sarah stodola 


It was the red one, he said.

What red one?

The one, like, most of the way in the back of the auditorium.

That wasn’t red. It was definitely pink. Like the kind of pink that lives  for being pink. What are you color blind? Sheila don’t listen to him,

We’d been trying to tell Sheila how the whole thing started. It was definitely pink. Actually though the “it” in this case was a man on stilts, dressed head to toe—err, head to bottom of stilt—in a shimmery hot pink material that may have had the suggestion of orange in it, but saying so would complicate the conversation even further. And where he wasn’t dressed in shimmery hot pink, his visible skin was painted with it. His head was covered in a shimmery hot pink pageboy wig. His nails were painted in it.

The man on stilts had been dancing along with everyone else in the place, which was interesting I thought, because usually men on stilts are performing, but he wasn’t, He was just a man hanging out on stilts.

Until he wasn’t. Usually these kinds of parties are all love and good auras and hugs, but of course one or two ramped up assholes inevitably make their way in. And it happened that one of them gave a good shove to another one, over who knows what, spilled beer maybe, and the shovee stumbled backward and there was a slow motion moment of watching to see if he would regain his balance before he made contact with the hot pink man on stilts.

He didn’t.

When a man on stilts tumbles over in a crowd, there is collateral damage. By the time those three or four second of falling were over, the hot pink man formerly on stilts lay in the center of a moderately size pile of humans. The good thing, probably, is that these other humans had softened fall. None of them seemed hurt, either. They did seem existentially assaulted, but they slowly brushed themselves off and made their ways back to the standing position.

The stilted man continued to lie there, not in an injured sort of way, more like this was just the next phase of the evening for him, from a new vantage point. His head continued to bob to the music.

We happened to be nearby when it all happened, so I knelt next to him and asked him if he was okay. He didn’t say anything, but he did lift his hand, which was closed in a fist. At first, the fist was situated palm down. Slowly, he  rotated it until it faced palm up. Then he slowly opened his hand. I looked into his palm, and it was the strangest thing, to see a deep red stone, polished smooth, sitting there on his hot pink life line.

He made a little gesture, like he wanted me to take the rock. And so I did. It felt right that he, a 100 percent hot pink man, not be holding onto a deep red rock.

I slipped it into the back pocket of my jeans and more or less forgot about it. The hot pink man on stilts was probably one of those weirdos, who come to parties like this one in droves by the way, who believe in the magical healing powers of rocks. I’m not one of those people, and kept the deep red stone mostly because no ready alternative presented itself.

Later, when we’d met back up with Sheila, we sat down on a concrete bench outside and when we did, I felt the deep red rock in my back pocket.

Oh yeah, I said to Sheila, one of the guys on stilts gave me this. I showed it to her and a look of horror took hold of her fine featured face.

What, I said, looking at the stone anew. But she wouldn’t say.

You should put that away, she said. And then, Who gave that to you, exactly?

Uh, a guy on stilts.

That’s when Raymond chimed in saying it was the red one, I think Raymond could actually be color blind, and I make a mental note to pay attention to observations with regard to color in the future.

We head back inside to see if the hot pink man on stilts is still at the party. Sheila’s dying to find him, and I’m just joking around like well if he’s still here he won’t be hard to find, being a hot pink man on stilts.

Sheila’s not interested in humor. I’m attributing her weird behavior to all the drugs. In that light, weird behavior seems completely par for the course. I want a beer.

I pull Sheila and Raymond in the direction of the bar, and as we’re waiting for an opening to wiggle through the crowd, we all see the hot pink man on stilts at once.

I’m starting to realize that Sheila wants to talk to him, but like how would that even work?


Sarah Stodola is the founder and editor of Flung, the author of Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors, and a widely published travel and culture writer.