The Sweat of the Brow (xxxvi)

Doors at seven. Cocktails at seven thirty. Only a child would arrive at seven. I show up at quarter to. A second childhood is always an excuse.

It’s a big room with a marble floor, dark livingwood trained to grow into high walls, Louis XXII arboreal, classical and dull. The undergrads tending bar are endearingly homely. The fundraisers know more than to endear themselves to such as me. I find a corner which gives me a good view of the entrance, and plant my feet.

My cort does the hard work. I get still images of every face that comes through the door. All I have to do is keep my eyes open. With a dopey expression to match, nobody troubles me.

Perhaps I’ll be able to match faces to names. I don’t fancy the idea of introducing myself to everyone in the room. I think about it, and keep watching.

Eight thirty-one and they bring us into a diningroom. White tablecloths, red roses, blue napkins, yellow champagne. I’m seated with professors and grad students, they talk about work and baseball in equal measure. I leave them to their open bar. They leave me to my eyes.

The bathrooms are on the far end of the room. Every few minutes I make another trip. Nobody wonders that the old man can’t hold his drink.

Each trip I take a different route between the tables. I turn my head from side to side and get still images of everyone – with their name tags.

Dinner is taken away. The guest of honor stands and smiles and talks for twenty minutes about the Great Responsibility and Weight on Shoulders everywhere. I go in knowing nothing about his work and go out much the same. He stops. He sits. Coffee, tea, alcohol binders, and then the assembled start to drift away.

I didn’t learn anything, meet anyone, see anyone. But I did what I needed to do. And nobody saw me.

I hope it’s enough.

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~ by davekov on 25 March 2012.

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