It’s not that I don’t love the spectacle and excitement the arts community offers: Once I get through the door, I’m in my element. It’s the preface and epilogue I can’t quite handle. And I don’t want witnesses.
Those of you cut from the same nervous, tenuously-knit cloth as myself probably don’t need to read any further (see you in therapy). To the others: consider this sensitization to our plight and act of goodwill, and proceed with caution.
Kafka and guest
“Let me know when you’ll be arriving,” the chirpy PR agent says, “and I’ll get you a ticket for a friend!”
“Oh… uh-huh,” you say over the phone. Of course you want one for a friend—don’t you? You’re not some kind of loner. Anyway, you can’t quite say no. You hang up and stare dejectedly at your phone.
As if by black magic, you no longer know anyone on the planet interested in attending event X. Names swirl across the screen in undecipherable hieroglyphics, and the little green contacts avatar seems to mock you despite his featureless face. (Smug bastard.)
It seems everyone falls into one of three categories: Not Their Thing, Not Available, and Dead. Even the dead guy is probably busy. In desperation, you wonder whether grandmother is free Friday night. She likes post-apocalyptic interpretive dance… right? You could bribe her with those depressing beige cookies old people love. What are they called—Digestion something?
Better just say your one-plus was ill. There’s an awful cold going around. Not that you’re going to catch it from anyone.
Yeah, well, Google Maps says a lot of things
Let’s say you persuaded someone to tag along. It’s now 15 minutes to curtain, and you stand in the aisle of the 55 Northbound searching through your phone like a being possessed. Aha! You’ll check the press release! Surely, that’ll have the address on it!
Passengers eye you with suspicion as you mutter frantic incantations into your palm, willing the 3G gods to let your Gmail load. An old man looks on in pity. It’s terrible, what’s happened to the youth of today.
Then, as you’re getting off the bus, your ringer sounds.
“Uhh, hey! Yeah, it’s actually, uh, just on St-Laurent…” You switch to speakerphone and fumble in your pocket for a lighter. “Pretty sure the address is… 724… no, wait, 742. Actually, just let me—”
No worries, your friend is on top of things. “Oh, you’re already there—good!” you enthuse in an unnaturally high voice. “Ha-ha! Silly me, I thought you were lost! Well then, see you in five!” Beep.
It’s too late to ask for help now. How many studios can there be on St-Laurent? It’s definitely… that way.
By now the show is over, and you linger in the lobby with other guests, juggling a flimsy plastic glass, a paper plate of hors d’oeuvres, your phone and notepad.
People around you discuss the show, but you’ve got to get home and write this thing before it disappears from your mind. Got to look it over. Send it in. Mother will be worried. Porridge getting cold.
But the guy you’re speaking with won’t give up. Like a reluctant executioner at the guillotine, you’re waiting for the moment to cut the evening short.
“…and that’s when I decided that I was done with this scene. Do you know Margaux?” He lowers his Lennon glasses expectantly.
“The… who?” You toss your head back and drain the rest of the boxed red. Oh, the director, right. You let him blabber on as you play flight attendant and search the room for exits. You’ll devise a strategy.
Fake a call. Sneak out… and hit the dusty trail alone.
Ride on, neurotic cowboy, ride on.