A Night of Wine, Stories, and Laughter

Written in response to: Write a story where someone finds comfort in an unexpected event, place, or person.... view prompt

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Friendship Funny Coming of Age

This story contains sensitive content

This story contains mentions of alcohol consumption and swearing.

I did not expect a lot of things at my mother's wedding. I did not expect the crowd to cheer when the couple kissed in an unexpected Sunday rain. I did not expect there to be six to eight tour buses ready to take the guests to the fanciest hotel I had ever seen(although that one made more sense as time went on, sense the groom was literally a katrillionare). I did not expect to now be standing in a gold-and-ivory-plated lobby next to a table lined with cookies, chocolates, and kid-friendly seltzer. And I certainly did not expect to be standing next to a stepbrother I had known only a week prior, laughing at the adults, with a stain on my new white shirt, just under the collar. Tonight was going to be a weird night.

Jesse is basically me, but taller. We both have thin, blonde hair that falls in our faces, sharp, yet thin noses and, weirdly enough, an array of band-aids covering our equally pale skin. The only difference in our faces is that my eyes are a serene mix of green and blue, while his are a metal shade of pure silver. Many of our relatives had been quick to point this out. One aunt on Jess's side mad the very bold statement that we looked more related to each other than to our respective parents. I was already having trouble explaining to my friends, "Him? Oh, yeah. He is my...soon-to-be-stepbrother. What? Yeah, also my mom's getting married." Meanwhile, Jess could walk up to anyone with "Hey Man! How was the party at Nancy's? Yeah, it was great! Oh, this is my little brother, Gabe. I didn't know if you guys properly met yet."

I can't remember the last time someone called me 'Gabe'. My mom usually stuck with 'Gabriel', or 'Brat'. My friend Rebecca would stick to names like 'Stone Face' or 'Fox Eyes' or, most commonly, 'Big Man'. Eli wouldn't usually call me by name at all. Any other kid would shrink away from me out of fear that I would bash their skull in for accidentally calling me short, or some crap. It also felt weird being someone's "little brother". For the longest time, it was me and my mom, and I would have to fend for myself if I wanted to get away from her long enough. I know Jess didn't mean anything by it, and it didn't even feel off. It just, felt.

I tugged at my collar as I scanned the room in front of me. The floors were smooth squares of marble covered in patches of carpet and rugs in black, red, yellow and orange. The walls were a more off-white color, intersected with gold borders that ended in heads of wolves, lions, and dragons. On top of that, under the potent scent of wine and cake, there was a faint smell of lavender that fanned from the deep red furniture. In a weird way, it all made me feel at ease, even with all the adults around.

"Hey." It took me a second to register that the voice to my right was directed at me.

"Oh, hey."

Jess looked at me with a mix of a cocky smirk and...something else.  I could have sworn he looked tired, or angry? I couldn't really make it out behind my own groginess.

"Um, great party I guess.."

"Tch. If you can call standing at a buffet table watching adults and snagging as many snacks as you can great!"

I couldn't really say much else, so I just looked down. "I mean,  I gue-"

"Don't get me wrong, I think its a blast. I just, don't think you're enjoying it all that much."

Well, this was not what I was expecting.

"You actually enjoy this?"

"Hell yeah! A party like this is the perfect place to just stand around watching adults droll on and on about their sad little lives and no one calls you out on it!"

"Really?"

"Yeah, if people were books, rich bastards like these are magazines, and drunk rich bastards are magazines left open on the horniest page!"

Jess pointed at a man dancing on a lobby couch without his shoes. "For example, that guy is probably very restrained, cool-tempered, and calm most of the time. This most likely stemmed from a childhood full of pillow forts in his bedroom and starring out his window at the other kids having snowball fights. If he has any acquaintances from other parties at his job, they are most certainly not here, nor will he make any here as he initially hoped. And-Ooooh!"

Jess grabbed me by the arm and lead me to the west side of the lobby, closer to the elevators. "That woman there, is usually closed off and smiling, probably desperate to get a man, or maybe to impress her parents. Honestly, uses big gatherings like this as an excuse to break down every now and then." He directed me to a woman sitting at the drink bar, and when I looked a little closer, I could see her silently weeping.

"Wow, you're good. How do you know all this stuff?"

"Well, I call it a mix between a gift and a superpower, and I've basically seen people like this my entire life."

I thought for a while before I asked my next question.

"So, have you ever met any "secret geniuses" while scoping around like this?" Jess gave me a puzzling look. Every face this guy made

was unreadable to me.

"Maybe they think they are. They are usually boot-lickers most of the time and don't have a voice in front of their bosses, so they use their liquored state as an opportunity to feel heard." As Jess talked, a man no older than his thirties came up to us and started babbling.

"Hey boys! Great Part<hic>. Y'know it's r<hic>al nice that you two are bruh..<gulp> brothers.  I think y<hic>all will get al<hic>ong great!" Jess and I exchanged a knowing glance.

"Yeah, thanks, we're real happy about i-"

"Did you know that tur<hic>les are the h<ic>rdiest animals on t-HUC planet? I didn't until<burp> a few weeks ago. I just thou<hic>t someone should know."

"That's great to know, Uncle Ted, I actually wanted to show Gabe-"

"Did you know th-"

Let's say I have a little bit of trouble with my temper. I usually try not to go after adults, but some can really piss me off. It was all I could not to visibly grit my teeth as I knocked into him. 

"Thank you! We get it! He's great, I'm great, we're great, the party could be better. Go away!"

Jesse and I hurried to the back of the lobby, arguably the most unflattering side of the room. The overall color of the wall was faded, and there were two huge metal doors on the sides, one leading to the laundry room, and the other leading to the ice machine. No one would dare follow us here.

"Well, that was sudden. Thanks, though. He was starting to get on my nerves too." Jess gave a simple smile.

"Don't mention it. Hey, you seem to know a lot about people. You know what to say, how to make anyone comfortable, and it is like you have a weird ability to read minds or something."

"I mean, it isn't all that impressive. It is mostly forming a basic foundation with people and predicting their actions based on what you know. I just know all these adults from past parties my dad's invited them to. Besides, people let their walls down when they are drunk. It's the best time to observe, learn, or even just watch a good show!" Jess added with a stifled laugh.

"What about you?" I asked out of the blue. Jess turned to face me with the same smile, just a little confused now. "What about me?"

"You've discussed how your kind becomes almost opposite people when they are drunk. What about you? I know you rich kids like to pop the bottle a little earlier than most."

Jesse looked at the champagne glass in his hand, allowing me to see that it was totally empty. He then thoughtlessly tossed it in the nearest trash can. "I don't drink."

"Well, What about me?"

"You're not drunk."

"Well, does your 'superpower' only work on drunk rich bitches?"

Jess smirked at the challenge. "Alright. You've obviously put that suit on in a hurry, so you either were convinced to come to this wedding, or you are a huge procrastinator. You have the faintest hint of dark circles under your recently reddened eyes, so you most likely cried yourself to sleep last night, and all this is due to the fact that you have an overbearing mother who cares first and foremost for getting out of her low-class situation."

My jaw was all but touching the floor. Not to mention my cheeks were probably a little red at the mention of my mother. Jesse was staring at me with an intense look. I couldn't tell what he was thinking, but I did not want him to know he'd hit a mark, especially if he knew it nearly brought me to tears.

"What makes you say that?" I said, trying my best to keep a straight face.

"You have purposefully been trying to avoid her gaze the entire ceremony and most of the party."

Man, he was good.

"Look, I'm sorry if I came on too strong. I can't help but notice these things. Besides, I get it. My dad tries to deny it, but he is mostly interested in climbing the social ladder, from college student to lawyer, to Senator,  to Governor, I have his whole life story recorded up here." Jess pointed at his temple.

Jess and I spent the rest of the night laughing at stories of me being able to scare off other kids with just a glare, or his predictions of these aunts, uncles and family friends that, apparently, he actually saw very rarely(his dad didn't have much time for social gatherings). Before we knew it, more and more adults were flowing out of the lobby to pass out in their hotel rooms. I didn't see them, but I am sure the bride and groom were the first to do so. Before long, it was just me, Jesse, and a few drunk uncles passed out on the furniture. I took the opportunity to walk to the center of the room and really take it all in. Sure, it was way more money than I had ever seen in my lifetime, but something about the deep red curtains blocking out the outside world, and the golden animals on pillars looking down on me, seemingly less angry now, it felt bizarrely comforting. That feeling grew more when Jess had walked up behind me and started ruffling my hair.

"You know, I think you and your mom will fit in just nice here in "The Rich Life". She's clearly ambitious enough for it, and with a little help, you could become just as scary as a rich jerk as you were as a poor bully." The strange compliment made me smile a bit, a gesture that quickly disipated when Jess flicked the glass I was still holding in my hand and the few drops of punch it had left spilled onto my shirt. "What! Hey! My mom's gonna kill me!"

"The party's over kid! There's nothing to worry about!"

"Oh yeah? How 'bout I do it to you too?!"

"No, that's not happening."

"Why not?"

"Because you're not that quick, and I'm not that short."

Oh. It. Was. On.

I must have chased Jesse around the entire hotel by two in the morning. We ran circles in the lobby, up stairs, into hotel rooms that were left wide open. He even tricked me by using the elevator. It didn't help that despite being three years older than me, Jess was still about a foot taller. I hate being 4'9.

Eventually, I caught up to him on the roof, where the in-ground pool was. Jess had stopped to take a breath by a nearby fold-in chair. While his guard was down, I took the chance to jump at him.

In hindsight, I should have had more of a plan than to just lunge at him, and I should've noticed how close he actually was to the pool's edge. In a flash-before-your-life sequence, Jess tripped over my legs, and we both found ourselves tumbling into the pool with a loud *splash*. We were both thrashing and gasping, trying to regain the air that was just knocked out of both of us. We were then met with a nice calm.

It lasted three seconds, before Jess tackled me under the water.

"Man, that was a blast. I can't remember having that much fun at my own birthday parties. You didn't have to kick me in the jaw, though." Jess lamented as he rung a towel through his back-length hair.

"You literally grabbed me by the shoulders! I was also focusing on not trying to DROWN! I don't know what you tall people think, but short guys like me can't exactly pro-wrestle while in eight-foot-deep water."

Jess was wrapped in a fine linen robe after a nice hot shower. I, now in orange pj's with quotes from The Lion King written all over them, now lay in a large, queen-sized bed with silky white sheets. It was like staying over in Heaven! Jesse joined me on the bed, since it was the only one in the room. Our parents, as well as the other guests, were definitely passed out in their own rooms by now.

"So, how was your, technically first night as one of the rich people?" Jess asked with genuine enthusiasm. I looked up at the ceiling for some time before giving him my answer. Tonight was a lot. I still remembered waking up at five thirty, complaining about my uncomfortable suit, yelling with my mother after she repeatedly told me why today was so important. But all of that seemed like it happened years ago. Now, I was lying in a cool bed, after a warm shower, with a view I had never thought I'd see in my lifetime just right outside my window, and next to the guy who'd now go around claiming me as his little brother. I answered him the only way I could.

"It was a weird night." We laughed ourselves to sleep that night, as we would for a lot of nights after that.

August 31, 2022 18:36

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