Verminelli’s Rumpus Room

I wave casually to Verminelli—the worst of my enemies, and other memories. I see Verminelli here so often we’ve given up on hostility and now greet each other with false enthusiasm. Verminelli of Italian mustaches and workout routines. Verminelli with his enthusiastic, loud negation of my louder cynic rotting. Verminelli—childhood friend and then enemy, inevitable to this landscape. Verminelli and I have learned not to focus on each other for too long. No one can suffer another night of yelling. Like two feuding coworkers, we nod politely.

The promise of youth grinds electric at this house party. He still runs within the original circle, but Verminelli needs something here like I do.

It’s my kind of party. Some drug-stimulated Chinese model girls in expensive dresses lying on beanbag chairs just as I once coveted. I sidle up next to a very pretty, flat-chested one with nice teeth and crescent lips. Fortunately Verminelli is around to witness. I’ve never been that interested in picking up girls unless there was someone around to envy the accomplishment, ideally an enemy. Contacting this elegant girl under her sequined dress should be the highlight of any night at my advanced age. But this early climax creates a climate of possibility that fills the evening with a sense of promise long missing from our nightly entertainments. A sense of promise is itself a worthy result.

Camaraderie flows between the treasured figures from our past, those high school allies and acquaintances written on Verminelli’s memory track like the cast of eight prominent sitcoms, on mine like a bruised collection of He-Man action figures. My most lost friend, now Verminelli’s best, Andy Rigopolous walks in and all we can negotiate is a casual high five. Andy explains he misses me, that he couldn’t stand what I did to my reputation … the self-destructive tendencies, provocative and impetuous status updates. He was encouraged to give up on me and did. “You are an ugly loss,” he texts me, “and we prefer not to mention you often.”

Andy Rigopolous of countless sleepovers and social conspiracies; heartfelt conflicts and pots of coffee; Nintendo 64 dawns; laughing till tears, in tents; road trips we began as boys and ended as men, though we did nothing but drink Old Milwaukee and wrestle in the sand. Andy who grew up tired of my indiscretions, the series of risks presented by my negative social value…

But this night everyone seems to be on drugs, or at least still on the happy side of alcohol, so these problems can be addressed at an appropriate time, after we have some long forgotten fun. Or else that Rabba disease is finally happening as predicted. Rabba starts with euphoria. Rabba first afflicted dextromethorphane hydrobromide users. This is a dissociative drug (similar in effect to the party tranquilizer ketamine) found in cough syrup and pills enjoyed by the same resourceful youth that once abused Benzedrine inhalers straight to the organ rot of their futures. Small doses of DXM produce a mild euphoria; high doses a catatonic, opiate-like numbness. Most disturbing, DXM shifts the mind into its subconscious dream state. Long forgotten memories surface, entire schemas unfold in joyful or horrific detail. I meet Verminelli, Andy, and the others every cold night now.

Facebook photos provide new content for an ever-expanding alternate mythology of faces and figures that can’t be escaped, but can be reinvented using the proper methods. Facebook photos of a camp party bring me to the camp party, so long as I can remember the sensory details of the region. Facebook photos of a pretty lost friend do more than restore her image; when I think of Jessica Mancuso under the influence of DXM, her smell comes back to me, the energy she gave off, how I felt at the time.

You should stop feeling that way at some point along the line, and the idea is to forget how it felt altogether or suffer endless Sisyphean inertia. On the other hand, by remembering to this extent I can practice certain sexual magic principals. My regular girl becomes those Facebook faces at times, but the risk is she’ll turn into something more sinister.

Facebook photos of a wedding have me at weekend weddings of old high school presidents. My purpose is to consider those who were invited and those who were not invited. I did not expect to be invited—but many who I’m sure would have liked to have been invited were certainly not. And the joyous drunk laughter of those who were invited—an angelic choir! And the Facebook photos to follow. And imagine the prestige of being best man or usher in the hallowed Marconi Club where all Italians wed. And how the night air in the Sault must have smelled when the reception was over. The drunkest of the revelers to the strip club until last call where married men purchase indiscreet lap dances. Then to the casino for the richer or the more Italian of the crowd. Where hundreds were lost and somebody won $2,000 on a slot machine playing five bucks worth of nickels, bought everyone a steak dinner.

This is not the concern during the peak of our collective high. The only valid concern during the peak of a good group high is when the happiness will dry up and the harsh faces will return to light.

There is a beautiful, dark-haired Italian girl with rock and roll sensibilities. I follow her around briefly, ignoring the available Asians in favour of this memory. There is the smell of incense from the sacred corner. We stare into the obsidian punchbowl before filling glasses with Strongbow cider—a great refreshment during a state of ecstasy, because of its sweet taste. I push her hair out of her eyes, away from her ivory forehead. The idea that it could lead to rejection jolts me back to rationality briefly.

Verminelli has arranged some kind of sauna in his basement. More memory friends greet me. To know fun like it once was. Someone does something offensive in the sauna. Nothing homosexual. Covert homosexuality is rewarded as high comedy in these northern lands. Verminelli is enraged.

Some people are arranging to go home. I try to evaluate how much longer I’ll be high and whether it’s worth staying a little longer. Things are getting less fun. My inevitable conflict will begin brewing, but I’m leery of an early departure. I enjoy it here. All I’ve got to return to is the morning’s lifeless Internet. Sitting sadly without invite to Andy’s wedding this weekend, Verminelli in my best man’s role.

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