January 09, 2007

How the Work Gets Done

I challenge my dream: “Show me the Equator. I’ve never seen the Equator.” And I’m there, registering at a hotel on some tropical island in the middle of the ocean. I look around expecting the exotic but everything looks depressingly ordinary, as if this were some grubby convenience store in Canarsie. “Show me things I’ve never seen,” I command my dream. I’m imagining succulent equatorial flowers, blossoms billowing like parachutes, and juicy fuchsia-hued fruits big as boulders.

The scene changes, but instead of embroidered nature, I find myself in the hotel’s unremarkable cocktail lounge. Some guests have dressed formally. Others are naked. We’re just a bunch of people sipping our drinks, probably waiting for dinner. We attempt conversation, but it goes nowhere. “This is nothing,” I scold my dream. “Show me the horrors, the spectacular horrors of the Equator!” I’m imagining spiders towering like skyscrapers on stick legs, and malevolent vampire insects numerous and unremitting.

Nothing outwardly changes, although, one by one, I begin to recognize my fellow guests. In fact, I realize that I know every one of them and I wouldn’t voluntarily spend a second in their company! I notice, too, that everyone now is looking around the room and recognizing everyone else. From their gloom I surmise that everybody has discovered universal, mutual hatred.

Can it be that, compelled by the rules of civility, we must spend our short, once-in-a-lifetime equatorial vacations in this Sartrean hellhole in intimate contact with those who revolt us?

But then it dawns on me: “Thank you,” I tell my dream. “For this true horror of the Equator!”

—Sandy McIntosh

Posted by dwaber at January 9, 2007 01:31 PM