The point is not being there, but to have a place to be. To have a place to be necessarily means you might not have a place to be. Because you are aware of this when you are there, being becomes hard.
It is possible to forget for a moment about being, and not being, when talking about new uses of "whale."
He said, "I only ask because you never know what people will tell you." Skills at deflecting inappropriate questions were not yet acquired by me. I admire this ability of other people.
I was eating whipped cream spiked with Grand Marnier--which I had scratch-made for the potluck. The loft was shared by four men. A good friend met his future wife while living there.
Many people in their early twenties have not been engaged. Also, the question of marriage was not important to me. Now, I can't imagine myself occupied by talk, the natural progression of which is the question, "Have you ever been engaged?"
I did not feel invaded. But he was attempting an invasion. These are different things.
I felt unengaged. He was eating Turducken.
Also, unexpectedly, I had a scruple based on little but my sulkiness to answer a question about my prior or non-existent engagements. (I just Roget-ed a word that brought me to page one. That was thrilling.) I was sidestepping some indefinable trespass.
After, I thought, 'There are people who ask questions only to acquire data. These people are successful.' I divide the world's people into two groups. Those who ask questions to acquire data, and those who ask questions in ignorance of the act of acquiring data. I thought, 'Every vouchsafing of information puts you at a disadvantage, if you are not, then, vouchsafed information.'
I blame this man for making me think of talk in terms of advantage and disadvantage. Blame for other divisions is as of yet undecided.
Rozalia Jovanovic is a founding editor of Gigantic, a magazine of short prose and art, the New York Editor of The Rumpus, and the Indie Books columnist for The Faster Times. She has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Columbia University. Her writing has most recently appeared in The Believer, Guernica, elimae, and Esquire.com. She lives in New York.