Collaborations of Abstraction

Hollywood horses

Posted on: March 28, 2011

Somehow I have managed to get myself into some rooftop party in L.A. where I could care less about what is going on, but the view is spectacular. It has that sort of odd purple hue to it; the word effervescence comes to mind. Since the drinks are free and the music was decent, I decide to stick around.

213 Purple

I sit for a long time listening to what is probably some of the best classical guitar I have ever heard, being played by a guy who looks like he might spend his afternoons at an intersection with a cardboard sign. Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven. Even Clementi. His repertoire matches mine in the other life where I was a classically trained pianist. I haven’t played in years. I certainly couldn’t keep up now.

I try to breathe deep but something sits on my lungs, discouraging any such notion. Despite the smog, or maybe to spite it, I lit up a cigarette. Someone is coming for me. I desperately try to melt into the cement tabletop I’m leaning against.

I realize that what is worse than being hit on at a party you don’t belong at is being recognized at a party you have no business being at. Mitch walks up to me smiling that shit-eating grin I would have liked to wipe off his face several times in high school.

He caught my eye, recognized me and was now entering into the traditional dance of How are you? and What have you been up to? These encounters nauseate me, because no one cares what the answers are. Probably because they are such carefully constructed bull-shit.

I saw myself turning around, putting on a real evil smile and saying something like, “I’ve been married more times than one would expect at my age, but that’s probably because I didn’t get enough attention at home. I’m not sure if that’s better than ending up a stripper. You look like you’ve put on twenty pounds or so, which means you’re either married with children or you’ve just given up and decided to die a slow death of drink.”

But in addition to the dance, I also recognize something that can’t be disguised by six Stoli martinis or a good story: sadness. His eyes welled with it. In that instant my heart melts and I decide I can’t be even a shadow of the bitch I had prepared to be. God, it’s such a pain in the ass to be compassionate.

We go maybe five minutes into the conversation when I know I’m either going to need another drink, or I’m going to have to figure out a way to get out of here. I don’t care about where we are, who is here and what they do. What am I doing here?

It’s right around this time that we got to discussing my life and divorce when Mitch wants to know why.

“Why did you leave him? he demands with an intensity that makes me immediately suspicious. “Did he hit you? Cheat on you? Was he not funny enough for you?”

“Oh he was funny,” I say, my mind wandering to the bar which was conveniently located next to the closest exit. “I miss that sometimes.”

OK now I’m just lying. But something about him wanted to desperately to hear an answer, and I felt compelled to say something. He shifts his weight back and forth, looking around nervously in the silence that follows my lie.

For the first time I look around. At these parties I try hard not to look at anyone, to just get through them. As faces start to come into focus, I realize they are all people from high school.

For god’s sake, it’s like my high school reunion got transported to California and nobody had noticed. Well, maybe the bartenders noticed. Drinks were notoriously expensive in L.A. and some Minnesotans might have decided tipping was optional.

Instead of falling into some sort of panic attack as I only assumed I would, I remain insanely calm. I’m now suspicious of myself. Was another part of my personality sipping cocktails when I wasn’t looking? Didn’t it know I was planning on driving?

(Not having a car in L.A. is like not having a winter coat in Minnesota. People assume you are so far below the poverty level they just might give you one out of charity.)

But no, I check my wallet. All my funds and credit card are intact. (Clearly I have forgotten that drinks are free.) I’m just OK with this, I guess. Or maybe my other personality has moved onto something harder. Xanax, perhaps?

It’s then that I say to Mitch, “You wanna see what’s really going on here?”

I say it in a way that’s impossible to resist. I’m surprised these words come out of my mouth. Hell, I wanna see. He has to say yes.

He nods dumbly.

I walk to the door marked with a red EXIT sign and walk down endless flights of stairs. I’m barefoot and make no sound.

Somewhere along the way we pick up two horses from a woman in a white lab coat. She asks us to be sure they get their medicine. Mine is chocolate brown; his is white with black markings, spots. They clomp loudly as they obediently follow us down the cement staircase.

The air gets colder and I’m certain at this point we’re in the basement. This is where we’re meant to go. We see a doorway ahead. I can see my breath now; this is familiar ground for both of us, even if we’ve never been here before.

The doorway is dark and above it is a hand-painted sign, white paint on wood. “HIV-free horses only” it reads. I stand there, head cocked to one side. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t this. I don’t know if my horse has HIV. Hell, I didn’t know horses could get HIV. I looked at Mitch, who seemed to be on the same page as me.

I shrugged, took a deep breath and led my horse through the black doorway. It has to get it’s medicine after all. I don’t know if Mitch followed.


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Collaborations of Abstraction

Two close (though, unfortunately, not in proximity) friends – a Welsh man living in Ireland and a Minnesotan woman living in Germany – come together to share musings, wit and random things of interest in this journey called life



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