by Marc Lunghuß
They’re going to reopen the movie theatre. After all those years it was closed. I’d given up on that. And, let’s be honest: Their reasoning isn’t really that obvious to me. But I’m not supposed to say anything, least of all to Bettina. Bettina is an animator. And she is good at her job. Because she’s committed.
Hers is a well-paid job, as opposed to mine. I’m nothing special, a parcel delivery guy. Like I said: Nothing special. Simply what just about anybody’s doing. Bettina recently asked me if I actually knew anyone among my friends who’s not a parcel delivery person. Those are the kinds of questions where I can’t shake the feeling Bettina is trying to tell me something with them. Or that I am supposed to grasp something while coming up with an answer. About myself. Or about the world. And in most cases, I get the notion that what I am supposed to grasp is then supposed to change me. In a direction Bettina prefers. In which I am more of the man she would wish for herself. Why she doesn’t tell me directly to my face what annoys her, I don’t know. But then again, I’m maybe just nuts. Perhaps she doesn’t want to change me; and I am projecting my own discontent, the kind I feel when I think about myself sometimes, onto her and into her words.
I only assume she wants to change me, and in the end, it's me who wishes to change. But when I look into it more closely, asking myself: changing to what?; there’s only a wall appearing in my head, and I don’t know how to go on, because I am alright, actually.
“Klaus,” I answered. I am back at Bettina’s question, whether I knew somebody who wasn’t actually a parcel delivery person.
“Klaus?”, she asks.
“He’s a baker.”
“Do I know him?”
“I don’t think so. Anyway, I know him from my tours. When I’m doing the early tour, at the canal and at the housing estates, I meet him, sometimes.”
“Because he’s also doing his rounds then?”
“Right. He is delivering his orders. Bread, rolls, pastry. Every time he steps out of his transport, the scent is fantastic.”
“You smell that?”
Bettina knows I am still covering mouth and nose with a mask when I am on my way, stepping outside of our apartment, despite the fact that this is no longer necessary. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable without it. And she may believe it or not, I can still smell the scent coming from Klaus’ transport.
“Yes,” I tell her, “Klaus does it all with a passion. Klaus comes from a traditional line of bakers. I guess it goes back to his great-grandfather. At least, that’s what the writing on his transport says.”
“So, real, old craft.”
“That’s what Klaus stands for, absolutely.”
“And he doesn’t have a store of his own?”
“His own store?”
“Where he’d be selling. You’re telling me that his bakery has existed for quite a while, so there must have been a store somewhere, right? The one his great-grandfather owned, his grandfather, his father. Where you stepped into.”
“Ah, alright, yes, there was one.”
“I even know where it was. I passed it once in my car. It still says Bäckerei Frenzel above the shop-window.”
“And he didn’t reopen that one?”
“Why would he be doing that?”
“Because people could come.”
I already mentioned Bettina is an animator. And ever since she started in this line of work, I started observing the same fallacy creeping up with her, more and more. She believes humanity had been waiting to put on shoes in the morning, to put on a jacket and to go out into the cold, just to get some bread rolls. And this is where she's just plain wrong. Because humanity had not been waiting for that. Humanity wants bread rolls delivered to the doorstep. As well as everything else. Never mind what Bettina tells you. Bettina’s job, after all, serves as perfect proof, showing that everything is not that simple. If it were that simple, you wouldn’t need the job of an animator. But don’t get me wrong now, I am, of course, happy she has that job. And I am happy Bettina is so motivated. Because I can vividly remember when she just used to hang around the house, never knowing what to do with herself. Those were dark times. There were days I rather sat in my delivery truck than at home, and that has to mean something. Bettina mostly ate. Or, to put it more accurately, she gobbled down things. I thought the sofa was going to give in soon, with the way Bettina always lay there. And I would have loved to see Bettina’s face if I had told her: Bettina, get up and step outside! Bettina, go buy some bread rolls. Pardon me for laughing, but that is just a really crazy concept, not only crazy because going out would have been forbidden until very recently, but really in overall concept, even if it had been permitted: Bettina going out. She’d have asked me if I were putting her on. And the mood would have been rotten for days.
Seen from that angle, it is, of course, good everything changes. And I would be the last person to point out to Bettina that she views things differently than before, now that she has become an animator. That she suddenly propagates behavior of which she would not have been fully convinced a short while ago, to put it carefully. That she talks about basic human needs I could not – again, putting it carefully – really make out in her, too, just a short while ago. Because she wouldn’t be the first to adapt to the needs of a job. I know a thing or two about that as well. Everyone’s bending in a certain way. Show me one who doesn’t.
Anyway, the job is really good for her. Crazy she had to be convinced to take it. Another point I will certainly not mention to her. Yet I remember well how reluctant she was, initially. When the great advertising campaign swept over all of us – the spots were really running everywhere -, she, too, initially thought: What is that supposed to be? The rainbow? A sunrise? And what’s with the child entering the picture, saying: And now I may live? And that grandpa with tears in his eyes? Surely, everyone thought: Come on, slow down. At least, people my age thought so. And we thought something else, too: That there is offensive, somehow. That implies we never really lived. This is just fuel for our parents. They, too, are arguing this way. They say we are the lost generation. But that’s an issue I’d rather not get started with now. Because I clashed with my father about that so many times, never reaching a conclusion. How he went on about the past. How everything was awesome. And how I did not remember how I went to a real kindergarten as a toddler. I never know what he means by the word real. I only know that another child at the kindergarten stabbed me in the eye with a crayon. And I know I didn’t like that. When they closed down the kindergarten because of the pandemic, that couldn’t happen again. So, I really don’t know what I should long for, deep down in my soul – an insinuation my father always hurls at me.
My father is in his late seventies now, and he is really beside himself since the changes have been introduced. To see this happen in my lifetime, he constantly says. Bettina finds her strongest proponent in my father. If all people were like him, animators would be obsolete. If my father had his way, they ought to tear down the housing they put on the old stadium fifteen years ago, but swift, and start hosting football games before an audience again. I know the old pictures. Several ten thousand people on the multiple tiers, packed ever so tightly. I get physically unwell just looking at it. I feel anxiety, my breathing becomes flat, I start sweating profusely, despite the fact that those are mere pictures. And I think: Anarchy. I think: They’re not allowed to do that. Apart from that, I wonder where the fun is if everything is that cramped. Somebody tell me that.
For years, my father felt swindled out of his life, and that, of course, affects his character. Additionally, he also believes, I, too was swindled out of my life by someone. That, again, has to do with projections, but this time, they’re his. Because I don’t feel swindled. I lead a good life. Maybe I wouldn’t say that if I had gathered the experiences my father had. He spoke of exceptional circumstances we found ourselves in, until quite recently. Despite the fact that those exceptional circumstances have been stretching on for far more than half his life, while they are no exceptional circumstances for someone like me, but rather normalcy.
And I find it deprecating when my father describes my normalcy as exceptional circumstances. However, I don’t want to deny I’d talk differently if I had experienced pre-pandemic times longer, as he did. So, I’d count myself among the swindled, then. Among those who believed they were taken for idiots. Mere months, and we’d have managed to control the virus. They actually believed that back then. Instead, the virus has only recently become controllable, it was on the news, but only as just another item. To my father, it was a sensation, he went to open a bottle in celebration, but I just thought: Aha. And now I witness another transition. Because now, everything is supposed to go back to how it once was. And for that to work, they need animators. Because, as I’ve mentioned before: That is not going to run unto its own power. How could it, decades later. It doesn’t even run smoothly with my father. When I recently asked him if he went grocery shopping at the store that opened in his neighborhood not too long ago, he started stammering. He made excuses about being too old for the haul. But that he’d do it if he were younger. Yeah, yeah.
I couldn’t really maintain I am already afraid of losing my job. Yet I do hear the doom prophets. The delivery sector would have to prepare for a severe loss in revenue, they say. Ah well, let’s wait and see. So far, I didn’t notice any turnabout. Though something strange happened to me the other day. Even the address was strange. And then I stood right in the middle of it: An office with several tables and a number of people sitting at those tables, without even having protective panels between them. Those are kooky times.
When I told Bettina about that office, she became totally ecstatic. Because people holding desk jobs not working from home anymore but making the trip, every day, to this or that building to sit at desks at prescribed times, that ranks very high on her agenda. What a kind of nonsense. The time alone that is lost in the back and forth between the apartment and the workplace. But I restrain myself when it comes to objections. Even if Bettina starts talking about the importance of keeping work and private life separate and how beneficial such a separation would be if it were spatial, and that people had been much more advanced regarding this point, in the past – office buildings with dozens of stories -, I restrain myself. The thought of office buildings that are empty at night, I find that spooky, nonetheless. And I also wonder where to procure all that space. There are old buildings that had been offices in the past, but they now house apartments. Would they evict people from their homes in order to create office space?
I don’t ask Bettina questions of this kind; she would believe I begrudged her the success. Lately, she inaugurated a commercial street with lots of small shops. A blues band played. On a real stage, Bettina enthused. And a psychologist gave a lecture on the importance of encounters, about the difference between someone appearing on a screen and physically being in front of a person. I don’t even want to repudiate the difference. Yet, at the same time, I wouldn’t want to repudiate how uncomfortable it feels if someone I’m not familiar with physically appears in front of me. That is deeply ingrained. My brain alarm goes off. I’m fortunate to have a job that rarely produces customer contact. Everyone owns a parcel box, I’m pushing the delivery in, done. Exceptions are rare. Such as at the office I mentioned. A situation that was really uncomfortable for me. And if my counterpart does not wear a mask, I often find that obscene. But I’m slowly starting to relax. Concerning the masks and everything else. Bettina suggested I should take a psycho-course. Psycho-courses are all the rage right now. But something in me bridles at the thought. When I think of those psycho-courses, brainwashing comes to mind. And I have found my own path now, anyway.
It is much easier for Bettina to handle the changes. She flourishes, positively. And I am happy about that, really. Especially because I was the one who suggested she should consider the animator thing. I told her she was a personality. And that that was exactly what they’d be looking for. Of course, I wasn’t sure of that. But still it was true. They gave her an opportunity, they made her go door-to-door, it was hard. But she persevered. Now she’s a team leader. Got other animators below her. She taught me they already had animators in the past.
“Oh, really?”, I asked.
“Yes,” she said, “but they were vastly different.”
“They operated while others were on vacation. In holiday areas. Or on board of a holiday cruiser.”
“They produced dance shows, entertainment programs, fitness. In order for the vacationists not to get bored during their stay, but so they’d be all around content.”
I changed subjects quickly, told her about an alleged parcel that couldn’t get delivered, no matter what – Bettina always likes such stories, stories in which the joke is on me -, but this time, I only told it to avoid talking about vacations at all costs.
It wasn’t too long ago when Bettina attached the picture of a sandy beach to our fridge.
“The Seychelles,” she said.
I didn’t cater to that at all. Why would I go there?
In all probability, we would be able afford it. Not only because of the generous raise Bettina recently received, but also because the newly founded airlines try to lure in passengers with cheap travel rates. But wild horses couldn’t drag me on a plane.
“Johanna went to Crete with her husband,” Bettina told me recently.
I don’t want to know about that. Although I let myself get talked into another thing. And I’m fortunate I did, I’m thinking in hindsight. Not long ago. Bettina had just been named team leader.
“I would like to invite two colleagues over,” she said.
“Okay, go ahead,” I said, because I didn’t see the problem in that. Was her laptop broken?
“I mean, for real.”
“How, for real?”
I had a hunch what it was she wanted to get at, but I played dumb, dumber than I was, because the word real annoys me, so much. As if everything so far had been unreal.
Bettina said: “Well, they’re coming over. To us, here.”
“Aha. And what do you want to do with them once they’re here?”
“Cook, chat, drink.”
“Okay. But where to seat them? Ever thought about that? We only own two chairs.”
“Then we’ll buy two more. Everybody does that.”
“And you’ll buy plates, too, then? And glasses?”
I wasn’t able to get out of this one. Bettina was already determined to do all of it. And the worst part was: She wanted to buy everything at the store.
With me going along!
“But only if I get to wear the mask,” I said.
I know Bettina finds me embarrassing then.
“Well, alright,” she said.
We drove to the shopping arcade, the one in which Bettina had a hand in opening; there was supposed to be a store that would be just right, she reckoned. Also, she would get a sales discount there. A large room with lots of stuff. Not a lot going on in there. A salesperson was glad about our appearance there, as if we happened to be dear relatives she’d thought dead. Bettina recited her list of things she thought we needed. Most of it we already owned, but Bettina wanted yet more of it, and more, and more. It reminded me of my father’s kitchen cupboard, which had always held a stack of ten plates. Why?, I’d asked him often enough. That was the way they handled things in the past; that was always his answer. Because of potential guests. My father having guests, don’t make me laugh.
Bettina wanted to go to another store for the chairs.
“Why can’t we at least order the chairs like everybody else?”, I asked. That one store was enough for me.
“Because we can try out the chairs at the store, for real.”
I voted for folding chairs; you could put them aside if they weren’t needed. Bettina had something else in mind. She claimed everybody now had a table with at least four chairs around it, even if there were only two people, four chairs looked convivial and generous. I conceded defeat. At least they didn’t push the chairs onto us right at the store, for us to figure out how to get them home. At least they wanted to deliver the chairs in a parcel. That provided a little reconciliation for me.
The evening with Bettina’s staff turned out to be very irritating for me. For one, of course, because I didn’t wear a mask, Bettina positively pleaded with me because of that: I couldn’t do that to her, it would endanger her credibility. But it was also irritating because of another thing. You’re actually rather used to having all the faces right in front of you on the screen while on a meeting with several other people. But if you’re sitting around a table with four people – for real, as Bettina likes to put it -, it doesn’t work that way; you only get to have one face in front of you while you see the other two in profile, however. And you have to constantly turn your head. This gave me a headache. Our two guests became very dizzy, too. Only Bettina didn’t let anything on.
I don’t know what got into me then, but at a certain point and over the course of the evening, I slowly slid my hand onto my right-hand seatmate’s thigh, her name is Greta. Perhaps because I wanted to feel that she was really there. It was almost like a necessity, a reflex. And her mouth that opened and closed while breathing and talking for once wasn’t repelling to me, it wasn’t disgusting, rather the opposite: Her mouth aroused me. I was happy, even, that she could see my mouth, too. I cannot describe my surprise as I suddenly felt how Greta, on her part, put a hand on my thigh. We didn’t go further that evening. We only met again a few evenings later. The place for our meeting was a hotel that had only opened a few weeks ago. Bettina had long fought for this opening, and when she told me about it, beaming all over, I had wondered, still: A hotel, why?
Now the opening seemed to make sense to me.
By now, I’m meeting with Greta on a regular basis. I think that’s better than the psycho-courses Bettina recommended to me. With Greta, it’s not as theoretical. And I’m making progress. Even Bettina thinks so, too. Although she doesn’t know the reason, of course. She believes it is completely my doing alone. And I rather like it that way, her believing that.
As a general rule, when I’m on the go outside my own four walls, I still wear a mask, but since Greta, I feel considerably more relaxed when meeting someone who doesn’t wear one. The impulse to report someone because of it is gone. And when I meet Greta, I put the mask down, too. I had a beautiful mouth, she says. That, of course, is encouraging.
It is also significantly easier for me to try new things with Greta than with Bettina; with Bettina, I feel so inhibited all the time, I feel she is observing me, as if she was only waiting for me to lose my grip, and if this would reveal who I really am: A bullheaded guy stuck in yesterday. But perhaps those are just projections again.
Anyway, I really had a lot of fun with Greta last week. We went to a restaurant. They’re opening up everywhere right now. There, you’ll get food prepared by someone else, and you consume it on site, so you don’t take it home. Bettina had long wanted to go to one with me. So far, I had managed to appease the effort. Could be asking: “To a restaurant?
“To get out, for a change,” she said.
Perhaps restaurants are a good example for the things that bother me with Bettina, because Bettina is ready to accept all changes, uncritically, as great. Although, especially with the example of the restaurant, the sense in them may not be readily apparent. Why not continue eating at home? For Bettina, it makes sense simply because it represents change. Simply because it is like in the past world. Bettina idolizes this past world. I, on the other hand, am more cautious. In any case, I was happy to have visited my first restaurant not with Bettina, but with Greta. I had told Bettina I had to work the late shift. I met up with Greta at eight. Although Greta is also an animator, she is not automatically as excited as Bettina. Greta takes a look at things first.
And concerning restaurants, that’s what you should do.
A restaurant is a large room with numerous tables. That sounds innocuous at first. However, there are people seated at those tables; all of them people you don’t know. And no word about masks, of course. Everyone goes without. Until recently, the very definition of torture for me. Now I went there of my own volition, crazy. And there’s more, because you eat there. Eating in public, now that represents making an effort. For years, I had been eating alone or with Bettina. And now: Chewing mouths everywhere. If I hadn’t been with Greta, I would have left then. But Greta said: “We can do this.”
You order the food with the restaurant staff, so that’s the same as always, but they do not put the food there in a thermo box you’re then taking home with you, but they bring it to your table instead, on a steaming plate. And what’s more: Now you have to eat it there, although everyone is watching while you do it. It made my stomach turn. And I wasn’t alone. I couldn’t hear anything but puking noises in the neighboring stalls at the restroom.
I think a restaurant is a step too far. I really don’t have to watch other people I don’t know eat. And I don’t want to show others how I eat, either. And then there’s the noise. People talk at all tables. That is another one of those fallacies. You’d have to ban talking at a restaurant. But then you’d only hear eating noises, smacking, burping, chewing, and that wouldn’t be so nice, either. I don’t know. Somehow, a restaurant is an idiotic idea. Anyway, at least it’s not for me. Greta felt the same way.
Still, we had great fun that evening. Yes, the real craziness was still to come. It’s rather a pity I can’t tell Bettina about it. A young woman approached our table and told us that the trial course would soon begin in the adjoining room.
“A trial course for what?”, I asked.
She put a slip of paper on the table on which the details of the event were spelled out. I wouldn’t have gotten engaged without Greta. But she reckoned it wouldn’t matter now, anyway, we could just as well try this out, too.
The adjoining room was larger than the one in which the restaurant had been constructed. But there was nothing in the adjoining room at all. No tables, to chairs, nothing. Only DJ Sammy. That’s how the young woman who gave us the slip of paper referred to herself. She told us and the other couples who had come over from the restaurant that we were now supposed to feel the flow. She then proceeded to turn on earsplitting music while moving in a peculiar way. Greta and I laughed so hard.
It turned out nicely when we sat down at a bar in a smaller room. The music in that room was turned way down low. You could easily start talking and you weren’t distracted by anything. I could get used to such a room with a bar.
Greta said, “Sometimes it’s hard with Bettina.”
I had carried the feeling Greta wanted to get something off her chest all evening.
I said, “That’s right.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I admire her. Her eagerness. All the things she puts together.”
“Without her, everything would be moving forward at a much slower pace. But that is the exact reason I sometimes get the feeling I am not in the right place. That I would just be in her way.”
“That is the feeling Bettina gives you?”
“Sometimes, she does.”
“Perhaps those are only your projections.”
“That is entirely possible. But the selection interviews are coming up. About who will become district manager. And I need that job. Yet I don’t think I am among Bettina’s favorites.”
“Does Bettina conduct the interviews?”
“She chooses the test topic.”
“And what will that be?”
“That, exactly, remains secret. It is either something practical, I suspect it will be the new movie theater, its objective and other things in context with the opening. Or it will be some theoretical issue. Therefore, it could be, for example, a psychological-anthropological subject: The public, a basic human need.”
“I could do some research.”
“Would you do that?”
She kissed me.
Greta’s guess was quite good, the test subject will be the new movie theatre. It wasn’t hard to pry that out of Bettina, she had been talking about nothing else for days, anyway. Greta feels grateful to me now, of course, because I told her the topic. Not a bad foundation for a permanent affair. Bettina has less and less time, anyway. I rarely see her in the evenings, that’s when she constantly visits some restaurant or other. If she likes it that way, let her. But she insisted on me joining her for the movie theatre opening. Because she’s worried that not enough people will come to make up the audience. As I’ve said, I actually prefer doing new things with Greta. I don’t feel as tense then. And the movie theatre represents the ultimate tension, because of its importance to Bettina. The effort she puts into her wardrobe, incredible. It wasn’t enough to dress chic. She had a dress tailored in a style reminiscent of some former Hollywood diva. And I, too, have to wear a so-called tuxedo, because she is convinced that people wore things like that in the past. Uncomfortable stuff. I feel ridiculous wearing it.
But my father says: “You look good.”
I stand before the movie theatre with him, waiting for everything to finally start.
We are lucky with the weather; it is a warm evening. When some raindrops fell at noon today, Bettina almost suffered a nervous breakdown. The guests are everywhere, talking. Many of them are similarly customed, like Bettina and me. Where she is just now, I don’t know, I lost sight of her. I’d like for her to show up, because my father keeps talking to me, incessantly, my head is starting to hurt. He should be done soon with his ancient movie stories.
“Some movies, you just have to experience in a theatre,” he enthuses.
I am not so sure about that. Up to now, it worked quite well without one.
“Dances With Wolves,” he says.
I am rolling my eyes.
“Or: Die Hard,” he says.
Greta comes and greets me. She and I pretend we are only fleeting acquaintances. I introduce her to my father. Where is Bettina, she asks.
“No idea,” I say.
“So, I’ll see you later, right?”, she says, leaving.
I look at her walking away. I have to ponder the relation between public and secrecy, meaning, if secrecy emerges only if there is public.
I observe Greta walking up to a young guy whom I have seen more and more frequently with Greta recently. He and I shoot each other not-so-friendly glances.
“Top Gun,” my father says.
I would like to be someplace else now. And in my head, a drastic thought comes up, one that I – admittedly – have sometimes: I want the virus back. I miss my world.
My father is so happy, it makes me sick. He has taken to inhaling very deeply from time to time, as if that hadn’t been possible earlier. It is just short of him beating his chest for sheer joy of life. But instead, he keeps repeating himself for what is perhaps the tenth time: “I met your mother here at the Roxi. And if I hadn’t watched that cool Mickey Rourke on the screen for all of ninety minutes, I would never have drummed up the courage to invite her for a beer after the movie.”
“You said earlier that it was Johnny Depp.”
“Johnny Depp? No way.”
I shouldn’t have treated him to some sparkling wine, he is all misty-eyed.
“Oh boy,” he says, “to be able to witness this.”
I don’t have the opportunity to feign transmission problems now, he is right in front of me, for real. He puts his hand on my arm.
“The Roxi,” he says.
“It’s alright, dad,” I say.
I hope he is not starting to cry. I wouldn’t be able to cope with such intimacy. Fortunately, I spot Bettina. But she doesn’t even consider coming up to us. She is surrounded by a group of people, and I can, by looking at their faces, imagine quite well what they’re talking about. Who’s opening what soon. A bookstore here. A new restaurant there. That is the energy Bettina loves. She will be excited by every new idea, promising generous support grants. And I think: She would like me to be like that, with such vigor. But I am only a parcel delivery person. So, I prefer to stay with my father.
Finally, a gong sounds, obviously the signal for the start. Some now pretend that there had never been a time of safety distancing until recently, demonstratively pushing into the building side by side. A silly affectation. Those are the same people who hug you when you meet them. I like the hesitant ones better, like myself. You do enter, but you leave enough space for the people around you, that is an imperative of respect, and I believe we should well hold on to that for the future. Inside, there is a babble of voices, you can’t even hear yourself. But Bettina didn’t promise too much when she said that the foyer was an architectural pearl. I feel as though I am entering another era. Playful lamps hang suspended from the ceiling, the walls are covered with large mirrors, marble and brass, everything is so shiny, as if you’re in the lobby of some luxurious hotel. And that is exactly how Bettina had described it. At the movie theatre, it is the start of a journey. Therefore, theatregoers were like travelers. The cost of the restoration, that is an altogether different story. The edifice had been sitting empty for decades.
There is a congestion, I am being pushed to the fore by those behind me. I bump into the back of the man in front of me. Drops of sweat appear on my brow. I am this close to a panic attack. My father is at my side. He is fine. He is beaming.
It all finally unravels. Before us lies a staircase, the reason for the congestion.
I am walking on a red carpet. I look at our tickets and compare the numbers written on them with those at the wall, giving directions.
“To the left,” I tell my father.
Bettina is not sitting with us; she has a seat in some box. And after the screening, she has to go to a restaurant with the theatre operator and a number of other people. I don’t care, maybe I’ll meet Greta later.
Theatre staff stand next to several small doors, inspecting the tickets. And now, after having walked through one of those doors, I am really lost for words. I had seen pictures of the auditorium. But really standing in it, that is something different altogether. My father weeps beside me. And he is not alone. An old lady, some meters away, throws a crying fit. I, too, have to admit that this auditorium has a moving quality. But it’s hard to describe exactly what it is. As if we were all here because we shared the same desire.
The seats, however, are shockingly close to each other for my taste. If I had my way, they could have left at least each other seat empty. As we finally sit down, I touch my father’s shoulder to the left and to the right, and this is much more unsettling to me, the shoulder of someone unknown to me. Yet the unknown and I pretend we don’t notice.
I would like to wear a mask, I still have that deep in me like that, but I force myself not to do it. The mask would help, not only to protect me, but also to hide me and my perplexity. See, I don’t know what to do now. Wait? And watch the people not find their seats? At last, everyone is seated. A strange feeling. As if being part of one and the same expectation. As if we all waited to be shot to the moon.
A man steps up to a place in front of the giant screen, plants himself up before us, I wouldn’t dare such a thing. He has a microphone in his hand. He welcomes us. Tells us we are part of an historic event. Talks about how fast everything changes. He asks Bettina to join him on the stage and hands her a flower bouquet. I don’t know why I now think about how she used to lie on the sofa all day long. Of all things.
“You have an awesome wife,” my father whispers.
“Yes,” I say.
Then it gets dark. The film finally starts.