And then she announced:
“… the next item on the menu… will be bare licked cunt…”
She let her words hang in the air, where they seemed to charge the atmosphere between us like a tiny erotic thunderstorm.
In the vast treasure trove of my memories, that one moment blazes with an exceptional clarity. Somehow perfectly preserved, infinitely replayable.
Yet behind every memory is a story, a winding path of strange happenstance and improbable events that stretch back into the hazy mist of every experience. Stories lie submerged like icebergs, their brilliant summits glowing as vivid snapshots, their intricate genesis hidden, lost deep beneath our minds’ turbulent waves.
What could be more human than forgetting? We are not machines or paintings or books. We are biochemical repositories of circumstance, whose subtle complexities of existence are readily outshone by visceral moments of dazzling pleasure.
Yet, it is our stories that define us. Not those seductive, emotion-charged glimpses that we can summon on demand to burst like gratifying fireworks in our minds. Our stories are always there, lurking unbidden, the true substrate of our being.
Perhaps we were never meant to probe too deep, to pull on the loose threads of our memories, to let them unravel. Who knows what unexplored paths exist in the Minotaur’s maze? Perhaps they really are best left alone, unvisited and forgotten. Who knows where those passages might have led…
To those that enjoy dining well, there is one establishment whose reputation exceeds all others. One whose name is spoken with hushed reverence.
It is La Oubliette.
The Forgotten Place.
It holds no official awards, and appears in no guidebooks. No one can even say for certain where it really is, let alone how to make a booking. It is as if the outside world had indeed forgotten its existence, to become a closely guarded secret known only to an elite cognoscenti.
Some mock it as an in-joke, some dismiss it as a preposterous myth. Yet if it exists, it is a destination of intimidating exclusivity. No bribe, no level of celebrity will secure you a table there. Some say all guests must be personally invited. I know prominent individuals who had lived and died waiting for a coveted invitation, which never came.
Life had been kind to me, but I am neither rich or famous. Yet one morning last year, completely out of the blue, I received a powder-blue envelope in the mail. It looked expensive and classy, crisp artisanal paper, my address elegantly handwritten. And when I opened it, I was staggered to realise it was a message purporting to be from the famed Chez Oubliette. Somehow, for some inexplicable reason, they had sent me an invitation.
The single page missive stated that a table had been booked for me, and me alone, on the 28th of December. This date was not negotiable, if I wanted to accept, I would be met somewhere in Geneva by a member of La Oubliette’s staff. If I declined, the message politely assured me, I would never hear from them again. There was also an ominous warning: not to tell anyone else I’d received an invitation, or it would be immediately withdrawn.
The date they’d offered was intriguingly bizarre, just after Christmas. A time when most folk were still on holiday. Perhaps it was a quiet period, between two festivities. But I had no say in the matter, my only choice being to accept or decline. At stake was only a dinner, but something told me if I said no, I’d regret it for the rest of my days. Within the hour I emailed the one-time RSVP address, confirming my acceptance.
My rendezvous instructions arrived the following week. Soon after, I booked my plane ticket with quivering hands. But what exactly was I getting into?
The restaurant’s name suggested a place that wanted to be forgotten, but there was also another, more sinister and disturbing meaning. An oubliette is the term for hidden dungeon cell. Typically one with a concealed entrance, like a trapdoor in the ceiling. One difficult to find, and impossible to escape from. A place where people could be made to disappear, somewhere they could be permanently forgotten…
At the end of a turbulent decade, on the brink of a brand new one…
What better story to choose for the next entry in the retrospective than Oubliette.
This is an appropriate tale for this time of year. A story about looking back on cherished memories and regrets of roads not taken. Yet this story is also about the future. How everything can change in an instant, through unexpected invitations, and new connections.
Oubliette is a story is a story of how the past influences our futures, how the echo of events can propagate across even billions of years of time. But it’s also a story of the beautiful serendipity of our own short lifetimes, and the transformative magic of love and lust.
Oubliette is one of my more philosophical stories. Look closer and you may see many meanings embedded within its delightfully explicit paragraphs.
So as a new decade dawns, I wish you all a road ahead that it is deeply fulfilling. Even if sometimes you might need to go on an adventure to find it.
Each of us is the latest chapter in a rolling story billions of years in the making. There’s not many collections of molecules in this universe with the capacity to dream and love. You are one of them.
Make your own unique epic story memorably wonderful.
Wishing every reader a fantastic new year!