Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Party

The devastating ennui continues.  I've lost my inner resources, or so it seems.  I am limp, sad, uninspired.  I sit.  I lie about.  I can think of nothing I want to do, nothing that makes me happy. 

Have I become a hikikomori?  I think I have (link).  

I went back to bed after writing yesterday's post and didn't get up again until nearly noon.  I managed to dress and go to the gym, but I didn't have much in my tank and decided to cut my workout short.  Then. leaving the gym, I decided it would be best to go visit my mother.  I didn't want to drive home, soak and bathe and then have to drive back to her house.  

She told me some things going on with her that disturb me but about which I can do nothing.  

I went lower.  

By the time I had finished my ablutions, it was late in the day.  But not late enough.  I was to attend what I was told would be a dinner for the German filmmaker at 7:30.  I had only eaten two pieces of peanut butter toast all day.  It was five.  What to do?  

I made a Campari and soda to think it over.  But the Campari on an empty stomach didn't settle well.  I decided to microwave a bowl of Asian noodle soup.  Then I lay on the couch.  I still had two hours before the dinner.  I lay there in the cool darkness of a darkened inner room and tried to still my mind, but the goddamned thing was dreadful.  I listened to the gurgling of my stomach and could think of nothing that made me happy.  I thought through all of my friends, almost all in relationships, all with someone "there" to succor them.  I'd always been the independent type, the man alone on a wire bullshit.  As I lay there in the semi-dark, I wanted succoring.  

I didn't sleep, but the time passed quickly.  I was sure I didn't want to go to this dinner, but what could I do?  I got up and went into the bathroom.  I looked in the mirror.  Jesus.  I put on an expensive t-shirt and some cheap Chinese linen shorts.  Sure.  Now I looked like something.  Ha!

What I thought was going to be an intimate dinner turned out to be a social event.  It wasn't dinner at all, but plates of finger foods, most of which was unappealing.  I contributed the bottle of wine I brought to the cheaper pool of bottles.  I opened mine and poured.  By the time I was ready for a second glass, and it was not so very long, it was empty.  There was still plenty left in the other bottles as is usually the case.  I was starving, so I made a little plate of hummus, crackers, and cheese.  It had been a shit day for food.  

The assemblage was much the same group of intimates that crowded around at the showing of Ula's film a week ago.  It was not particularly a crowd in which I felt comfortable.  No, it was not discomfort, necessarily, but rather a disinterest.  I sat quietly listening to the chatter for the most part, nodding and exuding a wan smile when I felt it required.  An Israeli painter asked me something.  She had beautiful eyes, dark hair, warm, silky skin, and a matronly figure.  Her legs showing beneath the hem of her dress were, as is so often the case, strong and very attractive.  But it was the eyes, the way she looked at one.  It wasn't me, it was anyone on whom she set her gaze.  They were mesmerizing.  

We talked for a bit before the conversation in the room took over.  The wine, the talk.  The crowd was smart but not so clever.  Discussions were carried out with references, so much different than my more recent crowd with whom one can never finish a story or a thought without someone cutting in.  This room was less raucous, more thoughtful.  They were polite.  

But I am smart, and I am well-informed, and I am a smart-ass, too.  I know better than most how to read a room and how to turn it sideways without really pissing people off.  I mean, I am funny.  And so. . . I warmed up a bit, talked a bit more, and in a while, I was beginning to laugh.  

A pretty woman came in with a bottle of wine.  The bottle only had a name but no declaration of what variety it might be.  The bottle was shaped something like a bottle of Pinot.

"What kind of wine is this?" I asked the pretty woman.  

"Oh. . . I only buy organic wines."  Her eyes were bright and dancing.  I knew she hadn't a clue.  But the bottle had a cork and she needed to find a corkscrew.  I watched her struggle with the opener.  

"You were obviously never a waitress," I chuckled.  

"Oh, no.  I've done a lot of things, though.  I am sort of a jack of all trades."

She was having trouble peeling the foil.  She didn't look like she'd ever used a corkscrew before.  

"And a master of. . . ?  I'm just going to watch you jack of all trades this bottle for an hour or so."

She laughed and handed the bottle to me.  

"What do you do?" I asked.  

"I manage some businesses, department stores, gas stations. . . . "

She looked like a corporate type.  She was friends with a socialite/entrepreneur I didn't care for who was the nexus of this group.  

Later, I was sitting next to her in the larger room when she started to tell, for reasons I could never figure out, about her relations with her step-mother.  It was dreadful, but it made me giggle.  I began prodding her in a rather ludicrous way.  I was intrigued, I said, by the jealousy that mother's have of their daughters.  

"Ula, that would make a great movie script," I offered Ula.

"Oh, yes," she said.  "It is rich."

"I"m fascinated by it as it is something I can never experience first hand.  But I know it is true."

"It is very common, yes."

"But this is my stepmother," the woman said.  She said she had her own daughter who was in her early twenties.  

Oooo. . . . 

"And what is the relationship like with her?"

"Well, she has serious mental issues, so. . . . "

Oops.  Still, it would have been fascinating.  

"You must have had her when you were ten."

That made her smile.  

"How old are you," someone asked.  


"That's the common age for women now," I said.  "That's what most women are now."

She squinted her eyes and laughed.  

"Well that leaves me out," said Ula.  

"It's a new world."  

"Forty-five is the new thirty," someone offered.  

"Twenty-one is the new twelve," I added which elicited a good group laugh.  

The conversation turned to AI.  There were several profs in the room.  Much to my surprise, they had pretty much cut the writing assignments for students out of their syllabi.  

"They just use AI.  It's not their work.  There is nothing you can do about it."

"Sure there is," I said.  "Once they choose a paper topic, you have them turn in all their research notes and sources before they begin."

"They still are just going to turn it all into an AI bot." 

As it turned out, the profs were using AI for their own research and writing, too.  They were using programs I'd never heard of.  One fellow in the room began explaining how AI was surpassing human abilities to search data and choose what was important separating the wheat from the chaff.  A film prof, a pontificating sort, began to quarrel with him about the future power of AI.  It became obvious that the other fellow was involved in some company or had some other interest in AI development.  I listened to them argue about the amount of energy it took for AI to work, about zero something energy production, solar, thermal, offshore power supplies, one saying we could always cut the source, the other saying that AI robots would be in charge.  

"I think you're missing something here, though," I offered.  What is the ultimate aim of energy production?" 

Blank stares.

"Food.  Humans now use more energy to produce food than they get back.  We produce food at an energy deficit.  And solar energy isn't going to change that.  The fertilizers we use are oil byproducts. I can't believe you are trying to predict a world without politics.  It always goes back to Big Money.  Big Money isn't going to give up control of anything.  AI will never own itself.  Big Money will make sure of that."

Oh, I was pleased with myself.  What a crock of shit, I thought, but I had read the room.  The one eyed king.  

Then the room broke down into a series of smaller conversations.  I sat across from the Israeli woman and caught her glances.  Ula kept looking my way and laughing.  There was an unspoken joke about it all between us.  

Then it was midnight and Ula stood up to say her farewells.  She'll be moving to Chicago in one month.  She came over to say goodbye, kissed me on the lips, and said, "We'll get together for dinner before I leave.  I have your number." 

I was shocked by the kiss on the lips but even more so that she had my number.  

And so the party broke up, and I went home.  I'd sat among filmmakers, film professors, and film critics.  There were artists and musicians and professors and rich businessmen who sought out culture.  

And there was me, a desolate hermit, a retired factory worker, perhaps a hikikomori, a man who lies on his couch in despair.  But I'd had a good time.  And the coming week's calendar is filling up.  I have lunch on Tuesday with my former secretary and my replacement, twice removed, and others from my former department.  And I have a get-together with the rich gymroid crowd on Thursday.  Travis and I have been planning a lunch, and I need to meet up with C.C at some point soon.  And that is all good.  

But sitting alone on the couch at home past midnight, leaning back with the night's last drink, what I knew was that it was the pretty women that brought me out.  It was the attention of women that made me happy.  The rest of it was all bunk.  There was only one reason to be smart or clever.  There was only one reason to do anything ever.  

There is nothing like the inviting gaze of a pretty woman that suggests something unsaid.  But it was bedtime.  

And I would be sleeping alone.

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