there are times in my life where i feel vaguely like a trained circus animal inside my skin trying, despite strange mane and markings, to sit amidst the audience like i belong there.
monday night. 27 december. east village. a few beers with my host's "friends from college".
friends of a friend.
aren't they always.
it's like this cross pollination of cultural know-how. a friend you met abroad, where neither of you were anybody except the contents of your backpack and the stamps in your passport, invites you to stay with him over a short holiday trip. at his Home.you could be anyone, but anyone would not be welcome; anyone is dangerous; instead you are a familiar extra in an unwritten biography. somehow tourism in time has made you kin, and so you remain part of the story despite the scene change.
suddenly hong kong is new york city 3 and some years later, and one of your natives, that is, native to kowloon peninsula and a ratbag hostel next to chungking on a nine month meander through asia, is a med school student in nyc, researching Matters of Much Importance and searching the internet for his future jewish princess bride.
the script has changed to something very very different.
enter upper middle class 20 somethings.
they no doubt would contest that classification, but from a creature who still makes $10/hr at the ripe young age of 31, the television digital projector in the living room is a dead give-away.
she was one of those petite little made-up numbers, greeting houseguests with a cataloguing of her christmas presents, like what she got was somehow adequate explanation. conversations throughout the night were peppered with plans and life projections, colored by the ever-so-slightly co-dependent "we".
definitely well drawn out as characters go. clearly defined, well costumed, understandable.
he was more enticing, an admirable interest in music, perhaps a bit too much into sports for my liking.
ever harsh, i know. i am a guilty carrier of that primitive bo-ho stigmatization that football lovers can be nothing but vacuous.
first note to self: not necessarily so.
another guy, however, makes quips about homos and big tits and, greeted with uncertain silence, brushes them off with "just kidding".
suddenly my friend turns to him and points out that the significance of voicing what's really on one's mind deserves more respect than a kick in the corner when it doesn't garner a chuckle.
someone recognizable stands up from the audience, and nods.
i nod back.
there's an awkward pause, and then conversation about college graduates and drunken idiocy resumes.
honesty is the objective eye of a tourist, on the outside looking in, but honesty at home is so often impossible, 'coz you're already "in". how can you see properly when you're already in, or that's the prevailing notion when things get too close for comfort.
so it kindda just gets dismissed.
we are finally on our way out. it's been a...Novel experience, but kindda tiring. for no reason i can pinpoint.
the girl, or rather, the "girlFriend" looks down at my shoes, and, a little too quickly says "oh i lauvvvvveee your shoes. (pause) they look so...comfortable".
"i love them too"
encouraged by her success, she responds once again "they look so...comfortable."
the air is rife with the unspoken (and i paraphrase) "Christ's Cock, Girl, what ARE those lifeboats on your feet!" but she doesn't. she just stares at me, lips glued to her teeth in an ingratiating smile, Determined to be nice.
my shoes are indeed Utterly Ludicrous, as footwear goes.
although they aren't even registering on the richter scale of appeal factors influencing my potential sex life, they are truly riveting in their outrageous portly skater sneaker cum lifeboat kind of a way.
we're ushered out the door with talk of ski trips and christmas coats and how the story will continue when i get on the train tomorrow.
you wouldn't want to live in my shoes, sweetheart, but they keep me buoyant. they keep me buoyant.