But I'm supposed to be talking to someone, no?


Explaining myself and my life story in as few succinct snippets as I can as the opposite party attempts to do the same before the unheard Donnean bell tolls and we move on to our next victims.

Handing out prerecorded pleasantries in exchange for perfectly-pitched polite laughter.

Commenting intelligently on a facet of the subject's research or field of expertise in order to invite a monologue I can humbly nod and murmur through while staring at a spot on the wall a few centimeters to the right of their chiseled jawlines, silently praying the guest of honor is not watching me not watch him from some currently out-of-sight corner of the room.

Carefully easing the topic of conversation toward him in hopes that someone will speak of him by their own volition so that he does not have to hear later through the Bordeaux-bred grapevine about the finicky, unkempt reporter who was pestering the less-honorable guests with incessant questions about him, even if this is what would be expected of a finicky, unkempt reporter, which I have to consistently remind myself I am not (the reporter part, at least).

Isn't that what I'm supposed to be doing?

Instead I have chosen to keep my back to the crowd, examining with mostly-feigned interest the fifth shelf down on the now eleventh bookshelf with which I have made better acquaintance than any of the haute-humaines in my vicinity. On this shelf, I am at the moment (to the casual observer) engrossed in the spine of a Balzac collection's third volume (an impeccably maintained red little number, the words Le père Goriot vertically embossed in white-gold lettering), which I am sure if I picked up and flipped open with my greasy plebeian fingers I would find it rivaling my great-grandfather's corpse in age, if, of course, it didn't turn out to be one of the first copies of the novel, printed in France almost two hundred years ago (which, at this point, seems to be around the same time this damned soirée began).