The Life of the Party
Ah, here he is: The Life of the Party. He's handsome, he's drunk, he's loud, and he's abusive. He can't even remember half of what he's drunk, swallowed, and pounded down. He's talking to a pretty girl, but he can't be bothered to remember her name. He's talking to a pretty girl, but he can't remember where she's from.
And there you are. He's seen you around, of course. You're ugly and you're awkward. You're quiet and you're self-effacing. You're standing there with your one empty beer, afraid to take another. You want to talk to him, but he won't remember your name, or where you're from.
And, as such things go, he happens to have a long memory. He remembers every awkward thing you've said. He remembers every way you've tried (and failed) to be his friend. He remembers how ugly you are, how awkward, how young, or how old. He is a catalog of your failures, and these failures are the means by which he measures himself, and the means by which he outshines you.
So yes, he sees you there, standing or sitting next to me. He knows you'll try to know him, in your inarticulate way. He knows you'll take everything he has to give you. You'll make jokes, and he'll return them with insults. You'll make speeches, and he'll pretend not to hear. And in time he will have everyone laughing at you, the failure, because this is how he glorifies himself.
And when you finally leave him, sad and defeated, headed home to more of the same loneliness, he will carry out this same work upon others. Even if there are no others, he will create them in the small shadow you leave behind.
"He should never have come here," he will say, "He should have known better." Yet in your absence he will grow restive, and in your absence he will grow uncertain. He might be The Life of the Party now, but what happens after you leave? What will he be, when you take away the life you've given?
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