Cans on Coffee Tables: A Story on College Parties


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At the College House Party: Girl Takes Glass with Drink from the Tray. Diverse Group of Friends Have Fun, Dancing and Socializing. Disco Neon Strobe Lights Illuminating Room.

My best friend and I stood in her dorm bathroom, makeup dust flying through the air and making me want to sneeze. I picked up a makeup brush and swept some blush on my face. I was excited for an action-packed night full of friends and music. 

I’ve always thought that getting ready was one of the best parts of going out. Picking an outfit, playing music through a crappy phone speaker, and putting on makeup with a friend sounds boring, but to me, it’s a highlight of every outing.

Stereotypical college students go drinking with friends on the daily. I, on the other hand, do this on special occasions. This night was one of those special occasions. 

Two hours after getting ready (which would really be the best part of the night), a can sat on the living room coffee table. After two rounds of cup pong, my social battery was starting to drain. I found a nice spot in the crowded room on the sectional couch.

I couldn’t pull my focus from the can. Water slid down the side of it, making a puddle underneath. 

Condensation always bothered me. I felt the urge to slide a coaster underneath it. My mind was fuzzy from the sheer amount of people in the small apartment. I reached my hand over and slid my palm across the soft, brown cushions of the couch, giving my hands a sensation when I thought my body was numb to all feelings.

There were so many people, it was overwhelming. The floor was shaking, from the blaring music or the dancing, I wasn’t sure.

People packed in tighter around me, stuffing the LED light covered apartment more than I thought possible. The lights strobed with the music. To my right, a girl was dancing on a guy. I rolled my eyes. Get a room, I thought.

Another guy cut him off saying, “Someone could have drugged it is what he’s saying.” After that interaction, every unattended cup I saw gave me anxiety.”

I sat there, waiting for my mind to clear and people to leave, still focusing on the aluminum can. The puddle under it was slowly growing and it made my skin crawl again. I wasn’t sure if someone had left it on accident after one or two many drinks or maybe even after they took a hit from a bong outside.  

The lights flickered from blue to purple then to green, repeating their pattern over and over again. Music continued to blare a TikTok famous hip-hop song but instead of dancing around or shotgunning a drink, I continued to sit, and people watch.

As I sat on the couch, I held a guy’s hand. I knew he stayed next to me to make sure I was okay. Not thirty minutes before, another man had tried to grab my waist. After pulling me away from Mr. Handsy, he hadn’t left my side. But I chose to believe that he would have held my hand, regardless of Mr. Handsy attempting to feel me up.

At this point, I still hadn’t moved. 

The drink on the coffee table a few feet to my right still had my full attention. There was something about it that didn’t feel right. The owner of the apartment had been routinely walking through, dumping out unattended drinks. When I asked him why he said, “I don’t know half the people in my house right now.” 

Another guy cut him off saying, “Someone could have drugged it is what he’s saying.” After that interaction, every unattended cup I saw gave me anxiety. 

Somehow the coffee table can was still sitting there, regardless of the apartment owner’s attempts. 

As I was sitting there, intently watching, a guy walked up, picked the can up and threw it back, drinking it faster than I thought possible. Even with an anxiety induced foggy brain, that shocked me. How was he not scared? He went straight back to dancing, grabbing onto his friend, pulling him to dance with him. I wasn’t sure if the drink was his or not, but somehow, I had a bad feeling whether it was his or not.

I squeezed the boy’s hand next to me. He looked at me and leaned over to ask me what was wrong, but I didn’t reply. All I did was shake my head.