I was going to a reunion; it felt like it should be a high school reunion but could have been a college one. I had been asked to be a speaker. I was confused about the destination, thinking I’d passed it, and felt utterly lost, so I pulled the cord to stop the bus. The driver told me that it was between stops, but he let me off anyway.
At first the area was completely unfamiliar, but as I walked (seemingly upward) it became Promontory Point or an area like it. I wandered around and saw other people speaking, but they were standing in front of a small group informally. I thought I was to speak to the entire group in a more formal setting, and I couldn’t find the person who had arranged it. Knowing that I could be asked to speak at any moment, I tried to adjust the belt on my dress. One time, it was the wrong color, while the next time I looked it was dirty underneath. At any rate, it wouldn’t fasten properly.
Suddenly, the speaker arranger found me and I went to talk. There was no one sitting or standing to listen. I had not prepared a speech, but I talked to a random group coming and going about how I was in college and how college had changed me. I mentioned that my mother used to mistake me for Hervé Villechaize [laughter]. I discussed the majors I’d rejected, which also provoked laughter and consternation. I talked about the influence of a late professor over me; a few cheered like they knew him, so at this point this seemed to be a college reunion — but it felt like the people were from high school.
My speech and delivery were wonderful, but the crowd became amorphous. I didn’t know if I was really supposed to be speaking at that time or in that place.
I found myself sitting next to three women, two of whom were Asian, who were interested at first but who soon drifted off as people do at parties, where no meaningful conversation can take place. Was I supposed to “work the crowd,” delivering my speech in snippets here and there to whatever groups I found?
I felt panicky that I’d blown my opportunity (but I don’t mean to talk before a gathering). I found myself sitting in another group, where everyone was smoking, including me. I threw the cigarette away in disgust.
A man who was with a group of royalty set up chairs in front of me, facing me. Was I supposed to speak?
Then there was a presentation about linguistics and the relatedness and variety of languages involving hands of different hues in a row, like performance art. Suddenly, I was in the midst of a few of them, observing them trying to find the correct translation of a particular phrase, but nothing we found made sense.