Bliss is not a long drink

 

I’m not that curious about food.

I only eat a little, and I generally prefer my wife’s meals.

Despite this, I really enjoy going to restaurants with friends or family; I enjoy seeing new places, trying new flavors and losing oneself in a long conversation in different places. That’s why I never look at restaurants as mere “places to eat food.” The scenery from the restaurant, its atmosphere, décor, customer profile and service all interest me as much as the food. And because I’m not that curious about food, I don’t have the ability to taste 10 different dishes and make an evaluation like gourmet writers – masters of the craft. When I’m digging into a couple of plates of food, I’m interested in how enjoyable an atmosphere there is and how appropriate the price is.

I’ve dined at any number of restaurants…

While dining, a number of thoughts have come to mind.

In this blog, I’d like to share a bit about these restaurants and these thoughts…

In doing so, if I can make you smile a bit, then all the better.

Even in a digital world in which visuals are so prevalent, I believe that there are many who still feel a need to talk and listen; in time, the number might even increase.

I’ve inserted a place below every piece for those that want to continue the conversation…

So that we can talk, listen, share and smile together…

So that we avoid becoming cogs in an unfeeling, robotic world… 

Bliss is not a long drink

When I was in high school, I really wanted to do drama. I dreamed endlessly of being on stage, playing Shakespeare. I would have the audience both crying and laughing before receiving rapturous applause when the curtain came down.

The fates smiled at me.

One night, I was awoken by shaking after I had gone to bed early.

“Is there an earthquake?”

A friend in the dorm had awoken me by shaking my bed and was now in the process of shaking me as well.

“The theater club has agreed to put on ‘On the Way from the Bedroom to the Washroom.’ The casting has even been done,” he said.

My friend was interested in writing plays, and it seemed that the school’s theater club had accepted his play.

He shared the other good news: I was going to be the lead!

We started rehearsals a month later. The play was being put on by an alumnus who had become a professional thespian and who, I felt, hadn’t thought much of me in the lead role since the very beginning. Such apparent misgivings led me to start questioning my situation; really, why was I the lead actor?

Had my friend from the dorm tried to do me a favor since he knew I really liked the theater and always imagined myself as an actor?

Or because I always peeled his apples since, as a southpaw, he couldn’t do so himself?

This was all trivial, as far as I was concerned. Had he been afraid that I would’ve done something bad to him during the night if he hadn’t given me the role despite knowing how eager I was for it?

Or had he discovered my penchant for acting?

The last possibility carried the day, and I returned to my work, the director be damned! I was leaving it all out on the stage during the rehearsals.

“Don’t go around throwing yourself on the ground everywhere. This is just a rehearsal to read the script – you don’t need to do it as if you’re acting. For now, you’re just going to memorize the script,” the director said.

“Fine then,” I said and returned to the text.

“Don’t be so dull in reading it, dear,” he said this time. “We need more life, more action, more emotion, c’mon!”

Try as I might, I couldn’t ingratiate myself with this poor excuse for a director. Not long after, he came to me, put a friendly hand on my shoulder and said:

“You’re really good in the role, but the kid in the character role really limps; I want to give you that role.”

What would you have done? I, for one, agreed, as it was better than remaining on the sidelines. Moreover, the truly tough role was being given to me – was I in any position to turn it down?

We started rehearsals again. My new role was a secondary or even tertiary role, but it was clear that it wasn’t the type that could be played by just anybody. I accepted the role in the name of rescuing the play. Not long afterward, however, they inserted a pen between my teeth and told me to talk through that.

I began harboring doubts. This time, there was a role for a horse from which no one could recover, and I wondered if they were somehow preparing me for that. Unable to contain my anxiety, I inquired… Apparently, there was no equine role, it was just that my elocution was off and that I needed to correct it by speaking with a pen in my mouth for a period of time… That “period of time” did not last long. The director approached me once more, again putting a friendly hand on my shoulder:

“You’re well-rounded in terms of theater culture and you have a wide worldview. If you’re thinking about doing this as a profession, don’t settle for just acting. Anyone can do that. You’d be better as a director. Stop acting and come and be my assistant!”

What would you have said? I said “yes.” Wasn’t directing always better than being directed?

I had risen to the position of director’s assistant after abandoning my second-class role, but I soon learned what this all entailed: painting the décor and printing invitations before writing addresses on them and mailing them off.

Bliss is not a “long drink.”

You take the first sip…. Wow… Louis Armstrong is there to whisper in your ear: “What a wonderful world…”

You take a second a sip: “World? What world? This is paradise as clear as can be!”

And then the third sip… Wow… You look and see that it’s all gone! No world and no paradise!

This drink is actually a shot!

I quit the play.

I decided to exact my revenge by writing my own play, only to run out of time when school ended…

But my love for the arts did not wane. I threw myself into my career, meaning I didn’t have time to busy myself with long plays anymore. So what, then, was the branch of arts aiming to relate feelings with as much brevity as possible?

That’s right, of course, it’s poetry. I decided to write poems… As it was, I had set my eye on a girl who did not appear to be showing much interest – but there you go, the first step and opportunity in terms of providing inspiration to every poet was right before me! Unfortunately, the chance to climb higher than the first step never came my way as, if I have to be honest, I didn’t even like what I had written.

Relating feelings with brevity was difficult, and I couldn’t succeed in doing this with poetry. But doesn’t a gambler on a losing run always want to play another hand? Writing a novel was just my cup of tea! Write as much you want – no one was going to say anything. At worst, they would only strain their eyes.

Half a century before refugees began crossing into Europe, I had begun this journey in my dreams. My draft novel was going to relate the drama of a young man who stowed away on a freighter heading from Istanbul’s harbor to New York. I had started telling the story: Our hero secretly boarded the boat, successfully hid in one of the storehouses and began waiting for the vessel to set sail. But that was all! Because my ruminations on the importance of trade at Galata Harbor since Byzantine times, the palaces and mosques in the area, why the Golden Horn got the name it did and the dome of the Hagia Sophia overlooking the harbor had already run over 50 pages, I still hadn’t gotten around to having my boat set sail. If I had continued at this tempo, I would have written a novel rivalling the Russian classics in terms of length and even then, one lifetime might not have been enough! I stopped the task and cast off the burden.

In terms of literature, the last harbor of sanctuary was the short story.

I duly sought sanctuary in that harbor.

You can get a chance to learn a bit about restaurants in my writings, as well as find short stories from here and there.

I couldn’t make it on stage, but maybe I’ll be able to stay on these pages…