"Hey, you guys got any strippers?"

The frat boys were yelling-distance away on the porch; me and Kevin were walking on the sidewalk. "I'm a stripper!", Kevin shouted.

I felt like a mad scientist watching helplessly as a bumbling detective flips a switch to awaken the monster before it is properly constrained. No! You fool! You don't understand what that will do!

"What?" yelled one.

Two subcultures mixing like acid and base -- Kevin, goateed, spectacled, in the outfit of the irreverent working-class intellectual, the frat boys in their frat boy uniforms from Abercrombie and Fitch. The joke is ruined but he's gone too far already; he can't just shut up and keep walking. (Well, he can, and should, but he doesn't realize.) Kevin turns toward them, raises his arms, and smiles. "I said, I'm a stripper! We're stripping at the party on South Forest! You guys are missing a great show!"

I'm not entirely sure whether the word faggot entered the air, but there was a atmosphere of what the hell?-ness and not pleasant-ness and general discontent. Some sorts of words were exchanged.

Kevin was slightly embarrassed and pissed as hell. "Why don't you suck my dick, you fucking frat boy fuckwit?"

Laughter and mock "oh!"s. We started down the sidewalk again; shortly I could hear footsteps pounding the cement behind us, approaching fast, and I managed not to break stride or look back; they stopped 20 feet behind us, laughing.

So anyway, we decided to go to this frat party on Washtenaw.

Long line out front (30 minute line, it turns out). Most of the surrounding conversations (and ours) centered on how to get inside without knowing anyone. Kevin was thoroughly convinced of the absurdity of having a guest list at something like this and of the general phat-ness and hype-ness of the party; I was less convinced of either but willing to be dragged along.

"I have a dream!" Shouted a dark-skinned man in front of us, doing a pretty good impression. "I have a dream that one day, a black kid from the ghetto will be able to go to a white party! I have a dream that all the white children and all the black children will sit down at the table of brotherhood and party together!" (It was slightly cooler than that, actually, but I can't remember his exact words.) When they got to the front, his group tried to pass off a name to the gatekeeper, to no avail. ("But we know John." "Look, if you're not on the list, you're not on the list." "But we know John!" "If you call him and have him come out here I can do something for you.")

We were similarly rebuffed, and shortly thereafter sprayed with water while trying to climb in a side window ("Cmon, honey! You can make it!" The girl staring down at us was too drunk to fully realize what was going on.) The wet spot on my pants appeared to have been strategically placed to make me look like I had produced it myself.

Back at the front, we loitered, hopelessly, debating whether to head for the South Forest party, in the (now much-shorter) line with some others. "Those two," said one of the frat boys, pointing at us. And they let us in.

Lots of people, lots of lights, lots of music, no permanent decoration -- people who get most of their enjoyment from mind-altering substances don't put much on their walls. Also no beer; it ran out just as we arrived (a bad thing; I'm even worse at parties sober than drunk).

A room in the basement contained soap suds (and red lasers, and a throbbing baseline), ankle deep at the entrance and gradually increasing until at the far edge they were floor-to-ceiling, cascading from somewhere. A chubby kid emerged from the waterfall, bubbles clinging to the sides of his glasses, and proclaimed it awesome. Couples danced/made out. Kevin dived into the fray; I leaned stubbornly against the wall.

(I'm not completely sure, but I think the couple next to me was actually having sex. I saw fumbling with flies; I saw rhythmic motions subtly but significantly different from those of freaking.)

Eventually, Kevin managed to drag me in. I stood with red-shimmering bubbles floating around me, nodding my head slightly to the beat, envying the dancers who had managed to lose themselves completely in the flashing lights and drifting soap. Suddenly the machine increased and a wall of bubbles wafted into my back and seperated neatly around my head and, yes, I smiled in spite of myself.

So yeah, it was cool. Plus, my jeans were now completely soaked and no longer giving the illusion of incontinence.

Back at the front, there was like a race war. A sea of dark faces outside the doorway/porch thingy (most just there to watch) and a sea of light ones inside/on it (most just there to watch) and a few people fighting at the center (fighting to get in or fighting to hurt the ones who kept them out; I couldn't tell). Someone had blood at the corners of his mouth. It was broken up fast, and the announcement was broadcast to the crowd: "Everybody out! The police are on their way!"

From there to the co-op. Empty kegs, a fair amount of marijuana smoke, a thouroughly mixed-race crowd (not quite dense enough to be a crowd, really). A good DJ; an amazing MC. Back in Kansas, on the right side of the looking glass.