[liberally adapted from reality]

The house was silent save for the flickering of some distant infomercial blasting through the two am airwaves: a direct transmission of nothingness from the autocorrected perfection of the studio right into Dad’s vacant, tired eyes.

He heard me stagger in, heels clicking away across the linoleum. Each clacking step came with the dissatisfied ache of dance floor blisters. Each clacking step betrayed my feigned innocence. Each clacking step cut through the “Three! Easy! Payments!”

“And if you buy now–!” CLACK.

“You’ll also receive–!” CLACK.

“The Blenderific–!” CLACK.

“Free. Of. Charge!” CLACK.

The clacking stopped as my heels hit the carpeted floor of the living room. Were I any other nineteen-year-old and were this perhaps any time other than 2003, I might fear a reprimand.

But no. Dad and I looked at each other, both internally equivocating who sat in the worse light: me, eyes smeared with make-up, hair stringy with sweat, blood thin with alcohol; or him, nearly fifty years old and watching an infomercial for a blender at two am on a Saturday night.

“So,” he finally spoke, “How was your night out?”

He asked honestly, as if the fluorescent glow convinced him he could not be one to judge.

“Oh,” I finally spoke, “I don’t know if this whole clubbing thing is for me.”

I answered honestly, as if suddenly remembering I had once been the only kid in my junior high to own a copy of Highway 61 Revisited.

“I just don’t think I like any of this music. I hate hip hop and dance, and whatever else it’s called. It’s just….”

The night came filtering back like a distant memory. Moments picked themselves out of the fog. But everyone else seemed to be having so much fun. The realization hit bitterly. Is something wrong with me, or were they all faking it too?

“It’s just… I had a crap time. God, I hated it. So full of fake people and fake smiles, fake… everything! Overpriced drinks, sweaty assholes!”

I peeled those horrid shoes from my feet and tossed them across the living room. For just a moment, the violence felt nice.

I ranted for a while, thinking of the dreaded club as a scene from a terrible movie: poorly lit with a horrible soundtrack.

“It was terrible, Dad. Just terrible.”

Dad’s eyes rolled back to the infomercial. I could hear the years of frustration bottled beneath the surface.

He pulled the remote from between the couch cushions as if it had been lost all night and only now he remembered where it was.

“Now you know what I went through with disco.”

With that, he changed the channel.