Tuesday, May 3, 2011


97. "Do you swim in the ocean?" Bowser asks me. Earlier today, I forwarded to the Super Marios an Australian map, sent to me by a patriotic Australian friend.
This prompted Bowser to ask about the sharks ("What are sharks with frickin' lasers?" "Haven't you seen Finding Nemo?"), and then about my swimming in the ocean. 
"The question should be, 'Do you swim?'", I reply. 
"Do you swim?" 
I look at Princess Peach. Princess Peach looks at me. She was there, the one time I ever attempted to swim in Brussels. I suppose there is no way to go around it. 
"No, I guess I don't." 
"You... do..." Princess Peach generously concedes, "Just not very far. Or very fast." 
"Or very deep," continues Mario, even if he has never witnessed me in action.
"Really? You don't swim? You don't know how to swim? My God how do you not know how to swim? How long did you live in Australia? You really don't know how to swim?..." thus begins Bowser's seventh passionate speech of the day. After failing to use Cassandra, the only other non-swimmer, as a replacement target, I ask for help. 
"Peach, which sport doesn't Bowser play, so that I can make fun of him?"
"Like, most of the sports?" Princess Peach offers. 
Leaning towards me, Mario whispers, "All of the sports..."

98. View from a window. 
99. One bottle into the evening, and we are already fighting like an old married couple. "She doesn't know anything about me," he tells his friend. "Even her friend whom I've met just two or three times knows where I was in the States." Stealing a piece of cucumber from his pasta sauce, I retort, "Oh yes? Where was I in the States?" "New York...?" he ventures, hesitantly. "Yep, that makes one out of 15." "But you were never there for long..." "What about that place where I was for three and a half months?" He's stumped. Of course he is. I am grinning. His friend watches us, resigning to an evening of arguments from an old married couple who just don't give up. "You don't know anything about me," I'm mocking his Belgian accent, "name five things..."

He starts with two easy ones. Easy, I suppose, is relative. Strangers wouldn't know those things about me, not many know about the first one and I can count on one hand the number of people in Brussels who know about the second. The third one surprises me. "You don't like green apples. You prefer pink lady," he says. "Four: You've been to 20 countries. I bet Zoe doesn't know that..."

Another reason why we are like an old married couple: We know things about each other that people don't.

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