Post Road Magazine #12

The Dinner Party

Jason Flores-Williams

(Three couples—Greens, Computavistics, Kimmy and Blue—having dinner.)
Blue, Computavistics, Greens are in the living room. Kimmy is in the kitchen.

Commercial voice: “...Conquer the Sahara and you’ll come to a famous market. You can hear the Berber drums. Stop and smell the saffron or buy a magic spell...And in the magic, you’ll own a brand new Chevy Tracker...If you can conquer this market, then parking at the mall will be no sweat. The all-new Chevy Tracker: It gets around.”

Computavistics: “Notice us not talking about money?”

Greens: “Absolutely.”

Computavistics: “But who cares?”

Greens: “Who cares?”

Self-conscious drink sipping.

Greens: “Well well well. . .Somebody should look in on Kim. Notice our concern?”

Blue jumps up out of his chair: “I’m going to go check on her.” And goes into kitchen.

They start whispering about him second he leaves.

Kimmy in kitchen: “I can’t deal with this I don’t know what’s going on with the arugula, penne, pasta coffeemaker grinder with tomatillo pasty wasty give me the white pepper. Am I like you thought I was is everyone doing okay insecurity insecurity?”

Blue: “What can I do?”

Kimmy: “There’s nothing you need to be involved in being involved. Okay? Please don’t put any more pressure on me I don’t need to be bothered you rotten lover cutey who needs to be loved by my people more than you love yourself.”

Blue: “Howabout I go back and try to be popular?”

Kimmy: “Do, but send me back The Greens so I can sell them on me. They’ll be impressed by my stress and productivity levels.”

Blue: “Sure,” and goes back into the living room. “Greens, Kimmy wants to spend time with you”

Greens: “Oh yes we are aware that she would like to achieve greater intimacy with us. And go into the kitchen.”

We see Kimmy and the Greens making gestures.

Computavistics: “So how is it that you and her met and blah blah and trying to see whether you fit with us because as it stands right now there isn’t an us, but only a you being judged by us.”

Blue: “Uh, yes, that’s who I am I guess, but I’m not sure. I’m barely real enough to possibly be not exactly what you want me to be, which is kind of what you want me to be?”

Computavistics: “Wow. You are a something.”

Greens back in the living room: “Kimberly wants everyone to come to the dinner table. And, of course, we must all be very thankful for being white.”

All: “We Are! We Are!”

Greens: “Good. So come in and sit down and don’t say anything about the table being rented and the chairs not matching because they’re trying their best to be like us.”

All: “Of course! Of course! We have no identity. We’re dead. YIPPEE! YIPPEE!”

They go to the dinner table and stand at attention behind their chairs. An SUV car alarm goes off and they sit.

Commercial voice: “If you’re looking for a wedding set, you’ll be pleased when visiting the Shane Company. Nowhere else in the state will you find more different style sets to select from. I’m Tom Shane and selling wedding sets is the mainstay of our business. We know what styles are in demand and popular today. Our white gold selection alone offers hundreds of styles. The strength of shopping at the Shane Company will be your seeing many unique and custom styles that you won’t find anywhere else. Because you’ll wear the set for the rest of your life, you’re guaranteed a top quality product that will last, trouble free, and fit both your taste and your budget.”

The couples gesture, eat, and talk.

Loser Writer appears, walks to the front of the stage and addresses the audience: “I like to think that I’m sincere and intense writing this kind of shit (gestures back toward the play.) It’s like with this piece I just finished about the painter, Francisco Goya—digging Goya makes me feel cool and deep. Yet I’ve made a big deal about this to people. I’ve said, “Goya is my favorite painter.” I’ve made passionate speeches about Goya. I’ve discussed his work in detail. I’ve affected Goyaesque moods. I’ve made Goya a part of my personality so that when people close to me think of me they think: “Goya is his favorite painter.” Why has it been so important for me to have people know that I love Goya? Why couldn’t I have just kept it to myself? A deep, passionate admiration for the paintings of a man by the name of Goya. Why include the name? Why couldn’t it be a deep, passionate admiration for a few paintings that are monotonally dark, if not black, featuring disturbing subject matter? Why does it have to be GOYA? What cache do I derive from this? Who created the cache in the first place? Whose public relations campaign have I bought into? Is it that I have assessed the work of the artist Goya, then assessed his life, then come to the rational decision that having him as “my favorite painter” fits in with, if not contributes to, the perception I have of myself and what I want to be? “Hey, baby. Not only am I a Scorpio, but Goya is my favorite painter....” Is it Goya that I love? Or am I in love with being thought of as a guy who loves Goya?” Walks off.

Greens: “This is the yinky dinky soupus maximus best ever wonderful good stuff like down in Carmel By The Sea isn’t it binky binky oh yes oh yes with special take a leeks.”

Computavistics: “It’s so fillagilly and super dibbly that I can’t muster a bish bish nor comparison except maybe like the time in Europe oh yes Europe and Europe Europe Europe and that reminds me Europe.”

Blue: “Europe, for me, is Europe.”

Greens: “Absolutely. Europe is nothing less than Europe.”

Computavistics: “Europe is totally Europe.”

Blue: “And the Art there is the Art there.”

Greens: “So soodily.”

Computavistics: “Simpidy dimpity.”

Kimmy: “Who could say anything other,” then to Computavistics: “We hear that you have something to brag about.”

Computavistics: “Yes, we love being the center of attention. Thank you. Ahem. We, The Computavistics, have invested in a new company because we’re so inside the inside is like the outside and you don’t have any idea how rich we are and how we’re getting so much richer because it’s going public, but of course we would never tell you in an overt way but only hint so as to leave it to your imagination.”

Greens: “We might begin to wonder about your lives being that you’re the new breed we read about in Details magazine.”

Computavistics: “There is more room for talk but of course we want to be a little aloof with you so we can appear alternative and not you even though we are you.”

Greens: “Outstanding.”

Computavistics: “Knew it would and howabout nothing.”

The couples sing (be cool if this were a kind of musical number.)

“We are the voices of our gen uh ray shun. We are the voices of our gen uh ray shun. We are the voices of our gen uh ray shun. And what’s wrong with that?”

Kimmy: “Everyone enjoying their poop soup?”

All (doesn’t have to be together): “Uggalah plopitoppeeppe face and shiggy shiggy ain’t she sweet. Yes, the booby best and sing your praises.” Kimmy: “Then allow me to clear the table in preparation for the entrée.” All (manic):“Let us help you! Let us help you!” Kimmy:“No thank you though I really need it but want to be viewed as a self-reliant togetherhead.”

All: “Golly wow. What a gal!”

Kimmy: “Am I?”

All (doesn’t have to be together as long as it’s intelligible): “Indeedlydoo. What a gal we’ll say it again and see how generous we are with our compliments? It’s great being so down to earth we’re richer than any generation before us. It’s new. It’s exciting. We’re new. We’re exciting.”

Blue: “Blue is happy. Blue is happy. Blue is truly happy. Blue is really and truly happy and not thinking about anything sad. No shit. Listen: This is so great this is fun we’re who the world is designed around.”

Greens: “What a One of Us.”

Computavistics: “How ready to become a Friend of Ours.”

The Commercial Voice as Kimmy brings out the entree: “Okay, let’s continue where we left off...You’re thinking about buying a new car. Of course you’re not just thinking, you’re reading, obsessing, calling your friends, staying up all night staring out the window—the usual stuff. Well, maybe by now you’ve heard of carsdirect.com: online cars, really great prices, minimal hassle, so far so good. But then, in the middle of the night, it hits you—if you buy a car online how do you actually get the car? I mean, you can’t just hit download, come back in an hour, and there it is. But wait! Carsdirect.com has that all worked out. You see, after you choose your car, pick your options and arrange your financing, something miraculous happens. Your new car shows up at your office or right in front of your house or right in front of your mother-in-law’s house. You tell us where and we bring it to you. No charge.”

In comes Kimmy: “Who’s ready for the mixed baby mugwams with French fusion frogs on a platter of American twilight with barley nuts?”

All: “Us Us Us. We Are We Are We Are!”

Greens: “So tell us Blue our newest friend though we’re always judging you. Who are you?”

Computavistics: “Yes. Tell us exactly who you are.”

Blue thinks then speaks: “I am the opposite of what I was—I am what you want me to be. I am here to confirm that Your Way is better than Their Way and that’s who I am, a traitor, but words like that no longer exist for me and when I think of what I’ve become I get questions so scurry back to my role as The Confirmation You’ve Been Looking For. Yes, you are superior to what I was. They are fucked up, you are not. They are imma-ture, you are not. Be happy. I am the convert come to save you from insecurity and the deep down sense that your lives are meaningless.”

Greens: “Outstanding.”

Computavistics: “A hero here to make us feel vital, like fashion magazines and hot room yoga.”

Kimmy: “Isn’t this guy of mine something and how could I have existed without him? Have you ever seen me seem so happy? Look, smile. See. Happy.”

The Greens raise a glass: “We want to say that this is the day that Kimmy and Blue are something that is relatable to what we are.”

All (doesn’t have to be as one): “Toast toast and toast and well said and blah blah and that was so sweet you’re the best inka dinka doo...”

Computavistics: “So what is it that you have to say about things we think of as being heavy and philosophical but are really stupid and we have no idea what words we’re using but only want to impress because we’re false gods brought down by stupidly short attentions spans except when it comes to Lou Dobbs on CNN?”

Blue: “I think that we need to think about what we’re thinking about in a way that does the thinking for us so we can get on to better more productive things like wondering who the guy is on TV with the nice butt who our girlfriends talk about aren’t I funny?”

All: “Oh god, yes. Yes! Yes! And so witty. Soooo Witty.”

Greens: “We know about impressionistic art.”

Computavistics: “We do, too! We have a lot of things to say about that see listen hear.”

All: “Wow, doodlee doo.”

Kimmy: “I know how to talk to you in this language. I like the guy who it’s cool to like because he’s not the most obvious guy.”

All: “Oh yeah he’s great.”

Computavistics: “We know all about the guy from Norway who ate fish and farted on his mom and sorry for using those terms but we’re just so brave and edgy!”

All: “Yes yes you’re so brave and edgy and brave and edgy and so are we.”

Kim: “What about me?”

All: “You You You You.”

Greens: “And we say something about an entirely unrelated subject that we know more about than any of you because we just read about it on an airplane.”

All (doesn’t have to be together.): “Fascinating interesting oh you do know so much more about it than the rest of us.”

Blue: “Think of me as the ultimate final arbiter on who knows what because I once did something bohemian or at least was hung over in Tompkins Square Park.”

Greens: “Some mild competition from us.”

Computavistics: “Same here. But you can expect us to side with you being that we’re both wearing dark colors.”

Blue: “Hey Kim, look at me smile at you. See. See the warmth. Now everyone, watch me and Kim hold hands. See. See how affectionate we are, like the French?”

All: “Yes yes yes, we notice, it’s really very nice. Watch us emulate you so as not to be outdone. We want to be French, too.”

KimBlue: “See! See!”

All: “Life is good and plenty. Sooooo goooood and pleeeenty!” (This should sound like nails on a chalkboard.)

Kim: “Who’s ready for dessert?”

Greens: “God are you kidding you’ve outdone yourself.”

Computavistics: “God are you kidding this is too too much.”

Blue: “Wellahowaboutathissa? Let’s move this thing into the living room?” Before we join them for dessert let’s get a word from our sponsors. . .

Commercial voice: “We interrupt this program for this important announcement. MCI now offers five cents a minute every day. That’s just five cents every evening and all weekend long. This is the deal of the millennium! MCI five cents every day.”

Loser Writer runs out on stage in sho’ nuff: “That’s one powerful message!”

The living room:

Computavistics: “See us sitting here with our legs crossed in a way that says at any second we could break out a cigarette but don’t and what are you going to do about it? We’re the best and can say whatever we want about anything you don’t get to monitor us because we’re secretly rich and everybody knows it.”

Greens: “Absolutely. No one monitors us with a combined income of less than four hundred thousand dollars, you understand? One day it won’t be anyone with a combined income of less than one million dollars. We’re not cheap when it comes to controlling us.”

All: “Here comes dessert!”

Kimmy walks in with some inanely pompous looking thing on a plate that’s supposed to be dessert.

All: “Eema jeema Ima Ima oma oma that’s alllrighta!”

Greens: “We only like the acceptable African-Americans that aren’t poor and smell.”

Computavistics: “That is so wrong. They prefer to be called niggahs with the H at the end.”

Blue: “Oh, I think they’ve dropped the H and know they’re just niggas”

Greens: “Oh we’re sorry. But isn’t it a Z at the end so it’s niggazzzz.”

Computavistics: “Oh yes that’s right, but what about illegal immigrants how can we get them to stop being poor and smelling?”

Kimmy chimes in with a loving smile: “Come on you guys, don’t start getting too deep.”

Chuckles and release. (Like if Kimmy hadn’t interrupted they would’ve dove into the depths.)

Loser Writer appears, walks back to the front of the stage and addresses the audience: “Yes when feeling alone I’ve read books by tortured people and it’s made me feel better—so the human race is tangibly annihilating itself causing us to have feelings of isolation and depression and the purpose of modern art is to make us feel better and less lonely? Come on, isn’t this another form of denial? We can always say that it’s journalistic, right? That it’s a person writing down the way he feels in a fucked up world? But then that makes it reactive, not proactive. In fact, it’s possible that the whole of modern art and literature is nothing but reactive, like a child crying after he’s been slapped. Therefore, considering that the world is dying and requiring proactive measures to be saved, a little play like this is worth nothing.”

Walks off, but then runs back on: “I feel deep and sincere for saying that.”

The couples have gotten up and are leaving.

Greens: “We see you now as being part of what we consider to be right and not wrong and how did you know that we were so special call us in a month for something to do but before then would be far too desperate. Kissy kiss, love love. It’s good to be so close, isn’t it?” They leave.

Computavistics: “You’ve got our e-mail I know you’ve got our cell did you get our pager palmjerk with the HDTV instant email cellphone hard-drive hookup HDTV declaration of income statements fiscal year of... It’s good to be so close, isn’t it?” They leave.

Kimmy and Blue put arms around each other and walk to the front of the stage: “It’s good to be so close, isn’t it? And what’s wrong with that?” •

Jason Flores-Williams is a writer-activist who lives in Jersey City. His main novel is The Last Stand of Mr. America.

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