“I just wish, like I don’t know, I could see the world through my eyes. Do you know what I mean?” she asked.
“Like I don’t know, but every time I try to see from someone else’s perspective, I always go back to my own twisted perspective. I was reading the disciple of Buddha the other day – and I think he is better than Buddha – but he says on the first page – on the first page! – of his disciplines, that the only way to really see through your own eyes is to see through the eyes of another.”
She paused, with her hands clasped next to her chin, pushing on the edge of the table with her stomach. I took my eyes away from the candlelight behind the glass vase.
“Oh, uhuh,” I said.
“But the problem, I think, with what he said was that it works in theory, but not in practice. And every time – every time! – ” she said this with her hands briefly coming apart to form a small and imaginary jewelry box, “I am left with my own perception. Why is that Robert? Why?”
I tried keeping my eyes on her eyes, but I began thinking about which eye to look at, so I just looked at her nose. I thought her fingers might pounce on my neck, but I knew nothing about this disciple of Buddha. She was really into this disciple, but she never even mentioned his name.
“You know Margaret, I couldn’t tell you,” I said, shrugging my shoulders. I smiled, thinking she would smile with me, as if we both recognized the absurdities coming out of her mouth, but she did not smile.
“Ugh! I just want to be free of myself! I hate it! So many philosophers, they think they can be freed by suicide. Why? Why do they think that? Don’t they know that when you die, all you are really doing is going to eternity to be with yourself? For all eternity! I think the disciple has the answer more than any other man in the world – more than any other man in the world! – but why does he have to make it so hard? Sometimes I wonder if he even tried following these things himself. Damn contemplatives,” she said with a huff, then leaning back in her chair, as if everything she said had climaxed to those final words.
“Well, Margaret, what are you going to get for dinner?”
“What’s the point?”
“Well, are you hungry?”
“What is hunger?”
“I feel nothing.”
“Yes, you do.”
“No, I don’t,” she said, like she had a knife jammed in her high heel.
“Have you ever felt loneliness?”
“No,” she said, crossing her arms.
“Then why did you come on a blind date?”
“I was impelled to.”
“Sweetcakes, any motion towards action is a feeling.”
“No. Any motion towards action is merely an illusion. We, as bodies, have to do something. And it is our nature that leads us to one action or another.”
“Our nature is what we desire.”
She came forward again, laughing, her face in the candlelight, but her body still in the dark. I thought of sticking my silverware down her wide, gaping mouth, but she might have sued or killed me.
“That is, that is the most white-washed nonsense-” she was laughing so hard, she was almost gagging, “I, I have ever heard!”
“Look, Margaret, we’re strangers. Let’s be honest. Do you want to have a nice dinner?”
She caught her breath and, as if she had never been laughing at all, said, “Yes, I would love to have a nice dinner.”
“Good, then shut up, unless you have something to say about the weather this week. Let’s pretend that we have been married for so many years, our deep conversations are all in the past. And all that’s left is the wind, rain, and snow.”
“Ooh, that’s romantic,” she said.
We said nothing to each other for awhile and in this period, the waiter came by. She ordered a glass of red wine and a glass of white wine. I ordered a steak sandwich and diet coke.
When my food came and her drinks came, I unfolded my napkin, rested it on my lap, and took my silverware in my hands. She took the two glasses of wine, smiling in the dark, and poured the glass of red wine into the glass of white wine. What was left of the red wine, she gulped.
“Interesting,” I said.
“Shut up. You know nothing!”
She began drinking it quickly, so quickly I thought of telling her to stop, but I wanted to enjoy a nice dinner, to pretend for a moment that I had been married a long time and had a lot of children with modern names and millions of dollars I kept in tight stacks in the garage.
“So, how is the weather this week?”
“I don’t know. Am I the weather-woman? The woman of weather?”
“I don’t know.”
“I saw an ugly family today, but they were happy.”
“Huh,” I said, taking the first large bite of my steak sandwich without any shame.
“You’re not listening,” she said, “You’re not listening!”
I swallowed and wiped my mouth with the corner of my napkin. “Honey,” I said, “Neither are you.”