#56 Who are all these old people pretending they still know how to party?
Jagger and Rose have to leave to take care of just short of thirty kids under the age of 13 – I sure hope they have some help, because even they can’t handle so many kids on their own. The rest of us make our way to the club, where the big New Year’s Eve party downstairs hasn’t started yet, but the family bash upstairs sure has. When we make our way to the large karaoke bar that’s being used for the party tonight, we run into many people I vaguely know, and inside are even more of them.
“Who are all these old people pretending they still know how to party?” Khiêm asks me, looking around until he spots someone he knows. “I’m going to say hi to my parents real fast, okay?”
He’s gone before I can blink, and then I’m pulled into a warm embrace by Uncle Aston, who’s grinning from ear to ear. “Nia! You look lovely.” He steps back to put his arm around his wife Annabel, squeezing her ass. She chastises him for it, but he’s not fazed in the least.
“Did that guy just call us old people who don’t know how to party?” a woman asks, her hands on her hips. She looks from me to Annabel with a scowl on her face.
“Chloe, you made it!” Annabel hugs the woman – her sister, I think – and they head to the bar together to get drinks. Aston sighs deeply and follows them, never able to stay away from his wife for long.
Marcus is talking to Aston’s half-brother Jaxon and his wife Brittany, and he gives me a wide-eyed look that screams help. I rush over, catching the last of Jaxon’s story. “-so then we were stuck with two kids with the flu, in a car, with nowhere to pull over. I’ll spare you the details… but…”
“Puke everywhere!” his small blonde wife finishes in a high-pitched voice. “It was horrific!”
“Marcus?” I ask, grabbing his arm. “I need your help with something. Sorry to steal him away, guys.”
They greet me and latch onto the next person to see to tell their disgusting puke story.
“Thank God,” Marcus says, slinging his arm around my shoulders. “We’re in a room full of 30-somethings and 40-somethings who don’t have anything to talk about but their puking kids. Why did we think it was a good idea to come here? We could still try to sneak downstairs.”
I grin and poke him in the ribs. “No way, we’re staying. I happen to know something very exciting is happening tonight.”
Marcus looks at me like I just slapped him in the face. “You know?”
“Yes, but… how do you know?” I ask, frowning.
“Khiêm told me.”
Wait… what? “He knows?”
“Of course he knows, he’s the one-” He slaps a hand over his mouth and curses from behind it. “Fuck. I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.”
Before I can grill him on what the hell Khiêm is keeping from me, Mingmei finds me and pulls me in for a hug. She tugs me to the rest of Khiêm’s family, where I’m greeted by all his sisters and their significant others, as well as Amy’s brother who was originally throwing this party at his house. He doesn’t seem fazed by the fact that he’s now in a night club with a lot of people he’s never met before. His wife is here as well, and his two 20-something-year-old daughters. I chat to them for a moment, but then Quang pulls me aside because he wants to see his wife’s wedding dress.
“It’s over here,” I tell him, leading him backstage to a small room where I put it on a clothing rack, safely zipped into a garment bag. I carefully pull it out of the bag, showing it to Quang.
“You did a great job,” he praises me, taking in every last detail. “It doesn’t look like it was finished by a different person at all.”
“That’s what I was going for.” I’m happy he likes it, and I show him the small belt Amy could add if she wanted to. I’m not sure if what’s her mother would have made for her, but it does fit the gown perfectly.
He smiles and pulls out a little black box from his pocket, showing me a beautiful gold band with a large princess cut diamond in the middle. “It’s the ring Amy’s been wearing since we got married,” he explains. “I convinced her it needed to be cleaned, and I took it to the jewelers to get the small diamond I got her back in the day and had it replaced with this one.”
“That’s so sweet,” I say, tearing up a little. “She’ll love it. Does anyone else know?”
“Only you and Amy’s brother,” he says, looking quite proud of himself. “You didn’t tell Khiêm, did you?”
“I promised you I wouldn’t, and I’m a woman of my word,” I assure him.
He smiles. “You’re going to make my son a very lucky man.” He pauses, and then adds quickly: “one day.”
When Khiêm and I walk into the kids’ room in the building next to the club, I regret deciding to pop by. Damn, the place is crawling with kids. Loud, obnoxious kids. Francesca and Joshua – the couple that makes up half of the band Pink Angels – are on duty along with Rose and Jagger.
It’s hard to decide where to look first. The kid that stands out the most by far is a 7-year-old boy wearing a pink dress with ruffles. He’s putting make-up on a girl who is bad at sitting still, getting lipstick all over her face.
On the other end of the room, it’s like seeing double. Along with Dshawn’s twins Luke and Maisy are four other kids – two sets of identical twins. Two 5-year-old boys and two tiny little baby girls, being held by Joshua, who is singing to them softly. Jagger is singing and playing guitar in the corner, at least ten kids around him, gazing up at him adoringly.
And then there are the many kids running around playing tag. One of them tags Khiêm, who doesn’t hesitate even a second, rushing after the kid who tagged him and grabbing him around the waist, tackling him onto one of the many matrasses lying around for when the kids need to go to sleep. Although I have no idea how the adults are planning on getting any of these rug rats to go to sleep.
“Holy fuck, these are a lot of kids,” someone mutters beside me.
I turn to see a teenage boy looking into the room with undisguised horror in his eyes. “You can say that again,” I agree with him wholeheartedly.
“Hi, I’m Freddie,” he says, holding out his hand. “Edward and Mary’s kid.”
“Nia, Asia’s and Terryl’s kid.”
We look at each other for a moment. Freddie speaks up first. “I have no idea who Asia and Terryl are.”
“Oh, good, because I don’t know who Edward and Mary are.”
Laughing, we both make our way through the kids. He picks up a 3-year-old girl I think is Jagger’s youngest sister – but I can’t be sure at this point – and I head over to Rose to help her get out from under two kids climbing her like a tree.
“Oh my God, thank you!” she exclaims, taking a deep breath. “Tracy and Thomas’ kids are a handful.” She glares at the boy and the girl. “Seriously, Alex, you’re too old for this shit.”
The boy shrugs, grabs his younger sister and takes off to find someone else to climb, I guess. I have no idea who Thomas and Tracy are, but their kids sure seem wild.
“The boy in the dress in the third one in the Riley clan,” Rose tells me. “Seriously, I thought my siblings were a lot to take care of, but those three didn’t even learn proper manners. At least Teagan shuts up when he gets to play with make-up. I pretty much handed him every single item in my purse to get him to stop throwing stuff out the window. Being here for too long makes me want to get my tubes tied.”
I laugh. “I think it’s because there are so many of them all in one place. Kids are a lot easier to handle in small doses.”
Two adults walk in, who I recognize immediately. They live close to my parents, they’re close friends with Uncle Aston and Aunt Annabel, and they are Jagger’s adoptive parents. Christopher and Abigail. Their two little girls run to them right away, and so does Rose. I follow her closely, curious what she’s up to now.
“Thank God, is our hour done?” Rose says, looking at Jagger’s parents with pleading eyes. “I can’t take another second of this.”
“Yeah, you can go party,” Abigail tells her with a smile, her daughter on her hip.
“Jagger!” Rose yells, louder than even the loudest of the kids. “Jagger! Come on! We’re leaving!”
Jagger doesn’t rush to her side at all. He takes his time saying goodbye to the kids, one of them a cute 5-year-old who seems heartbroken to see him gone.
“Ivy!” Rose grabs the girl, putting her on a matrass. “I know you love him, we all do, but I need my boyfriend back.”
“But…” Ivy’s little lip trembles. “I wanted to kiss Jagger at midnight!”
“If you go to sleep soon, I will come get you before midnight, with all the other kids, and I will give you a kiss at midnight.” Jagger promises. A few other girls rush over, demanding him to kiss them at midnight too, even Teagan – the boy in the pink dress – want a kiss from Jagger.
“Not to self,” Rose mutters angrily besides me, “my next boyfriend should be horrendous with kids, because this way, I’m getting no sexy time with my man anytime soon.”
I laugh at her grumpiness. “Your next boyfriend?”
Abigail speaks up as well. “Weren’t you telling me and Chris only a few weeks ago how you want to marry our son one day and have his babies?”
Rose sighs dramatically. “Yeah, I’d like that, but I don’t think he can make time for that.” She motions to Jagger still on the floor, hugging two little girls.
Suddenly, I hear Khiêm calling my name. I look over to discover that Teagan, Alex and Scout have gotten to him, and he’s covered in make-up. Cracking up, Rose and I save him. Rose then drags Jagger out of the room by his ear, and we all make our way to the party. It’s in full swing by now, music playing loudly, and many of the adults on their way to getting tipsy.
A couple is in the middle of the dancefloor, grinding against each other, their tongues in a wrestling match. They’re probably 40 or something – way too old to put on a display like this.
“That would be Thomas and Tracy,” Rose tells me. “The ones with the three kids from hell.”
“Hey, they’re not that bad,” a deep voice says behind us. We turn to see a tall, dark man and his curly-haired wife. They’re both sporting hairnets and covered in sauce and flour.
“Michel!” Shaughna cries out, sprinting across the room. “Get your lazy ass back into my kitchen! I can’t have both of my chefs up here when it’s the busiest night of the whole fucking year! I asked you and Nina a million times if I had to hire someone else so you could come to the party, and you insisted that you wanted to take on this graveyard shift. So go fucking do it!”
Nina rolls her eyes. “Billy is down there, he’s got a handle on things. We just dropped by to say hi to everyone. We’ll be right down.”
“Damn right you will be, or I will fire both of your asses!” Shaughna shouts before turning around and stomping off – probably to yell at someone downstairs.
Michel and Nina don’t seem impressed at all, and they make their way through the dancing bodies to say hi to two loved-up women on the other side of the room.
“Okay, let’s go show these old farts how it’s done,” Khiêm says, pulling me onto the dancefloor. Rose and Jagger follow suit, and we all start dancing. Soon enough, we’re all doing a weird dance Khiêm made up, which mostly consists of pretending to drag each other across the room with a robe, and some moves I’m pretty sure he stole from the movie Hitch we say the other day.
Next to us, Holly and Ayaan have attached themselves to either side of Manny, who seems very pleased with all this female attention. Tommy is keeping an eye on his brother from the side of the dancefloor, where Yoah is talking into his ear, making him blush. Aimee and Trystan are having a blast together, and Gracie is dancing with Robert, while Marcus is trying very hard to not to look at the two of them grinding against each other as he talks to Creed near the bar.
Suddenly, the music gets turned off, we all stop dancing, and a man walks onto the karaoke stage. It’s a cop, in full uniform. Holy fuck, is someone getting arrested? Technically, there are kids here who are too young for a night club, like my sister Aliyah who is being watched by our mother like a hawk all night. Oh fuck, did we get Shaughna and Dshawn in trouble?
“We’re going to need to shut this party down,” the officer says in a deep, serious voice, his bright blue eyes sparkling dangerously. “There have been complaints about the level of sucky dancing going on here.”
“Shut up, James!” Tracy shouts from the dance floor. “You’re just jealous because you lost your dance partner now that you got the missus pregnant again and had to leave her at home!”
Everyone laughs, and then the music is turned back on and the police officer mingles with the others, hugging Tracy. Francesca and Joshua, who got replaced in the kids’ room by their bandmembers Yord and Marcia, walk over to great James too.
“That is one hot cop,” Rose says, not even caring Jagger can hear her. “For an old guy, I mean.”
“He’s arrested me before,” Jagger says like it’s no big deal. “Couple of times, actually.”
We all turn to Jagger for him to tell the stories of his unruly teenage years, heading to the bar to enjoy it while we sip our beers.