Pausing to dodge the waiter, whose tray of exotic and impressive beverages almost clipped my brow, I inadvertently entered a conversation centered on my target. A young woman was discussing a Holiday of her own creation and her ideas concerning its worldwide acceptance. Wishing to avoid the detailed description of New Sprintsday, I engaged the gentleman I’d followed in conversation. 1 That is, I entered a group conversation of which he was the victim. A circle of ladies was endeavoring to trace the exact cut of his jib, via the precise make of his suit.

What a lovely dinner jacket. I have a similar one. Silk?

No, it’s a chamois-silk alloy.

“Sadly, neither is correct.” The man’s voice was metallic and warm—it almost glowed. I assumed it was being processed by several audio filters in order to establish some predetermined conversational tone. (I have known several women capable of this exacting process, but none of them needed the assistance of technology.)

But the ticking. Certainly Italian.

“Try again, ladies.” 2

A voice from the edges of the group, itself an edge.

Cermet­­­­­®. It’s a boron carbide compound.

Preposterous! Ludicrous! Trop impossiblé!

The man smiled, “Accessory polyhedral carbide inserts.”

Do tell.

“For body, you see.”

It does hang well.

Indeed.

The ladies in the slightly less than immediate vicinity of the lovely jacketed gentleman began to ask for themselves.

Is it padded, or is that all you?

A nest of feminine eyes crept the poor fellow head to sole.

Giggles.

“If by padded, you mean Pressure Assisted Densification, then yes.”

Forgive us, they fawned, but is that tie a prada, seemingly oblivious to the intrusive turn their questions were taking. Manners demand that a man’s tie be questioned only upon restaurant entry and in the event that it is wider than the man is tall.

“It is. You have a trained eye, madame. Prada and Ruag Land Systems.”

They make those delightful Bison 155mm L52 Recoiled Mortar Systems, I believe.

The Bison?! (one of the adjacent gals expressed her horror) Dear, where have you been? Charles should let you out more. You’re thinking of the Bighorn. The Bison is a Fortress Gun.

Of course (nervous titter) I was only kidding.

One of the nearer guests whispered to the man, “pardon them, my good man, slaves to fashion. Every breeze that approaches from Milan you know. Go on.

Didn’t Prada buy out Swiss Ordinance Enterprise?

No, that was Cartier, and they also bought a subsidiary of Prolog Limited.

Oh, I know them! Dear, don’t you have darling pair of exoslacks from Prolog? We picked them up in Kyin.

When were you in the Ukraine?

A while back, before you knew us. My sister’s ex-husband Vadim is there. We got a great deal too, two pairs in 36 hours, and they threw in the shape charges and UXO disposal gratis.

Sighing Husband intoned, “That is neither here nor there, dear. Let the man speak.”

Prada and Raug met and sort of absorbed one another in the most amiable fashion one might imagine.

Prada is blindly devoted to silks and charcoal greys, while Ruag insists on chromium plating on everything over 8 meters.

Well, relationships are all about compromise.

True, true.

The man took a step or two towards the drink toting hostess. His stride was, evidently, most erotic, as the ladies in the widening crowd breathed in unison.

He certainly moves well.

He should. Those slacks, if my eyes are not telling me fib after delicious fib, appear to be self-propelled.

Our champion overhears the complaint and offers, over his slowly pivoting shoulder, “Honeywell AGT 1500 gas turbine engine.”

The ladies stared, lips parting more with each passing syllable. Sensing his opportunity, he continued, as his slacks likewise continued the slow circuit of his return.

“Allison X-1100-3B Transmission.”

How many… How can you… (the ladies were almost beyond consolation by this point. Hypnotized, they were, and sorely so.)

“4 forward gears and 2 reverse. A smooth ride, as you can, and probably will, imagine.”

He extended his hand to the tallest of the admirers, who, coincidentally, was the only woman in the group with a Lockheed Martin Broach and a walk funded experimentally by Northrop. 3 A hum which may or may not have been audio filters whipping up an introduction surrounded the man.

"Chaney. Lon Chaney. Would you care to dance?"












1 In the short time I had followed this guy, he had introduced himself about sixteen times to almost as many people. Each time he used a different name. The name I preferred was one which held special significance to me. In my personal notes, he is Ernest Bass. In my transcribed conversations, his name ranges from Abraham Lincoln Fontenot to M’Amil Aftosa.

2 One of the more interesting of the man's customs was his reference to any group of people (so long as one of its number of female) as Ladies.

3 Her smile was later revealed, during congressional hearings, to have been developed by the Breakthrough Propulsion group at NASA. Her attorneys brought to light classified documents which referred to the smile as “an FCGC class III detonative catalyst.”