The Collapsing Armature / 10 September 2001

I’m at a party a couple of years ago, one of these too-well-lit parties where there isn’t a quorum and so nothing moves on its own, every anecdote has to have several improvised endings added to it to meet the resulting silence, and there was a great deal of laughter, and some knowing looks, a number of unattributed references that everyone there picked up on, or at least recognized to be a reference and not an original statement. The apartment was small and hot, the night outside either completely black or else dull orange with low-pressure sodium streetlights, I’m not sure. The drinking was hesitant. (And wouldn’t it be nice to be one of those unabashed drinkers? The kind of man who pours a stiff one in the middle of the day, offers something to the others, ice cubes spiraling, knocking it back with ease, smiling, laughing, no apparent change in their behavior, no need to worry?) The momentum sticky and tepid.

And I did the thing I’ve mentioned before where I stop listening to what people say and instead only hear the way they’re saying it, or their reaction to what someone else said (it’s still my first instinct, when something exciting or loud or alarming happens, to look at the expressions on people’s faces before taking a look at the exciting and loud event). But as time wore on and compact discs were exhausted and replaced (though too quiet! every throat-click and embarrassed murmur perfectly audible!), I stopped even paying attention to that and focused all my attention on honesty, waiting, totally unparticipating, watching their lips move, listening to the cadences of their voices, wondering when there would be an actual genuine moment, an unexpected laugh or gasp, a brief glimpse of real pleasure, or anger, or spite, or even boredom, even a handful of seconds of someone being thoroughly and openly bored. My god but I am bored, for Pete’s sake, Christ Almighty! But it never came, and things wrapped up early, and my head was empty as I drove home, and I knew I had found my peers and I wanted to kiss each of them in turn, holding them close and asking that they never move away.

Previously / Facelift
Next / The White Lodge

Joshua Green Allen

Fireland is a rickety old website by Joshua Allen.

A novel called Chokeville and a beverage-review site called The Knowledge For Thirst.

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The Sexiest Sentence Alive, Fireland Broke My Will To Live, The Black Pill Diaries, and a sampling of Old Fireland Designs.

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