I sit at the dinner table, at the 11 o’clock position to my host’s noon. There are 25 of us at the party, men and women, mostly young. Our host is mature and in an almost royal position of authority. We are all terrified. We’ve battled with hundreds like ourselves to get to this enviable place of subservience, to be obligated to be there and watch our every move to make sure we stay in line.
I’m having vile thoughts, and I wonder how many others are having such thoughts. I know they are. We are all trying to pretend we’re not, but everyone is, even if momentarily. Especially in a suppressed atmosphere like this, inappropriate words and images inundate my mind in all the gaps of silence that pervade the event. I’m wound so tightly in my tuxedo, bowtie, dress shoes, and hair gel that a simple mental misstep could spell my undoing. Our host is a god and we’re all his underlings salivating like dogs for attention and approval. Each of us keeps an eagle’s eye on everyone else, waiting for a slip-up so we can amplify it and rise higher on the ladder of our god’s graces.
This dinner means much to us, to me. Of the 25 apprentices the host and wife are treating, only 10-12 will be selected for promotion. Furthermore, the 13-15 that don’t get selected will most likely be shown the door. It’s a tradition of precisely 30 years. No one says it but everyone knows, much like no one says what they’re thinking but everyone knows everyone else is thinking something inappropriate.
I wonder if she shaves or if there’s an unruly bush between those legs. Is he 3 inches or 5, or 7? How I’d love to fuck the shit out of his wife while he sits at the head of the table and watches helplessly. I turn my head to the left and throw my host a gracious smile. I’m telling him “Thank you for having us for dinner Sir, you fucking asshole who probably goes limp at the wrong times but still manages to fuck any of the 20-somethings he wants.” It’s also been decided that some of those who’re selected tonight won’t be chosen based solely on merit. This tradition’s only 29 years old, I’ve heard through the grapevine.
I don’t want to be that guy. That guy who meets someone online, starts instant messaging, and 5 minutes into the conversation asks “So, do you have a picture?” I don’t want to be thought of as that “every” guy. I’m just as curious as the next guy if she’s good looking enough to be worth my time, but it’s a grave mistake to let that be known so early on and become categorized as the “every” guy (as opposed to the “not like everyone else” guy). I could genuinely like 3 or 4 of the girls present at this dinner, but the veil of competition is so thick between us that we can’t see each other as we really are. I see a dirty whore in each of them, easily willing to spread her legs to achieve her purpose. This one, with her cherry red satin dress matching her red hair and contrasting her pale white skin, I picture the host fucking her on the grand walnut desk in his office. I wonder what he says, and what she says in return. Do they even say anything? Like the drama we’re playing out tonight, is their fucking silently directed by tradition?
I turn right and look down the table at our hostess. Who the fuck does she fuck when she’s bored? She’s still young (15 years his junior), and the surgical enhancements make her look shy of 40. She’s sitting next to one of my primary competitors, a tall dark-haired up-and-comer from Stanford. Offsetting his old-money look is the refreshing California surf he brings with his image. He’s leaning toward the table, both hands out of sight. I imagine him stroking her inner thigh and stroking his dick while they make benign conversation rife with sexual connotation. It’s all so typical to history but so new to me.
I was lucky enough to sit so close to our host, but he’s presently engaging the busty brunette across from me in conversation. I was even luckier that across from me and next to me are two beautiful women. I’ve been trying to penetrate my neighbor’s conscience all evening, wondering if she’s interested in me, if I even have a chance with her; if I should slowly move in and rub my pants-leg against her silk stockings. (It’s unthinkable that an aspiring apprentice would wear anything but the finest to an event as important as this.)
I’m equipped with the finest psychological insights into human behavior thanks to my introspective nature and fine education. I have pages and pages of theories, conjectures, and anecdotes scrolling through my mind about what each and every one of us is thinking. Some I can read easier, some aren’t so transparent. In this moment though, when I’m already half a foot over the edge, all that knowledge is useless. I can’t read this girl sitting next to me. Maybe I’m just nervous or she’s one of the more difficult ones, but I can’t tell what she wants for the life of me. Should I engage her in conversation and risk alienating myself from my god? What if another girl I’m not paying attention to is eyeing me right now, do I want to take the chance and overtly express interest in this girl, and consequently push the other one away who’s almost as good as mine? Is it a manageable risk?
A few minutes in I realize how ridiculous and pompous I’m being. But all I have are questions: Should I single-mindedly pursue my professional goal or should I make the best of my situation and seek other graces? I’m in the company of some very beautiful women, compelled by social etiquette to be predisposed to conversation. Maybe I’ll even take one of them to bed tonight (best-case scenario). How will I feel in the morning? In the office, when I learn she’s been selected and I haven’t? I picture her (without a specific face, since I don’t know which one I can take to bed) shaking my hand after hearing the announcement, simultaneously offering consolation and maliciously mocking my sorry figure. “How do you like them apples?” she’s saying. In everyone’s company I’ll be forced to further humiliate myself by offering her congratulations and best of luck with her newfound success. I’ll picture placing my hand between her legs, pushing her back until she hits the wall, and leaning in against her so tightly she can feel my heartbeat pulsating through her suffocated tits. I’ll say to her “You did well, you fucking slut. You did well.” In that humiliation I’ll find deliverance, however short-lived. I’ll even smile to myself, standing there, as she and the other successes make their rounds among us losers. I’ll shift a little on my feet, straighten my posture because I’ve redeemed an ounce of lost dignity.
I’m lost in this reverie when the host taps the edge of my drink glass with a fork to attract my attention. “What the fuck do you want?” is my mental response, which I deliver by turning my entire body toward him and curving my lips into a smile that hopefully displays interest. I’m operating at so many levels in this moment, I amaze myself with the contemplative capacity of the human mind. There’s the me who’s watching me from outer space who’s aware of my miniscule footprint through a meagerly life. There’s the me hanging from the ceiling, watching my body movements. There’s the me resting inside this tightly strapped body (my balls are sweaty) who communicates with my other me’s and writes my motives and rationale in this story. There’s even the bit of me inside my host, and my neighbor, and the host’s wife, each communicating itself to me in speculations of what they think of me.
An insignificant bachelor is how I see myself. This city is crawling with thousands like me. They’ve maybe had the chance to find something that sets them apart, but I haven’t. I’m not entirely unlucky though, considering the company I find myself in presently. A lot is at stake. A small part of me (maybe 1/36th) wants to say Fuck it and throw the champagne in the host’s face and squeeze the tits of the girl next to me and jump up on the table and whip the guy sitting on the other side of the table with this bowtie and… I’m always wondering what the others are thinking, that’s how I decide if I’m out of line. But I know enough to know that this is what’s called unoriginal thinking, and that’s what tortures me about myself. I don’t want to follow, I want to lead. Again, questions arise: Am I meant to lead? Is there such a thing as “being meant to”? Is life a game of circumstance or am I really “creating my destiny”? It makes me sick to ask the same questions time and again, with the same clichéd phrases defining them. The stream goes on… Am I sweating right now in this room because I possess something unique or because my parents could afford to send me to college?
It turns me on when I see a girl adjusting her breasts inside her bra. A girl across the table did just that. She looked around and thought no one was looking, and then proceeded to pull up her bra for better support. She’s wearing a dark blue strapless dress with beads. When I saw her back earlier I could just barely make out the light tan color of the strapless bra as it inched up to a more natural position on her body. I thought she would look better with her hair down, but her shoulders remind me of my first girlfriend, so it’s not all bad. They’re the same height, same body type, same skin tone. I pictured doing her from behind as I’d done my girlfriend.
I come back to myself and notice I’m shaking my right leg rather forcefully. That’s a common problem for me. Even alone at home I catch myself sometimes lost within, and when I return I’m doing something that would normally be physically irritating or uncomfortable, like shaking my leg or sitting on my hands so they’ve gone numb. The dinner’s finally being brought out. The fact that I’m vegetarian means nothing tonight. Certain sacrifices have to be made in life, and for the feeble-minded like me, sacrificing something others would consider a fundamental part of them comes easier. At least I know I’m fickle. My personality and predisposition to complacency rendered me spineless long ago.
Roast duck and steak from Alberta beef is what we’re having tonight.