Ylon called me, “You have to come to this party. It’s right around the corner from your apartment! There’s live sex performances in one room and a chess tournament with all the top grandmasters in another room.” I thought he was lying to me. I had been asleep. I got some clothes on and went downstairs.
The party was being thrown by pseudo.com. The party was running 24 hours a day from December, 1999 through January 2000. They filed for bankruptcy 9 months later in September, 2000. Sometime in January the investors of the company came and shut down the party. But that was a million years later. I met Ylon outside around midnight and we went into the party. There was crazy in the air. I wanted to drink it up. I was thirsty in a desert. I ran into Josh Harris, the CEO of pseudo in the middle of the party and I said hi but he had no idea who I was. We had met several times before. He was distracted by the fifty girls around him.
Ylon said, “I’m trying to get Josh to do a show about me playing chess around the world and the adventures I get into.” That’s a great idea, I said. Anything was possible. Chess, sex, shows, money, whatever. Whatever you want, man, as I pushed through the people to figure it all out.
The live sex performance room was having an issue. Any couple could get into a “pod” and just start having sex. There were video cameras in the room streaming it live onto the Internet. There were no doors on the pods so people could stand there and watch. The problem was that, as it was then explained to me, if you’re a guy and not a professional porn actor, it’s not that easy to function in front of a live crowd. So while there were many valiant efforts, the only thing happening were crowds of people watching men publicly humiliate themselves with bored girls trying to soothe the egos of their guys.
I was way too familiar with that sort of soothing. So we went into the chess room. I recognized all the players. They were famous chess players, all former US champions, grandmasters, etc. My mind was going to explode. Live sex in one room, grandmasters in another. I was standing on the periphery of my ideal surreal fantasy world where I couldn’t quite enter and enjoy myself for some reason. You want to touch the single breast in a strip club, the gold buried underneath Ft. Knox, the fringe of light from an eclipse but all just too far for me to reach.
I went into another room (the whole party was a maze of rooms) and I was surprised to see a good friend of mine there. He was about 55 years old and used to run the most popular cable music TV station. We were working together on a deal so I had just seen him earlier that day. This was turning into a midnight of coincidence and I was Cinderella at the ball.
He was kissing the neck of a girl that he’d been dating for a few weeks. She was about twenty five years old and very beautiful. Long curly brown hair, big eyes, big breasts. He had just been telling me the other day that she told him she loved him more than she ever loved anyone before. He was very proud to tell me this. He was thirty years older than her. He wanted me to react but I had no idea what to say. That’s great, I told him.
She wanted him to hook her up with a translation job in Saudia Arabia since we were in the process of pitching some Middle Eastern investors on a project we were working on. Apparently there were some languages she could translate but I never learned what they were.
He didn’t see me when I walked into the room. He was too busy kissing her neck and breasts. He was fervent, anxious, groping. She was looking straight up at the ceiling while his mouth was all over her. I watched her big eyes blink. I thought to myself, she really is beautiful.
She was looking the way you look when blood is being taken from you and you look the other way. Then she saw me staring at them and she quickly started kissing my friend back. Quick pecks all over his face. She had thick red lipstick. Her kisses left red bruises all over his face. I left the room before he could see me. I was embarrassed at the whole thing. Embarrassed that I had been caught staring. Embarrassed for him. For her. Embarrassed for everyone.
I wanted something fun to happen to me at the party. I saw a girl I had long had a crush on but she was surrounded by about ten guys. How many coincidences could happen at one party with me unable to do anything about it? I was like in a dream. I couldn’t talk to anyone even though everything around me was a combination of fake and fun. The live sex, the chess in the next room, my 55 year old friend kissing his lipstick girl, chess girl I had a crush on. Ylon had disappeared into the mess of people and I couldn’t find him again. I didn’t see him for over a year after that. Next time I saw him he was divorced. I barely even knew he was married.
I felt like I was surrounded by people LIVING LIFE but I was dead inside. I left the party around two in the morning and started to walk home. I was scared that thirty years later I could be living a fake life kiss-groping some fake girl, oblivious to her just staring bored at the ceiling. Doesn’t matter if you ran MTV for ten minutes. She’s still going to stare at the ceiling until she’s caught.
Sometimes age only makes your bad habits worse. The false wisdom we supposedly get is just bad habit after bad habit, impacted together, a thick sedimentary rock. A diamond-tipped drill can’t break it.
I wanted to just get back to my apartment that I was destined to lose but that loss was still in the future. My apartment was as fake as the rest but I didn’t know it until the science fiction future. I would find some comfort there. A book to read before going back to sleep. Quiet.
At one point, two in the morning, walking up Leonard Street on the way home from the party, I thought I heard someone walking quickly behind me. As if trying to catch up to me. I turned around expecting to see someone but nobody was there.
I was all alone.