Imagine a fish that swims its entire life in mayonnaise. And then imagine catching that fish, and cooking it, and chopping it up into a paste of little pieces. And then imagine all the creatures in the sea—lobsters, scallops, crabs, squid—and imagine them all cooked and chopped and mayonnaised. And imagine it all going into a bowl, and then imagine taking a potato chip and cutting the surface of the paste, and trying to dig some onto the potato chip without it snapping. And then imagine putting it in your mouth, and chewing it, and swallowing, and then turning to the lady in the sunglasses with blinking blue lights on the rims and saying that thank you, you like it and it’s delicious.

And then imagine looking out over an industrial landscape. Imagine smokestacks, of all shapes and sizes, their dark mouths gaping up at you. Imagine blocky warehouses; imagine grain silos glinting. And then imagine that instead of gazing over roofs and silos and stacks, you actually stare over the top of a table—over the tops of many tables, one after another, down the hall—and imagine that the smokestacks you see are the necks of bottles, that the silos are beer cans, that the warehouses and factories are derelict 30-packs, ravaged and empty.

And imagine for a minute that this is your America, for in a sense it is. Wisconsin is represented here; so is Colorado. Microbreweries check in from many parts of the Northeast. Jack Daniels gives a holler from down in Tennessee. They all wink back at you in the twirling colored lights.

It’s hot. The furnace is trained for colder weather, and starts blowing unnecessarily. The band is good, but loud; or good and loud, or both. The moon is full outside. When the twirling lights die away between sets, you can look out the windows and see a view of the ocean that would cost several million dollars today. The lights of large homes shine on the far shore; cell towers blink behind them. The sky glows over the city.

A woman walks by, wearing a white robe with a large pouch sewn to look like an open toilet. Another woman in a satin wedding dress is showing off her shoes (with flowers) and you realize she is actually a man. Several pirates gyrate at each other off to one side. Many people wear sunglasses with flashing lights—some blue, some red, some purple. A number of women wear large plaques painted to mimic scrabble tiles. Some people have stuffed their costumes to appear morbidly obese, but one of the sad facts of rural living is that without prior knowledge, you can’t be sure who’s stuffed and who isn’t.

Imagine knowing almost none of these people, and yet being there anyway, and you’ll see how I spent my evening. Awkward, yes, but some things are worth awkward to see.


1 Response to “spooktacle”

  1. 1 jenlinnan November 5, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    Were you on the F train at Halloween TOO?

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