Mardi Gras was originally created for people to feast before fasting for Lent, but these days, Fat Tuesday simply has a reputation for showing people a good time. Even if you don’t celebrate Carnival, it’s easy for the festivities to put you in the mood for an epic party.
Naturally, every good party requires good company. It’s always a safe bet to go out with your closest friends, but sometimes you’re better off having crazy nights with people you might not necessarily hang out with by day — those who are impulsive, who don’t heckle you with questions about health, work or family. These are the people who can hook you up with an invite to the best parties, who cheer you on as you chug that seventh drink. Of course, the most ideal party companions are a great mix of the two: close friends who are whimsical enough to stir up a little trouble. With that in mind, here are a dozen characters in literature who fall along the entire spectrum of great party-goers and would undoubtedly show you a good time:
1. The Narrator of Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
Hell, you don’t even know this guy’s real name, but that really doesn’t matter. There’s no doubt you would have a crazy night hanging out with him and his friend Tad Allagash at the Heartbreak nightclub. Expect to snort a ridiculous quantity of “Bolivian Marching Powder” and hear about a dozen made up death scenarios for the narrator’s ex-wife. Warning: The hangover at work the next day is sure to be brutal.
2. Mel, Terri, Nick and Laura of “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver
There’s no doubt Carver’s characters know how to handle their alcohol. Sometimes there’s nothing better than ditching a fancy restaurant to gather around a bottle of gin and philosophize about love. Not all parties have to be crazy — exposing yourselves to the core by discussing the sordid romances of your past can be therapeutic, epiphanic even. Not only would they be great drinking buddies at a party, but they’d be a great group to have a real conversation with at the end of the night when everyone else has called it quits.
3. Raoul Duke from Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
If you’ve never experimented with psychedelics before, partying with Raoul might freak you the hell out, but one thing is for sure: You won’t ever forget it. Any party with him would likely sprawl into days of drinking and tripping on the various drugs recommended by Raoul’s attorney. All you have to do is buy the ticket and take the ride. Caution: Beware of bats. And remember, it’s all — mostly — in your head.
4. Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Holly is witty, stylish, impulsive — she’s basically the perfect person to get you into the latest nightspots and show you hightimes. Not only that, but she likes a strong drink ("one-half vodka, one-half gin, no vermouth") and doesn’t exactly have a job, so throwing apartment parties filled with the most successful and wealthy New York City socialites is what she does best. And when there isn’t a party on, she’ll be singing on the fire escape or taking you out on a shoplifting adventure. Holly might not be a friend who sticks it out through the tough times, but you’d be sure to have a wild time with her.
5. Jean-Paul, Alain and Dominique from “Acrobat” by Laura van den Berg
Speaking of Mardi Gras, who better to party with than a troupe of acrobats? In van den Berg’s short story, the narrator becomes so entranced by street performers in Paris that she follows them around the city until they invite her out to an “acrobat party.” Mind you, these are people who essentially set themselves on fire to get attention in a crowd. Jean-Paul, Alain and Dominique also invite the narrator under the requirement that she get a costume, mask and paint her face for the soiree. Everywhere they go, the sound of bells follows them, and the night is truly unforgettable. There’s no doubt those guys would make a party.
6. Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Sure, Gatsby is the one orchestrating the grand Saturday night bashes in Fitzgerald’s novel, but he hardly bothers to even join them. You’re more likely to find him lurking in the shadows, anxious for his ex-girlfriend to appear at each party. Nick, on the other hand, would be a great guy to party with. Sure, he isn’t that wild, but he’s always along for the adventure and likely to get you into the most extravagant parties around New York and West Egg. Nick is also an easy guy to get along with; he’ll either let you have the spotlight or join you on the sidelines for a drink and a bit of gossip.
7. The Three Witches from Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Joining the Three Witches at the party might be a bit like that time you went out with the goth kids in highschool, but who better to hang out with than the ladies who knew how to have a good time despite being in one of Shakespeare’s bleakest plays? Of course, you would have to wear a pretty dark outfit, but that would let you scare the living hell out of normies to join a pretty exclusive crowd with access to the king. Plus, there would be singing around the cauldron and all sorts of fun, weird activities!
8. Henry Chinaski from Post Office by Charles Bukowski
Henry may be a bit of an alcoholic womanizer, but somehow that ends up being part of his charm. He’s not afraid to be who he is. Most people either love him or hate him, and he’s fine with that. You could join him at the races, betting and boozing — who knows, you might even be up some money at the end of the day! And even small talk with Henry would be entertaining — all those stories about post office hi-jinks and savage burns on the deadend bureaucracy. The man is blunt and has a great sense of humour, just so long as you don’t mind someone who tells it to you straight.
9. Kenny, David, Joseph and Arden from The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
You know those people who you meet for the first time and they somehow give you the feeling that you’ll be friends for life? Buster Fang finds this in the most unsuspected place: In the middle-of-winter, middle-of-nowhere Nebraska on assignment for a men’s magazine. The four ex-soldiers he meets there are welcoming, not judgemental, easy going and spend most of their time just drinking beers and blowing shit up with high-tech “spud guns” they’ve devised themselves. In other words: These boys don’t need much to show someone a good time. Sometimes it’s fun to do crazy shit for a night, if only for that invincible feeling it gives you (even if it puts you in the hospital). At the very least, partying with these guys would give you a good story.
10. Midori Kobayashi from Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
In need of some positive energy? Midori is vivacious, smart and whimsical. She’ll get you out of the house for a few afternoon vodka-tonics just to help get a little life in you. In Murakami’s novel, she’s able to show Toru Watanabe a good time even though he’s in the midst of a dreadful situation: He’s romantically involved with his dead best friend’s former girlfriend, Naoko, who’s still grieving the loss. Not only is Midori playful enough to lift anyone’s spirit, but she’s down to Earth and honest — two qualities that are great to back a person up when they’ve had maybe one too many drinks. She wouldn’t just be a go-to for a good time, she’d also make for a really fantastic friend.
Are there any characters you wish you could pull off the page for a night on the town? Let us know who you’d beckon and what trouble you’d get into in the comments below!
Freddie Moore is a Brooklyn-based writer. Her full name is Winifred, and her writing has appeared in The Paris Review Daily and The Huffington Post. As a former cheesemonger, she’s a big-time foodie who knows her cheese. Follow her on Twitter: @moorefreddie
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