Jesse Duthrie Word Count: 1,452 106 South Beechwood Rd. Niantic, CT 06357 firstname.lastname@example.org (860) 319-7674 This Does Not Belong For Me By Jesse Duthrie I’m in a white living room lying on a white couch watching DVD’s of the first season of a relatively new sitcom. The living room is open and the air drafts from where I sit into the kitchen, which has been recently upgraded with modern appliances and granite countertops, and up towards the Florida ceilings. It is clean and efficient. I’m a stranger in this home. It belongs to my sister’s boyfriend’s parents. My entire body aches and my mind is moving several paces slower than average; these are the damages done from last nights drinking. It’s rounding midnight and besides the flickers on the screen the room is placid. I am turning over on the couch to find a position that will best reduce my fatigue. My phone vibrates. It is a text message from a number I do not know: “Jesse!!!! I almost completely forgot seeing you at the end of the night last night!” I immediately panic. I have no remembrance of running into anyone who would send me a text message this elated. Her name is Stacy. The memory starts to draw itself in rough traces. Outside of the Pink Elephant on Three Mile Harbor Road. She had long, thick brown hair. She had bright white teeth and a perfect, straight smile. She was wearing a white dress (or was it a white shirt?) We kissed, and then she said she had to leave, but I pulled her back and we kissed again, this time harder, her arms over my shoulders and my hands around her waist. She laughed as my beard tickled her face. She said she liked it. Her friends tried to pull her away. She grabbed my phone, called hers. Said something about talking to me soon. And then she was gone. Now I’m on the couch and she’s text messaging me and we’re building this conversation out of the smallest building blocks, the little things we both remember a day removed. She had been on the way out the club, myself on the way in- though I’d already been at a few bars that night and had begun to tie on a good one. Our conversation is light and playful and we’re getting to know each other. She lives in New Jersey but works in New York City. I’m from shoreline Connecticut but work in New Britain. We try to stay away from anything too specific. She messages, “Send me a picture of your scruffy self.” It dawns on me that this girl I’ve been messaging may have no clue what I look like. I have just the slightest trace of her portrait. I remember the flowing brown hair, and the smile, but I can’t point to any more specifics. Was she beautiful? I think so. What I mean is, I’d like to hope. But what if she isn’t. I’m embarrassed by the shallowness of this realization. What if I send her a picture and she’s dissuaded by my looks. What if that picture is enough to end this conversation? What is this conversation in the first place? Where are we intending this to go? But there’s something more then just looks. There’s the Hampton’s association of our connection. By this I mean the very fact that we met in the Hamptons, and that I am now somehow connected to these associations of the Hamptons by proximity. These associations- young, wealthy, aristocratic, upper crust- these are terms that I’ve presupposed for every Hampton’s type that I’ve read about or seen on T.V. In this past week, these associations pop up incessant as I drive past by a person on a bike or a car full of people my age. But I am not one of these Hampton’s people. I am unabashedly middle-class. The son of a single mother. I have no family name. There is no inheritance waiting for me. I had to Google trust funds when I was thirteen to know what they were before I could envy and loathe those who had them. My own presence at the Pink Elephant that night was more Horatio Alger “luck and pluck” than fortune or breed. When my friends and I arrived at the door in shorts and sandals, the doorman gave us the boot for our attire. When we returned a half hour later, dressed in our khakis and button downs, the answer was still no. When we pressed, he said he could let us in for $1,100. We laughed at the number, but this figure was not a joke. It was only when I saw the opportunity to sneak in at the second entrance by the cigarette smokers that I able to bypass the large but preoccupied guard. Inside the bar I discovered a young and beautiful utopian fantasy: unrestrained girls in ultra-tight dresses grinding on each other while passing magnums of Grey Goose. The DJ mixed club music with a blend of modern hip-hop and obscure throwbacks. The bartenders, a duo of brunette chicks with low cut shirts, jumped up on the bar and poured shots straight out of the bottles into the mouths of well-groomed customers. The music got louder, the crowd got drunker, the girls got sexier, and I started to think that the cost at the door might be worth it’s fee; it was depravity and uninhibited sexuality in elite, upper class form. I couldn’t have helped myself, grabbing some girl I’d just met and having to pull her into me, kissing her and not letting her go. It is an infectious atmosphere of young, raw sex that masks itself with expensive champagne bottles, swinging chandeliers, and pervasive joviality. Still I’m an imposter. A fraud. During the days my sister’s boyfriend and his friend Mike and myself ride around in Mike’s grey Toyota Camry, sun-drunk and laughing aimlessly with sophomoric humor. We do not talk high culture, whatever that is, though I assume that’s what Hampton’s people are talking about. We talk about how Mike emptied his checking account after he fell in love with a stripper in New York City the day before we came out here. We talk scatological humor. We talk the degrees of sexiness between the girls walking down the beach. We talk what I presume to be distinct middle-class. But it is unidentifiable to an outsider and, furthermore, we all look part of the crowd when we are under the same yellow sun. Stacy will find out what a fraud I am. Because under the omnipresent sleekness of the Hamptons, there’s an internal awareness that resides in a particular breed of self-conscious people that this is only an attempt at an escape from the reality that lies just miles off the coast of Connecticut or an hour an half down the Long Island Expressway. And people like myself, people who harbor this solipsistic condition, can never really give into the ultra-chic or ethereally relaxing qualities the Hampton’s attempts to provide. Maybe these types of people will never give into any type of total relaxation. What vacation attempts to do is take your mind off from where you come from, your job, your home, your bills, your problems. But my perspective is that the upper class people in my generation don’t know the full pressure of those stresses. Handed down the golden egg from birth they may never truly know the full extent of these anxieties that are fully encompassing and detrimental to life. And it only increases my stress and burdens my anxiety to be surrounded by these people in a club, drinking side by side, and know that because of the luck of the draw they will never understand my life. Just as I may never understand theirs. Once I send Stacey the picture I know it’s only a matter of time before I’m off her playing field. If she likes my physical appearance she will want to know what I do for work. I don’t make much, just trying to survive right now. Or maybe it will be because she is in New Jersey and I’m in Connecticut, or because she is a few years older than me or because she’s looking for something serious. In this moment, this exact moment in these mythic East Hamptons, I want to escape from the pristine cleanliness of this house and run down the street, down the Long Island Expressway and straight through to New York City and up through the George Washington Bridge and back up 95 and back to my A-frame house in small town Connecticut. I can picture my legs moving and even though I’m sick and tired I can feel the energy inside me and it seems like it’s almost enough.