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Do you ever escape from high school?
I was desperate to hang onto my position as one of the “in-crowd,”
It was my usual Saturday night at the creature feature party with pot, booze and kids half my age watching old horror movies. The party was in full swing when I arrived and Godzilla vs Rodan in Japanese had already begun.
“We saved your seat, Erica” Christina shouted, pointing to the most comfortable recliner in the room, “and we saved a whole tray of Jello shots just for you.”
“Come play Cards Against Humanity with us when the movie is over,” someone else yelled from the dining room.
I discovered the joy of creature feature parties, Jello shots and the politically incorrect Cards Against Humanity game when I moved to Florida in my seventies to escape the cold and the boredom of upstate New York. Even though Florida wasn’t cold, it was just as boring and lonely if you didn’t play canasta or pickle ball. I was looking for a close friend or two, someone to play Grace to my irreverent Frankie, but was willing to settle for anyone with shared interests. Since I was a couch potato night owl who liked Game of Thrones and American Horror Story I joined a horror and sci fi movie Meetup group.
The members were mostly “nerds” in their thirties and forties who suffered from social awkwardness. I fit right in because I’m a nerd myself with social anxiety.
I wound up as an insider because I became friends with a late-fortyish member of the movie meetup, who I’m calling Charlie because he closely resembled the blustery outrageous narcissist Charlie Sheen played in Two and a Half Men. Charlie was the kind of guy attractive women want to date and guys lacking social skills want to be. He ran a social Meetup group and threw parties at his classy condo in Boynton Beach that anyone on Meetup.com could attend. There was always plenty of booze and pot, and he made sure newbies felt comfortable. As his sidekick, I helped organize them.
I had a ball. I went to trivia nights, Renaissance fairs and hosted my own horror and sci fi book club that met at Charlie’s house. I proved I was chill by holding my liquor. Charlie, who prided himself about his inclusivity of all ages and ethnic groups, had anointed me the token cool old lady.
It was a heady experience, especially for someone like me who was still suffering from my adolescence as the fat, misfit kid who buried herself in books and got picked on in school and at camp.
I was desperate to hang to my position as one of the “in-crowd,” despite having to overlook some uncomfortable realities, like Charlie’s sadistic streak. He didn’t miss a chance needle me—about everything from my taste in book club choices to my tendency to complain too much, to how bad I was at trivia—but he especially favored outrageous sexual innuendo,
“So, Erica, how do you feel about blow jobs? What’s your favorite sexual position”
I was mortified but couldn’t show it or betray prissy old-lady-ness. Despite being a sexual libertine in my 20s and 30s, inside I was a prude. Somehow Charlie knew this.
Despite throwing his arms around me and regularly proclaiming how much he loved me, I knew I made him profoundly uncomfortable though I wasn’t sure why.
Maybe it was his own fear of aging. He wasn’t shy about it. He got filler shots for his face and testosterone to restore his virility.
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