What is it to be a couple? To sit in a restaurant with another in the early afternoon; to drink a carafe of white wine; to share a large fish and eat in silence? Is this the life of the couple after the children have been raised and everything has been said, if there were children at all?
He asks, “Toma um café?” She doesn’t answer, because she’s flipping through the guidebook. “Duas cafés, por favor,” he says to the waiter whom he has signaled.
What is it to be the child in a group of five women? To be beside your mother, to smell her perfume, and listen to the conversation over your head and out of your understanding; to grasp words and think you understand? The mother blows a spoonful of soup cool and gives the girl a taste. The conversation carries on. She pulls her mother’s hand, “I need to go to the toilet.” What is it that a tug will lead to an answer; when one asks the other gives. What is that certainty and when does it end?
What is it to drink a large bottle of champagne at 1:50 p.m.? To celebrate something important or maybe just to celebrate being alive today at 1:50p.m? What is it to be dressed in old clothes, yet order the most expensive thing on the menu? “É um bom dia?” “Sim, é ótimo!’ The champagne glasses half-full; the eyes brighter; the gestures more emphatic.
What is it to sit at lunch with your aged parents? To have a lunch of salmon, roasted potatoes, broccoli, beans and wine? To be the only son? To help your father stand when the meal is over; to hold onto his arm, even he’s been standing awhile, just to feel his flesh? What is it to know him now, in this moment, and feel his breath? “O que uma boa refeição!”
What is it to be the waiter? To observe seven tables; to bring bread and a menu again and again; to hear the low buzz of the tables, but only snatches of words? What is to stand for hours while everyone sits; to see all and not be seen; to hurry to a raised hand? What is it to see people’s lives played out at small wood tables: break-ups, proposals, anniversaries, breakdowns, celebrations?
And, what is it to be loved, to be hated, to be observed, to sit across from someone, to observe, to sit across from someone you want to love– but don’t, to sit beside someone you adore, to drink champagne in the afternoon, to watch, to watch, to wait?