Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"L'enfer, c'est les autres"

At a family wedding last weekend I overheard the following conversation between the bride and one of her female friends. As they both were leaving the dance floor, the bride (herself strapless) hugged her similarly attired guest and exclaimed, "Ooh you are all sweaty!" The bare-shouldered young woman replied "Yeah! And its not my sweat!" "EEEEWWW!" said the bride.

When I thought back on this dialog it brought to mind a scene from a recent episode of the Fox TV series "Bones" wherein the eponymous heroine of the show (aka Dr. Temperance Brennan) explains why she broke the wrist of a convicted murderer whom she was questioning at his prison visiting room. "He touched me with his icky serial killer hand."

A few days later I was reading the "Hartford Stage Company Stage Notes" telling about their upcoming production of Existential Philosopher/Novelist/Playwrite Jean Paul Sartre's "No Exit". It's a story of three strangers confined to a drawing room, presumably after their deaths, who develop a complex triangular relationship in which each one's imprisonment depends upon the other two. But the play is perhaps best known for the quote "Hell is other people!" - something that both the wedding guest and the fictional forensic detective were likely legitimately feeling.

Twice is an aberration, but three times is a trend. So I started thinking - is it really?

Sometimes yes. Although rarely as obvious as in Bones' incarcerated groping experience. And in those situations, the solution is not so bone-crushingly obvious.

Still, even in Sartre's play - which we are being told is a comedy although the idea of a Sartre Existential Comedy is even more oxymoronic than Military Intelligence, or any of the other cliche examples - the characters could actually leave the room if they wanted. And they choose not to, in order to maintain the delicate balance of their relationships.

In fact this presentation will apparently be performed on a teeter-totter stabilized platform that requires the actors to constantly adjust their positions relative to each other in order to keep their own "stage" from getting too much out of equilibrium.

But perhaps most importantly - back at the wedding, within minutes of their brief conversation both the female newlywed and her friend were back out on the dance floor gyrating with the rest of the crowd.

When Mars and I left about one hour later we gave the bride a hug - and I have to say that she was, well, sweaty.

I didn't ask, and she didn't tell me.

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