‘Congratulations to me,’ I say. Pop and Bang! goes the cork in my eye. Within a second I have a crowd around me like a celebrity showing off her designer dress. People are poking my eyes, throwing water on it and crushing it with ice. I’m not sure how this is beneficial, but I’m still holding my Champaign glass to the sky as if it’s to heaven for help.
It was yet another meaningless toast. Not only was the cause of celebration far beyond it’s worth, it has now left me in the company of a steak sucking my eye vacuum for the rest of the evening. The symbol of all celebration has made a definite mark on my face. Do you think it was trying to say something?
Half way through the party me and my steak drag my two best friends to my bedroom where they once again enter the crime scene.
‘This looks familiar,’ says Macy still holding her Champaign glass. Levine crosses his arms and nods. ‘So this is what we’re celebrating tonight?’
‘No silly, this is what we’re defying. This is what we’re fighting. The Almighty Stripe and it’s decline.’
‘Looks like you’re winning,’ says Levine gesturing at a cows loin that is decorating half of my face.
‘Why don’t you just rip the floor out?’
‘No, that’s like omitting defeat. I can’t do that. I need to show it that it has no power. It has no success.’
‘You do know it’s just a stripe, don’t you?’
‘Yes, a blotch on your floor,’ adds Macy.
‘But her life does suck since it’s appearance, doesn’t it?’ They now start a conversation as if I’m not even there. Me, the Almighty Stripe owner, fighter, slaughterer. I hope.
‘Good point. And it keeps reappearing.’
‘All right steak-eye, I’ll tell you something…’
‘Hey, what’s up? Are we continuing the party in here? How are you, party girl? Why is your party head on your eye?’ Julia throws her arms around my shoulder, no so much to support me, but rather to support herself from falling over.
‘What is that on your floor?’ Says another wobbling party animal who, thank god, is not sitting on my eye. ‘Looks like a smear from a chair you moved.’ He looks about the room. ‘Huh, I don’t see any chair.’ And he walks out again. And then after one minute he walks back in. ‘Oh, by the way, I came to remove this stinking animal from your face.’ He steps forward and exposes my face in the open. ‘Yeah, you should really cover that up. That looks horrible,’ he says while he walks out with my only cover-up.
Let’s finish your toast and cover this thing up,’ says Levine and he tosses the books from my nightstand on the floor as we walk out. As I look over my shoulder I see the books are everywhere but on the Almighty Stripe.
‘Okay, as I was saying,’ I raise my glass once more.
‘You were saying: congratulations to me,’I’m being interrupted by a half drunk guest whose name I don’t even know.
‘Congratulations to me for being able to pay the rent again,’ I stutter and then I wobble and everybody thinks it’s because of my eye, and I leave it that way, but then another guest says: ‘Well, what do you do?’
‘Well,’ I say stutter once more into the breach, ‘I’m a pool girl.’ And I throw back my glass as fast as I can so I won’t have to look at their faces.
‘What happened to the fancy editor?’ Surprised faces all around.
‘Let’s not underline that, shall we?’ Says Levine as he walks over and stops right in front of me. He hooks his arm into mine and laughs at my eye. ‘You are one brave girl, you know that.’
‘I am celebrating my own degradation in the most unsightly way possible. In a room full of drunken succesful well-organised people with the smell of dead cow all over me and the only thing I have to give is a mark on my floor that led me here in the first place. Please tell me, exactly how am I brave?’
‘You just said it. Because there is only one person who will grab any reason for celebration she can find. And that my friend is bravery.’ And he kisses my on the tip of my nose when he’s finished. ‘And we won’t be defeated by a stripe.’
‘Not even the Almighty one.’
‘Any kind of stripe.’