turns her back to you, look over her shoulder at her friend, whose eyes are big and trusting, and feel her lingering stare as you continue across the room.

You will dance, but awkwardly. You will drink, but not enough. You will talk to your best friend, who will be distracted, and you will talk to the hostess. I warned you—stay away. And you will tire of the noise and the excitement and the drama, and you will leave the big, crowded room, but not from the same door through which you entered.

When you come into the adjacent room, it will be deserted but for junk food wrappers and soda cans. Walk on. The next room is your stop, and in it is one last girl. She will look up when you come in, expectant, but will immediately return to her book. Don't be discouraged—this girl might be yours. She is neither pretty nor ugly; not cool, but far from bland. Tell her your name, and smile. This time, she might smile back. And if you are careful, if you do not expect too much, if you forge through her skepticism and sarcasm, and maybe throw into the conversation a well-chosen witticism, she will open like a flower, and melt like a sugar cube in hot tea.

Blow the steam away and take a sip.