Last week, I went to a wonderful Calvin Harris concert at a club in Dallas called Zouk. As pretentious establishments are wont to do, Zouk* decided to create artificial demand for its resources by forcing consumers to wait in a line even though it was actually empty inside. Economists refer to this particular manipulation of the free market as douchebaggery.
*In Greek, “Zouk” roughly translates to “Ed Hardy.” THIS IS A FACT.
When you grow up, the concept of a line grows less and less palatable. The contempt is certainly not innate. Back in first grade, every student in the class was assigned a “job” at the beginning of each week. Someone had to wash the tables after lunch, someone had to hold all the doors, someone had to turn off the lights when we left the classroom. It was kind of like our teacher was a famous basketball player, and we were all members of her entourage, completing worthless tasks because we couldn’t do anything else.
Two of these jobs dealt solely with lines. One person was the line leader; another was “last-in-line.” This was the greatest job of all. You wanted to be the kid who politely waited for everyone, even the door holders, and then said, “after you, mademoiselle,” while gesturing with your hand like a member of the French nobility from the 1300s.
I believe the loathing of the line develops when you turn sixteen and start driving, when you face the searing frustration of traffic for the first time. At its essence, traffic really is just a line, only it’s a much worse line because YOU are not just waiting in a line. It’s you and six-hundred horses entrapped under a hood, yearning to get the fuck away from all these people in Chevy Astros who are clogging the left lane instead of using it for passing!
This theory explains the high school cafeteria. I recall the grind of the line back then. At my high school, only certain people waited in line, normal people. Jerk seniors and quick-to-reach puberty boys with shoulders the size of Boeing jet engines that they could use to thrust normals aside skipped the line. It wasn’t fair. It sucked. It’s one reason – the other being that I am poor and way cheaper than necessary – that I always brought my lunch to school.
Line avoidance began back then and has continued, except in rare instances, like last Saturday night. The Calvin Harris concert marked a rare time in that I went somewhere and was a minority for NOT ingesting ecstasy, and a rare time in that I could absolutely NOT avoid a line.
We had heard that Zouk was notorious for lines before we left, but when we arrived our fears were magnified. What stretched before us wasn’t a line. It was an Occupy Zouk movement. Hundreds of men and women congregated not in a single-file line but as a mass mob, writhing in their ornamented costumes, damning the one-percent of the patrons who paid exorbitant amounts so they could reserve a table and fully brandish their self-importance. Some held signs that didn’t make any sense. I swear I saw someone communicate with his fingers.
In the midst of this first-world problem, we started bonding. I learned that a guy next to me was in town from Canada on business. He planned to use lots of drugs to enhance his experience. A girl who worked for a publisher loaded a Calvin Harris song on her phone, continuously pumping soundwaves directly into my ear. I suspect she had already used lots of drugs to enhance her experience.
The line lasted for at least forty-five minutes, maybe an hour. Anyone who drank beforehand was now sober. Anyone who ate, hungry. Anyone who prayed, faithless.
The flashing entrance to Zouk beckoned like a lighthouse. We made it home. We endured the line. We reached the summit of K2. It was all downhill from here, or so I thought. I really had to go to the bathroom, and I had to wait in line for another twenty minutes. Damn.