This party still seems so young but our middle names are already taking over. They've been waiting in ambush for us to become amply weakened with Tom's famous gimlets, sufficiently distracted by Ann's generosity in allowing her two top buttons the night off, and by now have elbowed their way to the front, typical middle-children desperate to prove their worth, pushing themselves around our impaired first names, hungry for attention and eager to lead us till evening's end.
Jim is now Lucian, who rushes his closet, pushing aside pressed pants and starched shirts to drag out an acoustic guitar and play us a little something he's been working on for the last fifteen years. A strummy C chord pied-pipers Brie out of Kate, dancing her to the middle of the floor where she snubs her nose at Newtonian Law by making love to sound. Everyone seems to quite like the show, save for Mike who put a ring on Kate's finger a month back. He's leaning against the doorframe playing sourpuss chaperone while before his very eyes Ann and Jen and Tom and Dave are wholly overwhelmed by alter egos: Siobhan's telling Marsden, "So sue me--it was before you married him." Bentley's telling anyone who'll listen, "Viagra is a good, safe drug." Frederick's telling no one in particular, "Johnny Depp, for example. He I could blow."
True, Mike, this isn't tidy, but stop looking at these party crashers like strangers. They're us, my friend; our parents simply thought better of letting them drive. Mom and Dad eyeballed me there in the incubator, saying, "Hey, what's your name, huh?" They'd narrowed it down, and were this close to Devin. But they had concerns: Will other kids tease? Can a name make you swishy? What if he turns sullen, slouchy--the type to circle parties like a buzzard, scribbling into a pocket-notebook any tiny scraps he dreams he can use in his novel? No. Better stick with Joseph. Joe. Solid, safe: opportunity and potential are not things to mess with. But how mischief must have tugged their cheeks when they realized what to do with Devin, stashing him out of view, hoping he'd keep quiet until the time was right.
Mike, you lugnut, why not tip back that Merlot and let your Lyle out--we're always happy to hear about his sci-fi screenplay, or that threesome he had back in college. Our middle names don't get together as often as they used to, and once the sun shows itself they'll beat their retreat; tomorrow all that'll be left of them is a vague throb behind our eyes and a faint furry sweetness on our tongues. We'll grope for the aspirin, trying to string together the timeline of their shenanigans, wondering over apologies and swearing up and down that it's just not worth it. But for now, we know better: Bentley's mixing more gimlets, Marsden's hidden the wallclock's double-A, and if you don't ask your fiancée to dance pretty soon, Devin will.
About the author:
Joseph Rogers lives in Brooklyn. His stories have appeared in Bridge, Opium, Yankee Pot Roast and Verb.