The color symbolizing the Ideal.
It is both the ideal and the color of her eyes. The color of her eyes, but only when she is very happy, excited, ecstatic. The rest of the time they are a cold and distant gray, as they are today. Not meeting mine across the table. Engaged by the other customers, the tablecloth, the silverware.
Blue signifies the ideal, but scientific studies indicate it is the least appetizing color, the color restaurants should most avoid. I wonder if this is because we must kill to eat, vegetable or animal, and know in our hearts that killing is not ideal. Blue in the presence of food is like a sermon at a smorgasbord. Perhaps this is why we have cultivated so few foods that are blue.
Her eyes are still not blue, and though I ordered a full meal she has chosen only coffee. Coffee without caffeine, the substance that coffee exists only to provide. A Puritan ideal of coffee. Food separates us.
Semites and Persians, the peoples of the difficult dietary laws, favor blue for their kitchens. They too, when tested, find it the least appetizing color. In their native, arid lands they have concentrated on the ideal, the blue, in carpets, in tiles, in porcelain and generally it is blue on a white background with no other colors adulterating the essential one.
She has not taken sugar. Nor cream. As though doing so would compromise the distance between us. It would be too great a concession.
The problem with the ideal—as this one-sided meal, this non-communal meal, is teaching me—is that it cannot be achieved, or if briefly achieved, cannot be sustained. The ideal is always having a change of mind, an important career choice, an essential and unfulfilled need.
Ideals are difficult and carelessly destructive of their colytes. They are always finding somebody better.
In music, blue is the name for a note that rends the heart with exquisite pain. The pain of someone hurt only because they first cared deeply. The music of Baptists whose God has not come through with the goods. Of suburban-tending liberals who found more affinity with the music of the poor than with the poor themselves. The music of disappointed idealists who have learned to settle for pain. And to cultivate it.
Her eyes are still not blue. They are evasive, and her explanations rehearsed but unconvincing. It is best for me. It is just too bad. It is really the best thing for both of us, all things considered. It is for the best.
Blue skies are ideal, I understand, but the knot in the pit of my stomach is reminding me of the rest of the metaphor. Blue skies are painfully, exquisitely empty.
As am I.
Timons Esaias is a freelance writer and poet living in Pittsburgh. A five-time nominee for the Rhysling Award, he was also a finalist for the British Science Fiction Award (Best Short Fiction, 1998). His satires have convinced thousands of readers that the Vatican is moving to Missouri, and that Pittsburgh puts Prozac in the water.
Tim studied biochemistry at Washington University in St. Louis, before shifting to philosophy at UMSL. He then moved on to the normal writerly employments of renovation contracting and building maintenance. Tim reads far more than is really healthy, though he is occasionally distracted by chess, baseball, historical war games, aikido, learning Hittite or square-foot gardening. For more about him see www.timonsesaias.com. E-mail: Esaias[at]compuserve.com.