Step in. Step to the side.
Full room, no space to enter.
Content yourself with the slight vacant space offered behind the hinge of the entrance.
Feet planted to the floor, and though you consider uprooting them ―mmm, no, not yet.
A slight lift onto one’s toes, however, couldn’t hurt ― except it does! These heels hurt!
No matter. Drop it.
Eyes dart from corner to corner and tongue just barely meets the backs of front teeth in a pique of concentration.
Eyebrows raise as if to improve the view.
Any acquaintance? Any at all?
No dice. No allies.
Perhaps oneself can be enough company to last the required time.
Shake hands with the host, compliment the hostess, repeat the age-old lie that the food is delicious, shrimp superb, and wine oaky and broad, though the shrimp sit on a table just there, not deveined, and the wine is an insult to grapes everywhere.
Content your mind.
Think on things you like.
Hmmm . . .
“Frailty thy name is” ― No! Only food for cynicism, that is.
“Strange fits of passion,” “Lucy Grey,” “My Mistress’ Eyes,”
Lord, if only Shakespeare or Wordsworth were in attendance, one might actually be tempted to stay more than twenty agonizing minutes.
Your only refuge is to keep eye on the clock just as the gossips keep eye on you, waiting for the smallest chance to make you subject to their whims.
Let the vultures starve, then.
Oh good God, you spoke too soon. Here they come.
Would it be too impolite to request a metaphorical stay of execution, or, better yet, a literal arrest, whatever one must do to get away from ―
They squawk, with a nauseating emphasis on the second syllable of that dreaded greeting.
One knows the drill.
No, no boyfriend, work is fine, my parents are well, yes yes, time does fly, I do agree, my brother’s success is most impressive, same apartment, yes ― though one might consider moving if never to attend to this sort of conversation again ― I have not met your nephew! Yes, yes, I am sure he is as handsome as a Greek god, though most likely of like mind with Narcissus.
Shake hands. Knuckles kissed. Feign a blush. Thank them for a lovely evening and go!
So Eurydice escapes the proclaimed Orpheus and leaves the Mount Olympus of gossip, piss-poor wine, and forced smiles in favor of the dark underworld that is one’s own apartment and gladly tastes the water of Lethe which is, to one’s own relief, the less suitable, but most welcome, cheap beer which has patiently waited one’s delayed return.
The reunion to one’s bed is preferable to that other, which requires flattery and the ever unkind pair of black high heels.
Peace at last.