Winners

I believe you, I totally believe you

Lee Lozano. 1970, Ballpoint on paper. 9 × 11”. Photo by Barbora Gerny. Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth. © The Estate of Lee Lozano.

go to a dinner for an Upper East Side gallery. “I’m not clever, I’m creative,” says a woman in a red felt pantsuit. She squints, and I wonder if she’s squinting at me like, This woman is in polyester mix. She has orange lipstick all over her teeth and a very rich and famous father, which I like, because it’s very artistic.

“Don’t get me wrong, I like to fuck,” she says, when I ask her about her love life. “I believe you,” I say. “I totally believe you.” I keep repeating it in my head, even after we stop talking, sending positive, cross-generational vibes to her. I believe you. I believe you. I imagine her aura swallowing my good wishes like a water-soluble vitamin that converts food into energy. Like biotin for the soul. I imagine her aura growing healthy little nails, like a 12-week-old fetus. Like all uninsured people in the gig economy, I have a really good imagination.

In line for champagne, an artist tells me to shut up about astrology, her patron is coming over. She thanks the patron for her patronage. “It was life-changing,” the artist says. Red blotches begin creeping higher and higher up her neck. “It was absolutely a talent-based decision,” says the patron, patting the artist on the shoulder. Everyone was being honest, I wasn’t judging them at all.

I ask what sort of feathers are in the patron’s headband. “That’s such a good question,” she says. “I hear you’re talented for a 26-year-old.” I ask from whom she’s heard but everyone looks up, like they’re looking for the bird that just shit on them.

“This word gossip comes up a lot lately,” says the patron, after a long pause. “Gossip,” the artist says, nodding, “I’ve heard that word.” A blotch crests her chin. It’s all very brave. That’s what my friend Sam says whenever anything happens at a party. “Well, everyone is acting very brave tonight.”

I started saying “This is all very American” whenever I went to a house party, but people kept disagreeing with me, so I had to stop.

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