Moloch in whom I sit alone

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I went to a party. Ar­riv­ing guests got stick­ers: cats and pineap­ples. Pineap­ples would have to talk in a big group, cats would be pairs and trios. Every­one knew the cats had it bet­ter.

I got there be­fore the game. When the fifth per­son came, I broke off and sat alone. He sat with me. More peo­ple wan­dered over, and soon we were six, seven, eight.

We talked about how small groups are bet­ter, and laughed at our big group. But what can you do? It’s hard to in­vite your pre­oc­cu­pied neigh­bor to more in­ti­macy with an au­di­ence of seven.

I got up and stood alone on the other side of the room. A friend fol­lowed. Suc­cess. But nor­mally I wouldn’t have walked. And nor­mally he wouldn’t have fol­lowed. Our group grew. Three, four, five..

The game be­gan. I was a cat. It was good. What is ba­si­cally go­ing on in the world? What are differ­ent peo­ple’s ex­pe­riences like? What do I get out of know­ing this? What is ro­mance? What ro­man­tic ad­vice does one give a rad­i­cally in­ex­pe­rienced per­son? How good was my pre­vi­ous five year ro­mance with my con­ver­sa­tion part­ner? Is it bet­ter to love or to be loved, if you have to pick only one, for­ever? How does one es­ca­late con­ver­sa­tional in­ti­macy? Should one do that, or just jump in?

The game ended. How would we de­cide which was best? Each of us only saw one side. Oh well. A show of hands. Repar­tee. Al­most ev­ery­body likes small groups. No­body’s mind was changed by tonight. Per­haps this large group wasn’t up to scratch.

For a mag­i­cal mo­ment, this largest group of all—a space of cir­cles, paused and opened up, call­ing out to each other—was a kind of good that I hadn’t seen be­low.

We col­lapsed back into party. I talked to a friend next to me. What is fun like? She told me. That was sur­pris­ing. What is love like? Our group grew out to block the door­way. I had some work to do, so I took a walk.

I came back to two gi­ant cir­cles. Ex­cla­ma­tion. I sat alone. Even­tu­ally a friend sat down. What is fun like? The same as for the other friend. In­ter­est­ing. Our group grew. Two, three, four. Six.

I crossed the room and sat alone. A friend joined me. The room joined us.

Was this re­ally what no­body wanted?