Sunday, May 13, 2007

Passing melodrama

End-of-year banquet for the newspaper staff. The atomsphere is hard to pin down, impossible for a news writer to grab in a one-sentence lead. It's at a country club, fifteen minutes away, so we convene, girls picking delicately through the mud in white heels, and wait for the transportation.

The ride turns out to be a yellow school bus. We're dressed up enough for someone to call it "the ultimate ghetto prom ride," and it is a bit like prom, the news team not quite mixing with the editorial writers, and the sports reporters chilling in the back of the bus. It's almost split boy-girl--or is it men-women--mostly because the cool kids have cars and are already there.

There is pretty, manicured, and it feels like someone is going to yell at you not to touch. But there is no one to chastise, because we are the ones who paid for the facility, and there are no chaperones to dodge. There are legitimate adults, but they are alumni, long-ago reporters, and they are our guests. We invited them.

The cocktail hour stretches awkwardly into two, and those of us forced to sip Shirley Temples are bored. Martinis. Diet Sprites. Victoria's boyfriend is a senior and he slips her an Armeretto Sour.

Dinner is broken up by "remarks" and "acknowledgements," by us, to us, but John Mitchell is drunk and too loud in the back. William Barnard speaks. His biggest story in college was about a discrepancy in the budget for the Board of Trustees. He works now for the Washington Post and saw Watergate unfold live. We ask him questions. I do not.

We're impatient now, because it's after 10 and things are happening on campus. I ride the bus home sitting next to a girl, Caitlin. My age. Studies Government, one of my many majors. We discuss immigration reform and the possible right-wing bias in the Public Policy deparment. We agree that what passes for right-wing here is left of moderate in Middle America, and that Professor Milne's fixation on Hilary Clinton is indiciative of his socialist tendencies.

I change out of my white heels at home and put on a halter top and a piece of denim cloth. Someone has pot for a change, and the frat is smokier than usual. The amount of alchohol on the floor is at about a normal level, and the amount of alchohol in people's systems is obviously too high. The bar, set up on what used to be a pong table, is out of rum. I decline substitutions. An arguement breaks out over a bad serve in Beirut. Caitlin is one of the players, eyes-half closed, leaning on her parnter for support. She does not see me.

I ditch my friends, leave for the relative quiet of the dorms. I sleep in my clothes and barely wake up the next day in time to give a tour to prospective students. Their parents compliment me at the end. I am "professional."

Am I? Perhaps that's what it is, hidng the disorganization and confusion long enough to smile your way through a bullshit presentation. Pretending you know the answers.

I always assumed that the grown-ups knew the answers. As if someone had written them down in a book and everyone had read it. My copy seems to have been lost in the mail.

But my age still ends in "-teen," so I think I can get away with faking it for a little while longer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

just fyi -- not a good idea to put full names on public blogs.