Wednesday, December 08, 2004

in the big house

So last night, before I came home and had my marital fantasy meltdown, I was of course working a swanky party at the Cantor Art Center, the courtyard of which I have described here in the past.

Although I was originally tapped to pass hors d'ouevres, about an hour into the party, Sleek moved me onto door duty. Apparently last year when we did this party, the guests complained afterwards that they hadn't been told where anything was. So this year our salesperson budgeted to have one person who just opened the door between the main hall of the museum and the courtyard, and told people going through the door where they could find the seafood buffet, the coffee station, the dessert display, their ass with both hands, etcetera. Whoops, did I write that out loud? Anyway. Red was on the job, and got bored, so I was sent to take over.

And I have no idea how Red had managed to do it for a whole hour. Oh my god, was it ever boring. And made worse by the fact that every person who came through the door had to say something witty like, is this your whole job tonight? and you should get a doorstop (the site forbids it) and you got the easy job! and I had to nod and grin like, like, one of those robot dogs.

As it happens, it wasn't really that easy. The reflected light from the hall made it difficult to see through the door, and it was kind of tricky telling whether the people I was seeing were on my side of the door or the other. And the place was so packed that I couldn't really open the door all the way, I had to keep it sort of half-open, sort of Schroedinger's Cat-like. Is the cat alive? Is the cat dead? Is the courtyard full of poison from a capsule broken by a decaying electron?

But I digress.

I know that some writers love to do that thing where you look at strangers, and try to imagine what their stories might be. Apaprently that's very big among fiction writers, or at least among people who teach fiction writing. So I thought, okay, I'll try it: after all, I'm using about a half of one percent of my brain capacity here. This could give me ideas for stories I could write when I get home, and sell for lots of money, and never have to open this damn door for another person again.

But I couldn't seem to look at these people and come up with any narrative.

Until I started imagining that every last one of them was a criminal of some kind, and I had to figure out what kind as they walked past. And then, wow, I was on a roll. Insider trading was a little old man with a much younger woman trailing behind him. A woman with big teased hair was mail fraud. I saw at least two pedophiles. I am a bad person, but it was hilarious, and nobody knew why I was smiling so much as they walked through my half-open door.

At least, until I got so bored that I nearly fell asleep and clocked an Assistant Vice President sporting teeth like big planks of IKEA melamine-covered fibreboard with my door. Please tell Sleek that I'm about to pass out here, I asked a passing FP (Fellow Penguin--cf. WIT, Worker In Tux), and thirty-five minutes after I'd assumed door duty, I was back out with the hors d'ouevre tray.

Slinging snacks to imaginary felons.