At the Servant Jazz Quarters cocktail bar, the bar lady dressed in wide black and white stripes fixes me with eyes not unkind but commanding attention:
‘Do you think,’ she asks me, her eyebrows like raven’s wings arching high above the cliffs of her teeth: ‘that people are afraid to love?’
‘Yes,’ say I, without hesitation, for I know I am.
‘Why?’ she shoots at me as if I had made it so.
‘I don’t know.’ And it’s true: I don’t know, but I think that maybe it’s because it makes us feel vulnerable, and I say so: ‘Maybe because it makes them feel vulnerable.’ (I change the pronoun, hoping that she won’t notice.)
‘And is that a bad thing?’ she demands, probably having noticed, and I say it isn’t, but it’s what makes us afraid. (I hadn’t really ever given it much thought. Coming to think of it, I hadn’t given it any thought, really, ever.)
I feel I may have short-circuited the conversation by closing the loop with my answer, and maybe she feels so too as she places a Death in Venice in front of me on the bar.
Why are we afraid to love?
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