A journal entry from a few days ago that I thought spun off into a Kafkaesque direction.
Life’s rich pageant drifts by, but I feel remarkably detached from it, as if none of it concerns me, vitally. My involvement seems tenuous at best, feeble even. You see, I sat at the head table, once upon a time. I was even the key-note speaker, once upon a time. The big shot. And a few times when I wasn’t the big shot, per se, I was thought to be even bigger than the actual big shot being honoured by those thusly assembled. You may remember me glaring down from up there, masticating my chicken. I was at the centre of things.
But then I found myself shunted down towards the end of the table, a gradual process, one seat at a time, no longer at the centre. I eventually became the one who sat beside the mid level bureaucrats from various government agencies, sent to convey the Minister’s deepest regrets, sincere and heartfelt, that he or she could not personally attend such an auspicious and truly significant event.
Eventually, they simply ran out of seats at the head table. I found myself down on the floor near the head table, with the paying guests. While no longer at the head table proper, I was still acknowledged by those at the head table, who were after all friends and colleagues, and perhaps were tracking my movement away from the centre with some trepidation, for in my journey, could they not see what fate awaited all of them?
And then I found myself being placed at a table a little further back and away from the head table, out there on the floor along with everyone else. And then finally I found myself sitting all alone at a table that wasn’t even a real table, more of a temporary structure, like a card table, with a wobbly leg and a not quite spic and span table cloth. From this table, one could not even see the head table, it was too far away and besides there was a pillar in the way. This table was situated way in the back of the great dining hall beside the stations where the servers gather to make their forays into the dining room proper, delivering food, removing the plates, serving coffee and dessert, I could see it all happening before anyone else, and yet annoyingly I was always served last. If at all.
And then one day I had trouble parking and when I arrived at the dining hall, I discovered all the doors were closed and not only closed but locked. I stood in the empty vestibule with my ear to the door and could hear fragments of the speeches being given and some muted applause. Then I sunk down in one of the overstuffed leather sofas and I guess I must have fallen asleep for when I woke up, the doors to the great dining room were open revealing and the serving staff stripping all the tables and even setting the tables on their edges and rolling them away. A woman in a grey uniform was vacuuming and when she approached me, I lifted my feet for her which she acknowledged with a smile revealing several gold teeth. And then I left.
And then perhaps because I moved and changed addresses, the invitations no longer arrived in the mail and perhaps I missed them online – I get so many it’s hard to keep track of them all. And maybe the organization got a better deal on a dining room at another hotel and changed locations, I don’t know. On a day that seemed reasonably like it could have been the day of the luncheon I put on a dark suit and made my way to the hotel and up to the banquet hall floor, but there was no one there I recognized, or who recognized me, just some men in red blazers who seemed vitally concerned with plumbing fixtures, in which I have little or no interest, myself.
Nowadays, I don’t even bother looking for it, and while I don’t dwell on it, I think about it sometimes, the head table, and how it was to sit at it . . . .
Thanks for reading . . . .