THE BEST CONVERSATIONALISTS
Dreamed 1984/8/5 by Chris Wayan
I find myself seated at a formal dinner. Place cards and all: the hostess has carefully thought out who sits where. I feel awkward, since I'm naked under a thin, open robe. My legs are cold, and I finally sit in a lotus position on the chair so my feet are off the cold floor. I don't know the rules of etiquette. But then, though the other guests seem sensitive and intelligent, none of them know which fork to use either.
I'm not the only one oddly dressed. Next to me is a shy woman whose blouse is torn and ragged till she might as well be topless. I'm not sure if it's poverty or a statement, but it cheers me up. Beyond her is our hostess: forceful, mercurial, outgoing. I try to talk with the shy girl, and a fitful threeway conversation grows. Fun, actually, for both of them are full of original ideas and projects, and that gives me to confidence to describe my dreamwork, which I'd usually keep private. Still, the anxiety is palpable. Are we saying the wrong thing, being rude, ignorant, geeky? We make up standards, hesitate and then risk a bit more... stop and start traffic, but never gridlocked. Not polished. Just... substantive.
Then the hostess stands up, rings a glass, and announces: "I welcome you all to the first meeting of my salon. I salute you--the best conversationalists of the twentieth century!"
As she says it, I see it's true--and not ironic. We develop utterly new ideas--awkwardly. No wonder it's a dinner of geeks. Originals. Our strength--in a time of change.
No need to be ashamed about the forks.
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