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For my 24th birthday, I was sick as a dog.

Actually, I’m not sure I understand that saying. I had a dog in Iowa, and he was never sick—occasionally pooped in the middle of the living room floor, but was never actually sick.

Anyway, I felt like a dog shit in the middle of the living room floor. But people kept asking me if I was going to do anything for my birthday, and I love attention, so I scheduled a party regardless.

I chose Barrage on 47th Street. (Someone recently told me they read my column there while waiting in the bathroom.) I showed up early, wearing an olive turtleneck and black leather pants from Theory. I went up to the bartender, a gruff bald man, and used my sweetest voice to say, “Hi! So, it’s my birthday. And people are going to be buying me drinks all night. But I’m so sick.” He stared me straight in the eyes, face unchanging. “So, I was hoping when I come over, you could make the drinks less strong—that’s cheaper for you guys anyway, right?”

“The drinks come as they come, honey,” Gruff Bald Guy said. I nodded, retreating to a seat in the corner.

In the next several hours, about 20 of my friends showed up: a pretty large crowd for me. It was also 20 drinks I had to sip, smile through, then dump in the bathroom sink before someone else bought me another. Then, J showed up.

J was tall; J was attractive; J was a lawyer. What else could I want in a man? “I got you a present,” he told me.

It was a fake Tiffany’s ring, an exact replica of the ring I always joked would be the only proposal I’d say yes to. “But—why?”

“Let’s fuck with everyone. Tell them we’re engaged. It’ll be fun.” I was drunk, and wanted to pretend the engagement was real, so I agreed. Because he was a tall, attractive lawyer, everyone believed us—and it really was fun.

Around midnight, he bought a round of “celebratory” shots for the entire party. I knew I shouldn’t, but…tall attractive lawyer.

I took the shot, immediately gagging. The shots come as they come. My body ran hot. I had to stand there, completely still, waiting for the nausea to subside. “Are you OK?” J asked me, and I pushed him away, not wanting to move. “Don’t touch me,” I managed to spit out.

I think J thought I was just being a huge asshole. When I was able to move without fear of throwing up, he was gone. It’s my party, and I’ll barf if I want to. (That’s how the song goes, right?)

I took a taxi home, wondering how I’d be able to make it up to him.

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