Monday, April 6, 2009

Party Monster

Well the social season is starting to pick up in Berlin, so we're all beginning to feel a little more positive, a little less "isoliert". I have already attended several functions, including a Salsa birthday party and, this Saturday, a costume party in which one was to dress as one's favorite UBahn station. I ended up going simply as the person who sells the homeless persons' newspaper, or Strassenfeger, on all the trains. Best costume award goes to the gal who dressed as Rosa Luxembourg Platz. Apparently Ms. Luxembourg was a radical communist/activist in some important position, and was eventually murdered and tossed into the canal. Our friend was trussed up as the dead Rosa, having been fished out of the canal after a few days' marination: green, bruised, scaly and, one can only assume, gamey as hell (thankfully she didn't go for complete olfactory verisimilitude).

The party was held by some friends of ours, a British couple (or as they say in Deutschland, eine Heterosexuelles Paarchen), one of whom is an architect, the other works for the BBC. They had a nice spread as usual, but I was especially struck by their selection of cheesy pineapple on a stick. One partygoer asserted that this snack was quite popular in German in the 1970s, but I will always remember it as the hors d'oeuvre of choice of the monstrous Beverley in the classic British satire Abigail's Party.

For those of you unfamiliar with the telefilm, the most hilarious scene takes place after all the guests have arrived and the drinks are beginning to take effect. Abigail, as portrayed by Alison Steadman is a manipulative monster, but she always fully and unapologetically herself. Sue, who is Abigail’s mother, is a timid upper-middle class woman, recently divorced. In this scene, Abigail repeatedly embarrasses and humiliates her (assisted by her drunken, nebbishy neighbor Angela) by forcing her in a crypto-fascist way, by abusing Sue’s genteel nature, to consume several gin-and-tonics, “cheesy pineapple-on-a-sticks” and cigarettes in quick succession. When the men are strong-armed by Abigail (who is simultaneously passive-aggressive and just plain aggressive) into going downstairs and checking on Abigail’s party to “make sure everything is alright down there,” Sue heads straight for the lavatory for an upchuck session. Abigail, when she calls after Sue to see if she is alright, is seen in a solitary shot, shaking her head duplicitously and disdainfully as she voraciously French-inhales her cigarette. “It’s a good thing the boys are away, Sue” she says. “’Cause, let’s face it, it’s embarrassing when you’re vomiting in front of the blokes, right, Ang?” Of course, when the blokes return, a sneaky Angela hastily informs them that Sue has been in the upchuck, under the pretense of sympathy for Sue.

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