3. How I Spent My Summer Vacation: 3
When I wrote last night that Aragorn was down improving his van for our trip, I assumed this meant that he was checking the tyres, topping up the oil, wiping the bugs from the windscreen, washing off the mud, vacuuming the seats and so forth. But apparently I was wrong. What he in fact did was remove the back seats and replace them with a manky old sofa he found abandoned in the alley behind the Shop-Rite, and make a cheap spoiler out of plywood and nail it to the roof. Also, he stencilled, "OFFICIAL VAN OF SUMMER" on both sides, with red spraypaint.
He proudly asked me what I thought. I was at a loss for words. After a few stunned seconds I managed to weakly suggest that maybe we should steal dad's Mazda and take it instead. But while the novelty of joyriding in a stolen sedan did momentarily catch Aragorn's interest, the van won out in the end. Not even better petrol mileage, air conditioning, and a CD player could change his mind.
So he tossed my duffle bag into the back, and I reluctantly climbed into the front. I think there was something spilled across my seat; it was a bit sticky. Luckily, though, I'd worn my old jeans with paint stains. I wouldn't trust my good clothes to Aragorn's van even if he spent all week deep-cleaning the upholstery.
We are now two hours out of Rivendell and heading south slightly above the posted speed limit. The plan is to reach Eregion tonight, camp out in a quiet ditch, and continue through the Moria tunnel tomorrow. Then we'll camp again on the other side of the mountains and get to Lothlórien early Tuesday.
LATER: We have been listening to the same Peter Tosh tape, one Aragorn found in dad's old tape bin, for the past five hours. I suggested we put on the Depeche Mode tape Galdor made me, but Aragorn refused. Some people have no musical taste!
The toll Dwarves were strangely absent from the Moria gates when we drove up this afternoon. I was somewhat alarmed, since Dwarves never pass up on a chance to collect their outrageous tolls. Of course this meant I was forced to figure out the stupid password by myself, and it was just my luck that the inscription is in Beleriandic Tengwar. It took me the better part of an hour to get the whole mess sorted out and the gate opened, during which time that goon Aragorn just slept. Just for that I'm not telling him the password. He'll be sorry if he ever has to come back here later!
In any case, it may take far longer than anticipated to reach Lórien. Due to the absence of Dwarf guides and the fact that all the lamps have been vandalised, we have been forced to drive at an average speed of 15 miles per hour. I still think this is too fast, however, given the high number of sharp turns alongside steep dropoffs. Which is why I am now sitting in the back on the sofa; I can't handle having to watch as Aragorn almost drives the van straight off a cliff. My nerves can't take it. If we are going to die a horrible fiery plummeting death, I'd rather not know about it until the last few seconds immediately preceding the fact.
We are still driving though Moria. Or, more accurately, Aragorn is still hurtling forward like a maniac and I am still sitting in the back with my hands over my eyes. In retrospect, we probably should have packed enough food to allow for this sort of delay instead of assuming we'd be in Lórien by now. We've been forced to dip into Aragorn's emergency rations: a bulk family pack of lembas he picked up from Costco.
We just passed a road sign that said, "BRIDGE OF KHAZAD-DÛM, 10 MILES"! So perhaps there is hope for us yet!
These past few nights I have been dreaming only of real food instead of factory-processed lembas, and a real bed instead of having to share the sofa with Aragorn. He's starting to look at me funny, and last night he said that he'd never noticed before how much I look like Arwen. It's a bit disconcerting. And having to whizz out the back of the van because Aragorn doesn't want to stop (or even slow down) is unpleasant. I have the dreadful feeling he's watching me in the rear-view mirror. Which really gives an ironic new meaning to the phrase "rear-view mirror"...
We finally arrived in Lórien late last night, making it as far as Haldir's flat on the outskirts of town. Aragorn wanted to camp in the van again, but I flatly refused. After yesterday's shameful display of sexual frustration after we crossed the bridge, I am not going near him again until he's had a good few hours alone with Arwen. He slept in the van. He's driving to Caras Galadhon without me, and I'm going to catch a lift with Haldir later this evening.
So now I'm comfortably settled into Haldir's Hide-A-Bed, eating Froot Loops and watching the morning cartoons on cable. I have had two showers so far. After four days in the van, it is nice to be clean again. My hair was starting to look rather Aragornish. I don't know how he stands it. The human lifestyle is beyond my comprehension entirely. If I ever speak to dad again, I'm really going to have to thank him for choosing to be an Elf.
LATER: Grandpa is pacing about the front room worrying over his Bywater Country Press champagne bottle. He won the bottle, along with a bookmark and a jumper, for being the one-millionth person to place a bulk order to the press. That was over five years ago. He's been saving the champagne for a special occasion, and I guess having me, Elrohir, Arwen and Aragorn over for supper qualified. And it was decent champagne, too, for something out of the Shire.
But after supper the bottle, which grandpa wanted to save because it had a special limited edition embossed Bywater label on it, went missing. He blamed grandma, saying that she'd been jealous of the bottle ever since it arrived. Grandma retorted with, "Well, if I am jealous, it's because you spend too much time dusting that bloody bottle while I'm left alone in bed!" Then grandpa accused her of thinking of nothing but sex when there are clearly other, more important things in the world. Like valuable but dusty champagne bottles that need cleaning.
So now grandma is spending the night in one of the spare rooms, the one next to mine. She displaced Aragorn, who now has to share with Arwen. He didn't seem to mind at all. I mind, though, because grandma is very loudly watching a cable programme that I'd rather not know she was watching. Strange noises keep seeping through the wall between us. I really hope they're all from the television.
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that grandma and Glorfindel are soul mates. Perhaps if this champagne bottle row gets out of hand and grandpa separates from her, I will try to set her up with Glorfindel. The downside to this plan is that they'd probably lock themselves into a cheap motel room indefinitely and nobody would ever see them again, but at least they'd be happy.
When I went to make some breakfast this morning, I found grandma sitting at the kitchen table with Arwen having a talk about sex (as if grandma would ever talk for more than five minutes on any other subject). Grandma was wearing one of her indecent nighties, one that looked less like a nightie and more like a ribbon. She was drinking a margarita. It was 8 AM. She and Glorfindel really do belong together.
Arwen was complaining about Aragorn. She didn't at all agree with his assumption that just because the two of them were sharing a bed, he could make impositions on her sexuality. She was forced to build a wall between them down the centre of the bed, out of sofa cushions, so that Aragorn would keep his overeager hands to himself. Arwen had to save her energy for volleyball camp at 9-30, after all.
I listened to all this while waiting for the toast to pop, then very slowly made a cup of tea so that I'd be able to hear grandma's response. It was, predictably, very much in Aragorn's favour.
Arwen rolled her eyes and said, with a dramatic sigh, "Never mind." Then she went off to the laundry room, where grandpa was busy fishing a dead mouse out of the dryer vent, to ask his advice. I suspect it will be very much in Arwen's favour. Which is all Arwen wants, anyhow.
I spent the afternoon sitting on the terrace with Elrohir eating nachos and talking about what we've been doing all summer. I told him everything except the personal bits involving Erestor, and he talked a lot about his hair (in particular, that he's thinking of colouring it blonde). Though I did manage to get a few pieces of actual information, the most significant of which was that Calion had already moved on to Minas Tirith to set up his Lake Town restaurant.
I asked Elrohir what kind of food people in Lake Town eat. He said, "Mostly stuff they find in the lake, like, fish and clams and weeds and that, but they also really like pretzels."
Then he went on to say that he didn't really want to go to Gondor any more, and that he was thinking of staying in Lothlórien until school starts again. He seems to have failed his Quenya 301 class, and needs grandma's help to study up for next semester. I asked how he possibly could have failed when he has Glorfindel, whose first language is Quenya, at home to help him. He shrugged and said that the class was at 8-30 in the morning and he skipped most of the time, and slept through the final.
I suggested that he transfer to GHU, where nothing ever starts until after 11 due to the naturally lazy Telerin lifestyle. He said he'd been thinking about that, but decided against it because he couldn't be arsed to pack up and move all his stuff all the way to the Grey Havens. So he is too lazy even to do something that would facilitate his laziness!
Grandpa has confided to me that he is thinking of buying a new car. Actually, it wasn't so much "confided" as "explained in great detail". He has pamphlets from about fifty different dealerships. I asked him which one he was looking at. He looked a bit lost and said, "Well, the Acura brochure is twelve pages long, so there's probably something good in there." Then he asked me if I had any recommendations. I said that, having been in Erestor's Ford, Glorfindel's Lexus, dad's Mazda, Arwen's Nissan, and Aragorn's GM, I'd have to recommend the Lexus, then the Mazda. Grandpa nodded thoughtfully. Then he picked up the Acura pamphlet again.
Grandma was absolutely against the new car idea. She said that if grandpa could spend an hour each day on a simple champagne bottle (which is still missing and presumed recycled), she'd never see him again if he had a new car.
Elrohir suggested that grandpa buy something really expensive and red with only two seats and no roof. Grandpa said no, he was looking more for something mid- to high-priced and beige with four doors and all the most up-to-date safety features. Essentially just like his old car, only new. Grandma then went on one again about how if he's going to bother getting a car, he might as well get something fun. He simply opened the Acura pamphlet and pointed to a description of a "roomy back seat". She's now all for the Acura.
Aragorn and Elrohir have made a deal. Aragorn has somehow come to the conclusion that Arwen would like him more if he were an Elf, and Elrohir has decided to be more active in pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a Vanya. Therefore Elrohir is going to give Aragorn Elf lessons, and Aragorn is going to help Elrohir colour his hair blonde. They are in the bathroom right now, doing something that requires lots of running water.
I opened the door to have a peek, and saw Elrohir with a bunch of lavender goo on his head, wearing a shower-cap, and pointing a hair dryer at Aragorn, who was sitting on the edge of the tub. Elrohir was explaining to Aragorn that as he really was 14,6% Vanyarin (he worked it out via long division on the back of grandpa's MasterCard bill), he had some sort of ancestral duty to dye his hair blonde.
Aragorn asked if this meant everyone would have to call him Elzohir on a daily basis. Elrohir said yes, that would probably help with the Vanyarisation process.
I left without alerting them to my presence. Then I went to watch television with grandpa, who is very predictable in his routine and never does anything zany like this. It is nice to have someone so stable in these trying times.
Elrohir's hair is bright coppery orange. And Aragorn's ears are full of sticky derma-wax and latex. The transformations having failed, they are now sitting on opposite sides of the television room, not speaking to each other. Elrohir blames Aragorn for not timing the bleach correctly. Aragorn blames Elrohir for neglecting to mention that he had, in fact, failed his Art 208 (sculpture) class along with Quenya 301, and was in no way qualified to make cheap substitute pointed ears out of theatrical makeup supplies.
Grandma came by a while ago to talk to them and say some naff crap about how Ilúvatar made them just the way they are and they shouldn't mess with His work. Elrohir scowled and said that he didn't give a toss about Ilúvatar either way, and that as a Vanya he followed Manwë and Manwë alone. He seems to be a little confused in his theology. Then grandma went to Aragorn, but he couldn't hear what she was saying because his ears were full of gunk.
She sensibly gave up and went shopping. I wish I'd gone with her. Much as I cringe at the thought of spending hours helping grandma pick out lacy underthings and cleverly-shaped miniature bathroom soaps, such a fate is, I think, preferable to refereeing Elrohir and Aragorn's death glares.
Elrohir has broken the Second Sacred Rule of Lothlórien- do not under any circumstances disturb grandpa while he's watching the evening news (the first rule is simply "no trespassing"). He went into the television room this afternoon without thinking, and started whining on about Aragorn's shoddy beautician skills. The combination of the intrusion and Elrohir's shocking orange hair must've sent grandpa over the edge. He has locked himself in the bathroom with a tube of Dap and refuses to come out until all the tub tiles have been recaulked.
Grandma is very worried. She says that one of the bathroom windows doesn't fit quite right, and moths come in through the cracks when it gets dark out. And grandpa is terrified of moths, having had a traumatic moth experience during his childhood in Doriath. Also, there are sometimes drain beetles in the tub, and grandpa is terrified of those as well after a traumatic drain beetle experience at my parents' wedding.
This has completely crushed my belief that grandpa is a normal, mentally stable person. For all these years I have foolishly believed that he was the only reasonable relation I had, and now I learn of his evening news dependence and his fear of bugs! I must be the only sane person left in the world. Grandpa, grandma, dad, mum, Elrohir, Arwen, Aragorn, Glorfindel, Círdan, Erestor, Galdor, Gildor, and Legolas have all failed me. The only person left is Haldir. I think I will have to make a better effort at being his friend.
LATER: I rang Haldir to see if he wanted to go to the cinema or something, but Rúmil answered and said that Haldir had gone to a monster truck rally with Orophin and wasn't at home. Monster trucks! Haldir is obviously not as sane as he pretends to be. Orophin doesn't sound much better.
There might be hope for Rúmil, though. He explained that he was at Haldir's watching cable, because he only has three channels at his own place. Also he was there to water the plants because Haldir always forgets, and wilting ferns are a very sorry sight indeed. He sounded a bit bored, so I asked him if he wanted to catch a movie.
He said no, he had issues with the cinema ever since they raised their popcorn prices and refused to honour his free snack coupon, which, in his opinion, was in complete violation of the vendor/customer trust established by the issuing of said coupon in the first place. Also there is naught but crappy summer nonsense playing right now, the sort of films that Legolas and Elrohir like. But he did say that the Pengoloð classic "Fall of Gondolin" was being performed at the Centre of the Arts, and would I be interested in going to that?
Of course I graciously accepted the invitation. The theatre! Real live theatre! Finally something worthwhile and intellectual to do around here! And accompanied by someone with whom I can have an in-depth and critical conversation, too. However, as I forgot to pack my good clothes, I'm not sure what I should wear. I did bring my semiformal black slacks, so maybe Grandpa has a decent sport coat I can borrow.
The show was excellent. Of course I'd seen it before (done by the Rivendell Amateur Theatre Company), and I've even been in it, when I was in highschool (playing the part of Ecthelion). But this time, with the wonderful sets and costumes and professional actors, it was truly magnificent.
Rúmil had managed to secure great seats, right near the front, close enough to see that Turgon's wig looked about to fall off during the death of Aredhel scene. Also close enough to feel the heat from the pyrotechnics when the Balrogs showed up. And I was quite impressed to see that Ecthelion got a real, or at least very real-looking, sword. Mine was made of plastic.
But the thing that really made the play, in my opinion, was the actor playing Maeglin, some fellow named Ardlor. Not that the rest of the cast was bad, but he was the only one who managed to say his lines as if he were speaking naturally. Which is not an easy thing to do when performing in that archaic language (I know this first-hand). He makes a very convincing raging loony.
Ardlor agreed to come for drinks with us after the show was over. He and Rúmil are good friends, apparently. We went to the all-night lounge at the Marriott, where Ardlor proceeded to inform us on every little detail that went wrong in the performance. It seems Aredhel paraphrased her dying monologue (again), Eöl ripped his breeches right before act one and had to be fixed up with duct tape, Idril had to say one of Tuor's lines because he forgot, and Eärendil (played by the director's hyperactive young nephew) nearly knocked over a styrofoam pillar backstage
Also, the makeup people ran out of wig tape, which would explain Turgon's wig slippage. But this, in Ardlor's opinion, could have easily been avoided had the actor playing Turgon (who was a real jerk, according to inside sources) simply coloured his hair black like Eöl and Ardlor did. I commented that I hadn't even realised Ardlor's hair wasn't naturally black. He said that he was a hairdresser during the day and had done it himself (also Eöl's).
Intrigued by this, I went on to explain the entire situation with Elrohir's bleach disaster and the orange hair: would he be able to fix it back to black? He said that shouldn't be a problem, and gave me his card. Then he said that he could also do Elrohir's hair Vanyarin blonde properly (he did Idril's), but I said no, that would get Elrohir too excited (not to mention strange-looking), so best to stick with the black and make no mention of blonde whatsoever.
We spent the rest of the evening discussing the character of Maeglin in an in-depth and critical way. Actually, Rúmil and Ardlor did most of the discussing. I mostly sat there, drinking my paralyser and nodding. Rúmil claimed that the "Fall of Gondolin" was a tragedy, with the unhappy and death-filled ending brought about by character flaws (namely Maeglin's jealousy and unnatural interest in Idril).
Ardlor, though, insisted it was melodrama, as the villain Maeglin was a victim of society and circumstance. After such an unconventional childhood in Nan Elmoth under the rule of an irrational father, he naturally grew up to be a bit unstable insofar as his views on right versus wrong. Additionally, societal taboos hindered his relationship with Idril; culture had directed her to believe that loving him would be unnatural, while he (who had grown up with no such culture) didn't see the problem there. Therefore his so-called evilness wasn't really his fault.
Then Rúmil countered with his observation that the plot is very character-driven and all conflict and ultimate destruction comes from within, as is common in tragedy, whereas melodrama more often gives an outward obstacle to overcome, either successfully or not. Ardlor nodded, and in the end they came to the agreement that the play belongs to a combination genre they have coined "tragedrama". I was going to mention something complimentary about the costumes, but felt my comment would probably be beneath their intellectual level, so I kept quiet.
Later, Ardlor told me he wrote his Masters thesis on Maeglin's role in Gondolin's downfall. He is the best-educated hairdresser in Lórien, apparently. I think I am going to have to spend more time with the both of them for the duration of my stay at grandma and grandpa's. Their high-end conversation is far more appealing than Elrohir and Arwen's yammering about the price of vending machine softdrinks and jeans that don't fit right.
I realised this morning that I've not checked my email since I left Rivendell. There were five new messages for me: one from Legolas on August 6th, three from dad on August 9th (all the same- I think he must've been having problems with the concept of the "send" button again), and one from Glorfindel yesterday, along with the usual junk about wireless video cameras and naturally increasing my bust size. And fifteen forwards that I deleted without reading because they were all from Gildor and probably inane.
From: "*Legolas* <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Guess what!!!
Elladan! Guess where I am! After you left your dad
was really worried because he still needs someone to
ansewr the telephones at work, so he hired me! So
now it's lunchtime and I'm at your desk... did you know
your chair squeaks??? But work is fun, today we had
cake to welcome me as an employyee! Lindir got
some on his shirt and nobody told him, it was
Email me soon!
ps- I accidentally saved over your desktop image
with a kewl pic of a dog wearing underwear, hope
you don't mind! LOL! :)
From: "Elrond" <email@example.com>
I must admit I'm more than a little disappointed
with your decision to leave suddenly with no
explanation or even a goodbye. I am sure you
have your reasons, but really, I can't think of
anything that would be sufficient to make you
take off like that. It seems very uncharacteristic
of you. In truth, I've noticed you acting a bit
strangely all summer. Is this in any way a
response to Legolas' visit? I am aware that the
two of you aren't the best of friends, but I would
hope that at your age you would be able to look
Regarding your leaving, though; does this have
anything to do with your disagreement with Erestor
the other day? While I was a bit taken aback by
your unwarranted animosity and harsh comments
regarding Gil-galad, I can't see how this would make
it necessary for you to leave the city. I don't want to
go into any more detail right now, but please, when
you receive this message, give me a ring and maybe
we'll be able to talk it through.
PS) Legolas has taken over your position at work.
Leaving like this without giving Erestor notice was
very unprofessional of you.
To: "Aragorn" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Arwen" <email@example.com>,"Celeborn" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Círdan" <email@example.com>,"Elladan" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Elrond" <email@example.com>,"Erestor" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Foxilady" <email@example.com>,"Gandalf" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Lindir" <email@example.com>,"The Best" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Thranduil" <email@example.com>
From: "LL" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Vacation update
Sitting in an internet cafe in Minas Tirith right now,
looking up at the mountains. Nice place but
smoky- full of Men with pipes. Fellow at the next
terminal over is looking up Hobbit porn. Tea is
good though, so can't complain...
Got tired of sleeping in the camper, so now have
an ace hotel room near the Tower of Ecthelion,
with shuttle service to major shopping centres.
Ara took my Visa card to the Northstar Mall;
haven't seen her since noon. Only a few small
coins left in my pocket... hope that gets me back
to the hotel.
If you want me to bring you a souvenir, get orders
in now. However, I'm opposed to being seen
purchasing cheesy crap, so requests may go
unfilled. Still sending postcards to everyone.
Rock show was good... very loud though. Ara
tried to crowd-surf but was dropped into the mud
and crushed against the stage barrier by mad fans.
Had to be rescued by bouncers, escaping with only
minor injuries (bruised shoulder). Lost one sandal,
both earrings, six bracelets.
Time running down, that's all for now. Will be home
on the 23rd or so.
So Legolas has taken over my job, dad blames me for the tensions with Erestor, and Glorfindel's email was nothing more than a cheap round-robin! I was thoroughly disappointed, so I switched off the computer in disgust and went to the kitchen to microwave a tin of soup.
Elrohir was sitting at the table with his orange hair all stuffed up under a ratty ski hat. He looked like a thug. Grandma was sitting with him, leaned over an old Quenya textbook, trying to explain how the plural of "Teler" is "Teleri", while the plural of "seler" is "selli". I don't think he was paying attention.
While the soup was heating I remembered about Ardlor's card. I told Elrohir that I met someone who could fix his hair back to black, but he shrugged and said that he was getting used to the orange and that it was "almost kinda cool". I offered to pay for the dye job (if only for purely selfish reasons- having to pretend that his hair doesn't shock me every time I see him is hard work). He accepted my offer. I think he's getting a bit tired of Aragorn calling him "pumpkinhead" all the time. So I rang Ardlor and made an appointment for tomorrow morning.
Elrohir's hair is black again. As per our agreement, Ardlor made no reference to his ability to create blonde hair. Elrohir did ask, but Ardlor quickly changed the subject to how he liked having his own hair black for the role of Maeglin. Which impressed Elrohir greatly; I'd forgotten that he'd been Maeglin in our highschool production. They talked about Maeglin for the next hour while the goo on Elrohir's head did its work.
While Elrohir was under the dryer, Ardlor came to tell me that since there was no performance Monday, he and Rúmil were wondering if I wanted to come round for supper and watch an old tape of the Royal Lindon Opera Association performing Maglor's "Noldolantë" (starring the renowned Galwaith of Harlond as Fëanor). I gladly accepted. On Mondays Grandpa has his lawn bowling club over to play bridge and watch slides of last season's games. Last Monday he conned me into being the slide projectionist, and I'm not too keen on repeating the experience.
Grandma has taken Arwen to the mall to look for a new dress to wear to her volleyball camp windup supper tomorrow night. Aragorn, who will be Arwen's escort, was supposed to go with them to find new clothes as well. Unfortunately, he and Elrohir are speaking again (mostly they just say "dude", but I am sure they know and use other words as well), so the two of them ditched shopping in favour of "Gondor Ninja III" at the cineplex. Arwen had a grand fuss and is now considering going to the supper with Haldir instead.
So I am left all by myself. Actually, grandpa is home, but he's busy down on the lower talan having a row with the neighbours about squishy old plums that fall down from their plum tree onto the flet on his side of the fence. I can hear him quoting some municipal bylaw about exotic tree species being prohibited in most residential zones. They are accusing him of stealing the fallen plums to use in jams and such.
LATER: Arwen, out on the lower talan with grandma looking for decent light in which she could be photographed in her new dress, has slipped on one of the squishy plums and fallen flat on her heinie, effectively soiling the dress and spraining her wrist at the same time. Now she won't be able to play in the final game tomorrow, and is furious. Grandpa is consoling her by threatening to sue the neighbours. However, knowing grandpa's will and resolve in these situations, he will probably just settle for an apology and having the neighbour's son come round to clean up the plums.
Arwen has cheered up a bit. Grandma has altered the new dress into a shorter style to eliminate the plum stains, and has fashioned a matching wrist brace from the extra fabric. Aragorn has offered to tell her team that she sprained her wrist falling off a bicycle when she swerved to avoid collision with a ruffed grouse on a late-night 20-mile fitness ride through the forest, so that she won't have to suffer the embarrassment of having her volleyball friends know she simply trod on a plum and slipped. Elrohir made her real hot chocolate (not the powdered sort from the tin), with real marshmallows.
Now everyone keeps looking at me as if they expect me to do something to help with her recovery. I would offer to drive to Blockbuster and rent her favourite movies to watch for after the supper tonight, but I am far too busy with the video pinball on my computer to do any such thing. I'm this close to beating Elrohir's high score.
Elrohir's previous pinball high score: 4432500. My new high score: 4779500. I rule!
Rúmil rang and told me to show up at his place for supper at 6-30. He told me I could bring a date if I want. I briefly entertained the notion of asking Arwen as a bribe to get her to forgive me for paying attention to video pinball instead if her yesterday, but dismissed this almost immediately. Arwen would surely turn the sophisticated supper conversation to volleyball and then fall asleep during the opera tape, thereby thoroughly embarrassing me in front of people whom I desperately want to impress with wit and worldliness. So I told Rúmil I'd be coming alone.
The supper at Rúmil's was sort of a mixed experience. It started off very well, with crab cream soup and a spicy lentil dish, and conversation on the definition of art. Rúmil said that art must conform to the expectations of the culture within it is created, while Ardlor argued that art in any society would be a creative means of expression so long as it is innovative and pushes the boundaries of acceptance to provoke a virginal response, whether positive or negative, from those who experience it. Then Rúmil said that by Ardlor's definition, a melted crayon glued to the side of a ketchup bottle could be art, while a masterpiece of sculpture from centuries ago might not.
At this point I managed to gather the courage to hazard a guess that, if Ardlor's definition were correct, that that definition would be retroactively applied to artworks from previous eras. That is, if the sculpture were innovative and exciting according to the ideology of the timeframe in which it was created, it would still remain art even the ideologies change with the evolution of society and culture. Ardlor nodded and looked at me approvingly. In that moment my entire existence was vindicated. However, I am still not entirely convinced that a crayon stuck to a ketchup bottle would be art.
While Rúmil did the washing up, Ardlor and I sat on the sofa and chatted alternately about art and what sort of hats people wore during the different eras of the First Age. During the conversation I got the distinct feeling (from his remarkably casual posture, probably) that he actually lives here and that he and Rúmil are perhaps more than just friends. But I didn't ask. Then I noticed the small, framed photograph on the end table next to me, of Rúmil and someone in a very friendly embrace. After a moment I realised that the someone was actually Ardlor with blonde hair. I no longer felt the need to ask.
He did, though, inquire as to my state of romantic involvement. If figured he'd probably understand the situation with Erestor, so I told him the whole horrid story. He looked sympathetic and said that Erestor must be a bit thick to have let a "little hottie" like me go. Rúmil, who had finished the washing up and was now standing behind the sofa and carrying one of his cats (he has three), agreed. I told them about the blue contact lenses and said that I wasn't entirely sorry to be rid of him. Ardlor understood; he said that Aredhel in the play is an old-school goth who sometimes wears red contacts, and it's rather off-putting.
Then Rúmil put the tape on and switched off the lights, and sat down on the sofa next to Ardlor. It was all going wonderfully until, just after Fëanor was banished to Formenos, I noticed that Rúmil and Ardlor were paying far more attention to each other than to the opera. I happened to glance over at them and Rúmil, who was more or less sitting on Ardlor's lap, said, "You don't mind, do you?" I shook my head no, but really I did mind, because their giggling and smooching noises were interrupting the music! I'm sorry I didn't bring Arwen after all. Watching her sleep would have been preferable to watching them get it on. Maybe her snoring would have drowned out their sounds, too.
When the tape was over Rúmil showed me to the door. Ardlor, who somehow lost his shirt during the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, stayed on the sofa. Rúmil then said that he and Ardlor were going to no-cover night at their favourite dance club tomorrow and that I should join them. Not wanting to make any solid commitment, I said I might. And I'm still not sure if I'll go or not. It may just be another opportunity to watch them molest each other. They might be more restrained in a public setting, though. I'll have to think about it.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.