My eighteenth birthday was one of the most depressing birthdays of my life. I didn't even have a party. Couldn't. My mother had died the previous month and I was still too depressed to arrange anything like that. My father remembered to give me a birthday card at least and had suggested bringing me out to dinner but I wasn't in the mood. None of us were in the mood. Since Mom's death my brother spent all of his time on his XBox360, my sister had stayed home only just long enough for the funeral before returning to college, and my extended family hadn't contacted any of us since the wake.
As for myself? I basically shut down inside. It was like I was in a self-induced emotial coma. I didn't talk to my friends except to politey lie to them about how I was fine. I didn't go out except for school and volleyball practice and I only did the latter because my mom had been so proud that I made captain my junior year. I'd quit all the other extracuricular activities I had once been so obsessed with: drama, debate, and cheerleading.
My life was my bedroom, my computer, and my books. I frequented online forums dedicated to depression and grief counselling. The funny thing is that even on online anonymous message boards I lied. I was never the one to post the questions or ask for help but instead I tried to provide answers. When I occasionally mentioned my mom's recent passing I always pretended that I was doing well. That I had figured out how to overcome my grief. But I hadn't.
Far from it, in fact. I was eighteen, now, halfway through my senior year of high school, and my mother was gone. Suddenly all the teen drama I'd been used to for years felt so insignificant. The fact that three months earlier I had been upset that my boyfriend had broken up with me seemed silly. Only a month after that my mom had gotten her diagnosis. A month after that and she was dead. I had been popular. I had been competitive. I had loved all the things the typical upper-middle-class American teenage girl likes: chasing boys, gossiping, shopping. I had been one of those girls who thought she was going to be a celebrity someday. I had thought I was better than almost everyone.
Now all of that seemed so petty, so hollow, so pointless. Pretty much all of my friends had given up on talking to me. More than one were actually mad at me, too. I had it on good authority that one girl in particular was saying I was using my mom's death as an excuse to get sympathy and avoid my responsibilities. Another had said that I shouldn't be on the volleyball team anymore much less its captain. Our coach had actually taken me aside recently and said that he was worried about my recent performance. So I was probably going to lose that, too.
I was too dead inside to really care. The night of my birthday a boy I'll call Justin called me. We were friends only and yes, I had friend-zoned him years earlier. He was nice and smart but those were really the only reasons I considered him a friend. He helped me with some school projects and was always there for me when I felt like talking. Now that I look back on it I was a total bitch to him. I took advantage of him. It was obvious that he liked me as more than a friend and I knew that. Hell I even used that to my advantage on more than one occassion. Makes me feel like shit now that I would treat him like that.
He called to ask me if I wanted to come to his house. To my surprise I could hear loud music and lots of voices in the background. Like he was having a party. But Justin never had parties! His idea of a party was having three or four of his friends over to play videogames. I knew because I actually went to one of those "parties" once. It had been super lame. Then he explained: his parents were out of town and his brother had decided to throw a kegger. I knew his brother vaguely. He was a few years older than Justin, went to school at the nearby university, had been a basketball star at the same highschool his brother and I now attended.
Justin promised me that there was plenty of alcohol. The thought of getting drunk was appealing. I'd never been properly drunk before and at that moment I really wanted to give it a try. Even so I made excuse after excuse, all of which Justin shot down. It became clear that he was already drunk: this was not the more timid Justin I was used to and his hilarious bluntness was actually making me laugh as we spoke on the phone.
Finally I decided to at least stop by for a little while. It would make Justin happy, that much was clear. And I guess there was a part of me that was hoping to meet some hot college-age guy and maybe makeout with him or something.
I didn't plan on having sex or anything close to it. I wasn't that type of girl. Or so I thought.
When I arrived at the party I immediately felt out of my element. I had never been to a real kegger before only the lame high school attempts at them. Right away I knew this was the real deal. And the worst part was that the only person I knew, Justin, couldn't be found.
I almost gave up and left. The strange looks I was getting from these 20-somethings were unsettling. The sheer press of people crowding the five-bedroom home was intimidating. The loud music, the chanting of "CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!" coming from the kitchen, and the sight of so many people just casually making out with each other on sofas or on the floor was like nothing I'd ever seen. It was like from a movie or something.
Don't get me wrong I was definitely thrilled in a way to be there. This was something "adult", right? A real college party. Real chaos and laughter and alcohol. But when I couldn't find Justin I decided to make my way back to the front door and get the heck out of there.
"Excuse me!" some big guy said to me over the loud noise. "Are you that chick, Jenna? Justin's friend?"
I looked up at him and felt like a stupid little girl. He was massive: nearly six and a half feet at least, broad shouldered, and easily six years older than me. Like a silly child I squeaked that yes, I was Justin's friend.
"Let's get you some shots, birthday girl!" he laughed drunkenly. He took me by my wrist and yelled out to the room, "Hey, this is the birthday girl! My bro's girlfriend! She's eighteen today!"
A bunch of people yelled out their approval. I blushed in embarrassment as the big man led me through the crowd. At least they weren't eying me suspiciously anymore. Most of the people were saying "happy birthday" or making cruder comments like "legal now, hee hee!" and stuff like that. But if anything I now felt even more nervous than before when I was just some anonymous stranger searching for her friend. It's like everyone was looking at me and though they were friendly enough this was not something I was used to. At parties I was usually used to everyone knowing me. Wanting to talk to me. Wanting to flirt with me or gossip or something. At most parties I was near the top of the social pecking order. Here? I felt almost like I was being made fun of even when people were wishing me a happy birthday.
When we got to the kitchen Justin's brother finally introduced himself. "I'm Justin's big bro, Roger," he said. "Justin had to... well, the kid took one shot too many. He's sleeping it off. He'll be fine in an hour. Here!" Before I could say anything he was handing me a small plastic shot glass with red jell-o inside it. "Do a jell-o shot! Ever done one before?"
I shook my head. To demonstrate how Roger grabbed another one off the counter and sucked down a similar shot. Deciding it would be polite to at least do one I followed suit.
"Good!" he laughed. "Come on, have another."
"I can't," I said. "I think I should leave. I mean, if Justin's already passed out..."
He grunted dismissively and handed me another of the jell-o shots. "Bullshit! Come on, it's your birthday. Baby bro will be up in an hour or so. Why not loosen up in the mean time?"
And that's when I just kind of decided why not? As a few of Roger's friends joined us and began introducing themselves I did a few more shots. Within twenty minutes I was laughing and flirting and not thinking of my mom for the first time in weeks.
"I said we're doing it!" a young woman yelled at Roger. "You coming or what?!"
"Oh shit," he said. "Yeah, sure! Wait for us. We'll be there in a few."
For the first time that night he gave me a serious look. "I gotta go play this game. You can come if you want or you can just wait here."
I was feeling too good to say no. And so I followed Roger, one of the other guys who had been conversing with me, and the young woman through the crowded room and up the stairs to the master bedroom.
Upstairs in the master bedroom of the house it was a lot more quiet. We could still hear the music from downstairs but it was muffled. Six of us were in the room and even though I was slightly buzzed I didn't fail to notice that Roger had locked the door after we entered.
"What's she doing here?" the young woman who had called Roger away from the kitchen said. She was pretty: blonde, decent body, nice clothes. But she was also obviously in her late twenties or early thirties. If I was out of place for being too young she was out of place for being too old.
"Oh, this is Jenna, Justin's girlfriend," Roger said. "Jenna, this is Holly. You already know Rick and Ian. That asshole there is Brian."
I said hi to each of them but couldn't help but notice that Holly was glaring at me like I was some sort of insect. I was beginning to get nervous again and starting to think I should leave. Especially when she said something like, "She's just a kid, Roger! And I am not sharing any of my money with her."
Confused, I glanced over at the tall man. He immediately shook his head at me and made a "one moment" gesture with his hand. He walked over to Holly, took her by her upper arm, and led her to the far corner of the bedroom. I could see they were having a heated discussion but couldn't hear what they were saying. Meanwhile Ian, Rick, and Tom sort of surrounded me and pelted me with questions. Ian, a medium-built black man, offered to share his bottle of tequila with me. I gladly accepted. Things were taking a weird turn and yes, my intoxicated brain thought the best thing to do was to become even more intoxicated.
"I DON'T FUCKING CARE! SHE'S JUST A GODDAMNED CHILD!" Holly screamed.
She was pointing right at me and I got angry. Maybe it was all the stress I'd been under lately. Maybe it was the depression. The constant swigs of tequila definitely played a role. But whatever the reason I was more furious than I had ever been. Yes, I had been vicious in before when it came to passing along rumors or gossiping about other girls behind their backs. But I had never phsically confronted someone before that moment. This time I did.
"FUCK YOU!" I screamed, marching toward the woman. "Don't call me a child and talk about me like I'm not here! I'm 18, it's my fucking birthday, and I can be here if I fucking want!"
Roger had to hold me back. If he hadn't I don't know if I would have actually attacked her. I might have. Thankfully it didn't come to that. She didn't move toward me and just glared instead and said, "Fine, bitch. You think you're tough? Let's play."
Holly explained the rules of the game while sitting on the edge of the large king sized bed.
It was basically truth or dare but with money, alcohol, and playing cards involved. And I realized right away why the woman was so resentful about me being there: I was definitely younger and arguably prettier than her. I was definitely in better shape and while she had bigger breasts than me I definitely had the fresher, more toned body. Given the game's rules I had a pretty good chance of cutting into her profits. She did not like that.
We were each given a standard deck of playing cards and were told to shuffle them. Holly explained for me and Tom's benefit (the others had obviously played before) that on our turn we would draw a card. If it was a red suit, hearts or diamonds, we were allowed to ask anyone else in the group to answer a question. If they agreed to answer then you had to pay them the amount of the card x5 (a 2 of diamonds was $10, a Jack of hearts was $55, etc) after they answered. If they disagreed to answer the question they had to draw a card from their own deck and hope that it was a higher suit. If it wasn't you had to answer anyway or else quit the game and forfeit any money you had earned to the person asking the question.
The same went with spades and clubs except black suits were dares. So if you drew a high card like a King of spades you could make an incredible dare, knowing that if the other person declined the chances of them drawing a greater card from their own deck was small. However, you had to keep in mind that if they decided to do the dare in question you would owe them x10 the suit amount.
Dares requiring you to harm yourself or that couldn't be realistically completed within a reasonable amount of time were off limits. Truths that involved things like ATM codes or computer passwords were similarly off limits.
After shuffling my deck of cards for the hundredth time I joined everyone else in another shot of tequila. More than anything I was determined to outlast that bitch Holly in this game or at least prove that I wasn't some stupid child.
Tom had the first turn. He drew his card and it was a two of hearts. He turned to me and said, "Are you a virgin?"
"No," I said. He asked me to elaborate. I laughed and asked for my money. He gave me $10 and asked again. I shook my head. "I answered the question!"
I wasn't a virgin. My last boyfriend had convinced me to sleep with him. It hadn't been pleasant: I had done it out of pressure more than any desire. It had been painful and weird and I had resisted doing it anymore than that first time. Which is why I think he broke up with me shortly before my mother's death.
But I didn't explain any of that. I didn't have to. But then it was Holly's turn and she pulled out a Queen of Spades. She grinned at me. "Take off all your clothes."
I blushed. If I did it she would owe me $120. That would be nice. But I didn't want to do it, not for any amount of money. Yet if I refused there was little chance I could beat her card. There are only four kings in a standard deck of playing cards after all. I began to get cold feet and I considered leaving the game.
My mind swirled. Roger, Tom, Ian, and Rick were debating whether it was fair for my first dare to be so bold. Holly was arguing that I had said I was up for it. Which was true. I sort of zoned out and rocked back and forth in my seat on the floor as my mind went crazy with thoughts. And then:
"She shouldn't be embarrassed! Look at her. She must be proud of that body!"
I don't know who said it. Definitely not Holly. But those words made me bold. Without a word I stood up from my seat on the floor and began to undress.
The sheer embarrassment factor made my heart beat like crazy. The look in Holly's angry eyes filled me with resolve. I unbuttoned my blouse first and kept my eyes fixed on some invisible spot on the wall. The cool air-conditioned air made me shiver as I pushed down my shorts. Suddenly I was only in my underwear: bra and panties, both plain and white.
"Wait," Roger said as I tentatively reached around my back to unclasp my bra. To Holly he said, "You told her to take off all her clothes. Underwear isn't clothes. It's underwear."
An argument ensued. Truthfully I think Holly was right when she pointed out that underwear was technically clothing. But Tom, Rick, and Ian agreed with him. She was voted down. And so I sat, clad only in my bra and panties, $120 richer and with Holly even more furious at me than ever before.
By the time my first turn came around I had revealed that I had once kissed another girl, that I never masturbated, and had been dared to remove my bra.
I challenged that one. Roger's five of clubs seemed worth the risk. But I drew a measily three of diamonds. And so, without even getting paid, I had to expose my breasts or quit the game.
I'll never forget that feeling: reaching behind my back, Holly smirking at me, all the men staring like hungry lions about to pounce on a fresh kill. With a sigh I unsnapped the clasp and just got it over with as fast as I could. My smallish breasts, pale but firm, were suddenly out there.
If I hadn't been drinking I would probably have freaked out. Instead I just rolled my eyes, sat back down, and stared at my deck of playing cards. The temptation to cover myself with my hands was definitely there but I knew it would be a sign of weakness. Instead I just pretended like I didn't care.
But I did care. No one but my last boyfriend had ever seen me naked before. Meanwhile, everyone else in our group was still fully clothed. I asked for the tequila and sipped from the bottle and then realized it was my turn.
I drew a four of spades. I'd been hoping for a black card but was disappointed in the low number. Even so I figured what the hell? I glared at Holly. "Get completely naked," I told the woman.
She laughed. "Fuck that," she said. She drew her own card in response. The look on her face when it turned up being a three made me forget about my own nudity. She now had to get completely naked and I didn't even have to pay her!
To her credit she did it without complaint. While the guys laughed she just stood and stripped down. She didn't make a show of it or anything she just undressed. Her body was something to be proud of for the most part but the obvious cessarian section scar on her lower belly spoke wonders about her age and the fact that she was a mother. The ugly tattoo of a penguin, of all things, on her ribcage spoke to her poor choices in life as well.
Seeing someone you hate naked changes things. I don't know why but it really does. Holly suddenly looked vulnerable and scared and weak.
It was Tom's turn now. He drew another red card and asked me a question I can't even remember.
A few rounds later I was short on cards, completely naked, and definitely drunk. I'd spoken in depth about how I lost my virginity. I'd confessed that I had once crashed my mom's car but had blamed it on a non-existant deer in the road. I'd even let Tom touch me.
"Thirty seconds?" I had said after his dare.
... to be continued
Guest post by Jenna1992.