The forgotten corners of our world

ARFIN: are you a little shitwizard? [Impatient, and with furious affection] Yes you are!

CELEBRIANNE: no, I’m just sensitive

A: What did you do last night during the historic election?

C: Thought about sadness

A: Are you really that self-important?

C: No. I mean, yes. I acknowledge that the historic election will mean that the U.S. will not be regarded as a pile of wet, soiled down comforters anymore. And other good things that happen with a Democratic administration. But when I look in the mirror…

A: What to you see, Celebrianne?

C: My face.

A: OK… What else?

C: Whatever’s behind me. Whatever I’m standing in front of. My stereo. Some posters. A hamper.

A: What time of day is it?

C: [Hugs herself a little, like she’s a big ole mug of tea, and her arms are fingers, and she’s warming herself on a mug of steaming self.] It’s definitely night. I have school the next day. We’re in New City, New York.

A: Are you a lesbian?

C: Yes. No. I have a boyfriend.

A: What is his name?

C: Playa. Maya. Something like that. He’s an Indian. He’s blind. He’s got Michael Phelps’s body. He’s alone. He can’t hear me. [Not shouting] Michael…

A: Have you eaten?

C: I ate some of those Paul Newman Oreos. And a few cups of decaffeinated tea. Herbal. Before that, nothing since the afternoon, a Nutter Butter. A latté.

A: How did you get here?

C: I drove my white Camaro. I’m menstruating. I’m a convincingly rendered female character. I’m alone.

A: Do you like comedy?

C: I like the arty shit. My Dinner with Paper Rad (1997). Just kidding. I watch Alf.

A: Do you like art?

C: I like sex. I masturbate. I kid. I go to museums. I’ve believed since I was young that going to a museum is a psychic battery charging experience. The charge from a long visit to a good museum of modern or contemporary art can last up to two months, sometimes longer. I like Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, everyone I’ve ever kissed–

A: You’re cute.

C: Thank you.

A: Do any of your friends have good lives?

C: They all do. They’re all fantastic lovers, and their lovers are the luckiest humans around. We live like gods. I’d like you to feed me a grape.

[C Produces a film-processing envelope from Walgreen’s. Removes the photos. A and C go through the pictures together: Scenes from the early morning of Nov. 4, 2008, in New York City and San Francisco. Young people dancing in impromptu street parties. C stops at one picture of a young man standing off to the side of the impromptu Obama celebration, watching. He leans against a car, hands in pockets, an only partially artificial smile on his face.]

A: Who’s that?


C: That’s our narrator. He’s glad Obama won. He’s thrilled. He’s got the two beers and one glass of champagne he drank last night to prove it. He’s also got the little assentive murmurs he made during Obama’s acceptance speech to prove it. His loudest assentive grunt came after Obama said

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

I wonder if it resonated so much because he himself was huddled in a lush, boozy approximation of the scenario Obama was describing. In retrospect it also sort of reminds him of his dad telling a story of being a young hippie traveling in Europe in —  ’67? And hearing the Doors’ “Light My Fire” for the first time, in a room of other traveling hippies huddled around the radio. Eastern Europe. They were thrilled by the song; it was revolutionary. Not actually revolutionary, of course: it was a pop song. And of course Obama is referring to suffering, impoverished folk, not  traveling American 1960s counterculturalists or coked-up and genuinely pleased twentysomethings. People were passing around a bottle of Maker’s, and a bong, during Obama’s speech. We were moved. I teared up. I thought a guy I didn’t meet or speak to, who took a practiced bonghit during C-Span’s commentaryless footage of the Grant Park throng waiting for Obama, mocked me by satirically echoing my assentive grunt.

A: I’m sure he was just dealing with some esophagul difficulties.

C: I took it personally. [Spots a piece of melted chocolate icecream on the bicep of her peacoat, and laps at it like a fucking kitty]