Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The eight members of the group

The tallest of the group, Edel, is 5'6". It is not a group for "short people": it is a group for "good people," but they call it a group for "our kind of people." They experience "goodness" in one way, and it brings them happiness to "eat, meet, and greet." There is no hugging, except Von forgets herself and tries to jump Dash’s shoulders. Von has been to the barber, but the group doesn't know that. They think she has taken up wearing scarves and hats and caps against a war -- which she is, against a war -- as she hopes the group is with her. But the group is not "for" or "against" any war. They are "for" eating correctly in a balanced way, going by principles. It is hard for most of them to do, and when they aren't finishing off a once-a-month pie together, they are talking about it: the diet. They are not trying to lose weight, as with all previous diets, but are trying to achieve balance through nutrition. Vinegar is out, an easy one. The hard one is sugar, so once a month they eat it together, to get it over with, to be in agreement, to see to it, to acknowledge liberties they still enjoy. They agree they are experiencing more balance than ever before, that their diets are performing a miracle for them; they are free and clear of imbalance. Their nutrients solve their complaints, make them feel whole and clear, of one good conscience, and they are right to feel that way. Each is a fish in a big pond; each is a fish plant in an underwater marsh of seaweed; each says so in their own words. The language slips and hisses: what about knowing the story, really hearing it ala snorts from the lamb's nostrils -- "horse's mouth" frightens Vella: a sense of smell tells of something peculiar or suspicious or that doesn't fit. Starro, who is not in the group, won’t tell even one story, so that doesn't fit her behavior, the way her jeans fit: perfectly. Tesich tells stories about irrelevant things. None tells stories about work. Their work is run over by computers with ears, eyes, mouth, yet the computers do not breathe or notice smells. Dalni smells things that aren't there and develops a sick joke that makes them laugh: "Is it me?" she leads, "Or do you smell socks?" "The President's cat," Krenna says, chuckling hilariously. Dalni has "olfactory hallucinations," Shel, Ph.D., says. Tet cannot smell at all, and Dalni smells what cannot be smelled. Because Dalni cannot resist telling her joke, and Krenna cannot resist hers, and no one tells good stories, both are expelled. The group secretly changes its meeting time to the third Wednesday of each month, butting Dalni and Krenna -- hoping they go have sex. “Together,” Par, the newcomer, says, in tune with the wishes of the eight members of the group -- stories they'd like to hear.

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