The Law of Universal Regression
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"'Paris is a very hospitable place,' she said. 'It accepts everything... Crime and infamy can find asylum here; only virtue has no altars here'"-Balzac "Sarrasine"
"This life is a hospital where every patient is possessed with the desire to change beds...""Anywhere Out of the World" Baudelaire
As a writer I often come across moments and wish I could end the story here. How happy a tale this little Paris narrative would be if as I raised my glass and smiled the camera slowly pulled back, eventually retreating from the warm yellow glow of the room to the lovely blue of the Paris street gently dotted with christmas lights and pulling back even further to eventually show the dark Paris sky dotted with stars? But the night was not yet over. Dinner was not yet over and so we must continue.
Laine cleared the dishes and we sat drinking wine for a bit. By this point, we were on our fifth bottle of red wine making the liquor tally so far 2 bottles of kir and 5 bottles of red wine plus joints beyond number. Was my flush of good cheer simply the pot and the wine and the food or was it a genuine rush of happiness? We sat at the table finishing the wine and having raspberry sorbet and pistachio ice cream with good Parisian coffee in little delicate demi tasses. After coffee was finished, we pushed the table aside and put music on and danced on the hard wood floor.
The French mainly listen to American music, which is fine, but it is amusing to listen to French people who don't know the words attempt to sing a long. I can only describe it as sounding like a hearing impaired jazz scatter attempting to accompany rock n' roll. They make a series of incoherent noises which seem to approximate the words, but seem to bear more resemblance (if listened to independently) to Arabic or Hebrew than English. We are too drunk and stoned to care about being "good dancers" or judging the talent of others. We smile and giggle and generally looked like a pack of well dressed Bacchae.
Laine had been wanting to go for a while. I can't say how I know, but I could tell that she was waiting for Sebastian to join her. Suddenly, she stopped waiting. She left the dance floor and got her coat. "I'll get a taxi" she explained, but I could tell she was unhappy that Sebastian did not offer to join her or even walk her to a taxi. She did not kiss me, but we said good-bye.
At this point, the party moved to the kitchen. Henri and Sebastian arm wrestled and joked with each other. Eventually I armed wrestled with Patricia and Sebastian. We (mainly Henri and Sebastian) finished the beer and we decided to drag ourselves back to the salon. By this time it was about 2 or so in the morning. Even Henri was staggering a bit. There was some more dancing, but I was getting tired or reaching my limit. I began to realize that the party was not going to end-it was going to continue raging on and on. I was a bit disappointed, but I also knew Henri and I were both way beyond the point of even wanting to have sex. Finally, I decided to go to bed. I told Henri I was tired and he led me to the bedroom. I took off my shoes and lay down on the bed over the covers. I don't know if they turned down the music, but I was immediately asleep.
I woke up at six in the morning. It was silent and dark and I was alone in bed. I felt around the mattress and no Henri. I got up and tiptoed into the kitchen. No Henri. The other bedroom. No Henri. The door between the living room and the hallway was closed. I'm not sure why, but I slowly opened the door.
It was dark in the living room, but not entirely silent. I could hear heavy breathing and as my eyes adjusted I immediately saw to figures writhing on the grand piano. I must say I immediately thought it was Henri and Patricia. I must have gasped and taken a step back because suddenly the light in the hall was on and there was Sebastian completely naked except for a throw pillow from the couch which was covering himself with. Patricia appeared in a minute later actually dressed. And there I am, dazed and still drunk and stoned trying to apologize and them saying "no no no it's ok" and me just trying to, I don't know, go hide of fucking shame in the back bedroom. Of course, finally they ask me what I had been doing, and how in that haze I was able to explain I was looking for Henri, I'm not sure, but they joined the quest. We found him asleep in a chair in the study. I pulled him into the bedroom where he shed most of his clothes and went right back to sleep.
Although I don't remember doing it, some time in the night I must have taken off all my clothes. Yes, all of them.
I woke suddenly at 930. I was still drunk and stoned. Everything in Paris seems surreal as it is, but when such massive amounts of liquor and drugs are involved, things devolve into a Burroughesque sense of reality. The sun was already out and shining through the window. The house was silent. I poked my head out of the bedroom. Sebastian was asleep on the grand piano, covered only by the sofa cover, which he was using as a sheet. I was in that dissociative dream state which is the only way of explaining what happened next. Despite being completely naked, I walked towards the piano and stood in front of Sebastian contemplating his face. He was both boyish and handsome, but around the corners of his eyes and mouth were wrinkles. He was beginning to age and I could tell already that he was not going to age well. Then I turned on my heel and went down the hall to the bathroom.
Whether it was the drunkenness or the standings or the generally bizarro quality of the entire evening, I wasn't really aware of my own nudity, if that makes any sense at all. I suppose you might liken it to those dreams where you are in front of class and suddenly discover you are completely naked. That moment BEFORE you realize you are naked, when you feel completely dressed and safe despite the absence of actual clothes. I came out of the bathroom and heard some movement in the living room. Why I went to the hallway to see, I don't know. I knew it was Sebastian.
In dreams I often see myself doing things, my consciousness watches my body move and talk, but there is no emotional involvement. I would be more emotional engaged in watching a stranger cross the street. The episode in the hallway had that kind of feel. As if I was not seeing Sebastian at the end of the hallway, but merely watching myself from a great distance.
I walked to the hallway to investigate the noise. Sebastian was standing there fully dressed, I was naked, but not really aware of being naked. We looked at each other for a moment. And then Sebastian avert his eyes and walked back towards the couch. I walked into the bedroom and suddenly threw on my clothes.

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