Whiling Away a Summer Evening

“If you want an answer that no one has ever given before, you just have to ask a question that no one has ever thought to ask.  Simple, really, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.”

“You might get an answer you’ve heard before, how can you be sure you won’t just get an answer you’ve heard before?”

“Not in the same context.  You have to take into account the context.  What’s your favorite color?”


“Okay, so I’ve heard that answer before, and in that context.  But if I were to ask you, say, what color you would most like milk to be, if you had the choice, and you said blue, I certainly never would have heard that before.”

“Why would I want blue milk?”

“Because it’s blue.  Or at least it would be, if you had your choice.”

“I didn’t make that choice.  You made that choice for me.  Or you presumed I would make that choice.”

“But it’s your favorite color, why wouldn’t you make that choice?”

“What’s wrong with white milk?”

“Nothing is wrong with it, except that it’s boring and overdone and everyone has seen it before.”

“Would the cows be blue?”

“Would you want them to be?  It’s your choice.  That’s another perfectly good question on the subject of answers in and out of context.  What color would cows be, if you had your choice?”

“Some cows are almost sort of blue.”

“Are they?  I hadn’t noticed.”

“In the right light.  Sort of.  If they’re next to something green, and it’s a sort of bluish green, and they’re reflecting it, and they’re white to begin with, then yeah, they’re sort of blue.  In the moonlight.”  If I hadn’t realized prior to that moment that we were both a bit on the far side of sober, that statement would have made it clear.  Or at least as clear as anything could be when nothing is particularly clear.  I wondered how much of this we would remember differently in the morning.  “Would you feel like the sky was the wrong color, if the cows were blue?”

“Do you feel like your eyes are the wrong color, just because the sky is blue?”

“Good point.”

“Where’s my beer?”

“Which one?  The one you just finished, or the one you finished before that?”

“Either.  I don’t care.”

“Good, because they’re both gone.”

“If I cared, that would make me sad, wouldn’t it?”


“I’m glad I don’t care.”

“It’s easier not to, sometimes.”  There was as close as we had gotten to discussing the reason we were drinking on that particular evening.  And might be all the talking we would do about the thing we hadn’t talked about.  “You want a shot?”

“What do we have left?”

“Um…  a little bottle of red stuff and a little bottle of… not red stuff.”

“Why do they make them so little?”

“They’re minis.  They have to be little.  It’s just what they are.”

“Okay, there’s another good question.  How big would minis be, if it were your choice?”

“I think they’d still be pretty small.  Otherwise I’d get confused and want to call them something else.”

“What color is the not red stuff?”

“Did you not just answer your own question as you were asking it?”

“Not quite as specifically as I’d like.”  We split the mini of the not red stuff.  It turned out to be Lemon Drop.  “Where’s my beer?”

“Ems, your beer is gone.”

She looked at me, at the empty glasses on the table, at the stars we couldn’t see through the smog, at her hands, back at me.  “It is, isn’t it?  Gone.”

“Yeah, honey, it is.  I’m so sorry.”

“Yeah.  Me too.”

We sat out on the balcony for a little while longer, listening to the traffic in the distance, still hoping to see stars, knowing they were out there.



“You know she loved you.”

“Yeah.  I know.”

“We should sleep soon.”

“I know.”

A flicker of light found its way through the smog and was gone.  The part of my mind that was still aware of such things as logic said it was probably a plane.  But in the morning we might remember it differently.
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