It was pitch black when I woke up. Where was I? It took my mind a moment to figure things out. I was in my bed. That was good, but I couldn’t remember anything from the Oscar party the night before. Questions swirled around in my skull. What was that smell? Where did my girlfriend go? Was she on the couch? Had she left me?
And, maybe most importantly, what won best picture?
I had always dreamed of hosting an Oscar party. For years I’d forced my friends to watch Hollywood’s biggest award show with me, and although they never really cared much at first, it always seemed like they’d get into it and everyone would be having fun by the end. Yeah, so what if it features a ton of awards nobody cares about and the show is about as long as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy? If my roommate, T-Nuts, could have a Super Bowl party, then dang it, I was having an Oscar party. I’d get fancy hors d’oeuvres and a lot of wine and it would be a highly sophisticated event. We’d all eat cheese and crackers and drink Pinot Noir and discuss our opinions of the Best Foreign Language Film nominees.
In theory, it was going to be a grand old time. I was rooting for Return of the King to take Best Picture and I envisioned everybody clinking their glasses together when it took home the prize. However, in practice, putting together a successful party for an event few people care about that takes place on a Sunday night isn’t as easy as it sounds. My planning consisted of, basically, buying a lot of wine and inviting everyone I thought would come. In other words, I invited Rant Machine and my girlfriend.
As the red carpet preshow kicked off, it was just the four us – me, my girlfriend, T-Nuts, and Rant Machine. That was the Oscar party. Was it different from, say, what would be happening had I not decided to throw a party? Absolutely not. I’m not sure why I was disappointed that my party wasn’t larger considering I didn’t invite anybody else, but I was. Billy Crystal came out onto the stage, cracking jokes, and I uncorked the first bottle of wine.
“Dude, I’m not drinking tonight,” T-Nuts said.
“What do you mean you’re not drinking?” I moaned. “Come on man, Oscar party! Have some wine!”
“Nah, I have to work tomorrow. Early.”
“Me too, bro. We’ll worry about that when the time comes.”
“I’ll have one glass,” my girlfriend said. She lived in Buffalo, about an hour away, and was spending the night. “I have to drive back to school in the morning and I don’t want to be hungover.”
Was I disappointed? Not really. Tim Robbins won for supporting actor and Renee Zellweger won supporting actress. I like both of them. I wished people were having more fun, though. T-Nuts was falling asleep already on the futon and my girlfriend was just sitting there quietly. Rant Machine and I were the only ones drinking, which meant half the party was lame.
A lot of red wine had been consumed by the time Blake Edwards received his honorary award. I can vaguely remember him making his speech. After that, everything goes black. Completely black.
“I’m going to be late,” I told my boss on the phone. “My car won’t start.”
In truth, I couldn’t stop throwing up. I’d had bad hangovers before, sure, but this one was the worst. My bed was covered in regurgitated hors d’oeuvres. I had slept in it, as though I needed bits of shrimp cocktail to keep me warm in the night. My head was pounding and I could barely move. I still didn’t know what happened to my girlfriend or what won Best Picture.
Somehow I was able to get myself to work. I was an hour late. “How’s your car?” my boss asked. I nodded and gave the thumbs up. Not five minutes later, I was hunched over a garbage can, throwing up in the middle of the workroom (this is before I was a teacher, when I worked for a nonprofit agency). Two of my coworkers gathered around me. I knew they were there…but had no real sense that they could hear or see me. I felt delirious and I couldn’t lift my head. Tears came out of my eyes. To try and calm myself, I began rapping “Fire and Earth” by the X Clan.
After half an hour of this, my boss came in and told me to go home. I stopped rapping and said I had a stomach bug. “Whatever,” she said. “We’ll have a talk about this tomorrow.”
Like the Oscar show itself, the vomiting was endless. On my way home I had to pull off to the side of the road twice to throw up. When I finally got back, I collapsed into the shrimp cocktail and slept until T-Nuts got home. He stared at me and shook his head.
“She went to Buffalo, my friend,” he said. “You owe me.”
“Why do I owe you?”
“Because I went out and shoveled her damn car out of the snow so she could leave.”
“Jesus,” I said, “she must’ve been pretty upset, huh?”
“Um, yeah. Have you looked out on the balcony?”
I did. Out on the balcony, I found my girlfriend’s pants, covered in dark red stains.
“You passed out with your head on her lap,” T-Nuts recounted. “Like two minutes later you started puking up red wine all over her khakis. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen.”
“Oh come on now, you’ve seen more disgusting things than that.”
“No. No I have not. It was like a whole damn bottle came out of you. Her face…man, you should’ve seen her face.”
I exhaled. The next day my boss would surely read me the riot act and, at the same time, I had my girlfriend’s pants here but not my girlfriend.
“Did Return of the King win?”
It was getting pretty cold out and we looked at my girlfriend’s khaki pants, soaked with red, sitting in the snow on our balcony. “Yeah,” T-Nuts said. “It won.”
I felt relieved. Thank God, I thought, the Academy had gotten it right.