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Very short stories to read at the bus stop.


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No Place for the Camera to Stand

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Have you ever been to one of those super-hip clubs where everything looks like a bunch of tiny sets for movies or television or theater, just a bunch of disconnected, mismatched seating groups separated by bare hardwood or unpainted concrete or unapologetically vintage linoleum, all separated from each other with little walls-on-wheels, draped with ten yards of dyed burlap or fifty pounds of threadbare velvet, with something cheap and modern and rectangular nailed into the middle of it? Where each little cluster looks like a hundred square feet sawed out of the corner of some art student's dorm?

If you're not the sort of person who gets into super-hip clubs, this is what you're missing.

I am the sort of person who gets into these clubs. I practically live in them. Nothing can keep me out. I walk through the walls.

I see them as little sets no matter how hard I try not to. I wonder where I'm supposed to stand or sit or whatever so that, if I were a camera, I could crop down to something that would look like a seamless section of something larger. Something coherent. Something that belonged somewhere as part of a larger whole.

I'd walk around making the dippy rectangle out of my thumbs and forefingers, the mystical and holy sign of The Tube, and look at each little set from every possible angle. "Are you ... somebody?" people ask me. A lot. I don't say a word, but I nod. Then shake my head. Then nod again. Every time I'm asked I switch my answer, alternating.

At some point I must have figured that maybe the drinks were a critical part of the illusion. So I tried them all. As a cost-saving measure I even tried the ones that weren't mine.

You'd be surprised how easy that is to get away with. Just lock eyes with the owner of the drink you'd like to try. Keep a serious expression. Just reach over slowly and take the damned glass. Take a sip. Put a puzzled expression on your face and walk away without saying a word. This always works. But the drinks didn't help.

Some of the clubs put out little packets on little mirrors, when the atmosphere is right. I know for a fact once that the little packets were a saccharine-based sweetener, but people still snorted it all up and laughed way too loud. But not even Sweet-N-Low helped.

It occurs to me that maybe I'm missing the point. The point is to not get comfortable, to not find a place that fits, to not settle down. The point is to keep writhing and twitching and stay uncomfortable and then get fed up and leave. And then do it again tomorrow.

There is no belonging, no completeness, no resting. There just isn't.

All in all, I have to say I approve. But I'm the Goddess of Ennui.

[*]

Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

21st Aug 2008, 04:38   | tags:

Advert

ouch
... what a dark view

21st Aug 2008, 12:48

Heh. She seems cheerful enough to me.... :)

This was an exercise in "who you are determines what you see". Boredom is mostly a failure to engage. If all you do is sit back and watch, you lose interest if you can't get involved.

The scene of people snorting saccharine was a scene from my own memories. Friends and friends of friends were mocking coke-heads they all knew, taking turns making lines of sweetener on a mirrored tile with a college student ID card, making a show of rolling up a $1 bill instead of a twenty or a fifty for a particular individual who had financial difficulties caused by his drug use, making faces and mimicking voices and catch-phrases.... These people define for me the image of people having fun at a party. They were having a blast. Many of them refer back to that moment fifteen years later as a source of inside jokes.

The point (in my head, since I have access to info that didn't make it into the story) was how the goddess of ennui here would miss that entirely, or at least fail to assign it any lasting value.

An idea I have, either for a novel or a collection of short stories, is to have fifteen to twenty people involved in the same life-changing scene, but describe how each of them experienced it through their own filters. I haven't done any real work on it yet, but a lot of the scenes I've written with bunches of people in them have that underlying idea soaking into the strata....

Sometimes I have the problem attributed to Kafka. Some of the stuff I write that is seen as dark, I see as kinda (or really) funny, and it only comes out when I read the stories out loud. If you can find a copy of Kafka reading "The Metamorphosis" I really recommend it. :)

[*]

21st Aug 2008, 14:25

I'll try and find it
Maybe the dark thing was a kind of transferrence

22nd Aug 2008, 02:00

... and sometimes I lose track of my tone. The last three paragraphs are possibly a bit more harsh than they need to be to get the point across, now that I look at it again....

[*]

22nd Aug 2008, 16:09