The party was, as the cliché has it, going off with a bang.
The rumpus room at my parent’s house was basically the largest privately-owned room in town. It was there when my family moved in, complete with a built-in billiards table and a shiny, shiny rimu-wood bar down one side with an actual tap for keg beer. In other words, there was really no other place James and I could have a party, ever. James, who had, shall we say, a more public profile, sent out the invitations, and people tended to assume it was his place. It might as well have been, I guess; we’d grown up together, and were used to treating our houses as two wings of one home built on opposite sides of the road.
James never made his parties exclusive, as such; he went through the whole school and told every student old enough to withstand the debauchery that it was happening, when it was happening, how hard it was going to happen, and that the door price was something to drink or something to eat. Half an hour before the party started, he’d arrive at my door with a litre of vodka and three of orange juice. He’d then leave the door open, crank the music up, and we’d start playing pool on the big billiards table. By the time the first guests were trickling in, bearing a bounty of junk food and liver-hardening liquids, we’d generally be rather relaxed and in a partying sort of mood.
For the pre-ball, we had to do something a little more formal. After all, the guests were all going to be wearing tuxedoes and gowns. We’d deliberated on it for months, and decided the best thing to do would be to make it an invitation-only event. Thus, a week before the ball, we sent out gilt-edged invitation cards to everyone between the age of sixteen and nineteen in the greater Te Kainga area; James complained for the next two days that his wanking hand was completely paralysed. I think he expected more sympathy than he got.