Well, THAT occasion was a dud. Thank God.
All week, ever since I got the invitation to the premiere of M.'s documentary, about an obscure 19th-century Irish female, I have been feeling nauseated. I knew, by all the rules of karma, acquaintanceship and social credibility, that I had to attend. M. has been nice to me; she has called me up and invited me out, several times, to events and venues at which I have had an excrutiatingly horrible time. She has borrowed the use of my computer and repaid me handsomely in alcohol and African music CDs. She has invited me into her home. She has attended my openings. I needed to go.
At the same time, I knew that if there was one event in New York City where I was most likely to run into the ex, it would be this one. The ex kills time by attempting to fix M.'s obsolete, moribund computer. He gives her my ex-bicycles. They get drunk together, if they happen to find themselves in the same bar at the same time. The ex thinks of this sort of thing as friendship. In New York City, if your friend has a premiere, you have to go.
It's not exactly M.'s fault that I have a terrible time whenever we hang out together. She just doesn't understand that everybody doesn't like the same things she does. She really gets going around the time I collapse--between 11:30 PM and 6 AM. She likes hanging out with, and screwing, big, oppressed, angry African males. She likes loud music and cigarette smoke and long, blasé conversations about how everything's fucked and there's nothing you can do. When I hang out with her they close the bar around us and she refuses to leave, and big black men hit on me and refuse to take 'huh? no, thanks' for an answer. When I try to hang out with her I feel like I'm being tortured. But she's great, really she is.
So since I got the invitation I have been hemming and hawing and thinking of other, pressing engagements that could possibly occupy my Friday evening instead, which, since I am lame and in transition and coming out of a long depression, I don't really have. I have been thinking of what sort of support system I could bring with me. I have been planning my wardrobe.
Finally I decided to bite it and do the hero. I went bravely, solo, in a dress that H. donated for exactly such occasions: five-dollar, thrift-store bin, floor-length petroleum 'fuck me now' clingy thing with a thong and no bra. Amber beads and hoop earrings, eye makeup, lipstick, shiny blonde hair brushing my nipples. I've been doing a lot of yoga and you know what? I look O.K. Better than the folks who spend their time drinking heavily and bitching about how everything's fucked and there's nothing you can do.
You know what else? Those people are LAME. At least five of the folks standing on the sidewalk as I walked up have been invited into my home, and fed, and entertained. They have attended my openings. I have been privy to some of their darkest secrets. We belong to the same Circle of Friends. And none of them frickin' asked how I was. The time has passed when I blame myself for such rudeness; after I have smiled, said hello, offered congratulations or a compliment or asked for a career update, I feel my task is finished. If no follow-up is forthcoming, well, I'm free.
The featured films represented five years of M.'s hard work, a career-to-date retrospective lasting an hour and a quarter, and I consulted my watch. M. is a filmmaker at heart; she likes pointing a camera at things, faces, happenings. She sympathizes with the obscure and the oppressed. And that's all. Man, was I bored. No, that's harsh. I was miffed at having been snubbed on the sidewalk; I was in a highly critical state of mind. I tried to get into the aesthetics of super-8 and black-and-white, of grainy closeups and disaffected soundtracks, of nameless faces and artistic anomie, of lack of plot, and purpose, and point. I didn't try hard enough and I failed.
I had mixed feelings about skipping the reception; I really, really wanted a free shot of Jameson's. But I also had to drive, and also would have had to socially exist during the time it took to drink it. I forewent the Jameson's, congratulated M., showered a couple of ex-acquaintances with random good energy and bolted.
But THANK FUCKING GOD my ex wasn't there. For all his blocks, negativity, manipulation and horribility, at least he has something approaching a goddamned mind. I might have been tempted to talk to him.