Sunday, July 15, 2007

Take One

"Is that your girlfriend?"

"I'm sorry?"

"I said, is that your girlfriend?"

"Oh, errr, no, no actually she's my wife."

"I see. She's very beautiful."

"Why thank you."

"You're a very lucky man."

"Yes. Yes, I suppose I am."

"You suppose?"

"I am."

"Doesn't it strike you as strange that I, a complete stranger, and a woman at that, should be complimenting you on your wife?"

"On the contrary- if you were a man I would be offended."

"Are you that insecure?"

"No. But for a man to be checking out my wife and then telling me about it would be, as you put it, strange."

"And for a woman to 'check out' your wife and tell you about it?"

"I'm grateful."

"Really. Why?"

"Oh, I don't know. For taking an interest in me, I suppose."

"You mean an interest in your wife."

"I mean an interest in us."

"Do strangers not normally take an interest in you then?"

"Not normally, no."

"How do you know? Have you ever asked them?"


"Why not?"

"Because if I struck up a conversation then they wouldn't be strangers anymore."

"So you just assume they aren't interested in you?"


"Are you that uninteresting?"

"No. At least, I don't think so. Not particularly uninteresting."

"Well then?"

"I suppose it's just that, once one is married one assumes that strangers, especially strange women, don't take an interest in one."

"Why? Does being married stop you from taking an interest in strange women?"

"It stops me from showing my interest in them."

"So you wouldn't, for example, go up to a strange woman and tell her you thought she was good looking?"

"I might. I would if she were as good looking as you."

"Are you flirting with me now?"

"Not at all. This is purely academic. Besides, you complimented my wife. I'm just returning the favor."

"Oh, so you're only complimenting me out of a sense of obligation then?"

"It isn't that. I'm perfectly sincere. It's just that..."

"Just what?"

"It's just that your having paid my wife a compliment expanded the scope of our dialog, don't you see? In a sense, it gave me permission to compliment you in return."

"You needed permission? Are you that tame?"

"No, no. I'm not expressing myself well. Let's say that my pleasure in complimenting you is heightened by a sense of symmetry."

"Very good. But I said your wife was good looking, not you. Surely symmetry would demand that you compliment me on my husband"

"Do you have a husband?"

"Does it matter?"

"It does if I'm to compliment you on him"

"Only for that?"

"Well, also, now that we're no longer strangers, I need to know if you're married so I can introduce you to my wife properly. I don't know whether to call you madame or mademoiselle."

"You don't know my name either."

"I was coming to that."

"So the reason you want to know whether I'm married is so you can introduce me properly to your wife?"

"Among other things."

"I'm not wearing a ring."

"You could have taken it off."

"I could give you a false name."

"You could."

"What if your wife never comes back?"

"From the restroom you mean?"


"All the more reason to know whether you're single."

"So you are flirting with me!"

"Perhaps. What if your husband never gets here?"

"He will."

"So you are married!"


"My wife will come back."

"What if when she does you're not here?"

"You mean we're not here?"

"I suppose."

"Where would we be?"

"Does it matter?"

"I suppose she'd wait and meet your husband."

"I suppose."

"Do you think they'd like each other?"

"I think so. She seemed his type."

"How convenient. I suppose then he would be a lucky man?"

"Oh, I think he is already."

"Quite. One question though - who'll pay?"

"The bill?"

"The check."

"You're American, are you?"

"No, but I went to college there."

"I see. I suppose she would."

"My wife?"


"Your check or my check?"

"Both. Why not?"

"It hardly seems fair."

"Is anything?"

"Besides she doesn't have her purse with her."

"Isn't that it over there?"

"Yes, precisely. I can't just leave it here and walk out."

"Why not?"

"Someone might steal it."


"So she wouldn't be able to pay the check. She'd be embarrassed."

"So it's okay for someone to steal your wife's husband, but not her purse?"

"I believe in avoiding embarrassment."

"You're a capitalist."

"I'm a snob. But where does that leave us?"

"Let's say my husband pays the check, as you so charmingly call it"

"So you are married."


"Then how can your husband pay the check?"

"Let's say that some rich, kind man pays the check and because of his generosity I start to consider him my husband."

"Perhaps it'd be better if I paid the check."

"Is that a proposal?"

"If it were, would you accept?"

"If it were, I wouldn't."

"But since it's not?"


P.S. By rights, this should be in French, but my French isn't that good. Just imagine that the real dialog is in French and you're reading the subtitles.


km said...


Though at one point, I thought this was turning into a messy Hitchcockian affair ("What if your wife never comes back?")

Anonymous said...

:p the trip has done someone good.reminiscing & now this.somebody's back in typical male form.

Anonymous said...

:) If it helps - when I was half-way through it reminded me of of Before Sunrise do you did get France right !

Falstaff said...

Yes, I thought about taking it that way. But it would have taken too long.

anon1: huh?

anon2: Errr...okay, that's a little depressing. I was going more for Godard than Linklater, more Anna Karina than Julie Plastic Delpy. Sigh.

bongopondit said...

Wonderful ! If made into a short and included therein, would have made Paris, je t'aime a better compilation.

Cheshire Cat said...

"Julie Plastic Delpy"??? Oh how do I vent my fury - this is too small a space...

ocarina said...

Great post, but Julie Plastic Delpy?? You got that wrong!

Space Bar said...

heh! such fun. now one only needs to add some other surreal stuff to the background that's not in the script and there's a potential carriere-boosting scenario (eep! I couldn't resist!)in it.

Falstaff said...

bongopondit: Thanks. One certainly hopes one can do better than Gurinder Chaddha

cat / ocarina: Yes, I thought that might ruffle a few feathers. To be fair, the only thing I've ever seen Ms. Delpy in other than the Before Sunrise / Sunset things is Three Colours - and there I thought she was quite good - though not in the same league as either Juliette Binoche (is anyone?) or Irene Jacob. So maybe I'm just projecting my dissatisfaction with Linklater's script (a marvelous concept, but an overall disappointing execution) onto her. Let's just say I wouldn't think it much of an accomplishment to have written a script in the league of Before Sunrise and leave it at that.

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

Ah here's one more feather you ruffled....and for the sake of rhetoric
"Julie plastic Delpy"???

anyway what was wrong with Before Sunrise? ( yes sure it could have been done better but that is primarily because it involved conversation with the opposite sex and we all have our own script for that..I doubt whether anything would satisfy..we will always feel "it could have been done better" :)

Falstaff said...

space bar: Aarrghh! i suppose someone had to make that joke.

tmwwt: I think my chief objection to Before Sunrise was the cop-out ending. If Linklater had had the guts to have them truly leave well enough alone (and left well enough alone himself) I would have had a lot more respect for the film. As it is, I'd rather watch Last Tango in Paris.

I actually thought the 'couple' parts of the film were rather endearing. It was the babble that passed for conversation for the rest of the film that irritated and ultimately pained me. I think I gave up on the film at the point where Hawke gives his big 'soul has constant numerator but ever increasing denominator' speech. In general, I thought both of them sounded like they'd never read a book or a serious magazine and had got all their ideas from a combination of Discovery Channel and Cosmo. I could (and do) have more interesting conversations on coffee breaks with my colleagues. I suppose that the inanity of the banter made it more authentic, but I live on campus - if I want to hear sophomoric dialog I can just eavesdrop at my local Starbucks.

bess said...

I thought I was reading a Harold Pinter play...