The After Party Diner (short fiction)

Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?)

After spending time with a group of people, do you feel energized and ready for anything or do you want to hide in the corner with a good book?

“Thank goodness for all-night diners,” Norm said as Pete slid a coffee in front of him.

“Another party?” Pete said.

“Yeah,” Norm said and started sipping the coffee.

“You ain’t gonna be able to keep that up forever, ya know,” Pete said.

“I’m well aware,” Norm said. “Don’t you party?”

“Used to,” Pete said. “But I got all partied out.”

“It’s a good way to connect with my friends and keep in touch,” Norm said. “And have meaningful conversations.”

“Ah,” Pete said as if waving the words out of the air. “Ya haven’t got a clue.”

“What do you mean?” Norm said. “You expect me to stay home and read a book?”

“You did not connect with one person tonight at that party or have a meaningful conversation.” Pete said.

“What are you talking about?” Norm said. “There were twenty people there and I talked to everyone.”

“Tell me what you talked about?” Pete said. “Whose the first person you talked to?”

“Sally,” Norm said. “It was her party.”

“Well, what did you say to Sally?” Pete said.

“I told her thanks for inviting me and it’s a great party,” Norm said.

“How do you know it was a great party?” Pete said. “You just got there.”

“Sally always has great parties,” Norm said.

“Okay,” Pete said. “What did Sally say to you next?”

“She said to go mingle and have a good time and be sure to try the dip.” Norm said.

“What did you do next?” Pete said.

“I saw Herbie West,” Norm said.

“What did you say to him?” Pete said.

“’Hey, Herbie, how are you doing? Sally sure has great parties. Have you tried the dip?’” Norm said.

“Was that it?” Pete said.

“Yeah,” Norm said. “Herbie said he wanted to mingle.”

“So who did ya talk to next?” Pete said.

“Bridget,” Norm said.

“And what did you say to her?” Pete said.

“I said it was a great party and the dip was good,” Norm said. “And she said Sally always has great parties and she makes great dip too.”

“Do you see a pattern emerging here, Norm?” Pete said. “Whose place did you go to last week to party?”

“Debbie’s” Norm said.

“I bet the conversation was just the same,” Pete said. “You just substituted the hosts’ names and a different dip. That’s a pretty simple communication pattern you got there; doesn‘t require a whole lot of thought or effort, just change names and dip.”

“You make it seem like me and my friends are all shallow,” Norm said.

“Sounds to me you would have gotten just as much out of reading a book,” Pete said.

Norm smiled. “If I stayed home and read a book I would have no reason to come in here.”

“Next week, read a book and come in here anyway,” Pete said. “Least that way you’ll have something meaningful to talk about.”

Norm sipped and pondered. “Come to think of it, Pete, This is the most meaningful conversation I’ve had since…”

“The last time you were here,” Pete said.

“Yeah,” Norm said. “But Sally really does have great dip.”

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