So I went to the party and ran into:
Lemuel Rockbottom. When I was a Russian teaching assistant in college, Lem was one of my students. Then one day about three years ago, I bumped into him at Radost FX in Prague when my friend Marla and I walked in and started to search in vain for a free table. He came up to us, reminded shyly that we were acquainted and offered us to sit down with him. We gladly accepted. He said he'd been in town for two days and was looking for a place to stay. As luck would have it, I was renting a beautiful floor-through two-bedroom apartment (with servant quarters!) two blocks away from Charles Bridge and immediately offered to put him up. He returned the favor by showing us an “herbal shop” that sold certain magic mushrooms a stone's throw from my place, on Betlemska Street.
Later that day the three of us, overcome with mysterious giggles, lounged around my living room and marveled at the antique furniture, pieces of intricate embroidery strewn about, and thirty two pairs of deer antlers of various sizes mounted on the walls.
“So do you think your landlord hunted them himself?” Lem asked.
“I wouldn't be surprised,” I said, “but I actually prefer to think that it was his old lady.”
“Stalking deer in the forest with a big gun!” cried Marla.
“While he sits at home and sews,” concluded Lem.
I laughed so hard I fell off the chair.
Sara Popona. Lanie's former roommate. Self-titled “the Sara”, as in “Hi, I'm the Sara, who are you?” A diminutive Filipino girl with the looks of Minnie Mouse, she is the second flakiest person I know. Here's just one example.
At Schmasser a student by the name of Dick Davenport, possessed of an outstanding sense of humor and some money to burn, decided to organize a Croquet Club. He was the club's sole officer and bankroller (no college funds were used). The club's members would get together on sunny afternoons, play a game or two of croquet, and retire to a parlor in one of the spectacular faux gothic buildings for tea, almond cookies, and genteel conversation. It was a big, ironic, crooked-smile joke. However, as Dick related to me with bemused delight, some members took the hoity-toity facade with all possible seriousness. No one disabused them of their mistake. The joke was more delicious that way.
I never joined Dick's club but I can imagine him presiding gleefully over a swank tea party, looking over people acting out a farce that he scripted and produced. I think it was brilliant. He used neither sticks nor carrots, yet people bent to his will. His was a soft, subtle, and in its implications probably very dangerous kind of power.
Sara showed up at a croquet game soon after the club was incorporated. She made an immediate impression on Dick. “Hello,” she said, “I'm the Sara. Please tell me you don't have any socialists among your members. I'm planning to build a business empire after I graduate, and I can't afford to be seen consorting with such people.”
“Were I not left speechless,” Dick later told me over a beer in his perfectly enunciated upper-class English that made every “t” in words like “entity” sparkle, “my first reaction would be to say 'Honey, what the fuck do you think I run here, a co-op board?'” Dick used the word “fuck” aptly and frequently, but it came out just as carefully enunciated as the rest of his speech and somehow lacked urgency.
“Don't feel bad,” I told him then. “At least you don't have to live with her. She exorcised the room she shares with Lanie the day she moved in. And when I stop by, she ambushes me in skimpy dresses and demands to know if they're sexy.” I shuddered.
“Enough about her,” Dick decided. “Let me tell you about the crazy old Duchess Oblonsky. She had an estate about an hour's drive from here and no one would call on her because she was absolutely out of her skull. Then one day, she called in a motorcycle repairman…”
I guess I have strayed from the story of Sara into the story of Dick, although I didn't see Dick at the party. In fact, I haven't seen Dick for over five years now. I kind of miss him.