Wednesday, December 07, 2011

the struggle for aloofness

It's 6:13pm. The sun has been considering whether to set or not for a couple of hours, and it seems now to have settled on an answer.

We're in a beach restaurant in Karnataka, India, but it could be any backpacker orientated hangout worldwide. All the hallmarks are present and correct: patio furniture, hammocks and facial hair. There's banana pancakes on the menu, and the same five Bob Marley tracks repeating on the stereo. Everything is familiar here. Comforting. Today will not be remembered for its life altering developments.

There's six of us enjoying an early dinner. People have been competing to try and out-liberal each other. Sid took an early head start when he pointed out he's a vegan and that he doesn't own a TV. Samantha however, announces she has her own vegetable patch. Her opponents are sent reeling.

It's in the midst of this that KC asks me what the time is. 6:13 I reply. "Oh, that's precise of you", he retorts. Everybody giggles. KC has dreadlocks. An unkempt beard. KC has no interest in the exact time. KC has no interest in the exact anything.

I feel bruised by this encounter. I have tried to help out my friend KC. Why should I be mocked for merely trying to provide people with a helpful level of accuracy? You've asked me something, I'm now trying to assist you to the greatest possible extent. Yet, I get laughed at if I don't give you a worse answer.

For me to round the time to 6:15 actually requires extra effort on my part. I'd have to think about that. Do a quick calculation in my head. It is you that has asked the favour of me. If you're going to ask me the time, but want a pleasingly inaccurate answer, round things off yourself. You go through the effort. Seen as I'm doing you the favour.

Failing that, just don't ask at all. Seemingly you don't really care what the actual time is anyway. You see the sun is about to set. You've been hanging out in this place for five fucking weeks. I would've thought you'd have a supernatural gift for time estimation by now. Roping me into proceedings seems unnecessary. You do the rounding. You do the aloofness. It's best off I leave it to the professionals.

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anieb said...
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