Last Sunday, an old friend of mine invited me for a drink at The Broadview Hotel. 

“I haven’t seen you in forever. Come,” he insisted over Facebook Messenger. Time had flown by since the last time I saw him dancing at Fly nightclub in 2014. I felt guilty for not staying in touch and flattered when he asked me to meet him on such urgent circumstances. What had he been up to for the last three years? Is he still allergic to oranges? Does he still watch The OC? Feeling more nostalgic than usual, I agreed to meet him on the patio for “just one drink.”

That afternoon, I sat on a curb outside The Broadview Hotel uncomfortably early, waiting for time to pass before walking inside. Following a well-dressed man wearing white pants into the hotel elevator, I nervously held my breath as the doors opened on the seventh floor moments later. Sitting on the rooftop patio, I texted my friend to let him know I had arrived. “I’ll be there in five minutes,” he replied. Staring at the eastern skyline, I felt a sentimental rush to see him, scratching my memory for tidbits of shared experiences I might reflux on demand if conversation fell short of recent success worth bragging about. I ordered a mojito to celebrate our reunion.

Minutes later, my friend arrived, but he wasn’t alone. Following closely behind him, a pod of King West clubbers filled his shadow with fake eyelashes, clunky high heels and dark orange spray tans, their clutches swinging in the air. I couldn’t help but notice all of them had lip injections. Their faces permanently frozen, we greeted one another with hesitation, heavy judgement and minimal facial expression. Staying positive about the situation, I introduced myself with an upbeat attitude despite feeling fashionably alienated in sneakers, gym shorts and a second-hand t-shirt. One woman threw her hand at me like a wet sausage in a factory. Forcing a smile, I violently sipped my mojito with the pressing urge to jump off the rooftop patio with my drink in hand.

Moving inside to find better group seating, my friend sat a million miles away at the other end of the six-person table. I attempted to make eye contact to confirm this wasn’t a disturbing social experiment but he wasn’t looking in my direction. Had he double booked me with another group of friends by accident? Did he carelessly message the wrong Sarah Brown? Self-doubt washed over me as the hungover clubbers rehashed last night with a shitty Snapchat video shot in a room that was too dark to see anything. In a hazy glimmer, I think I saw a nipple flash, but the camera was shaking and the video was poorly shot with no sound. A girl with bad breath told me three times how hungover she was. I poured her some water.

Like the invisible woman, I didn’t say a word at the table. Noticing my intentional silence, my friend asked me where I was last night. Before I could answer, the hungover girl interrupted, “Wait. Were you with us last night?” She couldn’t remember who I was or if I had accompanied them to the dark place the Snapchat video was taken. I looked at her with a ghostly expression, as if vanishing into a coke fart, “No, I wasn’t with you last night. I just met you.” By then, she was nose-deep in a glass of rosé asking, “Can someone take a video of me drinking this?”

Amongst the chitchat, the conversation revolved around the only thing our table had in common: my friend. The girl beside me made painful small talk about her clutch and her stripper friend who just moved to LA. Her plump upper lip quivered on the brink of collapse from too much collagen. My ego fell to the floor as the woman sitting across from me excitedly commented, “OH LOOK! We’re all matching!” Then looking at me for what felt like the first time, she added, “Oh. Except for you.” I laughed and told her I left my clutch at home today.

Looking down at my boy shirt, I felt like a loser. My Converse were dirty. My hair messy and frantic. I nervously clutched my elbow as if it were a purse with nothing in it. Across from me, a woman who refused to take her sunglasses off inside halted the server to ask, “Um. Where’s the best place in the hotel to take a photo for Instagram?” At this moment, I returned to my initial plan to jump off the roof without a formal goodbye. The server, looking unimpressed, responded, “That depends on the kind of person you are, I guess.” I debated what my last words should be before I made the seven-storey jump to the pavement.

Stuck in a sticky situation, my nightmare came to a full bloom when I looked down at my seat to find a piece of chewing gum stuck to my butt. I must have sat in a hot blob of it when I was waiting outside on the curb before entering the hotel. Blushing from excruciating anxiety, I knew if I even tried to jump off the roof at this point, the gum would be strong enough to pull me back to the table like a bungee jump cord. Physically stuck to my seat, I slowly stood up in the hopes that the gum trail wouldn’t catch the attention of the table. Settling up my bill, I used a napkin to dislodge the triple stick Excel gum until it detached with a hard snap.

Bidding farewell to a group of people I never wanted to see again, I hugged my old friend and wished him the best of luck on whatever he was doing with his life (because I wasn’t totally sure?). We were strangers. No closer than we were before he reached out to me on Facebook to ask me for a drink one hour ago. I didn’t know who he was, who he was dating, if he was still allergic to oranges or why he reached out to me in the first place. I couldn’t even tell you what any of these people did for a living or how we all ended up at the same table together. Ultimately, I learned that the only way to remove gum off your clothing without damaging the fabric is with hair spray, vinegar and hot boiling water. I guess I can thank my old friend for that.