Monday, June 6

"May the Horse be with you"

Let's say a guy named Κώστας is attracted to a woman named Ρούλα. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Ρούλα, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud:

''Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?''

And then there is silence in the car. To Ρούλα, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: «I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.»

And Κώστας is thinking: «Shit. Έξι μήνες! Πότε πέρασαν ρε μαλάκα;».

And Ρούλα is thinking: «But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?»

And Κώστας is thinking: . . . «Oπότε, για να δούμε. Ξεκινήσαμε να βγαίνουμε το Φεβρουάριο. Γαμώτο, πρέπει να πάω το αμάξι για σέρβις. Έχω καθυστερήσει ένα δίμηνο»

And Ρούλα is thinking: «He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed -- even before I sensed it -- that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.»

And Κώστας is thinking: «Θα τους βάλω να ξανακοιτάξουν και το κιβώτιο. Δεν με νοιάζει τι παπαριές θα μου πούνε, ακόμα τρίζει στην τρίτη. Και τους έσκασα και 500 ευρώ τους κρετίνους».

And Ρούλα is thinking: «He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. God, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure».

And Κώστας is thinking: «Θα μου πούνε ότι δεν είναι στην εγγύηση. Για να μου τα φάνε πάλι, τα μουνόμαπανα».

And Ρούλα is thinking: «Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centred, schoolgirl romantic fantasy»

-«Κώστα», Ρούλα says aloud.

-«Τί;» says Κώστας.

-"Please don't torture yourself like this,'' she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. ''Maybe I should never have . . Oh God, I feel so .... .'' (She breaks down, sobbing.)

-«Τί;» says Κώστας.

-I'm such a fool, Ρούλα sobs. ''I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse.''

''Δεν υπάρχει άλογο;'' says Κώστας.

''You think I'm a fool, don't you?'' Ρούλα says.

''Όχι!'' says Κώστας, glad to finally know the correct answer.

''It's just that . . . It's that I . . . I need some time,'' Ρούλα says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Κώστας, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)

''Εντάξει'' he says.

(Ρούλα, deeply moved, touches his hand.)

''Oh, Κώστας, do you really feel that way?'' she says.

''Να συμφωνώ με τί;'' says Κώστας.

''That way about time,'' says Ρούλα.

''Oh,'' says Κώστας. ''Nαι, φυσικά''

(Ρούλα turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

''Thank you, Κώστας,'' she says.

''Εγώ σ’ ευχαριστώ'' says Κώστας.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Κώστας gets back to his place, he opens a bag of chips, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in the latest porn film featuring Jenna Jameson.

A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it. (This is also Κώστας’ policy regarding world hunger.)

The next day Ρούλα will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Κώστας, while playing pool one day with a mutual friend of his and Ρούλα's, will pause and say: «Ρε Μήτσο, είχε ποτέ η Ρούλα κανένα άλογο;».

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