Story Shots started off as an ode to tequila—that golden liquid that impairs us so perfectly. While tequila seemed to be a party liquid that made us think of margaritas and concerts, vodka has a very different relationship with our writers. Vodka for some is a social lubricant, but for others, it has a much darker connotation.
“Are you from Los Angeles? You look like you’re from Los Angeles,” he said.
“I don’t know if that’s a compliment or an insult,” I replied, taken aback by his strange, intuitive remark. “How did you know?” I asked.
“You look like you put thought into your outfit for tonight,” he replied with his voice flat.
Your outfit looks premeditated, too, I thought to myself. He wore an Arab keffiyeh around his neck, a black and white checkered scarf, and a thin layer of eyeliner beneath his eyes with his hair perfectly coiffed to the side.
I shifted my body from the awkward tension.
“Again, I don’t know if that’s a compliment or an insult.”
“It’s an observation. See, that’s exactly what I mean. People from Los Angeles are always worried about what people think, or what they mean. Who gives a fuck? I used to live there. That’s why I moved here.” He glanced around the San Franciscan apartment and returned his eyes to mine, as if summing up his statement. I didn’t see the conversation going anywhere further. Wherever he was, I didn’t want to be. He had a point that I didn’t want to mull over, in fear of losing my buzz.
I walked into the next room, which was supposed to be the dining room. Instead, the oak dining table had been converted into what looked like a mountainous collection of red Solo cups.
Someone whispered into my ear, gently tingling the soft fuzz around my skin. When I turned to admire my boyfriend, I was abruptly startled by the crass voice of one of the roommates making an announcement: “Seriously, no one wants to fucking play?”
“What are we playing?” said my boyfriend.
“Oh! So you’re in! It’s just like beer pong. You know the rules of beer pong, right?”
“You just throw the ping pong ball into the cups?” he replied.
“Yeah, sorta. Except we’re using vodka.”
I chimed in, “Vodka? Are you kidding me?”
“We don’t have enough beer. The cups are empty. No one wants to drink from a cup with some nasty ping pong ball that just fell on the floor. You score, we remove the cup and drink a shot of vodka. You can chase it, if you’d like.”
I looked around the room, spotting my flattering, yet undercutting scarf-wearing friend, and shrugged, “Alright. I guess I’m in, too.”
“She’ll drink for my shots!” declared my boyfriend.
Again, I shrugged the declaration off, assuming we were in the game to win it.
He missed the shot. In fact, we both missed all the shots. The other team, like some dauntless heavy weight champions made every single shot and I, as a result of poor ping pong throwing skills, drank all the vodka. In the morning, my nineteen year-old frame laid stiff on a deflated air mattress due to my inability to figure out how to use the air pump in my drunken stupor. I managed to stand up, twisting my back from side to side, becoming increasingly nauseous with each movement. I stopped, seemingly, while the room kept moving. And when the room settled and I was on the brink of hating myself for venturing out with enough brazen confidence to play a vodka-pong tournament, I inhaled and thought to myself, “Who gives a fuck?” Then, all sudden-like, that rumbling feeling, like an internal landslide, loosening age-old gravel, free from it’s tightened and rigid past. A moment of invigoration. All at once. And then I puked.
I was nineteen. I shouldn’t have been drinking, so my drink of choice at the costume party was simply vodka and cranberry juice. The party wasn’t very intense—it was a bunch of twenty-somethings, plus one nineteen year old, drinking and watching scary movies. That all changed when there was a knock at the door. The party had officially been crashed.
These uncostumed men were older and cousins of someone living across the street. I was dressed like an angel—irony, I thought, because of my atheism. It wasn’t a sexy angel, either. I was wearing a long white robe, sandals, and wings.
After my third drink, I had to pee. I went to the downstairs bathroom only to find it occupied. That was fine. I wandered upstairs. One of the men followed me up while the rest of his crew stayed downstairs and turned the music up.
I was a little fuzzy, so as I was washing my hands I splashed a bit of cold water on my face and looked up. I was makeup-less. I was wearing a baggy white sack. I was there with my bros. The night was a little scary with the new additions to the party, but they weren’t bothering me any so I was fine. Or so I thought.
I opened the door and he pushed me back into the bathroom and closed the door behind him.
“Hello,” I said, confused.
“You’re pretty,” the drunk, probably thirty year old, said.
“Thanks, I guess,” I replied as I went past him and to the door to unlock it and leave.
He pinned me against the sink counter and tried to kiss me. He started clawing at my chest.
“No,” I breathed.
He ignored my words and my struggle and continued to try to kiss me. I wiggled out of his grip and walked towards the door again. This time he pushed me into the large bathtub. I continued to push him off of me and fight his advances. As I struggled against his large body, I felt it. His gun. He was armed.
He didn’t reach for it, though. Maybe he didn’t remember that he had it. Maybe he genuinely thought I was playing hard to get and he wasn’t trying to rape me. I got away once again and got to the door before him. I ran downstairs. He followed, casually, and found his friends had left.
“You missed it!” my friends cried.
“What?” I said while eyeing the man that had assaulted me in the bathroom.
“Dude, the cops came and one of the crashers pulled a knife on him. The cop slammed him down and arrested him. The rest of the guys left.”
“Fuck,” said my assailant. He walked out the front door.
I took off my wings and sat on the couch. I stared at my sandals.