Thursday night, we were sitting on the sidewalk in front of a bar, waiting for the opening band to finish. Josh and his friends were writing poetry, and I was alternately reading Scaramouche and trying to take artsy pictures of our beers. Dave came out and started talking about the house party that the band was supposed to play on Saturday night. It was rumored to be ragin'.
Josh pointed out that he had to work Saturday night until 10. I listened casually, affecting disinterest and resisting the urge to yell, "What house party?" I am always the last to know. Instead, I waited until later, when I asked Josh for more information. He did not know where it was to be held, nor whether they were even playing. I guess it would be more irritating if he were withholding information from me, but it seems like he never knows what's going on either.
Saturday evening, Josh was headed to work, and he still did not know where this party was happening or whether we'd be required to go. House parties tend to get shut down, due to occupants of other houses nearby who are not interested in all the ragin'. If Josh wasn't going to get off work until 10, and city ordinances required quiet after 11, it didn't seem likely that this party was going to be in our future. But I prepared myself for either a nice evening of snuggling or for tolerating drunk people.
He called at 10:05 to tell me that he was on his way home, and then it was time to rage. As we congregated in the foyer, Trevor mentioned it was a Star Wars costume party. We looked at each other, all more appropriately attired for a Slacker Costume Party. Josh went and fetched the Storm Trooper helmet we'd bought at Goodwill and used to scare the dog. Trevor pointed out that we might not see it again, and Josh said that was the intention. Trev wondered why they were having a Star Wars party, and Josh answered that it was May 4, Star Wars Day. As in, May the Fourth be with you.
Josh told me I didn't have to go, and I seriously considered it. I considered it as I walked to the van, and I considered it as we drove down our street. Each moment that passed, I couldn't have told you whether or not the next moment would be the one where I told them to turn around and take me back to my pajamas and my dog and the ice cream in the freezer. As we turned onto the main road, I knew that I was committed for the evening.
The party was in south Raleigh. We had to drive through a bad neighborhood to get there, but the party area itself seemed safe. We circled the block to find parking, as both sides of the street were full. It was not hard to find the house. It was the only one that was ragin'.
As we strolled up to the porch, a Jedi and Darth Maul asked for our IDs and $8. It would have been $5 had we been wearing costumes. They said they were raising money for something, though we were never clear on what. Trevor said we were the band, and I allowed them to think that included me. Josh gave the guy working the door the Storm Trooper helmet. We all got wrist bands.
As we went into the house, the first thing I saw was a guy with a live snake around his wrist watching The Empire Strikes Back. Into the next room, where a quartet was playing some kind of drinking Battleship game made with cardboard. I couldn't see into the backyard, as the door was blocked by partygoers, and the window was blocked by an 8-foot-tall inflatable can of PBR. Finally, we made it outside, and it was a thing to behold.
To the right of the porch was a huge tent, where a band was playing. Set up next to the band was an outdoor living room - three couches set up around a hookah pipe on a coffee table. Based on the odor, the pipe was filled with tobacco, possibly strawberry flavored. Beyond that was a huge bonfire, where Ewoks and various hooded figures and about ten Han Solos stood around with red Solo cups. Then there was a trampoline, something that you should probably not have anywhere near a.) a bonfire, b.) drunk people, or c.) drunk people standing around a bonfire. To the left of the trampoline was a woman twirling fire. Next to that, there was a short bus. Inside was a sub-party, where people sat on bean bag chairs and had dance music blared at them. The bus had a platform built on top, where you could climb up and survey the party domain. You could take the ladder down, or you could slide down the pole which had been attached to a lower platform that came out from the emergency exit of the bus. Finally, there was another tent, where you could get a beer from the keg or something red called Jedi Juice. Christmas lights were strung from tent to bus and back.
So I hadn't wanted to come, and I still didn't want to stay very long, but this here was a house party to behold. I do not understand the desire to throw a party in one's home, but I am thankful that some people do feel that desire, so that I may go to their parties if I wish.
It was 11:20, and the live music had to be done at midnight, when the DJ was scheduled to go on, because this was the kind of party where they check ID and have a band schedule. It was unclear whether the current band, who had only been playing for twenty minutes or so, would cede the stage to Josh and his bandmates. We asked Dave, who told a long story about talking to the other band about playing, the end of which was the revelation that he didn't know either. He'd gotten into the Jedi Juice. But we brought in the gear anyway, then walked around the party for a while.
Han Solo seemed to be the most popular costume choice, which makes sense because it's easy, and he's the coolest. There were Leias in every incarnation, the more bold women going with the gold bikini, of course. A few guys just wore their bathrobes, either being Jedis or Jawas or maybe just Lando on his day off. There were some scantily-clad Ewoks in Ugg boots. I did not see any Luke Skywalkers, though there was a guy who was walking around in some kind of dinosaur mascot costume. I guess when you have that kind of costume, you wear it whenever you can.
The band played. I watched and talked to some people I knew. The music stopped promptly at midnight.
As we were loading the equipment back into the van, a police car rolled up. The guys running the door ran inside to find whoever was in charge, who turned out to be Han Solo. The cop talked a while with Han and ended up giving him a warning. Han promised that the officer would not need to come back. The officer expressed his doubt.
We went back in to make our goodbyes. Return of the Jedi had just started. Lots of people clucked at us for leaving so early and accused Josh of having gotten lame since he got married. Someone enthusastically encouraged us to have some Jedi Juice. Across the yard, a woman in the outdoor living room was playing with our Storm Trooper helmet. A lot of other people were making their way out, too - between the end of the live music and the first appearance of the five-oh, I guess people were ready to move on. But as we walked down the street towards the van, a trickle of new people were coming in, carrying twelve-packs and wearing clothes that may or may not have originated in a galaxy far, far away.
We went home, ate ice cream, and watched Return of the Jedi. May the Fourth be with you.