Down East 2013 ©
After a long stretch of careful scientific study — double-blind, I assure you — I am prepared to present to the world the Donovan Graham Law of Inverse Inebriated Performance. The Law, backed by several solid bits of anecdotal evidence that I gathered at The Village’s Talent Night, postulates a precise set of relationships involving the factors of
1) time of night,
2) amount of alcohol and other substances consumed,
3) bravado (actual or substance-induced),
4) talent (real or imagined), and
5) performance quality.
Specifically, the Law suggests an intricate web of interdependencies that are properly summed up in the formula
q = t – (h * b * s )
where the variables carry the following specific meanings:
q = performance quality as judged by a sober, disinterested party. Given that during the Talent Show each person’s level of disinterestedness increased and level of sobriety decreased rapidly as the performers boldly swept into and crawled meekly out of the Performance Circle drawn on the beach, the real value of this variable can only be estimated.
t = the actual talent possessed, at the moment of performance and in the genre being performed, by the performer as measured by his or her ability to complete the performance without ruining instruments, hearing, or friendships.
h = the hour of the night at which the performance begins, which is, one hopes, the same hour at which it ends, although in some cases during the Talent Show this hope seemed cruelly dashed.
b = the bravado, savoir faire, nerve, gall, chutzpah, derring-do, cheek, audacity, spunk, spit, grit, spine, guts, and outright balls of the performer, often found in a necessarily inverse proportion to talent (see t above).
s = the sobriety of the performer at the time of the performance (and, possibly, for the week or so leading up to the performance). This sobriety can be gauged by the usual police-inspired methods of straight-line walking, alphabet reciting, and nose-tip touching, but during the Talent Show a simpler and more insightful test could be offered, consisting of tossing something to someone, yelling “Catch!” and seeing which body part got hit. As mentioned before, the Sobriety Quotient for the entire group of performers and audience members resembled the low-tide line at the start of the evening and plummeted rapidly with each passing minute.
So, all things considered, the quality of the performance equals the talent of the performer, minus the lateness of the night, times the gall necessary to get the performer to humiliate himself or herself in front of the gang, multiplied by the quantity and potency of any mind- or mood-altering substances fizzing in the performer’s bloodstream. It’s the same formula that accounts for most reality television.
During The Village Talent Night, the Donovan Graham Law of Inverse Inebriated Performance unfolded exactly as expected. The early performances were astoundingly good. Summer did a modern-dance interpretation of the torrid affair between Love and Death. She wore a gauzy leotard with diaphanous leaves fluttering around her wrists and low across her hips. With the starlight spangling the choppy waves behind her, she leapt weightlessly from one beach boulder to the next, rising in newborn splendor early in the dance and withering in an arthritic release from human bondage at the end. She was breathtaking — and I already knew how lithe she is.
Summer received high marks from Bo and the Frigidaire, and Mitch — grinning lecherously — gave her a perfect score that no doubt included his impression of a previous performance in the Pad. Still, she deserved a strong rating, and she got it.
The acts continued, with commendable routines featuring juggling, operatic singing, some fast-fingered banjo work, and even a low-level tightrope act. All in all, not bad. Some of the performances were even moving.
But by the middle of the lineup, the Donovan Graham Law of Inverse Inebriated Performance was in full swing. Even if the routines were flawless in rehearsal, they were doomed at this hour of the night. A chubby guy named Al did a positively awful stand-up comedy bit — at one point, he actually massaged a small rock and declared, “I used to be nervous, but now I’m feeling a little boulder” — but even he fared better than the ventriloquist act that followed him. Things were falling apart rapidly as the stars began spinning around the heavenly arc at an increasingly rapid rate, the bongo drums became simultaneously funny and really annoying, and the number of trips people made to the water’s edge for various forms of weight loss became increasingly frequent.
By the end of the evening, the performances blurred into one long, screeching cacophony of overstatement, distraction, and nausea. I don’t remember many of the individual acts with any clarity, although I do recall several of us dumping one guy into the ocean, bagpipes and all. (He would have drowned if he had been playing the French Horn.) As the last echoes of the Closing Ceremonies drifted out over the North Atlantic waves, pale and contorted bodies were strewn up and down the waterline. Some of them were still performing.
In the end, the winners were Summer, for her illusory dance performance, a xylophone player named Willie, and a two-person juggling routine that involved flaming swords and something that appeared to be a small ground squirrel.
One weird thing about that night — OK, there were a thousand weird things about that night, including repeated cries of “Hey, let’s jam!” from people who should be required by law to remain at least fifty feet away from any musical instrument. But the Weird Thing in Question at the moment is that Bo and Eliza didn’t spend much time together. Bo seemed more interested in his bongos than he was in his Eternal Goddess, and Eliza mainly hung out with four guys who are building some kind of grand abode out of driftwood. She bit her lip and shot looks over to Bo throughout the night — not that I was staring at her or anything — but Bo never looked back. Maybe it’s my lustful imagination creating an opportunistic rift where none exists. Then again, maybe it’s my Chance of a Lifetime.
— Donovan Graham, “The Shadowless Writer”
Comment — GeorgeReynolds: I think I remember that bagpipe player from a few years ago. Pitching him in the sea was the least he deserved.
Comment — Gemstone: Your chance at what, Van? Is she really what you want?
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