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Monday, August 8, 2016

The Party - Spring 1986

When I lived in Hong Kong and was going to school it was common for my classmates to host dance parties. These could be for someone’s birthday, but quite often, they were held for no reason at all other than to have fun. Invitations would be sent out and they would generally consist of lots of dancing and consumption of junk food and pop. For many of these, the parents would be present in the house or apartment, in which case, the party would be a “dry” party, in which no alcohol would be served by the hosts and only a few people would sneak alcohol in. But if the parents were not present, as was often the case, then there would be a large amount of alcohol consumed, along with everything else that accompanies teenagers and booze.  You know those teen movies that show wild house parties? These parties were not far off the mark, with the only differences being the lack of property damage, and open teenage sex. Your popularity and social status within the school community was influenced in large part by how good your parties were. There was no official roster of who would or should host what, and it often seemed like most of the parties were hosted by only a handful of the students. The best ones were those in which many of the guests would sleep over at the host’s place afterwards because then we would often wake up late, have breakfast and then hang out for a good portion of the day.  I remember that one of the best parties I attended was at Caroline W’s place. She and another girl, Alex W. are the subject of another story in this book, but I digress.  Caroline lived in one of the few housing estates in the outskirts of the New Territories, rather than a high rise apartment, like so many of us did. Her place was a split level condo that had a back yard with a pool, and her parents were never home during the parties. My first kiss actually was with Caroline herself, sitting on the patio beside her pool. The weird part was that I was not a virgin when I did this, having passed that milestone almost two years before.

In my first year at Shatin College, I struggled socially, as could well be expected of someone on the autistic spectrum. I remember being so overwhelmed with all the new stimuli around me that I often shut down. Most of my classmates would have seen a young man who was tired all the time and seemingly “out of it”, as I tried to make sense of everything going on around me. I had also lost my virginity under circumstances described in another story and the emotional aftermath of that was weighing heavily on me for those first four months. After Christmas had passed during that first year, we had our first major set of exams, which I did not do too badly in. I started to get invitations to parties, started to attend them and slowly, but surely, I began to gain what I perceived to be a modicum of acceptance from my peers. I had a kind of mischievous friendship with Alex and Caroline, and had formed a fairly close friendship with a guy by the name of Mike R. Eventually, some six or seven months into the school year, I decided that the time had come for me to host a party of my own.

After much wrangling with my mom and dad, they agreed to allow me to host a party at the apartment. They agreed not to be in the apartment during the party, but would go stay with their friends in their apartment, 3 floors below us. So after making sure that the Hi Fi set was working properly and that we had adequate music, I went about buying pop and chips and other goodies as well as actual invitations for it, which I distributed at school the following week.  I honestly had no idea what to expect in terms of attendance and its ultimate success and I sent the better part of two weeks eagerly anticipating and hoping it would go at least OK. I had invited pretty well everyone in my form as well, except for a few of the kids in my class – something I very much came to regret later.  So the place would be completely packed if everyone that was invited actually came.

Much to my pleasant surprise everyone came and had a fantastic time. To this day I am not sure what it was that made everything go so well. For just a few hours, my normal social awkwardness was replaced by a great sense of confidence and belonging that I’d not felt up to that point. I didn’t spend a lot of time partying, drinking or dancing myself, but rather I attempted to play the dedicated host to all who came. I had hoped for a slow dance with the one girl in the class that I had a very strong crush on, Gina, but alas while I exchanged smiles with her in the hall, I never did get to dance with her. That would not come until a few parties later. One problem did quickly become apparent and that was the bottlenecks around the bathroom. Even though our apartment did have a second ensuite bathroom off my parents bedroom, it was off-limits to my guests. So everyone had to be content using one bathroom, which was fine until 2 or 3 hours into the festivities, after people had consumed a lot of pop of alcohol. Indeed the defining moment of the party was still to come.

I had gone to the back of the apartment to check on people and the state of the bathroom and was just coming down the hall back into the living room, when my best friend at the time, Mike stepped off the concrete window ledge and zipped up his pants. The bugger had gotten tired of waiting in line for the bathroom and so he simply stepped up onto the window ledge in the living room where the party was, opened the window and took a piss from 18 floors up. I never did find out whether anyone was coming into or out of the building at the time, as our living room apartment faced the front of the building.

Shortly after that, the party wound down. People started going home and a handful of my guests who had brought sleeping bags rolled them out onto the living room floor and we all laid down to go to sleep. I slept out there with them of course, rather than staying in my room because I didn’t want to miss out on my newly elevated social status, which lasted for about a month or so afterwards. After that, it gradually went back to me being awkward with most of my classmates, except for my friends. It was good while it lasted, but one of my regrets to this day is that I did not invite some of the less popular kids in my class – kids who I actually had a real shot at making friends with. Such are the lessons that are lost on a teenager who is trying so desperately to fit in. 

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