far too much writing, far too many photos

At the pot luck, two nights ago: once we’d made it through the foreplay (conversation, badminton, croquet, admiring sunset) to the main event (dinner!), a group of attendees drifted to a picnic table maybe 150 feet from the house, the rest went inside, hovering around the kitchen/dining area. After hanging about the kitchen, I noticed the group at the picnic table, J. and I went out to join them. They were deep into conversation about local politics, an exchange that seemed to be heating up. And though they were all good folks, darker, angrier aspects of their personalities seemed to emerge as they talked, the vibe slipping from that of a late summer’s eve dinner party into something nastier, more rancorous.

The debate concerned a race for a seat in the Vermont House of Representatives — a race in which apparently no Republican is running, so that it’s become a battle between a Democrat and a Democrat who has suddenly declared himself an independent. Two people at the table were intensely, vociferously opposed to the independent candidate, one expressing it insistently, the other chiming in now and then in a slightly more refined manner. The others didn’t agree, disagreement which began mildly, growing gradually less diplomatic, more forthright, more of a match to the tone being set by the other two.

As the exchange progressed, the table came under siege from the insect world, particularly the local contingent of no-see-ums, who must not have eaten in centuries and were apparently spreading the word that fresh meat — fresh, noisy meat — had arrived.

So I’m trying to eat a nice dinner, political bile and microscopic bloodsuckers filling the air around me. Until at some point I realized I was being eaten alive. The speed at which I shoveled food into my mouth increased, the idea being to finish up before fleeing back to the house so I didn’t seem unfriendly or boorish to the other attendees (who took no notice of me at all since I’d contributed nothing to the debate), while at the same time I flailed at the host of flying creatures that had begun removing bits of flesh from the exposed parts of my body, until I was putting on an amazing display of high speed food hoovering and self-flagellation. And either no one else was being molested by ravenous bloodsuckers or they were so absorbed in political brawling that the wholesale siphoning of blood from their bodies simply didn’t register with their sensory mechanisms, because I seemed to be the only one going a bit wild in a nonverbal way.

Finally, meal finished, I rose from the table murmuring pardon-me’s and retreated to the house, J. fleeing with me. The folk in the kitchen showed no surprise that the air outside had been fouled with political matters, though they seemed surprised to hear about the invasion of bloodsuckers. The woman of the house ran outside with citronella candles while I remained safely in the kitchen, shoveling down samples of various desserts.

Politics and political conversations -– as Jack Nicholson once said, I’d rather put needles in my eyes.

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