I went to a film screening at MOMA tonight and man, what a completely different lifestyle than the one I lead.
It’s like stepping through a portal into another universe. Two attractive women check my name off on their iPads and usher me downstairs to a cocktail bar surrounded by a throng of well-dressed socialites and a smattering of waiters carrying around hors d’oeuvres on trays. Beef tenderloin? Shrimp cocktail?
I feel stiff and starched just writing about it.
There’s always a part of me that, for a brief moment, still feels that rush, that urge to jump back into the social jungle and participate in the mad rush to the top. For a few seconds I still want to exchange witty banter with that rich and famous person.
Oh but we know how this story ends. Who am I trying to impress, here? I suppose in this case it’s the rich and famous person, but who is that, really?
A person. Just one person. And one person who has entirely lost himself in a sea of accolades and awards.
So I stood in the middle of the room, munching on cheese cubes and crackers on a plastic plate, gazing at nothing in particular and I didn’t speak to anyone. He was more alone than I.
In middle school I tried to impress the popular kid, in high school it was the prom king, and in college it was my debate team. And in retrospect I can’t help but think, what a lot of wasted breath. To think I could have burned those calories eating cheese and crackers instead. But then, I learn from my mistakes.
It was exhausting trying to dazzle people. After all of the careful thoughts and calculations, after being sufficiently charming, alluring, and intelligent, what did I ever have to show for it? I may have been able to entertain a complete stranger for several minutes. I think that about sums it up. Whoop de fucking doo.
We lose ourselves so entirely in the small talk, in the fluff, in the show of it, that we end up completely isolating ourselves from each other. We’re all so busy trying to show off that there is no one to show off to. No one is listening. How could we hear anyone else when we’re entirely absorbed in ourselves?
The popular kids of middle school, high school and college are now all thrust on their asses in the real world. I don’t feel any poetic justice here; just sadness. Loudly and clearly I hear this lesson over and over again: all that is gold in this life fades. Choose your true treasures carefully.
I hear this lesson many times because it is an easy one to forget. In situations like these I start thinking, gosh, I’d like to be an attractive, talented, rich woman. Hard to find fault with that, huh? What if I were as witty as Agent Mulder from the X-Files, as beautiful as Kate Upton, as brilliant as Feynman, and as tender-hearted as Princess Diana?
Well for one, people would either run screaming in the opposite direction, or bow down to me in supplication, kiss the ground I walked on and offer me their first-borns as tribute since the world has never beheld such a powerful, fearsome creation.
A little bit much, maybe.
All these other features would simply distract the true essence of who I am. The people I could impress and attract are not the people that I would want to meaningfully share my life with. My life is bountiful with people that know me and care about me in a way that is completely unrelated to any kind of status, real or perceived. These are the people that care about me not only when I am a skilled conversationalist (rare) but even when I am difficult, inconvenient and insensitive. They’re in it because they mean it. These people just happen to not regularly attend MOMA screenings.
Hey, I liked my cheese and crackers. All in all, I’d say it was a good night out.