Staring out of the window, I make a mental note: “Don’t, under any circumstances, let anyone find out about this.”
FIVE HOURS EARLIER
“Of all the types of rock,” drones the bore, “I like punk the best.”
Of all the types of rock? I give him a look which says, “you clearly know nothing about music.” But despite this, he carries on regardless. Soon I know his opinions on everything and they are more or less uniformly deplorable.
I choose to break in to his monologue with a left field idea: “If you don’t have a lanyard,” I ask, “do you even have a job?” This throws him, and leaves him searching for words, thus clearing the way for me to the exit the conversation without having to engage in an act of violence – something I had hitherto found myself almost ready for.
The conversation now effectively over, I’m now able to mingle, which is something I’m keen to avoid. Instead I make my way to the kitchen where my wife is holding a mason jar with home made pickled cabbage in it. Her arm is outstretched and she has the appearance of an actor playing Hamlet, holding the skull of Yorick. On the outside of the jar there is white substance which she is looking at suspiciously. “That looks fine.” I say. “It’s just a chemical reaction.”
She continues to look at the jar, before swivelling her head to turn a laser like gaze on to me. “You have a way of saying things,” she says, “which makes it sound like you know what you are talking about, but when you think about what you’ve just said, they don’t make any sense.”
I am undone. Bluffing has got me all the way to 43, but now what? The smokescreen has at last been pierced, and people know. They know.
I’m still thinking the same thought as I stand in front of the window. How many other people know, maybe they all know. Or maybe only one person knows. How do I know?
I’m still standing there thinking the same thing when my wife comes in to the room. “Everything ok?” She says. “I was just thinking,” I reply. “I was thinking that at times like these, I wish I had listened to what my Chemistry teacher used to say.” “Why?” She asks. “What did she say?”
I turn to her with a baleful gaze. “I don’t know. I didn’t listen.”
Original image by Fidlerjan on Morguefile.com Used under Creative Commons.