1 am. Hollywood. I find myself on a street corner as a woman across the street hula hoops. Is it a part of what I’m about to experience or just a random occurrence on the streets of Hollywood in the middle of the night? I then see a piece of light green chalk lying on the ground. I pick it up, stoop down, and draw a circle around myself. Following the instructions, I had received the day before, I text “I am inside a circle,” to a mysterious number. Almost as soon as I do, a woman in a dark green masquerade mask appears, wearing a blue apron with white stripes over her street clothes. She walks up to me, places headphones over my ears, and my midnight snack with Infinitely Dinner Society begins.
A man’s voice pipes in through the headphones. He talks about wandering through the streets of a city where the people have “friendly faces and unfriendly attitudes.” He doesn’t have much money in his wallet, but does notice a neon sign for a hotel. It hadn’t registered before then, but I’m also staring at a neon sign on the opposite corner, where the woman continues hula hooping.
The hotel he describes walking into is Hilbert’s Hotel. Hilbert’s Hotel can accommodate an infinite number of guests in an infinite amount of rooms, even if all of the rooms have been filled. When he enters the hotel, he can stay in room one while the previous occupant moves to room two and so on and so forth.
When he wakes up in the morning, he stands in an infinite line. When he reaches the front of that line, he is given a donut for breakfast.
On cue, the woman in the mask and apron hands me a single glazed donut on top of the bag it came in. The woman across the street is still hula hooping, the neon sign glowing above her.
The man describes the donut as a perfect, infinite circle, like the one in my hand, or the circle I’m standing in, or the hoop that moves up and down the woman’s body.
I take a bite of the donut. It’s delicious: sweet and perfectly chewy. Some of the glaze sticks to my fingers.
The man’s voice describes taking a bite of the donut. Did I take a bite too early? Does it matter? He comes to the realization that he has taken a bite out of the infinite; breaking the circle. I look at my donut with a bite taken out of it. I’m no longer worried that I took a bite too early, now I’m thinking about the infinite circle I just broke.
I’m lost in thought. The woman across the street hula-hoops. The circle spinning endlessly around her arms, her hips, her legs.
The man reaches some understanding about infinity, but I barely hear it, still lost in my head. He leaves the hotel and finds he has more money in his wallet than when he started. He hears a beeping noise and follows it. I hear it too, followed by his footsteps, and then more beeping.
The audio ends and the woman in the mask removes the headphones.
She looks at me and says, “Always forever.” She crosses the street to join the hula-hooping woman. They walk off together to deliver their next midnight snack.
I step outside the circle I drew, and while I finish my donut, I contemplate the infinite.
Thank you to Maxwell Robison for the images that accompany this article!