It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To by
(303 Stories)

Prompted By Parties

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I love parties! I almost always have a great time at them. Certainly college parties are among my fondest memories of those years. But for me, the good ones don’t seem to make for interesting stories. So here’s a story about the worst party of my life.

1966. The drinking age in New Jersey was 21, but at that time in New York it was only 18. From my high school it was less than twenty miles to Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel. So it was easy for seniors who were already 18 to drive into the City, buy huge quantities of alcoholic beverages and bring them back. It was quite a business, although I don’t think they made a profit, just charging the actual price of the merchandise.

I only patronized this business once. It was in the spring of my sophomore year, and there was a big party, hosted by a senior. I’m not sure if it was for a specific occasion, but for some reason a number of sophomores, including me, were invited. On Friday mornings we had an all-school assembly, which everyone was required to attend. We were seated by class in ascending order of age, with the seventh graders in the front rows of the auditorium and the seniors way at the back. On this particular Friday, the day of the party, when the principal asked for announcements, one of the seniors stood up and said he would be taking orders in such-and-such place after the assembly. No one asked what the orders were for. The administration and younger kids had no idea. The older kids knew it was for a New York liquor run.

So I went to the designated place and ordered a six-pack of beer. I don’t know why I chose beer, maybe it was the cheapest item on their list. I had never tasted beer and didn’t know anything about it. At my parents’ parties for their friends, they served whiskey sours and Tom Collinses, which I was allowed to taste, and both of which I liked. But of course mixed drinks were not on the menu here.

That evening my mother drove me to the party. She was so trusting, I don’t think she even asked whether there were going to be any adults there. (There were not.) I had arranged to spend the night at my friend Marsha’s house, so I wouldn’t have to worry about facing my parents if I was drunk.

I am amazed as I recall the fact that I actually drank five of the six cans of beer in my sixpack over the course of a couple of hours. I was fourteen years old and probably weighed around 90 pounds. I got really blitzed. There was a boy I liked, a senior, who I knew from playing bridge, and I was hoping to get his attention at the party. But there was another girl who was a senior, who decided to go after him that night. She wasn’t all that interested in him, she told me later, but prom was coming up, and he seemed like her best option for a prom date. The two of them ended up going off into a corner together, and I was beyond upset. Being drunk, I had no inhibitions about expressing my displeasure. I cried and threw a tantrum, saying it wasn’t fair, and he was supposed to be mine. I even said she shouldn’t get him because she wasn’t Jewish (he was), not that anybody really cared about that. I don’t actually know how loud I was, it may have been a relatively quiet tantrum. Luckily, I didn’t hear anyone talking about it at school the following week, so maybe only my friends heard me.

At some point Marsha’s mother came and picked us up and took us both back to her house. I spent most of the night throwing up.

I never did go out with that senior boy I liked. The other girl went to the prom with him, but they didn’t date any more after that, and then they both graduated and went off to different colleges and never saw each other again.

I didn’t drink beer again for at least the next thirty years. It’s still not my beverage of choice most of the time. Generally I only consider it with Mexican food, and then it has to be Mexican beer. With lemon.

Profile photo of Suzy Suzy

Characterizations: well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Interesting choice of parties to describe, Suzy. It really does sound pretty awful. You don’t pull any punches as you tell us about your behavior. Glad you didn’t get into trouble and there weren’t any lasting bad consequences! I, also, never liked the taste of beer. I think it is an acquired taste and I never acquired it, so I’m with you on this one.

    • Suzy says:

      I started out thinking about all the wonderful parties I have been to over the years, and how I would write about them. They all had great people, great music, some had great drugs, others had great food. But really, if it’s not a Gatsby-esque experience like yours, how much is there to say? It’s the bad parties that provide more material for stories.

  2. John Shutkin says:

    I loved the idea that, having said how much you liked parties, you then described the worst party you went to. As you note, it is the bad parties that provide more material; just like villains are usually more interesting than heroes.
    And this story had all the perfect ingredients (some literally) for the bad high school party: cute boy, rivalry, jealousy, tantrum and too much (underage) drinking. I knew just how it had to end — no boy and throwing up — but you still unfolded it all so well.

    Bonus question: what with all the throwing up, did Marsha’s mother figure out what had been going on?

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks for your comment, John. I don’t think Marsha’s parents figured it out, or if they did, they certainly didn’t say anything. Marsha’s father was a professor at the college where my high school was the demonstration school, so I’m thinking they had seen much worse.

      • John Shutkin says:

        Good point, Suzy. In retrospective (the whole point of this site, right?), I am really not sure whether our collective parents were oblivious back then or knew exactly what was going on and just let it play out unless it got totally out of control. And what about with our own kids and us? Thoughts?

  3. John Zussman says:

    What I especially like about this story is that it shows your willingness (well documented in these pages) to get outside your comfort zone, try new things, and embrace whatever experiences lie ahead. And, even at age 14, you didn’t sip your beer like you might have a Tom Collins—you went for it and downed five out of six. It sounds like you learned a lesson (cheap beer sucks) without diminishing your exploratory spirit. Maybe it even sped you along to finding your drug of choice in college.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, John, I like your insight about getting outside my comfort zone. But I’m not sure I agree that the lesson was “cheap beer sucks.” Do you think that 5 cans (or bottles) of an expensive beer would have made me less drunk or sick? I’m trying to think whether I did learn any lesson from this experience, and I’m not sure.. Later I found other ways to get wasted that didn’t lead to nausea, but that was still a couple of years in the future at the time of this story.

  4. What a wonderful story! It would make a great short film! We meet you as soph, then the assembly and the bizarre denial of the school admin — what are these seniors up to now, taking orders for… what? You place your order, for beer! Funny and cute image. You, your soph friends asking who got invited, shots of the seniors blasting “It’s My Party” through the Lincoln Tunnel. Mother driving you, more denial, you at party, first beers, the senior crush, the five-beer tantrum, the vomitorium and the ride home with mom. How was the party, dear? Great, sweet story telling! The song makes a perfect soundtrack for the story and such a relief in this troubled time to hear about a fun party. Thanks!

  5. Oh, and a great scene of you picking up your order, holding the bulky six-pack… what do I do with this, someone showing you how to use a church key? or maybe it was pop tops by then.

    • Suzy says:

      Orders were delivered at the party, so I probably just put it in the fridge with my name on it. And a six-pack wasn’t an alien concept, it was just like a six-pack of soda. You’re showing your age talking about church keys. The pop top beer can was introduced in 1962!

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