Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Roomful of Teamsters.

Agitated Teamsters, acutally. Last night's council meeting is packed with them. Spilling out into the foyer, the crowd out there so noisy their conversation breaks in distracting waves over the council chambers each time the door opens. Which it keeps doing.

And me in my summer dress and white sandals and pale skin (alabaster, let's call it, ok?) in the front row, flanked by serious-looking men. Big ones. I'm the girly pastel center of a Teamster sandwich. The place is mobbed. Three news cameras on tripods are set up inches from my feet, their operators standing over me, aiming their lenses as the podium in anticipation of newsworthy Teamster action.

I'm hoping for a little peace, some calm, and to get a bit of beauty into my head before it's my turn to speak. So I've opened a collection of stories by Paul Yoon. The title story, "Once the Shore," is doing the job nicely.

I always get nervous beforehand. All over again, I doubt myself and this project. The Teamsters--the union representing our local bus drivers--are here over their contract negotiation and a possible strike, a reason is far less frivolous than mine, this weird flight of hubris I'm calling performance art.

The mayor adjusts the agenda to allow the Teamsters to speak earlier in the meeting. A nice courtesy, considering these people need to get home to their families. Still, I'll be speaking before they do. I'll be reading the scene in which Charlie, the object of my married couple's love triangle, appears for the first time. It's a scene in which the two of them perform a metaphorical introductory dance together in the fiction stacks at Bookman's. It's meant to foreshadow the emotional intertwining to come. It's sort of subtle.

Out of context, my project is puzzling. Up at the podium, it's hard to ignore the bubble of confusion at my back. I read the scene over the waves of conversation from the lobby, which have now spilled into the room itself. The Teamsters are talking amongst themselves. I finish, thank the council, turn away from the podium and get booed.

There's applause, a little bit, I think...but I don't hear it. All I hear is that boo. Just one guy, somewhere in the back of the room. For the record, I don't think boo came from a Teamster. I think it came from one of the council meeting audience regulars. It was an anemic boo. Tentative, a little tired. When a Teamster is booing you, you know it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving a comment on this post!