Asher had always been averse to throwing parties. He was of the belief that it would, inevitably, no matter how many friends you thought you had, lead to a Martha Plimpton in 200 Cigarettes situation. However, in the winter of 2012, his roommate of three years, Evan, was able to convince him that the time had come to take advantage of their apartment’s amenities (which included a rooftop and game room) and put on a New Year’s Eve “event.” Asher despised use of that word, finding it all too telling of the type of place that New York was becoming–the sort of city that required you to allure people out of their own vat of self-involvement with words like “event” instead of calling it simply what it was, “a party at someone’s apartment.” Or what Californians would call a “house party.” Evan was Californian, Asher was reminded every day as he complained about the price of avocados and the lack of decent Mexican food. If that was still (apart from “golden sunshine”) all Californians could come up with to justify living in a sprawling armpit populated solely with the slow-witted, then Asher was going to count himself out of ever visiting to have all his theories about it being just like a combination of Repo Man and Less Than Zero corroborated.
Despite his contempt for most Californians, he got along well enough with Evan, and wanted to oblige his request for this “event” because a part of him admired how enthusiastic he could be about these sort of things despite having already lived in the city for five years. Granted, four of those were spent in the insulated bubble of NYU, where the only thing bad that ever happens is one’s parents don’t send the money in time to buy all the Whole Foods essentials for a hangover cure. Asher, in contrast, had moved to the city from Michigan, and found its climate and general severity to be nothing in comparison to the streets of Detroit he frequented on the weekend, commuting from his outer city suburb to attempt to find a taste of real life. Assuming New York might offer that in spades, he packed up his car after graduating from the community college and drove the ten-ish hours to get there, his only plan being to stay on someone’s couch and finagle a service job as quickly as he could. It only took him two weeks to secure a position as a bar back. Now, two years later, he had really transcended: into a bartender. Between his lack of direction or purpose (all the more crystallized by the end of the year forcing him to take stock) and the gray, rainy weather, The Smiths were in even more heavy rotation than usual on his computer. Something Evan was growing weary of and worried about as he was entrusting Asher to DJ the party in his natural role as antisocial, Andy Warhol-esque voyeur. But if this was the mood he was going to be in, Evan warned, then he better forget about it. Asher assured him he would curate the perfect “musical journey” to take them into 2013, and that he would establish a mood that would make the freelance girl at work Evan had a crush on, Madeleine, want to bone him by the end of the night. Or at least lose enough control of her good judgment to give him a midnight kiss. However, upon seeing that Madeleine was one of the first guests to arrive, bringing a range of people from her friend group, including an annoying cliche of a gay man, who, to add to his grating nature, also liked to talk about all the places he had traveled to in that way intended to make everyone else inferior, Asher surmised that maybe Evan’s feelings were actually reciprocated this time.
Considering that Madeleine had violated a cardinal party rule that dictates never arriving early or right on time, Asher saw it as his opportunity to sonically ease into the night by choosing from an array of his favorite slow jams, The Smiths, naturally, being high on that list. Too often, Asher had been mocked for his persistent love of this short-lived band. A love that was expected to dissipate with the true jadedness of age (as opposed to the manufactured jadedness of youth), and Morrissey’s continuous show of intolerance and general unwarranted “pussy boy”-ness. But no, Asher was a loyalist to everything and everyone he declared his love or passion for. So without thinking too much about it, he put “Asleep” on and walked momentarily away from his “DJ booth” (a laptop on a table) to pour himself a fresh drink. Barely a minute had passed before Madeleine, in the midst of talking, laughing and generally being a whore in her too small tank top that made her tits spill out (need she be reminded that it was the dead of winter?), got up from the couch and waddled over to change the song. It was the most galling thing Asher had ever witnessed in his life. He wanted to snap her neck in half but reasoned that it was too fleshy to be snapped anyway (what could be said except that Evan had a certain flavor for more zaftig women?). He took a huge swig of the vodka on ice–vodka isn’t just for women, he was always defending–he had just poured himself to chase down with it his raw emotions of sheer vitriol for this presumptuous little cunt with a big ego. Evan could see the war raging inside of Asher and announced, “Excuse us just one second.”
The annoying gay guy Madeleine had brought joked, “Gonna have a little butt buddy moment in the bedroom?” It was strange, as it felt somewhat out of place for a gay man to make fun of, so hostilely, a gay man’s activity. “Yes,” Evan said, “that’s just it. Be right back!” Escorting Asher to the fire escape in his room so Asher could smoke a cigarette and calm down, Evan begged, “Please don’t lose your shit over this, okay? She doesn’t know any better.”
“What the fuck is next, huh? I’m gonna go out there and Rihanna is gonna be playing? I don’t know if I can handle this party.”
“Just relax. Within an hour, no one’s even going to notice or care what you’re playing. But until then, can you please…just…play…something…up-fucking-tempo?”
Asher exhaled a plume of smoke and sighed at the same time. “Yeah. Sure. No problem.”
Though it was torture, he made good on his word and then some, playing a surprising number of pop and hip hop hits throughout the night that Evan didn’t even know Asher was aware of. Asher couldn’t say why he was feeling so complacent and obliging, save for having this strange intuition that his “good behavior”–his “socially palatable” music selections–would pay off later in the course of the evening.
As it turned out, his internal prediction was correct as, around 2:45 a.m., the party was about to change locations for the new celebration of 2013. Drunk and out of her head by this part of the night, Asher had to laugh to himself that Madeleine was the only person too passed out to leave the apartment and go to the bar nearby for one final coda to 2012/commencing 2013 round of drinks. Even Evan didn’t seem to view her blackout state as an opportunity or a reason to stick around, leading the remaining group of people out the door like the pied piper of debauchery that he was. So, as his inaugural act to set the tone of 2013, Asher filmed Madeleine splayed out in the middle of the hardwood floor like a rag doll, streamers, confetti, blue and red plastic cups and empty beer cans and bottles surrounding her, to the blaring tune of “Asleep.” He posted the video to all of his accounts in an emboldened state spurred on by his ire for Madeleine, her representation of entitlement and bad taste that NYC seemed to attract in droves and another couple of shots of tequila.
When he awoke the next afternoon, the video had been viewed, to his great surprise, almost 700,000 times, apparently after a fan page (because Morrissey himself would never deign to “be” on social media) brought it to Morrissey’s attention, who then saw it and himself expressed his delighted contempt (“I don’t know what’s worse, the way women continually prove they’re ‘asking for it’ or the way men prey so easily on their fellow human”) for it in the YouTube comments section. It was a fame Madeleine could have so easily avoided had she just decided not to change the fucking track at the outset of the party. Alas, for once, karmic justice proved itself to be both real and instantaneous as the shame of her notoriety augmented and Asher started landing gigs as a video editor as a result of one of “the most stylized viral videos to date.” Now if only Morrissey could take him seriously, Asher might not feel “deep in the cell of his heart” like such a fraud.