There were two different graduation parties going on tonight, Denise knew, one which was parent/school sponsored, and one some of the students decided to put together. Denise was surprised when Jon pulled up at a large house on the edge of town. She hadn’t bothered to ask which party they were going to, assuming it would be the one highly advertised by the school newspaper, which was held at the local Community Center.
The yard was well lit. but so many cars were parked there already, that Jon had to drive around the block to find an empty parking space.
“Who lives here. Jon? I’m not very familiar with this part of town,” Denise asked curiously.
“I think the Benson’s. You know Gloria Benson, don’t you?”
“I recognize the name, but I’m not sure if I know her.”
“She’s cool. you’ll like her,” Jon replied.
Music drifted from the house, and laughter, audible even out to the parked car. This was going to be a night to remember, Denise thought with excitement, and a heady sense of adventure. She felt so mature, so privileged, getting to go to a private graduation party, and she was only a sophomore!
As they approached the door to the house, Jon was saying, as he held her hand tightly, “Babe, are we gonna have fun tonight! Man, we can cut loose! I’m sure glad that stuffy ceremony is over. I couldn’t wait to get out of there!”
“I know you must have been nervous, but, it’s all over now. At least for four more years,” Denise answered. “Then you’11 have to go through it all again!” They laughed, and Jon squeezed her hand.
“Yeah, but that one will be a lot different. I’ll have my degree in Business and Accounting, and I’ll be set for life!”
“You sure don’t look like any accountant I know!” Denise remarked, as she thought he looked more like a movie star or country singer type!
The door opened just as they reached the step, and someone invited them in. The music was turned up loud, the room was packed, and the lights were dim. Jon led Denise over to a table where a keg of beer was sitting, drew up a glass, handed it to Denise. and drew one up for himself.
“I really don’t like beer. Jon. Could I just have a Coke?” she asked hesitantly, trying to hand it back to him as she looked self-consciously around the room.
“Oh, come on. Denise. drink it up. You*11 have a lot more fun if you do! Besides, everyone is drinking. You’ll get used to the taste after a few drinks.”
He took her by the hand. and led her over to a group of older kids. She knew most of them in a casual way, but, she wasn’t impressed with them. They had a reputation for pulling all kinds of wild stunts. Denise looked around for someone with whom she would feel more comfortable, but didn’t see anyone with whom she was more familiar.
Slowly, she sipped her beer. trying hard not to make a face with each swallow. The bitterness was assaulting her taste buds! Jon was laughing and talking with his friends, and she smiled, and laughed appropriately, trying to appear at ease.Then. Jon turned, took her in his arms, and danced away from the group, to the beat of a very sweet, romantic song. A few of the other couples were dancing, too, she noticed, but there was such an air of excitement, it was difficult for her to relax.
“Hey, this is the first time we’ve danced together, isn’t it?” Jon asked sweetly, in Denise’s ear.
“Uh huh,” Denise replied softly. “I’m afraid I haven’t had much practice.”
“You’re a little tense, but, you’ll loosen up! You sure feel good to me, close like this! What’s that perfume you’re wearing? It’s driving me wild!”
Just as Denise was about to answer him, a guy she knew as Chris cut in and Jon released her to him. Denise reluctantly finished the dance with him, observing his weird haircut, and wondering why anyone would want lines shaved into the sides of their hair. Of course, she knew a lot of guys did it, lately. But she couldn’t understand why!
She kept glancing around the room, watching Jon, as he refilled his glass, gulped it down, then began dancing with another, older girl. She winced at how closely he was holding her. Did she have a right to be jealous? She admitted to herself that she was, right or not!
As soon as the song ended, Denise excused herself, and began looking for a restroom. There, she found a place of privacy for a few moments. She tried to get hold of herself. It’s just because you don’t know the kids well. Surely, they’re not that bad. Jon likes them, she counseled herself. And a little beer never hurt anyone! Just because you’ve never been to a party like this before is no reason to be so uncomfortable. After all. you’re with Jon, so it’s OK. Just relax and have a good time! Don’t get all bent out of shape about him dancing with that other girl, close like that. What do you expect? He”s a man, isn’t he? But, he’s going steady with you! It’s amazing how good a friend a mirror can be. Denise marvelled, feeling much better, now.
Denise returned to the scene just in time to catch the contest! All the guys were drinking beer just as fast as they could, trying to outdrink each other in time, and quantity, Denise decided. Everyone was laughing, and acting really crazy. Denise retrieved her glass, and began seriously trying to drink the beer, in spite of the awful taste. She wished Jon hadn’t participated in the contest. She could have enjoyed the fun a lot more. But, oh well, it was his night. Let him have his fun!
The contest ended with several large burps, and the winner was still in question. The group dispersed, laughing, and again, some began to dance.
As Jon held Denise tightly against him, swinging slowly to the music in the dimly lit room, Denise found herself finally starting to relax. She loved being close to Jon. feeling loved. He was softly singing the words of the love song in her ear, sending tingles down her spine.
Just then, she caught a glance, just a glance across the room, between couples. Could it be? Were those the beige slippers she had seen in the restroom earlier today? Her whole body stiffened suddenly, as she strained to get a closer look.
To Be Continued..