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?