I had to remind Juliet that I tell that story all the time, usually to a stranger who is about to leave a party because s/he can’t connect to anyone anywhere, a stranger resting at the bar for quite some time growing disgusted at the sight of other people having a good time.
A little bubble descends around us, like in Get Smart. Someone is usually dragging their fingers through the party mix looking for the good bits. Idle. Despairing.
So I was in a 7-11 in southern oregon the morning of the fourth of july with my friend who had been talked into driving somebody else’s shit up there and we were exhausted. Exhausted from being three in a cab of an now inadequate toyota truck: an essay in pretzled limbs. Left-with-no-morals exhausted, which accounted for our uncontested selection for breakfast: cigarettes and fruit pies. But not yet so exhausted that I failed to notice the daily paper that said, in 3-inch letters, that Klaus Barbie had been convicted.
Barbie’s bin convicted, I mentioned to my friend.
For what, having pointy tits? she said absently, studying the fruit pie flavors.
Almost, I said and we paid the clerk, who was cranking his face up in horror.
We left, smoked, ate, and ended up in Bolinas shooting fireworks on the beach. Sheriff left us alone, being busy with this van parked up the street that the locals had been blowing up, little by little, all day. It was finally becoming a starsky and hutch ka-boom liability. I felt all prickly waiting for it to spray.
There. That’s usually how I tell it.
It provokes both awkward and charmed responses, I won’t lie. At least, as they step out of the door into the street, resigned, happy to be heading home, they have one thing:
a real and welcome impetus to leave after having crossed paths with a subversive storyteller, or
a small accomplishment that can’t withstand the risky business of staying afloat in the swirly interactive mortification chamber of a party.
There they go.
I usually leave a few minutes afterward, too. Probably for the same reasons.