Wednesday, February 21, 2007
In Search of Yesterday's Cheese
My powers of empathy are so extraordinary at times, I even surprise myself. For example, today I was sitting in the sunshine looking down at Lake Leman, and across it at the Alps, in the middle of vineyards perched on rolling hills, with a pleasingly rotund bowl of warm coffee cradled in my sleepy hands, and the remnants of some pear and apricot tarts next to me on a little charming plate, and I was so looking forward to the roast veal and salad the housekeeper was making for me for lunch, and... just at that moment... I had the most vivid, electric connection to what my friends HY, M, and J must be feeling cramped in their airplane seats or gate lounges. Never imagine I am a narcissist! On the contrary, I conjured in great detail the gungy orange or mauve of the chairs my friends were belted into and the sour tepid "coffee" they were reluctantly sipping from plastic cups, and the arguments they were having with clerks about cello seats, and the way they must have felt when the alarm went off at 7 am etc. etc. And thus ruminating, wiping the sated surplus sleep out of my eyes, I padded in my bare feet to the kitchen, and opened the walk-in fridge to find some Vacherin and Gruyere to snack on before luncheon, and possibly a nice glass of white wine to tide me over through this perfectly sunny early afternoon ... yet more intensely I had another overwhelming wave of empathy, the most exquisitely precise photographic image of an airline attendant leaning over HY with a cold tray of skeletal salad and forlorn fruit. A baby squirmed and whined in the adjoining seat. It was almost enough, this perceived misery, to stop me in my aimless tracks, and in order to sufficiently comfort myself I spooned a giant dollop of soft, oozing Vacherin onto a crusty round of bread, and lay myself in the sunshine until my selfless empathy was no longer a curse.