Our notorious neighbor (henceforth referred to as NN) just had his thirtysomething birthday party at Magic Mountain.
I could not go (although I find NN quite sweet and charming and charismatic in person — no doubt a big reason for his success — he’s also self-deprecating, since he knows the reputation preceding him) but E went with our friend Scott.
Afterwards I asked E, “So how does a guy like him have his party at Magic Mountain?”
“Apparently he knows the guy who owns it, or something,” E said. “The whole park was given over to the party, but it was fully operational. The rides and games were staffed and running.” He expressed some minor regret that he had not thought to win me a bunny. But we are not bunny people.
“How many people were there?”
“About two thousand of NN’s closest friends,” E said. Then: “It was kind of lame…Although Scott and I rode this new extreme roller coaster, which was cool.”
As fate would have it, I’d actually seen a local news segment on that coaster (which hasn’t opened to the public yet). I’d watched that segment thinking, You know, I used to love to ride those things. Yet have no wish to do so anymore. Now I can only imagine standing off to the side somewhere zoning out and reading a book while waiting for my intrepid sons to cycle through the hellish line-up, but that’s still (thank God) some years in the future.
Afterwards some of the party moved back to NN’s house. E was there for a bit but admitted he also found it “kind of lame” — he’s been to a couple of parties at NN’s house now and ends up feeling self-conscious, “because it just seems like there are always these skeevy guys wandering around the house trolling for girls. I don’t want to be seen as one of those guys.”
But there had also been a power outage sometime after midnight; our house alarm went off, waking me up, and I had to reset it. I was nearly off to sleep again when I heard our great dane’s deep baritone bark resounding through our backyard and down the cul-de-sac, punctuated by the yips of the two smaller dogs. Nice. Let me count the ways our neighbors must love us. When I went to investigate the matter and yell at the beasts to shut the hell up I realized that NN’s house — still abandoned, since everyone was still at Magic Mountain — had lost its mind. The whole security system had gone whack; the power outage had set off a lot of electronic beeping and a female voice saying calmly, “Intruder alert. Intruder alert…” My dogs didn’t know what to make of it, but they continued to express their concern. Someone got the message, because a short time later I heard a car beyond the brick wall and shrubbery separating our two driveways, heard heels clattering across the cement and a voice saying somewhat frantically, “It’s okay…It’s okay…I called NN…Okay it’s off! Yay, it’s off!”
After E came home and dropped neatly off to sleep, I could still hear voices calling out to each other in the street below, car doors slamming, headlights lighting up our bedroom windows, way into the early hours of the morning. Didn’t get much sleep and felt bitchy in the morning.
Yesterday came across tabloid photos of NN posing a bit loopily at his “birthday party at Magic Mountain” with a teenage A-list starlet and a clubkid-with-a-famous-father. Take away the wealth and celebrity, and you’re left with a man in his early thirties who’s partying with kids, as if (and I will choose the kindest interpretation here) he’s their wealthy and benevolent yet inevitably slightly dorky older brother. Live and let live and all that — but Christ, doesn’t it get old? How wasted do you have to keep on being, year after year after year, to try to close or even just ignore that widening generation gap? I don’t mind sheepishly admitting that in my own way I love the Scene and always have, the clubs and clothes and excitement and drama — I have no problems being perfectly superficial for a night– but when you get right down to the nitty-gritty, it is just not that interesting and sooner or later you have to have a real life that doesn’t revolve around the List and the VIP table and which club is hot tonight and whether you know the doorman there or if you have enough hot women in your party or whom you need to bribe and how much.
Or maybe for people like NN — who experience it on a whole other level — it’s like that line in Godfather 2: “I try to get out…but they keep sucking me back in! I try to get out but they suck me back in!”