My dinner with Brecht

The Transnational online, 11/15

The sign says ‘RESTAURANT’ and as requested I walk under it and inside. The waiters who are dressed in home clothes introduce one another as waiters and usher me to a table in the back corner where he is sitting polishing his glasses. He is Mod-like in his military coat and his delicate face takes me in with darting eyes under brows that resemble sleeping exclamation marks. No-one else has come for dinner. The cigar never leaves his hand.

Over prawn cocktails we begin to exchange pleasantries until he holds up a hand-written board which says ‘Critique of the non-local production of the vegetables!’ We are warming to one another. On conclusion of the colourful critique of the non-local production of the vegetables, Brecht sings a song with a destructive subtext about small men growing tall by which time our main courses arrive, he for fish, me beef.

Once we get to pudding and a cognac, damn it if I don’t open my heart to the man, yet whenever I laugh he bursts into tears and once, when he has pinned me down about my family and I spontaneously weep, he collapses with laughter. This is turning into no normal encounter such as when it is possible to form an emotional bond with the matter at hand and its presenters. Nor is he much good with a knife and fork.

In couplet and free verse he orders coffee and ponders what happens to the hole when the cheese is gone. Instead of bringing the bill which he has lectured me about and will after consideration pay, the waiters return with banners saying ‘That was your dinner with Brecht’ and proceed to switch off the electricity. Grappling en route to the exit, I look back to see his cigar-end glowing like a warning. ‘You won’t stay for the epilogue?’ he shouts across the void but I have already passed under the sign that says ‘RESTAURANT’ and have stepped back into the world of genuine strangers.