When Thanksgiving rolls around, even the most cynical, edgy writers start spewing sentimental drivel about family or the meaning of being thankful. They are weak and clearly under the influence of this fake holiday—you know it was invented by Abraham Lincoln, right? Suddenly, all my Twitter tweeters have ceased shamelessly promoting themselves or constructing clever little comments about the great things they are doing, or the great things they are thinking, or something great that someone else is doing or thinking. Now it’s a constant stream of kindness and sincerity. Good Magazine asks, “What are you thankful for?” I am thankful that this insanity will be over by Friday. I’ll also be thankful when they return my calls. I wasn’t going to write about Thanksgiving. It is not my favorite holiday. You eat too much and have to sit around and talk with relatives. This year, my wife and I were given an alternative: we were invited by a neighbor to eat too much and sit around and talk with her relatives. This sounded entertaining. In fact it turned out to be more entertaining than I ever would have imagined. More after the break.
Who should be there but one of the world’s most preeminent architects. Yes! An actual starchitect was sitting next to me at the table. You want to know who, but you will just have to guess. It’s someone up there in the stratosphere of architecture, who is most likely from another planet. In some ways, he is from another planet. I actually didn’t talk much with him because everything I ran through in my head that I could possibly say sounded utterly stupid. This is him talking to his wife who is sitting opposite him: “I’m flying back to China again in a couple days.” Me: “Oh, really? What part of China?” It was at this moment that he turned, fixed his gaze on me and said, “What kind of stupid question is that?” He then jabbed his fork through my hand, nailing it down to the dining room table. A pool of blood began to spread through the white linen tablecloth. Everyone jumped back in horror. Children began crying. With the universe being as irrational as it is (I’ve been reading too much Philip K. Dick) I figured this was a plausible response to my inanity. Of course this never happened because I never asked that ridiculous question. But then the conversation turned to the TSA and airport security, getting scanned versus patted down. I watched as he and our friend, who shall also remain nameless, got into a debate about invasive security tactics. It soon turned ugly and people began to edge away from the table. “I think the game is on,” one of the men sheepishly said. “Maybe it’s time for dessert!” one of the women suggested.
At this, my wife jumped into action and pulled out the dessert creations she had spent hours crafting. Everybody around the table uttered “Oh my God!” or “That is amazing.” They had never seen such a dessert before. The starchitect remained silent and frowned. While everyone else dove in with their forks, the starchitect stared at the object before him and asked, “What is this made of?” “Sugar,” my wife replied. He then picked it up and began a thorough examination. The starchitect’s wife brightly said, “You should really try out for ‘Top Chef: Desserts’!”
Conversations around the table resumed. By now, the starchitect was in his own world, intently engaged in demolishing his cage. He didn’t say another word. When it was time to say goodnight he smiled and nodded at my wife, then he firmly shook my hand. With the other hand, he slipped another sugar cage into his coat pocket and walked out into the cold, starry night. The Indicator, a weekly column focusing on the culture, business and economics of architecture, is written by Guy Horton. The opinions expressed in The Indicator are Guy Horton’s alone and do not represent those of ArchDaily and it’s affiliates. Based in Los Angeles, he is a frequent contributor to Architectural Record, The Architect’s Newspaper and other publications. He also writes on architecture for The Huffington Post. Follow Guy on Twitter.