Topic: Lisa’s conversation with Fron
Venue: The Electric Eel
LISA: Standard introduction: Fron attempts to summarize himself. His favorite theorem is the Law of Large Numbers. It resonates with his philosophy, which is that over a period of many years, a moral person will with high probability, be happier, than an immoral person, and it is also very useful in Data Science. His spirit animal is a sea turtle. He used to be an overachiever—for example, writing six pages for a five-page book report—until he joined the Uniformists. He despises frivolousness, such as the “ornaments” that were placed on the Uniformed Snowmen.
I drop my spoon into my Dragon’s Breath Noodle Soup, sit up, and make my mind to curse him out—of course you’ve guessed that I did much of the decorating—but he continues on obliviously.
“But most importantly, my favorite episode during the unnamed radio hour is the one on the luminescent sea creatures, such as jellyfish.” He sees me staring at him, and asks, “Do you know about it?”
It happened that I’d listened to that very episode. At that moment I have a very good idea.
“Know about it?” I say, “I was the host. I didn’t know anyone even listened at that hour.”
“You,” he exclaims, “You’re the jellyfish girl.”
“I feel it presumptive to nickname me based on the contents of my radio show,” I berate him.
He duly apologizes.
ME: It wasn’t you.
LISA: Of course not! If I’d been passionate about oceanology, I would have told you long ago. It was Pearl. But he didn’t know, of course.
ME: Then what does he say?
LISA: He puts down his corn-on-the-cob. He puts his hands around his kale-strawberry smoothie, looks at me very seriously (like a professor, or perhaps a stray dog) and says,
“Lisa, I believe we have a serious connection. I cannot overstate the symbolic significance of that episode in my life. On its surface it seems no more than a slice of esoterica, no different from the thousands of pieces of knowledge that we absorb every day, but at its core, it is the essence of beauty. Many have strayed from the path of truth because they seek it not for its radiant light, but for their own dark, ulterior motives. From your voice, however, I instantly knew that you were not one of them. You were speaking of a subject that you found beautiful in itself. I could imagine that your eyes were looking not in front of you, but instead at the luminescent jellyfish inside your own head. That to me is the essence of Philosophocle.”
He waits for an answer.
“But I had an ulterior motive,” I tell him. “They wouldn’t allow me to broadcast the radio program I wanted to unless I ‘practiced’ in the unnamed radio hour first. They didn’t even allow me to say what I wanted, they put this random book in my hand and told me to recite it in the most sibilant voice I could manage. And afterwards they told me that sorry, their lineup was full, and that they would give me 10 dollars in dining credit to make up for their reneged promise! I have regretted that foray into radio ever since.”
ME: (laughs, clinking ice cubes in my “iced tea.”)
LISA: He’s dumbfounded. He accuses me of lying, claims I wasn’t the girl on the radio. So I give him a rendition. Just a few sentences. It’s not even accurate, but he falls for it. Then he tries to convince me that I’d do well to adopt the character that I represented in that hour of my life.
I tell him that his obsession is illogical, borders on sexual fantasy, and is making me uncomfortable.
He looks into his soup and tells me,
“One person’s running water is another’s poetry.”
He’s so earnest about it that it almost makes me feel bad. But as I’m considering telling him the truth, he abruptly stands up.
“Usually I don’t leave in the middle of a meal unfinished,” he says, “But this time I must. I hope thereafter, you will remember your radio hour with the same degree of dissatisfaction of termination as that which I am feeling now, in cutting my perfectly good meal short. If you ever change your mind, let me know. It’ll put my heart at rest.”
Then he throws his half-eaten corn-on-the-cob and pours his half-drunk rest kale-strawberry smoothie in the compost bin! He swings by the table again, and leaves. What do you make of that?
ME: Don’t worry, Lisa, you did the Right Thing. That was perfectly executed. This school is a zoo of mental deficiencies. Students lacking recreational activities—hell, there isn’t even proper coffee—tend to fixate on random events in their life as if they were magic portals that would rescue them from the meaninglessness that they deny experiencing, and the more bluntly we can make them realize this by shattering their objects of obsession, the better.
Hell! I can’t stop talking like them, ugh!
(I slide an ice cube in my mouth to wash away that long sentence, and down the remaining iced tea.)
(At this point, we are both surprised as a man in a dark suit comes up to our table. He takes off his hat. His forehead is bright with sweat. His eyes sparkle like miniature disco balls. Behind him on the dance stage, customers fumble, unsure about their moves now that their instructor is gone. Because he is none other than…)
THE GREAT DANZINI: Ladies, I can’t help but overhear. I wonder whether you can diagnose my own deficiencies.
LISA: (Amused) And what may those be?
THE GREAT DANZINI: There appears to be a lack of women in my life.
LISA: Another actor, eh? Well, buy me some more iced tea and then we’re talking.