The Party After the Funeral

I remember the party after the funeral.

A woman picking at her sweater said “Yeah I shoulda tumble-dry-low’d this shit.”

There was, I believe the phrase I heard someone use was, quite a spread. Hors d’oeuvres, which I hate because I can never remember how it’s spelled. Appetizers. A dessert table. Cheeses. Deli platters, only more so.

I remember standing and watching the tables being set up, just staring, not even knowing how to put into words the things I was feeling, not even sure I was thinking or feeling anything specific, but my mom, just by looking at me, even then, even in the midst of everything that was going on, even that week, could see me staring and know to say “Well it’s not a party,” and stand there with a face that said “Come on, work with me here.”

It wasn’t a party at first. Black suits trickle in silently, heads nod grimly in a way that says “Yes, I know, me too.” And as the room fills, a line forms at the buffet table, and slowly people realize they have something else to talk about, their voices grow. They’re chatting. They’re laughing.

I didn’t stay in one place long enough to have to talk to anyone, to get dragged into any jagged exchange of sorrows. I just skirted the edges of the mitotic conversational huddles that would appear in one place, split up and reassemble in another.

One guy, mouth full of food, touching the shoulder of the person next to him, laughing and saying “I mean am I right or am I right, am I right or am I right” and pausing expectantly for the answer.

A girl in a tight black skirt nodding to a friend and saying “Yeah we gotta bounce” before grabbing one more glass of wine from the table.

The party after the funeral wasn’t outside, but I don’t remember walls or a ceiling or lights, I just remember people and food.

I was standing behind the buffet table, practically hiding by this point, looking all around the room but not seeing anything in particular, when I sense that someone is talking to me, trying to get my attention. I look, and it’s a girl, she’s beautiful, she’s my age, she’s the only other person my age I’ve seen here. She has a plate in her hand, and I don’t know her, but from the way her face changes I can tell that she suddenly recognizes me. Her face flows pink. She’s embarassed. It’s obvious she thought I worked here and was about to ask me something about the food. She must be the daughter of someone my mom knows. Now we’re staring at each other, not sure who should speak next, not sure what to say to each other, not sure how to make this moment better. On TV an awkward interchange like this means you’re perfect for each other.