MUSIC FOR TWO STRANGERS

‘Young couple on a bench in Washington Square Park, N.Y.C’ [1965] Diane Arbus

I dedicate this article to Fredy Luis Carambola who, after listening to the songs “La Noche de Anoche” and “Al Día Siguiente,” went out for a coffee and never came back.

When they met it was already midnight. Sitting there, they let the morose minutes pass on the timid ice. The minutes passed and the discomfort increased. The last minute arrived and, almost without speaking, they said goodbye. What a strange woman, was what Aristobulus thought at that moment. What a shy man, was what Elisa thought, as she dismissed him from her gaze.

On another occasion — was it a coincidence? — she would call him ‘Aristobulus’ when they met at a party at his house. (Can we call such events coincidences?) She was smiling and so eager to start a conversation she seemed like a different person. This time she was ignoring the antipathy she had when they first saw each other, Aristobulus thought. In her eyes there was an approach, a reconciliation for no reason; then they found themselves walking towards the same place. Suddenly, Elisa told him that she would go with him to the end of the world.

What Elisa did not know was that they would really go to the end of the world, and perhaps a little further. From this moment on, coincidences ceased. The two began to act with premeditation, and treachery.

Elisa, due to her excitement, was the one who imposed herself on her new and strange friend Aristobulus. She was too cunning not to use her powers of seduction — but Aristobulus was too clever, too clever to be that accessible. One of the most effective means of seduction is the invitation to fight, Elisa thought. One of the best responses to this kind of invitation was not to accept it, Aristobulus thought.

Elisa was not one to skimp on her intentions. Thus, one day she invited her friend around, served him a drink, and when she sat down she turned on the fan. Aristobulus observed, in the air, the fabric of her dress, and a little more between her legs. Nothing could get her guest out of her mind. Wearing grey, nylon stockings in the car, she began to fix the hem of her skirt. What then happened, nobody knows. The truth was, this relationship was to go through several stages: the passionate, the spiritual, the vindictive, the stationary, the existential, the intellectual, the cinematographic, the theatrical and so on…

Now, they were in a rather difficult stage: they called it the doubtful stage. According to Aristobulus, they had reached that state of bad relationships — excessive words, explanations and fights. It was the damned possession that suffocated him and led him to impose his will over Elisa. It was his jealousy towards everything that Elisa was close to. And Elisa, although she did not recognise it, was prey to these two demons herself.

They decided to separate. Time stopped for both of them.

However, coincidences began to appear. They met on the street and went to her room. Elisa and Aristobulus, as when they met, were quiet and uncomfortable. But words could no longer be used, they knew their limitations.

Elisa had bought a jukebox from which a thousand and one songs were fired, capable of melting any will, no matter how hardened. Sometimes they danced, and their hands alone made love. Looking at each other, without speaking, they seemed to return to an earlier time, a time when spontaneity still existed — a pinch of freedom of expression and action. She loved “El Beso,” “La Resbalosa” and other songs.

Elisa seemed happier. It was a strange love. Two strange beings who had joined each other to fill that strange relationship with strangeness….

Where do they roam now? I wonder. Perhaps they are in a strange and remote country, talking to each other in songs and criticising each other with examples from the novels they read.

And the song invariably continues: “The next day I felt strange, my body, eyes and lips ached … what was left of you, that I could not forget …”

Psychiatrist & Writer — Writing and meditating at the intersection of psychiatry, philosophy, Buddhism and the arts. More information at www.lidaprypchan.com