This was not a personal detail I had planned on sharing for our first date. I was already on my third glass of red wine, and no longer holding the stem of the glass between my thumb and index finger as I had read was the done thing. Looking across at her plate still full of risotto I worried that I had eaten my steak too quickly.
She had asked me to tell her something about myself that might surprise her. I didn’t even utter an uhm or an eh before answering. She frowned at her plate for a second and then put down her cutlery. It looked like she was about to cry. She reached her hand across the table and took hold of mine.
It’s ok, she said, practically whispering, and with tears now visible on her cheeks, I’m not a morning person either.
I was walking at the time. I’d rather not recall what thoughts were in my head before the crisis hit. I’m ashamed to think that I might have been happy. Obviously had I known that such misfortune was out there then I wouldn’t have went for that walk. And I certainly wouldn’t have made the effort of bothering to look up.
A painting that does not shock isn’t worth painting and nowadays there is nothing shocking about painting. No big deal. Men die, pictures too. Instead I intend to play chess. Of course, I plan to do other things as well. Like collect elastic bands with the sole purpose of doing nothing whatsoever with them. I will also grow geraniums from seed, then keep some indoors and some outdoors and observe which seem least depressed. I will drink coffee. But not out of some obligation, in a dreary way, I mean to immerse myself totally in the experience. From choosing which café to visit, where to sit once inside, placing my order, the initial smell as the coffee is brought to my table, the first sip. I also intend to watch my wife go up and down the stairs without her clothes on, paying close attention to the motion of her limbs as she descends. I will continue to clean my teeth on a daily basis. I might even make an effort to improve my culinary skills. Now and again I will stay up past midnight and shout obscene things at the moon.
But mostly I will play chess. ●