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Travelogue F37

October 6, 2015

Upon observing fellow diners, I asked myself, where there is difference, whether violence always follows. I have since grown used to eating alone in my travels, be it indoors or out. When eating indoors, restaurant, bar, café, what have you, there always seems, if not an obstacle, at least a difficulty to overcome: entertaining oneself. For, apart from waiter banter, which I have found better the worse I speak the waiter’s language, such as in Köln, the meal provides precious little opportunity for else than eating. One can chew and think, masticate and reflect only for so long before other diversions intrude. Notably, there comes to the fore eavesdropping on waiters and other diners, either unaware or uncaring. So, in a Greek fish restaurant, I listened in on the only conversation around, given the early hour.

A man in his late thirties, wavy hair gelled back, clad in black form-fitting teeshirt and jeans, had brought his partner, a blond woman of the same age. She had evidently just returned from the gym, given her pink tank and black yoga pants. The conversation, while varied, touching on such topics as emotional divestment from friends, the qualities of squid, knowledge as opposed to ignorance, and the decorum of asking after another’s religious beliefs, was, however, rather one-sided and streaked with condescension to the man’s benefit, without mentioning sexual innuendo. His statements, laced with endearing terms, meant to belittle the woman, and his raised tone quelling her objections showed just how much gentle violence an ordinary dinner conversation might hold. His captive audience was properly cowed, whether through dim wits or other arrangements I know not, but I could not help but dwell on the violence which so often joined itself to difference, be it of intelligence, religion or other.

Cityfolk are noted for being less polite than countryfolk, and, after lengthy observation, I attributed this not to an underlying difference in character, but to one’s affective charge or emotional reserve being more quickly leeched by the sheer mass of people with whom one comes into contact in the city. That is not to say, of course, that cityfolk are without their merits. For, as I went along after lunch, singing an absurd little song under my breath, growing more obscene with each passing minute, just such a citydweller stepped out from a door to get my attention. The man proffered me a flower, at which I smirked and then attempted to skirt by. Undeterred, he raised his voice and promised “only fifteen dollars an hour for you, big guy”, an epithet which I had rarely heard applied to me, and concluded his offer by saying “I will make you come so hard”.

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