I listened to Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing” tonight, which reminded me of Dennis. I can’t remember how I ended up with him. We had a lot of fun. He was 27. I was in high school. Don’t judge. We drank and smoked cigarettes, like you read about. We smoked hash and weed too. I stayed at his camp off and on for an entire summer. We bathed at the lake or in the mill pond. The parties were huge.
My mother and my sister appeared there looking for me once. As you might imagine, Mum was not impressed. We’d been reading and we saw them drive up the road. There was a back door with a case but no steps down. I opened the door, stood in the case, and closed the door behind me. While my mother questioned Dennis about his age and advised him of the potential legal consequences pertinent to the statutory prohibitions in our state, my sister opened that back door. There I was, eyes the size of dinner plates, pleading in a whisper, “Don’t tell Mum.” She closed the door.
We drifted apart, on to others. I was never sorry to see him. Later on, I fell in love with someone else completely unsuited to me. We moved away. I used to call Dennis when I lived in New Orleans. He was entertaining and familiar. We were old friends. I liked him. There were other men I liked quite a lot, in the way that I liked men back then. I wanted them to be who I thought they were rather than who they declared themselves to be.
I told my husband the other day, as we lamented our worsening condition and increasing irrelevance, that I’d imagined the party and the pretty would last forever when I was young. Of course, when I was young I didn’t think I was pretty. It was a good party. It lasted long enough.
Dennis left the party, for good, last year.