In my defense, I was in a vulnerable place: a party, bizarrely enough, with tons of people whose names and faces all felt distantly recognizable in that NYC-specific way, where you're not sure if the person is a Law and Order actor or a former coworker or a fellow parent at your child's school because you rely on context clues to recognize that category of person. I had two drinks and then wandered around, trying to figure out how to be in a room full of semi strangers. Eventually, I went up to one of the vaguely familiar people. As we chatted and I worked to establish myself as a chill, friendly, normal person, I watched him attempt to do the math of how I'd ended up at this particular party. He asked me my last name, and I told him. "From Gawker? Wasn't there some controversy there?"
I know I wrote a whole essay about this phenomenon and how it always happens when I least expect it, but that was pre-pandemic. So this once-routine event, like unmasked grocery shopping, hasn't happened in my life for quite a while. I was caught off guard, and instead of doing the correct thing -- saying "Haha! Well, that was a long time ago" and redirecting the conversation to this guy's latest projects or his favorite color or whatever the fuck -- I actually ... answered the question? Or I started to, anyway. "I was, yeah, on Larry King Live, except Jimmy Kimmel was guest-hosting it, and there was this whole thing about whether celebrities hide behind bags of money," I said, and then someone else came over and joined the conversation and the dynamic shifted without my having to do anything about it, and the moment got lost in a sea of other moments in the continuing fun and weirdness of the night, and didn't resurface until the following day, when I thought about it a lot and felt my internal "days since the last incident" billboard reset to zero.