Sally should not have been surprised when she was turned away at the door.
“But I was invited!” she insisted, coffee-stained invitation curved around the womb of her hands. She held it up to the man’s face, pulling it taut so he could see that her name, in adolescent lower-case, was penciled in at the top. Her name, it was there! Her name was right there next to the day-old coffee splash that looked like Hitler; right there, preceeding the typed words IS INVITED.
Laughter flitted from the bowels of the banquet hall. He flicked the invitation, knocking it loose from Sally’s grip and slamming the door in her snout. “No pigs invited!” she heard several revelers shout in unison, followed by more hideous laughter. “Pig’ll eat all the food!” The cruel heckling made the bile effervesce within Sally. For a brief moment, she could taste its sour flavor as it burned against her uvula. She swallowed it.
She tried to swallow the hideous laughter, too.
Fifty-three minutes later, Sally sat in her parked car at a truck stop just a few miles outside of town. She numbly nibbled on the sandwich that was handed to her through a window by an androgynous teen with a snarled upper lip, Sally’s own pout puckering involuntarily as her tongue moved over a spot of bread, moist from pickle sweat. Choking back a sloppy slurp of lemonade, Sally cried out bitterly, “I belong no where!” She groped in the darkness of her car, until her fingers eventually came up with a pen.
You might not know it yet but you will be sorry. Sorry for slamming doors in my face, for flushing my poems down the commode. You will be sorry for not letting me carole with you that one Christmas in 1987.
As a child, Sally was invited to parties only because her father was the principal; parents used her spot on birthday guest lists to keep their own slovenly spawn from flunking out of third grade. And Sally, so full of jubilance, would put on her best Laura Ashley, and she would step into her best Mary Janes, and she would wrap the present in the best foiled paper. And last, she would pull on her rubber pig mask.
In front of her father, all the kids would chant “Oh Sally’s here!
Oh, Sally, Sally, Sally!” But then the door would shut behind her and her father and his little green car would be a dot on the horizon.
You might not know it yet, but you will see that my headgear did not define me; that my stutter was not a reason to make me a cafeteria pariah. You might not know it yet, but my halitosis was bearable under the supervision of Altoids.
And then it was, “Oops, Sally, I didn’t mean to tear your dress” [as Mary Misslegap swiped at the silken floral with a boxcutter] and “Uh oh, Sally’s having her period!” [courtesy of Agatha Angelfuck pollacking her with Heinz] and “Sorry, Sally, there’s no cake left for you” [as Tommy Wettail smeared it on her face like paste, snapping her bra for the cherry on top]. And there would be that hideous laughter again. Sally would swallow that hideous laughter and go home.
You might not know it yet, but you will realize that I had things to say, ideas to share, if you could have only seen past my muffin top, past my cleft palate. You will realize that the brown stain on my white trousers in Spanish class senior year was mud, not shit from my own self.
And even after all of that, Sally was willing to give her old peers a second chance when the invitation arrived that day. YARDLY GREEN HIGH SCHOOL’S TENTH REUNION it said in an elegant script. Sally, who had too much hope for humanity, was anxious to show off her poker straight teeth and Kathy Lee knock-off. But Sally, whose better judgement raped her thoughts with reality, couldn’t help but falter in her step when she arrived at the hotel that night.
You might not know it yet, but I don’t care about your Better Homes and Garden wedding. And I don’t care your child was born with Downs Syndrome. And I don’t care about how you feel about me. Not anymore.
Sally should have known she was only invited as entertainment, one more lashing for the social reject. It was just like grade school, only now the cruelty was liquor-enhanced. Sally should have known there would be no punch-drinking and name tag-wearing for her that night. But now, parked next to a rocking eighteen-wheeler with frosted windows, Sally knew; and soon they would too.
You might not know it yet, but I am unable to swallow that hideous laughter.You might not know it yet, but I was really fucking good at Chemistry.
Sally had just added the final flourish to her signature when her pen bled its last drop of ink. Sally folded the coarse brown napkin she had been writing on and, peeled off the pig mask, and with a forceful stab to her carotid, she used the sanguine ink to scrawl ATTENTION: ALL OF MY WORST CRITICS on the top of the note.
And that is exactly what a mulletted trucker in a camo vest was reading, coagulated in blood and pickle juice from a half-eaten Hoagie Hocker sub, when the bomb went off at that hotel with the hideous laughter.