Sitting outdoors at the outdoor indoor cafe (the outdoors was also indoors), I saw a cafe that looked better across the path. I was impressed mainly by the fact that it had an impressive revolving door in the shape of a tin of espresso powder. (The irony being that they did not appear to serve coffee.)
However, all of the menus were filthy with other people’s food.
Coming back outside, I saw a tussle going on. An older lady was trying to make sure that an old man used his crutches and not his cane. Whenever she let him get near his cane, he leapt for it and she had to grab it away.
I looked down at my phone. Lauren had sent me a photo of herself in my bathtub, covered in spaghetti, to prove she was better off without me.
As the old man continued to struggle, his daughter (who was clearly on his side) gave me a wink.
“Oh look, it’s Tiffany!” said the daughter. The man and woman stopped their tussling and looked over.
I realized what was up and that I needed quickly to play the part of Tiffany. I did not have any makeup or feminine clothes, so I just had to act so well that she would assume them onto me. This I accomplished handily.
“Tiffany will regale us on the piano, won’t you, Tiffany?” I did not know how to play the Piano.
I took my seat at the piano, petrified. I began to stall with a monologue, the kind I had seen lounge pianists entertain audiences with.
“You know, every so often, a man and women, well, that’s a special thing, you know? And we’re all in some ways special, there’s something about each and every one of us. I know I used to think so. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always seen the stars behind people’s backs…”
My monologue dragged on interminably. Eventually I had to begin singing. I sang a cappella, as if I was performing the introduction to a song where the piano part would eventually come on. Several times I arrived at a point in the song where the piano probably would have started, but I continued not to play. Eventually I arrived at the point where the piano had to come in, and I tried to make it last as long as possible.
“Becauuuuusee what loooooveeeee is abouuuuuuut iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiss….” I dragged the “is” out for about thirty seconds. I gave hand motions to encourage . But instead of continuing to sign and bringing the piano in, I simply went back into monologue. “….well, love’s a kind of melange, isn’t it? It’s a fricasse into which all things are put? None of us experiences love in the same way. Love is what it is, love is a .” I vowed that if I could make them laugh, I would finally pursue the career in stand-up that I had always wanted. None of them laughed.
Eventually I sang a few more bars and then trailed off. I didn’t even touch the piano. My performance was dreadful. I slunk away.
* * * *
I went up the steps to the Officers’ Drinks Lounge. “Drinks” was embossed on the glass door under a picture of Lord Kitchener (“Millage Entrance other side” was added below in a paper sign). The lounge was in a large colonial house with a wraparound porch. There were palm trees everywhere. As I entered, a officer in full uniform with epaulets was coming out. I paid him no attention. When he got to the steps, he turned around and barked loudly at me:
“Did you forget something?” I didn’t think I had, but at this moment I realized I was a private.
“Oh, sorry. Aye-aye, sir!” This was the standard respectful greeting to officers. I accompanied it with the mandatory salute.
“That’s much better.”
“Sorry about that, sir.”
“WHAT DID YOU SAY?”
“Oh, er, I mean, Sir, sorry about that, Sir.” Every statement to an officer was required to both begin and end with ‘sir.’ To be precise, I should have said “Sir, oh, er, I mean, Sir, sorry about that, Sir.” (Though a casual reading of the rule may make it appear otherwise, two sirs at the end are not technically necessary to conform with the rule.)
“Sir, yes sir.”
“And why aren’t you in uniform, private?”
“Sir, I’m only here to deliver this telegram, sir.” I held up the telegram.
“Give it to me.”
I gave it to him.
* * *
I was walking down a road through a lush valley, an elderly couple next to me. Every so often, at the side of the road, there would be a chain-link fence around where the land had been stripped for mining. The lanes on the road were busy, and lanes were added and dropped out with frequency. I was looking for the correct u-turn point, and surveying the mining areas to see where the mining regulations would go. The older man was a right-winger and hated my work, his wife worked for the government and was a liberal. He wore a white suit, cane, panama hat, Hemingway beard. They spent the whole walk antagonizing one another.
“Of course, nobody can enforce a regulation neutrally, that’s why they’re ultimately impossible,” he grumbled.
“Not every job is political,” I said.
“Of course it is!” he replied indignantly.
“What about a job handing out pencils,” she asked “Is that political?”
“No,” he said. “That would not be political.”