The soirée is a surprise, even to me. (Especially to me.) Not that it was thrust upon me; after all I had been the one who heard of the event and I had been the one who asked Tommy Q. (previously an acquaintance from my alma mater, now a graduate student at Imperial University, simultaneously pursuing his Master's in Archeology and busking on the street corners of Brooklyn as a unicycle-riding flame-juggler and, on occasion, flame-swallower) if he knew how I could become one of the soirée's attendees.

No, the surprise came from the fact that, after Tommy Q. had called in a favor from his undergraduate psychobiology professor, whose ex-wife was a member of the Board of Trustees for the International Contemporary Folk Art Museum and thus sure to have a finely-manicured hand in the guest-list management of the museum's annual Honorary Banquets (more than anything else an excuse for newly-minted Manhattanites to flaunt their garbage-disposable incomes by promising unquestionably gratuitous donation after donation 'in support of the Arts,' Tommy Q. had said over the phone), the guest of honor of this year's banquet being the man whose life I sought to learn more about, the man behind the obsidian-colored desk, the same man who had earlier this year made an unquestionably gratuitous donation — the amount of which remains as yet undisclosed — to the museum's Manifest Destiny Wing (estimated date of opening: next fall), the same man who was standing a few yards away from me, drinking some clear liquid out of a glass too tall for its mouth, with no trace of surprise on his face at having spotted me in his peripheral vision at least twice tonight already, now for the third time, leaving me to hold it all for the both of us, the surprise, the surprise coming from the fact that I had actually come here, hadn't even given a second thought to inappropriately insinuating myself into this Silk Stocking District socialites' soirée (though the second thoughts about the whole endeavor were coming to me now, in waves and with a vengeance, third and fourth and fifth thoughts spiraling me back down toward the paralysis that had temporarily dissipated after my first face-to-face meeting with the man behind the obsidian-colored desk), although as a hastily-tuxedo'd young adult among a host (albeit still a minority) of equally frazzled-looking decaffeinated graduate students, I found an awkward sort of place within those also out of place, those whose aura of alienation emanated from their very pores, threatening to sully the whitewashed, handcrafted personas the New and Old Money alike had meticulously sewn onto their persons for the evening, the former fretting every time one of us slumped too closely to their ironic furs or diamante clutch-purses, the latter not even registering our presence.