I’m visiting an island with Kate and (my childhood friends) Dave and Rachel G—- (and their parents and SOs – Dave’s bi, now, and brought along both his girlfriend and his very Marxist boyfriend) and everything’s fun and vacationy on the island until the “Guatemalan Queen,", a big paddleboat which plies the river, comes pulling up and Dave’s boyfriend and I get on it to explore. Looks like a floating shopping mall, but Dave’s boyfriend takes me walking down some of the service hallways on the boat, and I ask him to tell me about Marxism. He tell me that from the outside it looks great, like the shiny stores and promenades on deck, but behind the scenes, it looks like this, and we walk down hallways gradually becoming dingy, dirty alleys (vague hints of Bladerunner) with fire pits and ashes around.
Dave’s bf goes on ahead and hears voices and checks with them (speaking Nepali?) whether it’s okay for me, a non-marxist, to come through. It is, and I round the corner to a dingy, rusty workshop where four guys are sitting at a picnic table looking at me expectantly. In very broken english they indicate that I’m to choose a fortunetelling option from the roughly photocopied sheet in front of me, and after some deliberation about options and prices, I choose “Draw Lifeline” for $2.31. They all respond to my choice in unison, shouting “Zazoo!,” a neat little piece of street theater, and then one of them draws a wavy line diagonally across a piece of paper covered in red kidney beans. He’s unable to get the number of sine-wave curves he wants before hitting the edge of the rectangle, and seems disappointed or suprised by that. That’s my lifeline, apparently. I mention to Dave’s boyfriend that I’ve seen this sort of thing in Nepal and India, and the old men seem impressed that I’ve travelled outside the capitalist countries.