The evening of the party is like every other evening. They sit around the numberless tables in a vast well-lit space. It is a sea of humanity shrinking into the horizon. Ten are seated at each table. There is no theme to the evening, no thread that ties them. Some are dressed as for a formal occasion, but most are not. Each table is draped in white linen.
In every detail it is as you would expect—before the innumerable guests are cups and saucers, plates of food, cutlery, beverages. Everyone here has something to say. Some speak more forcefully than others, some receive a broader hearing. Some speak softly into the empty air—no one cares to hear what they say. Some repeat words spoken by others. Some inject a comment, here and there. Some dominate the vast party with voices that carry into the corners of the room. Some have malicious intent and wait for their opportunity to leap upon a stray utterance, in the hope of shaming a fellow guest. Every day they congregate. Today, it is no different.
– “when you hit shuffle on your ipod and the song you were thinking of comes on,” says Diiaaannaaaa, to no one especially.
– “Good morning and peace be with you!” adds ArchdioceseMilwaukee. “Let’s stop to pray for one another today, as well as for our families and the…”
And the…what? Alas, we shall never know.
Many of them chatter of sport.
– “Do you think the Colts lost b/c of poor coaching,” asks Nate Miller, “or was it the fact that it was 49 degrees in Valdosta, GA that day?”
A good question.
Nate has not addressed himself to Franklin Graham, who nonetheless seizes the occasion to interject, cleverly, “Do you think the Russians interfered with the outcome of the U.S. election or was it God?”
Haha! Touché, Mr. Graham.
Mr. Miller ignores this witticism. Adam Wren, however, does not.
“Really a false dichotomy, right?” he says.
Balake Obama likes the exchange but says nothing.
Afristotle (a distant relation to the ancient philosopher, perhaps?) adverts to the Chicago Reader and asks, “Did the NBA blacklist former Chicago Bulls player Craig Hodges because of his political beliefs?” No one at the party offers a perspective, but haymarketbooks quietly approves of what he hears.
Simple NBA Scores informs the party that The Nuggets won 132 – 120 over the Trail Blazers. In another part of the room, and apropos of nothing, Joe Tay blurts: The Nuggets won 132 – 120 over the Trail Blazers. Well then, Mr. Tay, that is sufficient confirmation for me.
Ross Brewer is agitated, for reasons unclear. To Beld Benett, he says, “that is just a woman who is sick of listening to so much shit come out of her husbands hole.shut the fuck up.”
There is a lot of this kind of talk at the party, regrettably. The guests do find a good many ways to tell one another to “shut the f*ck up.”
Although the party is for the most part calm and dignified, here and there battles of words erupt, some quickly petering while others flare. Like a wildfire, a flame of rage will sometimes leap into the air and land a distance away, igniting the ground.
Imagine it: a spacious room of random strangers, a scattered few of them shouting into the void at distant interlocutors.
“for Canadians, dump the duty!” says betty. “it’s the lowest on the planet, only at $20 before duty charged!” She is impassioned. Obviously she cares deeply for this pet issue of hers. A pity that no one else seems to hear, or to care.
However, CABA implores the party to send a postcard to Bill Morneau. CABA hopes, like betty, to “dump the duties.” It happens that she has an ally.
Bill Morneau, meanwhile, is oblivious. “Be sure to check out the #TorCen organizations working to support those living with HIV,” he says. Perhaps some of the guests do, or perhaps they don’t. We shall never know. The party simply goes on.
Mohammadreza Sharifp, who looks remarkably like an egg, finds this sentiment of Mr. Morneau agreeable.
A Mr. Esco quotes Frederick S. Leahy to the assembly: “As the Cross goes out of focus in the Christian’s life, coldness and backsliding set in.”
What a strange thing to say at a party, when the focus is properly on good times! Why bring coldness and backsliding into it?
Oddly enough, as the time passes others will cite the aforementioned Mr. Leahy. Wait a bit, and you’ll hear Nancy Wolgemuth, at another table, rehearse precisely the same quotation.
Perhaps you know Mr. Jackson Gilmour. It is more likely you don’t. He is a stranger, unbeknownst to yours truly. Yet I know as certain fact that he looks forward to getting back to the violin factory, for he says so explicitly. He adds that it is an intimate venue with a super funky vibe.
Not a vibe or even a funky vibe: a super funky vibe. It makes me wish I were there at this moment, vibing.
No one agrees with Mr. Gilmour, but no one disagrees either. Let’s consider it a wash, dear reader. The nature of the vibe must be left in a state of skepticism, there’s no getting around it.
Aidil in the meanwhile speaks of lekuk in explicitly lurid terms. I apologize in advance for having to reproduce his locutions, viz:
– “i love u bb, ur the best at layan-ing me! aku sayang kau serious :’)) i willing to fight hafiz jadi ur pengapit doh 💛”
– “Note to self:” says lekuk. “Lasagna is hot.”
The party guests have many things to say of lasagna. The party guests have many things to say of everything. They speak in an unbroken stream of rollicking cacophony. They speak over and across and beyond one another. They speak in cryptic half-formed thoughts and in drunkenness and in libellous fits of rage. They gaze at their navels in despair. They declaim and decry the end of civilization.
Mostly the party is boring.
Remarkably the dullards go on speaking of lasagna. Some of the guests have even, apparently, named themselves after lasagna.
For example, fa la la lasagna (who by his own admission is “single as shit”) says, “C&O: home of the $7 jack off.”
Indeed! What oft was thought and ne’er so well expressed! Twenty-nine people repeat this sententia.
Corey replies, “I live right next door, been wasting my cho all year.”
He rolls on the floor, laughing, until his ass has come off.
The eating and drinking continue late into the night. The party is a feast of reason and a flow of soul. Some however are drunk and restless. Some of them are very angry.
Suddenly, the Orange Menace erupts unannounced into the party. Everyone turns to look at him. He enjoys this universal attention. Yes, he positively relishes it, craves it even. You can see it in the fire of his eyes, in which are reflected the eyes of all others.
He holds the room, pausing for dramatic effect before attacking one of the guests by name.
The poor young lady is stunned. Until now she has been sitting quietly in an uneventful corner of the room. Ah, but she did say something, did she not? Yes, she did say something, only hours ago!
– I think the orange menace is liar, she said.
And now he is here at the party. And now all attention is upon the young lady.
– “Look at her,” shouts the Orange Menace. “LOOK at the loser! So SAD!”
He points, and they look. He shouts, and they attack. The party has been given a common theme, a shared purpose, so they co-ordinate. Like a master switch turning everything on simultaneously, the Orange Menace provides the party with a direction. The guests focus their restless energies on the young lady and set to the work of tearing her down.
The Orange Menace has no sooner arrived than he has left the party. He gets into the waiting limousine and the driver takes him to the gilded safety of Crusher Tower. There, the President-elect welcomes the world’s rich and powerful. They flock to him, and together they eat and drink and make their plans for the world. The young woman is already out of his mind. The Orange Menace has moved on. He knows that the guests of the party will do his bidding in his absence, mercilessly tearing down the young woman who had the temerity to speak ill of the Leader. They will not forget her transgression, and they will not forgive. This is how things works at the party.