Friday, August 7, 2009

There's food in the tent

You're at a cocktail party, standing against a pilaster, holding up the wall, sipping room temperature Perrier water from a plastic cup, flies and mosquitoes buzzing about your head, and someone with their back to you says, "Isn't it terrible. Did you hear what happened?"

From where you stand, you see girls playing in the fountain, you don't know what they're playing, but it involves dunking and giggling a lot. A balloon pops over by the hedges. It's a fizzy night for some.

You're trying to listen in but inconspicuously. What happened? "B. lost his job." You hadn't realized that his company was doing badly. Sure, loads of companies were suffering through this dismal summer, but this was news.

"His company is doing fine, in fact they're looking to expand, but the bank wouldn't extend them a line of credit unless they cut payroll."

A broad-shouldered dude with bleached hair pulled back into a ponytail is carrying a tray of fresh drinks but you can't reach him as he makes his way indifferently among the clumps of guests. You wonder what he does during the day. Drugs?

"Yeah, they had to lay off a bunch of people in order to get a loan. Now when they expand, they won't have enough people to do the work, so they'll have to hire. Crazy, isn't it? It's terrible for him. He's got young kids."

You're drinking bubbly water so you can have a straight conversation with M. who might have a job for you. You don't want to slip up because of booze. That would be too stupid. This is your first cocktail party since being laid off and it feels funny to be dressed up, itchy almost. You want to play your cards right, so you've got to look the part. It occurs to you that all your thinking these days is done in clich├ęs. Mental scar tissue.

All of a sudden, there's M. coming toward you, with a real drink. He's smiling and relaxed. As he extends his hand, he says, "I've heard lots of good things about you. It's a pleasure to finally meet."

"Likewise."

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