Swirls of vibrant pleats and winter coats over a threadbare carpet.
"It's so nice to meet you!" I say with a Cheshire grin, shaking the hands of people I'm looking at, but not really seeing them, knowing I'll forget their names in about half an hour.
Heels clicking loudly on polished linoleum in a monotonous drone.
I'm saying something, but I'm not sure what.
I feel like I'm yelling over the chattering roars in the room, still smiling, still spitting out things that don't mean anything.
Senseless vibrations of molecules in the air.
"Dr. Baird, your speech was so good," she says, her big, blue eyes wild with naive inquiries. She gives off a sweetness made sickly by her carefully masked over-confidence.
Why should I lie like that? I won't spit out blatant falsities, even if it is for money.
I'm stuffed in a room with ambitious, successful people.
They call it making friends, but it's just networking.
They call it socializing, but it's just self-advertising.
They call it playing games, but it's just competition. That same cold, cutting competition that makes the world go around.
So I take a deep breath and force myself to wrench the tired muscles on my face into a plastic smile, and turn around to my porcelain dishes and clinking silverware,
feigning an infinite, inexhaustible interest in everything and everyone around me.
"Hi! How are you doing?"
Because it's all white noise in a fake, bureaucratic world.