Saturday, October 11, 2008

But I am not a Zombie

September 2008

Zombie Party Man FearSo last night, Brad had a party here. It wasn't extraordinarily  successful and he said he was disappointed that not a lot of people came. I tried to keep to my room and fiddle with the computer. When there is a party- and you aren't actually throwing it-  and it is in the house you are living, there is a dilemma about whether to come out and participate or to stay aloof. 

The risks are on both sides. First of all, you will be surrounded by people you don't know and you may be on the outside of every conversation. This depends on the type of people mostly. If they want to be friendly then you may have to listen to a lot of filling-in in order to grasp anything at all from the conversation.  Or you can take the other way, and sit in your private space. , feeling more and more lonely and bitter. Meanwhile, people think of you as freakish.
I tried that but finally gave up that up. As it turned out, Brad had been telling everybody that all I did was stay in my room all day. I am always afraid that, as the performance art begins, I will unintentionally and unconsciously sneer. Anyway, I went out but sat at the far end of the room, a low risk spot. The very worst thing would be to say something supposedly witty and to see people exchange looks and laugh nervously. 

So I am sitting there on the opposite side as the rest of the room, suddenly I see something  small fly across the room and land on the sofa a foot away. I thought, in quick succession, what and who. I looked and saw it was a quarter and not a bottle cap.. but I suppose my feelings were a little hurt.  All of Brad's friends as a little elitist group and anybody who isn't in THEIR crowd is an outcast. So, I thought why should I have even come out. To have things tossed at me? What a rude thing to do, I thought.

I went back to my room. I saw in front of the computer and checked my mail and the news for the hundredth time today. 

About a half hour later, I could hear Amy and some woman talking in the hallway. The unidentified woman was telling Amy how they had spent about 30 minutes outside, ringing the doorbell. (There is no doorbell. The wires hang off the wall like two bean sprouts.) Finally, I can hear the woman say, " and  so, we had to throw coins through the window to get somebody to answer the door!" So, I jumped up and opened the door and said..."So it was you?"

Feeling much better, I went to the market downstairs and bought a 6 pack of beer. Took it back to the party and sat and drank and watched the performance. The performance itself was nothing to write home about.. consisting mostly of a reflection infinity effect from the camera to the projector. People sometimes stood in front of the wall and made strange effects. Other than this, it was a university party.

I was still sitting on the far side of the room. The woman, who was about the same age as me, turned to me and said, "What do you think of this?" I didn't want to say what I really thought but I also didn't want to lie. "Not bad."
"Do you think it is creative?"
"I think it is.. or Brad wants it to be."'
"He is an important artist. What do you think of his work?"
There was a kind of suspicious tone, as if she were probing me. "It is performance art and I don't really know much about that. Anything I would say, would probably be ignorant. Personally,"I said slowly,"I don't think much of it."
I felt as if I should keep my mouth shut. "I mean, I think he needs to grow as an artist. Right now he is just starting out and things are going to improve over time."
"Frankly, I don't know how either of them earn enough money to live in this apartment. Neither of them seem to have a real job," she said, leaning closer. She was guarded and careful about each word and checking for my response.
"I know. It is amazing to me."
And that set us off on the right track. Her name was Mary. Her hair was a kind of mix of yellow and orange and she wore fashionable glasses. She dressed in Neo-hippie style which, in fact, suited her quite well. She, at 52, was after all an original hippie.We discussed Art with a capital "a" and the community in Staten Island.. and the gallery. I told her my ideas about the best direction for the gallery. She told me she was a poet but that she didn't consider herself very successful. "I have to work."
"Well, as a poet, you cant expect to earn enough to live. I don't think that is very likely."
"Oh I know that. But it is the kind of work I do. I deal with sick people all day. It takes all the creativity out of my life."
Although I was a bit skeptical, I understood what she meant. "Most jobs do that in one way or the other."
"I should change the direction of my life."
"Yeah, you can do that. You really have to want to do it, but it is easy to change. You have to be willingly to give up a lot of the things you are used to. Normally, though, you replace them with new things and probably better things."
"Well, for example, you watch a lot of TV?"
"Not much"
"Well, suppose you had to give it up completely, but suppose you would replace it with sitting with your friends in the evening and talking?"
Her husband suddenly joined in. "That would be better, of course. Talking with people is always better."
"It is usually like that."
And so we spoke all night long as if we had known each for years. I invited them to come to Turkey. She had never traveled too much. I think she said she had been to the Caribbean once but never to Europe or the Far East. No place where the majority of people did not speak English. I told her that travel would open up her eyes in so many ways. Ok, trite and over-worked, but essentially true.

We discussed the possibility of her giving a poetry reading at the gallery. I said that it would not be difficult to arrange and the number of people attending should be about the correct number for a reading. I told her that, although we would have to check with Brad and Amy, the gallery could be arranged to match whatever kind of environment she would need to support the mood of the work. For example, the projector could be showing a slide show at the same time which would give a kind of concurrence or contrast to the words she was reading. She seemed interested but perhaps a bit nervous about it.

Her husband, Roy.. thin Slavic, bony, a bit of a lush, trying to affect a stronger accent than normal. Trying hard to be.. funny.. or Italian.."Shudup. Don be sa Stooooo pid" or something besides intoxicated. I could tell he was more nervous than I was in crowds and found that, without alcohol, it was difficult to make contact.  after he became more comfortable, I noticed he drank slower and he added to the conversation more and more, making jokes about himself.

Eventually, the guests began to leave in groups and we remained there, eating the leftovers and olives. "If they are going to have.. something like this, they really ought to have something to snack on."
"You're lucky. He was talking about selling glasses of wine."
They decided to walk the distance to their home and invited me to join  them. I hate to speculate where that might or might not have led and I think it was best to leave it where it lay. I gave them my number and told them I was definitely up for a meeting at a local bar during the week.
At the end, Brad told me that he had work in the morning."Oh yeah?"
"I am an extra in a film. I have to get up in.." he looked at the clock,"oh God, three hours. I never would have agreed if I had known I had to get up THAT early."
"But a film? What kind of film?"
"Independent. It is about zombies. It's a zombie film." Original, I thought. "It's a comedy about .. zombies but they are really talking about conservatives."
"If,"I told him,"if it is about zombies, then don't worry about getting up early. You will look the part if you don't go to bed at all."
"The problem is, I am not a zombie."


  1. Very interesting story. I like the way you tell stories in your colorful language. You must continue writing.


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