The Meeting of Strangers

The Meeting of Strangers

A Story by Peter Regal Whittam

A boring party unknowingly turning to be a great experience.

“But I don’t want to go!” I wailed, throwing my arms up in the air in despair. “What is the point of me going to a party where I know neither the host nor the guests?”

My father drew a calm breath, but I could see his patience wearing thin. “I told you - it’s my boss’s son’s birthday party, and he asked me to bring my entire family!” he explained for the umpteenth time.

But I was not to be convinced. Despite all the screams, coaxing, threats and begging, I was steadfast in my position. However bribery seemed to work: I instantly agreed to go when my father offered to buy me tickets to the Metallica concert which was to be held a week later. That was, as I realized once we reached the party, the biggest mistake I had made in a long time.

The reason for my regret was quite evident: I knew no one there. It was quite funny, because people in expensive suits kept approaching me and shaking my hands a bit too vigorously for my liking, while all I could do was force a smile and greet them. My belief that I was in the wrong crowd was also cemented into place when I took a closer look at the gaudy decorations. Every square inch of the ceiling was covered with golden streamers. Balloons hung from each and every flat surface, including the dinner table, the walls, even bobbing up and down the floor. Bold letters, in an astonishing and violent array of colours capable of inducing neighbourhood-wide seizures, were attached to the wall at the far end of the room, spelling out the name of the birthday child. Finally, the cake looked as if made in a factory employing only hyperactive, sugar-crazed pre-adolescents. As I neared the cake, I could see every plane of it decorated with spun sugar and caramelized toffee. Invariably, tedium began to claw at me in moments, threatening to rip at my innards. It would have been quite illogical if I found the feeling come without warning: if anything, it came on a horse, waving a territorial flag and with its name announced like a medieval knight. As I sat in a corner, wondering if I should have asked my father for something more as bribe, someone caught my eyes.

It was a boy sitting at the other end of the room, appearing to be of my age, and apparently as inexplicably jaded as I was. Our eyes met momentarily, and I looked away self-consciously; I did not want to draw any unwanted attention. However, the more I observed him, the more he appeared to be like me. As if mirroring my movements, he fiddled with his phone, and let out a long, drawn-out yawn every few minutes. After some moment of peeking and looking away, we both decided it would be best to be acquainted rather than suffer in silence. As he approached, I jumped to my feet and extended a hand to shake, “Hi, I’m Peter.”

“Saify,” he smiled, taking my hand. His voice suddenly effervescent, he added, “Are you as bored of this party as I am?” At that very instant, our friendship clicked, and the simple meeting of strangers became something far deeper.
As our conversation revealed, Saify was the son of my father’s colleague, dragged to the party for the same reason I was. Both of us shared common interests, like playing guitar, playing basketball, and cooking. Whatever differences in opinions, we had only acted to our benefit. Being young adults and quite steadfast in our beliefs, neither of us would budge from our own opinions, and this caused our arguments to become more heated, and in turn, more enjoyable.

Foreseeably, that was how the rest of our evening passed. Seconds, minutes, hours melded together and bolted past us in a blur. The crowd around us clapped, sang the “Happy Birthday” chorus, gulped down soda and had dinner while the two of us sat in a corner, engrossed in each other’s minds and lost in our own private world. It was not until almost all the guest had left and out fathers had called us did we realize the party was over.

We separated quite cheerfully, having gained one new friend. It was not the end of our friendship, though; fortunately, we had contact numbers that night, and we have kept contact with each other ever since then. It was funny, though, how a meeting of absolute strangers turned into a completely different bond.

© 2013 Peter Regal Whittam

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Peter Regal Whittam
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Added on November 2, 2013
Last Updated on November 16, 2013
Tags: Friends, party, strangers, acquaintances, birthday


Peter Regal Whittam
Peter Regal Whittam

Chittagong, Bangladesh

Hello, I'm Peter, a hobbyist writer. I have always had an attraction towards what I like to call "text-based art", but my passion for writing did not bloom until recently, and it has been growing ever.. more..