(Excerpted from Caitlin Moran's new YA novel, How to Build a Girl.)
A party is definitely a collaborative effort, I observe, looking at all the other people having conversations, and dancing together, and in the corner, kissing. Oh, kissing. I watch the kissing until it’s obvious I’m watching the kissing, and then I walk away, quickly. It’s bad to be seen watching kissing.
By now, my unkissed kiss feels like gunpowder on my lips — if anyone comes near me with even the vague heat of attraction, I will go up in a sheet of flame — mouth first. I feel a sexual fury for a moment. Oh, God — why won’t you let me fuck you! All of you! Everyone in this room. I have a feeling I’ll only ever properly make sense in bed, on my back. You would understand what I meant if we were there.
Anyway. Over the next ninety minutes, I try a variety of different tactics to make it look like I’m not lonely at this party. My findings on how to “party on your own” are as follows:
1. The buffet. There is a fabulous spread here, and no girl can truly say she is alone if she is standing next to a plate of honey-glazed miniature chipolatas! I eat six, thoughtfully — then worry that I simply look like an abandoned girl eating a lot of small sausages. Under the common teenage misapprehension that anyone is (a) ob- serving and (b) gives any kind of a fuck what I’m doing, I then take two paper plates and load them up — as if getting food for a friend, who is over the other side of the room. I give this scenario all I’ve got — deliberating over slices of miniature quiche, and then rejecting them, because my friend — “Claire” — does not like quiche, “remembering” that, unlike me, what “Claire” really likes are Scotch eggs — then walk across the dance floor, “looking” for my “friend” “Claire,” until me and my two loaded plates reach . . .
2. . . . the toilet, where I bolt the door and eat both plate- fuls. When I finish them, I can’t fit the two paper plates into the Bin of Shame with all the sanitary towels in it, because of the uneaten Scotch eggs, so I leave them neatly stacked on the floor instead. By the time I leave the toilet, a small queue has built up outside. The woman at the front of the queue looks in and sees the plates, with their Scotch eggs, on the floor. “They will hatch soon!” I tell her cheerfully. “They are dragon eggs! Good luck!”
3. Being a very busy journalist. If you’re a writer, are you ever really off duty? The human condition never has the evening off — it must be reported upon, 24/7. I sit in the corner with my notebook, and write down all the aston- ishing observations that are occurring to me. When I find the notebooks, years later, I see that this consists of a drawing of a cat wearing a top hat; my bank account number — which I am trying to learn by heart; and, on a page all on its own, “I wish Krissi was here.”
4. A conversation with a stranger! “Do you know where the toilet is?” “Yes — over there.” “Ha — thank you.” I’m glad I look like the kind of person you can trust to tell you where the toilet is. Whenever Krissi gets asked at a party, he always points people toward a cupboard, and then watches, laughing. God I miss Krissi.
5. And finally, smoking. There’s no two ways about it — this shit is useful. I have long observed its application in society, and concluded it to be needful. Everyone smokes — it just has to be done. Having finally acknowledged this, last night, I had bought a packet of ten Silk Cut from the newsagents uptown. This shop is legendary for its relaxed attitude to selling cigarettes to children. Until recently, they used to vend a single cigarette, threaded through a Polo Mint, for 15p — in order to capture lunchtime smok- ers who needed to freshen their breath before going back in for PE. Sitting on the grass outside St. Peter’s Cathedral, I doggedly taught myself to smoke. I’m impressed by how determined I am, because it is — and there’s no two ways about this — filthy. It tastes of the worst brown ever. It’s like sucking in everything you’d ever put in a bin — ashtrays, burnt pub carpet, yellow snow, death. Dadda at 2:00 a.m. As my lovely clean throat and pink lungs sucked in the smoke, I felt very, very sorry for me: this is not what a child should be doing. In a right world, I should have needed to do nothing more than spend that money on eight Curly Wurlys and a couple of Refreshers.
But here, now, at the party, I am glad I have the cigarettes in my rucksack — because I now have a little task to attend to, and keep me busy. I go over to the window, take the packet out, light a cigarette, and smoke it whilst looking thoughtfully out on the street below. I try to remember how I’ve seen Elizabeth Taylor holding cigarettes, and hold it up by my face. In my reflection in the window, I see that it looks less Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and more like I’m doing shadow puppets of a swan. I put my arm back down, and cough a bit. Jesus, it is disgusting.
Most Viewed Stories
Trump Campaign Manager Accidentally Refers to His ‘Abuse’ of Women on Live TV
It’s Finally Possible to Understand What Happened to Amanda Knox
Looks Like Kate Middleton Is Enjoying the View in Canada
Finally Someone Called Donald Trump a Giant Baby and It Was Michelle Obama
The Very Uncomfortable Experience of Rewatching Election in 2016
Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna Reportedly Broke Up
Ask a Boss: My Co-worker Wants Everyone to Call Her Boyfriend Her ‘Master’!
Ask Polly: Should I Try to Help My Alcoholic Friend?
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Outrageous Party Photos From Andy Warhol’s Factory Days
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesThe Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.Santigold’s New Video Is the Result of a Spontaneous Run-in With Kara Walker
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield Spotted Together Again, Love Might Be Real
They could be back together ahh!Teen, Forced to Go on Vacation With Her Family, Calls 911
The logical decision.Report: Hearst Fired Seventeen EIC Michelle Tan During Her Maternity Leave
Tan had been at the magazine for about two years.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.Miles Teller Is Still Upset About Being Called a Dick
He wants to set the record straight.Why Parents Shouldn’t Talk About Weight With Their Teens
New guidelines seek to banish weight talk.