Tow The Philosopher or Real-Time Feedback
Updated: Dec 4, 2018
This is the story of two strangers who met in the metro and exchanged phone numbers. And later they exchanged their view on the encounter.
It was October 23rd, on a cold autumn morning. My walk to the metro wasn’t a pleasant one - it was windy and rainy and I hate carrying an umbrella with me. It doesn’t help that much anyhow. The wind keeps turning it inside out so I end up being angry from getting wet. As I entered the train I chose the closest free seat and started reading. There were a few passengers that were chatting incessantly. They were speaking in German and I could make out a word here in there, but I was determined to read so I tried to focus my attention on my book. Soon their conversation was an ongoing murmur, resembling very much the static one gets on the radio when out of range.
But after a few stops, I turned my head to the left and noticed a man sitting a couple of seats further away. He was close enough for me to notice his beautiful smile, but far enough to not hear him talk. He didn’t notice me, so I took my phone from the jacket – there was something about him that I wanted to remember. But in that second he looked at me – he had a warm, peculiarly direct gaze. And I briefly returned his smile the second time we made eye contact, thinking that I missed the opportunity to take a picture of him.
But he came towards me with a confidence not a lot of people have and took a seat next to me. As we started talking, I congratulate myself for calling the shots. He had these amazing deep brown eyes, with a perfect trimmed beard and an outfit that would make anyone jealous. He knows he’s handsome and he knows how to show it. The hat he was wearing wasn’t something you pick up at a corner shop. It fit him well. Very well.
As I heard him speak, I was just mesmerized – and still was after we said goodbye. And I am intrigued to find out what his thoughts are. I’m sure it won’t be boring, because he managed to turn my morning from a “uuugh, why did I get out of bed” to “so glad I didn’t forget to brush my hair”.
He was thinking about a poem he had read the same day in bed. Baudelaire and the melancholia of the everyday life. He was reading “Dialektik der Aufklärung” in the U-8 and thinking that the critical attitude of Baudelaire toward the modern life and his seek of poetics and sublime finds its resonance in this boom as well. He turned the head and saw her, reading a book. Their eyes were engaged for a moment. No even more. For some seconds. He said hello, she did as well with a beautiful smile. The rest of the event was strange but not a great surprise: a friendly talk and the exchange of numbers. The point was not about it, but about the event itself. Why here in metro?
It was something poetic about their encounter. Being familiar and at the same time stranger. Wanting to know better what you think you know a little bit. It was something erotic about it, touching with words, showing through gestures, penetrating the soul through the eyes. He was wandering in his thought: could a kiss, a sudden one take the shape of a conversation, could a melody take the shape of a kiss. Where? When? How? He didn’t know but the idea was itching his head, his skin and his lips. Is she thinking about the same thing? Is she wandering why did they talk? What is she supposed to write about?
This might have been the beginning of something beautiful, no? Well...all the excitement didn't last long, as we could never fix a first real date. It's been more than a month now and although I don't play hard to get, there are so many steps I can make towards a relationship. Any kind of relationship. I'm not much of an endless-texting fan, nor I am open to a continuing exchange of selfies - especially when we live in the same city - and he...I don't know. He will leave Berlin in a couple of months so I guess it's good that we didn't have time to get too attached.
But it feels like after a certain age it's all or nothing. How can you decide if you want it all? How can you decide after one date? After two dates? I can't help but thinking that people want it all and they want it now. There's no more walking under the moon light, no more smiles and hidden glances. Everything is fast forward and nothing is flexible. It's now or never.
Well then, I guess it's never.