‘Let’s cut the shit’: A conversation between friends.

A conversation between two old friends at a café in the city. Which city? Well, no one knows for sure. Their names are Sam and Richard. Why they are having this conversation is unknown at the time. They both sit at a table, facing one another. Sam is dressed in a vintage sweater, a beanie and long, coloured pants. Richard wears a simple tee and shorts with thongs. It appears the conversation has been brewing for a long time. There are few stage directions, leaving the staging and interpretation of the scene up to directional discretion.

Richard:

Let’s cut the shit. What are you so afraid of, Sam?

Sam:

Well, that’s a long question Richard. Not so much long in length, but long in substance, in requiring thought, in diabolical meaning. A long and twisted question. How can I possibly answer that question with a bunch of meagre words when it requires you to feel what I’m feeling? To know exactly who I am.

R:

I know who you are Samuel. I’ve known you for a very long time.

S:

Yes, we do know each other. Very well indeed. But at what point do you think you know me so much that you begin to not know me at all?

R:

You’re being deliberately complex Sam. It’s a bad habit of yours.

S:

But wouldn’t you say we are innately complex?

R:

What on earth do you mean? We’re all complex in our own way, yes. But I don’t believe I’ve met anyone who has truly boggled me with his or her complexity.

S:

Yes, you say that, but if you thought about it harder, wouldn’t everyone you come across be so complex that you could never truly know them?

R:

Sam, this is ridiculous. Complexity comes with deep thought, with considered thought. If I really wanted to add depth to most of the people I met, I would attempt to go deeper, to find out what makes them tick. But I don’t want that with everyone I meet… I don’t need to know about most of the people I meet. I see them, they exist, they probably have friends, family, hobbies, fears, dreams, wants, a job… a belief system. That’s all I need to know.

S:

You’re detached.

R:

How do you come to that conclusion?

S:

You’re detached from humanity. You stick to your comfort zone.

R:

I’m happy to stick to my comfort zone. It’s an easy place to exist. You on the other hand, seem to think that you have to know everyone around you to the point of being completely overrun with the problems and issues of the people you meet, or see, or just imagine.

S:

I talk to people. I like understanding people. I don’t think that is as big an issue as isolating yourself from everyone who comes into your life.

R:

I am not isolated. I just don’t buy into your theory that I have to be ‘complex’. What’s so important about being considered complex? Is it just a tool for you to get laid by indie girls who think you are deep?

S:

No, Richard, that is complete nonsense. I don’t just add layers to my personality to get laid.

R:

Sometimes it seems like you do.

S:

How do you come to such a conclusion?

R:

Because every conversation with a girl I see you accelerate into your insecurities, your innate fears, your wanton desires and your weird, intriguing hobbies. That, my friend, is being deliberately complex.

S:

I already told you, I like talking to people. And if they happen to be an attractive woman with an interesting dress sense, all the better for me.

R:

It’s manipulative.

S:

What? Manipulative… You’re making me out to be some sort of sexual deviant.

R:

Well, sometimes I wonder.

S:

I’m no worse than the next guy. Do you honestly think I’m the only one trawling the field for girls and talking to them on a deeper level…?

R:

No, of course not. Of course not. But you manipulate them into thinking they know you when they clearly do not know you.

S:

Of course they’re not going to know me, you know no one after one sitting, that’s my point.

R:

But you seem to be satisfied with girls after one or two sittings. You’re not exactly getting to know them on a, ‘deeper level’ as you would suggest is important.

S:

Satisfied? What do you mean by that?

R:

Well, your record with women is not exactly flawless. There’s plenty of fickleness and heartbreak on their end.

S:

And mine.

R:

When? When was the last time you were heartbroken?

S:

Marie.

R:

I’ll give you Marie… That’s fair. But other than that? That’s like one in 100 over the past few years.

S:

I haven’t broken the hearts of 99 women to my one incident of heartbreak. Let’s be ‘fair’.

R:

It would be a high percentage of that. I’m not having a go; you’re an attractive human being…

S:

(reluctantly) Thank you…

R:

But, you’re making yourself out to be some utterly perplexing, intense and complex individual when you don’t have to be. You could have had a nice girlfriend, a pretty good relationship, a stable job but you chose to be complex and brooding and completely aloof.

S:

I didn’t choose to be anything…

R:

To me it seems you have made that choice.

S:

And you’ve made your choice to be simple, humble and disinterested in everything that goes on around you.

R:

See, that’s completely untrue. I didn’t make that choice.

S:

It seems we both didn’t make that choice then, did we?

R:

Since you’ve known me, have you really ever thought I was anything different than, in your own words ‘simple, humble and disinterested’?

Silence as Sam ponders, hoping something will come to mind.

Exactly Samuel. I am who I am. You, on the other hand, used to be just as easygoing and straightforward as me. Then something changed. You wanted to be more. You wanted to be seen as intriguing, as somewhat of an enigma.

S:

That is ridiculous.

R:

It’s not. It’s really not when you think about it. You’ve changed your whole look, your whole attitude, and your whole self externally.

S:

You’re having a go, aren’t you?

R:

No, no. I’m not having a go. You were the one initially having a go, but I’m willing to take it because you were probably right. And I feel I’m probably right here.

S:

You’re making it sound like a person cannot evolve.

R:

Of course they can evolve. What I’m saying is that you have made conscious choices to make yourself more ‘complex’ and with that, you’ve kind of lost what you really are.

S:

That is just bullshit.

R:

Then tell me why it isn’t Sam, tell me how I am completely wrong here and I will acknowledge your point of view.

S:

I am an emotional, sensitive person. I’m not going to be chucked into a bracket and be satisfied. I don’t get why exploring one’s self is such a bad thing. And to commit to that, I’ve got to acknowledge the people around me, compare myself to them, listen to them. Without that, I’m just living on an island.

R:

But that still doesn’t explain your flippant relationship with the women you meet. It’s like, a couple of sessions of chatting with them, then sleeping with them and you’ve moved on like they never existed in your life. How can you claim to be an emotional and sensitive person if all you are really doing is treating people as disposable?

S:

I don’t treat them like they are disposable. And how would you know if I cut all contact off with them?

R:

Because, Sam, it appears that you become obsessed with a particular woman and within a week I never hear about her again. She’s your diamond, then she’s just rubble.

S:

I think that is a little unfair.

R:

Why? Why is that an unfair conclusion when I, of all people, know you as well as anyone on this planet?

S:

Maybe you don’t know well enough. As I said earlier, maybe you’ve gotten to know me so well that you essentially don’t know me at all.

R:

Again, what an utterly ridiculous statement to make. But fuck, maybe you are right Sam, maybe I have gotten to know you so well that apparently you have become such a mystery to me that I’ve never really known you at all…

S:

If you’re so straightforward, then where is your wife? Where are your kids? Where is your weatherboard house in the suburbs and a weekend spent gardening and listening to the footy?

R:

Being straightforward doesn’t mean I’m stereotypical. You’re just making the same mistakes everyone else does. Generalisations are easier to make than rational judgments.

S:

I’m not being general; I’m just doing what you are doing and rushing to conclusions. A conclusion that makes a person feel like shit. Like they are nothing.

R:

I don’t want to make you feel like nothing Samuel…

S:

Oh really Richard? You’re doing a pretty good job of it.

R:

Don’t act like you are irrevocably hurt Sam.

S:

How the fuck would you know that the shit you are saying isn’t hurting me Rich? How the fuck would you know…?

R:

You’ve got this awful habit of turning yourself into a victim.

S:

Oh, fuck you. Fuck you and your fucking pseudo-psychological analysis. You don’t fucking know what I’m thinking. How I feel. Who I truly am.

R:

Maybe I don’t. I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that you don’t either.

S:

Fuck you.

There is silence. Samuel refuses to look at Richard. Richard looks fiercely into Sam’s face. Sam catches him. He looks stern.

S:

You want to know what I’m afraid of Rich?

R:

Yes, yes I do.

S:

I’m afraid of being predictable, I’m afraid of being simple, straightforward, boring. I’m afraid of seeing my life before my eyes and not being anything more than just another pedestrian when there is a great big highway that takes you all around the world and into the clouds, and through the sea and up high into the mountains. I’m scared of being a speckle of sand and not a star, a caterpillar that never becomes a butterfly, a hill where a house never sits. I don’t want to plain, and boring and normal. I don’t want…. I just can’t… I can’t be normal.

R:

You’re not normal mate. But you’re turning yourself into normal by caring so much about the end result of the highway instead of focusing on how to get onto it. That’s what you don’t understand. You’re so keen on finding out about everyone else, every beautiful woman you come across, every interesting thing you encounter; that you miss the opportunity to truly allow yourself to know them. You’re so scared about being simple, that you become desperately complex. It might win you a few hearts, but is there any substance to it? No. You’re so much better than pretending to be this incredibly sophisticated, charming, complex and completely fake human being.

Sam stops. A couple of tears are rolling down his face. Richard softens significantly upon this sight and continues.

Sam mate, I love you like a brother. But sometimes you scare me. You’re an outrageous person, a wonderful person. And you know how I hate getting smutty, you fuck. I just, I don’t want you to end up bitter and jealous when you realise that you will never get everything you dream of.

S:

It’s okay to dream though.

R:

Of course.

S:

I don’t think you understand dreaming like I do.

R:

I understand life mate. I’m a realist. I may never reach the wonderful heights that you talk about but I like my life. I like it. And I like the people I let in. I don’t let in everyone like you; I’m not as open, as warm, as flamboyant as you. But I understand my limits. Sometimes I just think you believe you are limitless. We all have our limits mate.

There is a pause. Sam wipes away the tears. Richard awkwardly shifts in his seat. Sam considers what has been said.

S:

It’s not that I’m sad or anything. It’s not that I feel incomplete. I don’t know. I love women, I love their feel and their softness and their quiet intricacies. I don’t know why I move on so quickly…

There is another pause. Richard goes to interject, but Sam puts up his finger.

I suppose I like the challenge.

R:

The challenge of what?

S:

The challenge of them letting me into their world.

R:

And you don’t feel like an intruder knowing you’ll probably disappear from their life as soon as they let you in?

S:

I’m not thinking that way when I get in. Of course I’m not thinking that way. That would be almost sadistic! I think… I don’t know.

R:

You know. I know you know.

S:

With some of them… I’m just afraid they’ll get to know me and… and I won’t be enough. There are others who I simply do it to occupy my time, to have a bit of fun. But the ones I like, the ones I could see myself loving. I fear boredom. I fear the passion disappearing. I fear rejection.

R:

Mate, that’s you looking too far into the future. We’re all scared of rejection. That’s humanity. I’d hate to give myself to someone only for them to turn around and say ‘I love someone else’ but if I don’t take that risk, what am I to become? A bitter, lonely old man. If I take the risk, I’ll more likely eventually find someone who completes me.

S:

That’s very romantic.

R:

This doesn’t exit this room Samuel.

Sam laughs heartily. Richard, relieved, smiles broadly.

S:

See, with Marie. I was in love, I was madly in love. I was so scared I was feeling so strongly for her that I became consumed by it. I fell into this person that wasn’t me. And I lost her. I tried to get her back but I had already lost.

R:

You’ve got to overcome that fear.

S:

It’s easier said than done.

R:

I know, I know. But you will.

Richard grabs Sam’s hand momentarily, Sam nods his head at Richard. Richard pulls away, hoping the moment wasn’t too tender.

S:

I like how I dress though.

Richard laughs.

R:

You’re a fool my friend. A beautiful fool.

S:

And you’re a simple, humble and disinterested man, Richard.

They both smile. Then awkwardly look for a distraction. Richard grabs the paper, Sam keeps staring at the table.

S:

Why do men have to be so awkward after such a meaningful conversation? It’s like we have to digest it, push it aside and then return to flippant banter.

R:

I don’t know. It’s very Australian. I think there is a fear that we will become homosexual if we stay on such a deep topic so long without making a joke of it.

S:

I think most straight Australian men would answer the question, ‘what are you so afraid of?’ with ‘being labeled a homosexual’.

R:

Now that is a sad state of affairs.

S:

For a simple man, you’re very liberal.

R:

(saving face) Shut up, you big poof.

S:

(shaking his head with a wry grin) Case in point.

End scene.       

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