By Ahmed Latif
Life was a set of black and white photographs. We walked side by side. My leather shoes were too loud. They were probably fake leather, I never cared enough to know. I hated clichés yet if she was to say something in a French accent I would have died.
When she spoke she didn’t have a French accent. Instead she verbalized her punctuation like you wouldn’t believe; she was the best I’ve ever seen. She ended every sentence with the most gargantuan yet progressive period imaginable. It was a powerful punctuation used to enliven her indecisive speech. We conversed by trading unrelated statements of aesthetics until we were interrupted in the cruelest manner by an absolute philistine, the waiter. He spoke like he was a writer. He spoke like his words were something Dostoevsky wrote but somehow hated. It was like a game of subliminal limbo and I was very flexible intellectually. Yet I was no nihilist, it takes too much effort. After the waiter departed we got down to the nitty gritty of civilized conversation.
“How does a blind man come to appreciate the aesthetic of something like the ballet?” I asked the question of our age.
“Why? Is there nothing more to ballet other than the aesthetic? I think that it is a little unfair to ballet.” She said without being daunted by the question of our age.
“I think you should clear your throat now. It would be appropriate to the conversation considering the resounding defeat you have just suffered.” I explained.
“Since when is conversation a game?” She didn’t connect with my explanation.
“Since always.” I over-explained again.
“What is your play about?” She changed the subject to something more present. I grew bitter as the game drew to a close.
“It’s about workaday lives and how they intersect with minimalist philosophy and somewhere along the line, I force-fed the characters the idea of falling in love.”
“So it’s about two people falling in love?” She was the was worst interviewer I had ever seen.
“That’s kind of a simplistic preview, isn’t it?” I retorted.
“Well, give me more details and maybe I could form a more comprehensive picture. Do the lovers share any philosophical leanings?”
“One is a nihilist and the other is an existentialist.” I clarified everything.
“And what are their occupations? They must be terribly boring because you did not include them anywhere in the synopsis.”
“One is a successful musician and the other is a down on her luck assassin.”
She smiled and the game was on again. “Oh, how egregiously ordinary! A female existentialist assassin?”
“What part of that offends you?” I asked playing a brilliant hand in this chess game. I don’t actually know how to play chess. Are you dealt a hand in chess?
“It’s just I would have thought the musician would have been the existentialist.” She hit a home-run checkmate.
“Why?” I made up my mind right then and there that if the waiter came before we finished this conversation, that so help me God I was going to kill him. I thought it was a pretty good first date idea, killing someone because he interrupted her.
“Because how could a nihilist justify music?” She lobbed the question with a crass kind of elegance.
“How could an existentialist justify murder? How can anyone justify love?” I was heavy-handed.
“Are there any Portuguese in your play?” She was clearly a maestro at this game.
“No, why?” I wasn't half bad myself.
“Because all interesting people are Portuguese.” She logically explained everything.
“I don’t know if that is presumptuous or prejudiced?” I said smiling; it was weird, I didn’t like smiling so I stopped.
“Neither.” She was honest.
“So are you Portuguese?” I finally worked up the courage to ask what I’ve wanted to know all this time.
“You mean am I interesting? No, I am not. I am more workaday by your lofty standards.” She said rather proud of her Irish heritage. “By the way, what is the name of the play? For some reason, you left that out of the synopsis too.” She added.
I could see the waiter marching over here like he was invading Poland. The game was about to end since I didn’t feel like killing him right now.
“There is some disagreement over the title hence the omission. I want it to be called, Samwell, Stop Playing Your Damn Cello. The producers insist on Samwell, Stop Playing Your Cello.”
“Samwell? Interesting.” She seemed confused. I was losing.
“Yeah, like Samwell Adams.” I made a final attempt for the win.
“You mean Samuel?” I was defeated. It was over.