Paul Constant

Our host is celebrating his 31st birthday with a couple dozen of his closest friends in a wonderfully decorated apartment. There's a fine spread of food, and a bowl of party favors featuring miniature decks of cards and those plastic jointed snakes that writhe of their own accord. The music is esoteric and cool (that is, until popular opinion bends toward Ratt) and the conversation is kind of great.

The latter begins innocuously enough, talking about The O.C., Dallas, and Dynasty. Soon we're discussing hypnosis gone wrong (someone saw a hypnotized man who was told to say "oh, look at the pretty birds" and instead started screaming until the terrified audience called his parents and a therapist to calm him down) and Japanese love hotels (constructed just for illicit sex, with rooms that are cowboy- and, horrifyingly, Disney character–themed). One guest equates The Passion of the Christ to a porn movie ("They whip him until you get bored, they flip him over, they whip him some more...").

People play Old Maid ("This is like STD: the game!") and Drinking Uno. Someone gets "the most pornographic text message ever," and, frustratingly, refuses to share it with us. Another guest refuses a can of PBR, calling it "red state crap," but someone gossips that they're sure that "the Pabst heir is queer," and suddenly it's okay to drink again. After the birthday candles are blown out, we're standing in the kitchen, with soused party hat–wearers staring intently at their swaying plastic snakes. It's very sweet, like a replica of a child's birthday party... only, you know, with a lot more talk about drugs and porn. recommended

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