The day was a fine one, the sort of day where one hears birds chippering and twit-twitting about, the sort of day where one feels the easy breeziness of the spring season. Fair blue skies above and a gentle sun peeking curiously from behind tufts of fat white clouds begged for long walks and the simple enjoyment of the weather.
And so that is what Sebastian was doing with his best friend. He and Pieter were strolling along the empty residential streets of Sunnyside. Sebastian much preferred the quiet solitude that was afforded by walking on the local streets, away from the busy thoroughfare of Queens Boulevard. On these streets flanked by brown brick houses, with skinny trees forming a tinkling canopy above them, there was a very particular kind of serenity to be found at eleven o’ clock on a weekday morning.
“You hungry yet, Sebastian?” Pieter was always thinking about food. It showed in his belly.
“Nah, not yet,” Sebastian replied distractedly. They had just eaten a breakfast three hours earlier, at the Burger King.
“A real nice day today, don’t you think?”
He thought it was indeed a wonderful day. “Yeah, real nice.”
“I feel sorry for the suckers who’re stuck in their cubicles, man.”
“Yeah. But hey, at least they’re getting a paycheck.”
“Screw a paycheck. I’d rather be out here, on this beautiful day, hanging out with my best friend. Wouldn’t you?”
“Yeah, it’s nice. But Pieter, c’mon. How long are we gonna keep this up?”
“You telling me you’re not having fun, exploring all these neighborhoods every day?”
“No, but you can’t tell me that it wouldn’t be nice to have a little more money in our pockets.”
“I guess…but what do we need money for?”
Sebastian thought about it for a while. Pieter was right. They didn’t need much money. After all, they both lived with their parents. At the ripe young age of twenty, neither of them had enrolled in college yet. It bothered Sebastian a little bit. He felt like there were lots of people out there with degrees who didn’t quite deserve them. Somehow, he felt beneath those people. Yet he also knew that he—and possibly Pieter—had finer minds than most.
The two of them stopped at an intersection, waiting for the pedestrian light to turn white. Sebastian put his hands on his hips and took a deep breath of the fresh air. And then a thought entered his head about why he needed money.
Sebastian looked over at his friend as he exhaled. “Pieter, do you have a girlfriend?”
“Dude, if I had a girlfriend, I’d be out with her, not you, you troll of a man.” Sebastian gave him a look. “No offense,” Pieter said with a crooked grin.
“Well, here’s the thing…you need money to have a girlfriend.”
“If you wanna bring her to nice places, you’re going to need money.”
“Pssh, maybe you do, with your looks. But first thing’s first, you have to have a girlfriend,” he said with a dubious look.
“No, you need money first. Because what’re you going to say to a girl? Hey, I wanna ask you out to McDonald’s?”
“Well, Burger King has better fries, so you have to fig—”
Sebastian gave an exaggerated sigh of exasperation.
“Okay, fine. I’ll be serious. But only for ten minutes, then I’m liable to get crazy.”
Sebastian chuckled, shaking his head tiredly at his friend’s adolescent tendencies. He had been enduring them, entertaining his antics for years.
“So, what do you look for in a girlfriend anyway, man?” Pieter asked.
Sebastian paused to think on it. “Well…I guess it boils down to personality,” he said.
“Are you kidding me? I just wanna get a girl with a nice big pair of tits.” Pieter motioned with his hands a great massive pair of mammaries. “All the way out to here.”
“Pssh…you and your superficialities.”
“Bullshit, Sebastian. I call bullshit. Don’t tell me you don’t want your girlfriend to have nice tits. Otherwise I’m gonna have to call you a faggot.” He reached down to flick Sebastian’s groin. Sebastian slapped his hand away before he got to snap his fingers.
“But she’s gotta have a nice face too. I mean, you might be doing her face to face, and then you might go soft if her face is ugly.”
“Is that all you think about?”
“I’m a guy. You, you’re probably some eunuch. You still got your balls, man?”
“I’m trying to talk to you about love here, man.”
“That is love.”
“No it’s not, that’s just lust. You fucking horn dog…”
“How’re you gonna go and tell me what love is to me?”
“So, what, you saying that you’re in love with all those porn stars you watch?”
“Naw man, that’s different.”
“How the fuck is it different?”
“I watch those girls to get off. Those girls got a nice body that’s built for bangin’, so that’s why I watch ’em.”
“And what about your girlfriend?”
“When I’m in love, and we start makin’ out and shit, well, c’mon, I get a lil’ excited, you know? So I wanna bang my girlfriend. That’s love.”
Sebastian raised a skeptical eyebrow.
“Fine, then tell me what the fuck love’s to you.”
“I mean, I know I’m in love when I want to take care of her. I know it’s love when I want to make her happy, when it makes me happy to see her happy.” He had a dreamy look in his eye.
“Auugghh! Stop it! You’re making my dick shrivel up!”
“Asshole. Seriously. I mean, I just want to fall in love.”
“What about Andy’s sister? She’s always asking about you.” Pieter was talking about their mutual acquaintance. If Andy and his sister were any indicator of their parents’ genetics, one might wonder whether the father was a horse and the mother a donkey.
“So you are superficial then.” Pieter had a smug smile on his face.
“Your’e saying that you wouldn’t date Andy’s sister because she’s ugly as fuck.”
“I didn’t say that…”
“Yeah, whatever dude, that’s what you meant. She looks like a goddamned horse, I don’t blame you.”
This bothered Sebastian. He believed in true love. He really did. To him, true love was the highest emotion you could ever feel for anyone…and love should be blind. He truly believed that. Because why shouldn’t everyone have a chance at love? Why should the people who were born unlucky in the looks department be devoid of love? And he wasn’t talking about platonic love, or the love that one gets from their parents. He was talking about an all-consuming passionate love. The way he figured, love sprung from the heart, not what was between one’s legs.
He remembered this Indian girl he had met a year ago. He first got interested in her because he read something she wrote. It was all about how she wanted to make the world a better place, one child at a time. He saw in her a rare passion for helping others, and it was something that he was immensely attracted to. He befriended her for a short while. And when he discovered that she wanted all the same things out of life, and all the same things out of a boyfriend that he wanted out of a girlfriend, his heart told him that he should push further, that he should try for some romance. But there was another part of him that just didn’t like the way she looked. It broke his heart that he couldn’t see past her severe overbite and her awful thick glasses. It wasn’t that he was the most handsome sort of guy either. Sebastian was well aware that his curly beard, his thick round cheekbones, and low brow weren’t exactly features found on an Adonis. Women weren’t exactly attracted to his nose—which was like that of a pug—or even the way his eyes were set deeply into his face.
“No, but that’s not right. I mean, everybody deserves to have love, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, I guess. But shit, if she just doesn’t do it for you, then she just doesn’t do it for you. Whatever.”
“I wish I could just…I wish I could be blind.”
“Because that way I couldn’t stop falling in love with a girl just because I don’t like the way she looks.”
“Dude, you’re fucking crazy. Part of falling in love is the way someone looks. That’s just the way it is.”
“But what if there’s this woman, and she’s like…your soul mate.”
“Stop right there man. I don’t know what the fuck a soul mate is.”
“C’mon, don’t be a fucking idiot.”
“Well, if we’re talking about this seriously, we have to be on the same page.”
That surprised Sebastian. The only time Pieter got serious about anything was when his father died a couple of years ago. Even then, he made poor attempts at jokes to escape the gravity of what he was going through.
The two friends took a turn onto Skillman Avenue. As they neared the block where a church resided, a nun on the corner asked them for a donation. Not having any money to spare, they gave her nothing but embarrassed smiles and continued with their conversation.
“Fine. A soul mate is a woman who’s got everything you need emotionally. She fulfills you in every emotional way possible. Like, when you’re sad, you just think about her and you’re not sad anymore. If you’re worried, and you go home to her, she takes all your worries away. If you’re-”
“Alright, alright, I get it. So, a soul mate.”
“Yeah. So this woman-”
“Man, when the fuck did you start saying woman? We’re talking about girls, chicks. And all of a sudden this guy busts out ‘woman’.”
“Whatever. So this girl, she makes you real happy. But she’s got like a scar or something, or maybe her nose is fucked up and she’s just not all that pretty to you. Why would you let her walk away just because she doesn’t look like what you think is beautiful?”
“Because beauty is a part of happiness.”
“But what about emotional happiness? I mean, that’s the thing…we’re never sure if there’s someone out there who can always make us happy all of the time. That kinda connection is hard to find.”
“Alright, that’s true. But still, looks are looks…you don’t wanna have ugly kids do you? Because the ugly kids get made fun of and shit, and they have it tough in school. Hell, they have it tough in life.”
“So would you settle for a beautiful wife even if her personality wasn’t all that?”
“If she was super hot? Hell yeah. Find me a woman I wanna fuck every night, get that pussy for free, for life.”
“Jesus…alright, fine, whatever. But you would get bored of her wouldn’t you?”
“Hmm…well, let’s see. There’s doggie style, cowgirl, reverse cowgirl…” Pieter mentally counted of fall the sexual positions he could think of.
“Dude, are you serious?”
“Fuckin’ right I am.” He turned back to his mental calculations. Sebastian heaved a huge sigh of disbelief.
“I guess you’re right. Even if I bang her only three times a week, I calculate that I’ll have gotten bored of her by the fifthyear. Maybe eight years,if you throw in costumes. Add another…wait, never mind. She’ll be old by then. Fuck that.”
Sebastian shook his head for a long while. He couldn’t believe he was still friends with this poor excuse for a man. “Alright, so you shouldn’t get married just because of sexual attraction, right?”
“Yeah.” Pieter nodded wisely. “That’s right.”
“So if you’re not supposed to get married just for looks, then what else is there?”
“So this goes back to the soul mate thing. Would you agree that you should ultimately get with your soul mate?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“Now, considering that we’re such unique people, would you say that finding a soul mate is going to be quite difficult?”
“Shit yeah. I still haven’t met a girl who can make me laugh. I like that in a girl, you know? I like funny girls. Like that hot black-haired one who does stand-up nowadays…what’s her name…the one with the emo glasses.”
“Yeah, I don’t know who she is man, but yeah. So let’s say you found your soul mate, but she’s got like…”
“Small tits? Are you-” Sebastian decided not to finish the sentence and only sighed again. He wondered how many times he had sighed just walking on this street. “Okay, whatever. Small tits. She’s got small tits-”
“And no curves. She’s like a stick.”
“Fine, she’s got the body of a ten year old boy.”
“Fuck man, that’s creepy…I don’t wanna be fucking a little boy. Shit, goddamn man, that’s fucking sick…”
“Anyway…so this girl, she makes you laugh though. And whenever you’re with her, the world’s like magic. Everything’s more fun, everything’s brighter, and when you look into her eyes, you get this crazy feeling in your heart. Would you stay with her? Would you wanna marry her?”
“I don’t know if I can stick with a girl that looks like a boy for the rest of my life, dude…”
“So you’re giving up your soul mate, right?”
“Yeah. Because she got small tits and no curves.”
“And how can you tell?”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“How can you tell if she’s got small tits.”
“Well, shit, I can see it.”
“And if you couldn’t see them?”
“I’d still be able to feel ’em.”
“So, it’s your senses, in this case your sense of sight and vision, that stop you from getting with your soul mate.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“See, that’s what I’m trying to say man. Wouldn’t it be better if we could all just be blind to physical beauty? Wouldn’t it be better if we could all just find our soul mates and be with them for the rest of our lives, and not worry about stupid shit like how someone looks?”
“I wouldn’t wanna live in a world without tits man. Seriously. I live for tits. And ass. Fuck it, I live for hot women. You know we passed by two chicks with big tits three minutes ago, right? I wanted to tell you to look, but you were on a roll.”
Sebastian didn’t have the energy to get annoyed. He merely sagged his shoulders in disappointment with his friend’s insolence.
“Alright, alright…fine,” Pieter said with an air of disappointment. He looked like a little boy whose mother scolded him to stop horsing around in the restaurant.
A block away, Sebastian and Pieter saw a young black boy on a bike, dressed in the urban clothing fashionable to hip-hop musicians, swerve to avoid getting hit by a car backing out of a driveway. “Fucking nigger!” the driver yelled out his window. The black kid turned around and gave him the middle finger.
“What a racist,” Sebastian commented.
“Well, if the kid looks like a nigger.”
“What the fuck Pieter, that’s racist!”
“No it’s not. I’m just saying, the kid dresses like a fucking hip-hop motherfucker, he’s gonna get called a nigger. If he respected himself and dressed better, maybe nobody would call him that.”
“Could you stop using that word?”
“Fuck it, whatever. The world’s too PC nowadays anyway. People are afraid to say shit about anything. Racism, classism, feminism, it’s all bullshit.”
“What do you mean?”
“People size each other up all the time. It’s not like it’s a big fucking secret. You see my skin, it’s white, you’re gonna think I’m white. If I have black skin, you’re gonna know I’m black. Fuck’s the big deal?”
“It’s not right to judge people just on sight.”
“Because, what we look like isn’t necessarily who we are. You can’t tell what somebody’s like, what they’ve been through, what their life was like.”
“No, you can’t. But you can still see what they’re like right now.”
“So you’d judge somebody on first sight?”
“Yeah. Everybody does it. We’re just all afraid to admit it.”
They walked past a shoddy little eatery trying to pass itself off as a bistro. Pieter put his hand on Sebastian’s shoulder to stop him.
“Hey, you hungry yet? Let’s get something to eat.”
They sat down in the outdoors seating. It was pitiful: the seats were just rickety white lawn chairs. An eager Mediterranean looking man, balding with a thick mustache, took their orders. Nothing looked that appetizing at the prices on the menu, so they only had some drinks.
Sebastian took a sip of the soda that arrived. “So what about you? What if somebody took one look at you and thought, ‘This guy’s a fat slob, he’s disgusting. He should do more exercise.'”
“Fuck ’em. Fuck what they think. I didn’t used to be this heavy,” Pieter said, slapping his belly playfully.
“Exactly. If someone looked at you, they couldn’t see the bum knee you got from that car accident. They couldn’t tell that that’s why you’re fat.”
Pieter wagged a big finger at Sebastian. “Hey. Heavy. I’m not fat, I’m heavy.”
Sebastian rolled his eyes. “Sorry Pieter, heavy. See, it’s not fair to judge you.”
“But does it really matter? I mean, who gives a shit if I can’t exercise because of my injuries. The truth of it is that I am fat.”
“Don’t you think it matters why? I mean, a lot of people see fat people as undisciplined and weak.”
“Fuck them. I bench three hundred fifty pounds, and I curl fifties.” Pieter flexed his rather beefy arms. “Touch that.”
Sebastian gave him a weird look. “Uhh…no thanks.”
Pieter pointed at his posed arm. “C’mon man, touch it. Just touch it. It’s hard as a pipe.”
“I believe you, man. Don’t worry about it.”
Pieter didn’t let up. A steely gaze took over his normally friendly looking eyes. “Touch it.”
Sebastian touched Pieter’s arm. It was indeed as hard as a pipe.
“Okay, you happy?”
Pieter beamed with a great big grin. “Yup.”
“But see, that’s my point. If people look at you, they don’t feel your arms. They just see a big dude with a big belly. They don’t know that you’re a super strong guy.”
“Alright, that’s true. What’s your point?”
“My point is maybe the whole world would be better off blind.”
“Yet another stupid idea from the stupid Sebastian. Fine, how’s that?”
Having finished their drinks, they paid the bill and left, crossing the street without looking either way: the streets were empty this time of day. As they continued their stroll, the wind tenderly carried the clouds away, giving way to clear skies.
“Because we judge people with these,” Sebastian said, pointing at his eye. “Oh, she’s hot, he’s not, that guy looks rich, that girl looks poor. He looks honest, and she looks sexy. We judge people with our eyes, and so often we can’t get past those first impressions. We don’t see the truth of a person.”
He tripped on a rock, but luckily he had Pieter to grab ahold of to keep him from falling to the ground.
Pieter laughed. “You goofball.”
“Thanks,” Sebastian said as straightened himself out. “Anyway, haven’t you ever met a girl you were friends with, a girl who made you laugh, who made you happy? But somehow, the two of you just didn’t feel attracted to each other that way?”
“Well, fine. What about this. How many people have you heard say, ‘Oh, he’s not my type’?”
“Lots. Lots of people say that. Mostly girls, but I mean, you hear a lot of people say that either way. Sometimes I think it’s a copout. I mean, if you don’t like the way they look, whatever. Just own up to it. We’re all superficial one way or another, so fuck it.”
“Alright, that’s true. But think about it: they’re saying that that person doesn’t fit into their archetype for an ideal mate. And a lot of the time, they’re judging this at first sight.”
“Yeah. Like, for example, I like dark haired women.”
“Right. But see, what if there was this blonde woman who was your soulmate, but you didn’t know that? And you rejected her because you prefer brunettes.”
“Hmm…so I’d be losing out.”
“Right. See, if people’s ultimate goal is to get married to one person for the rest of their life, then whether or not this person has blonde hair or pink hair shouldn’t really play into, don’t you think?”
“Why not? I like brown hair. Jet black hair.”
“Yeah, but what’s that got to do with whether or not she can make you happy or not? I mean, marriage shouldn’t be based on the color of someone’s hair, or their skin for that matter.”
“Maybe not, but it still happens. We have our likes and dislikes, that’s all there is to it. That’s nature.”
“But what if we could get rid of our likes and dislikes? Would you agree that, if we could put aside our preference for blonde or brown hair, that we would be more likely to find our soul mate?”
“So, having said that, don’t you think that you should give that blonde a chance?”
“According to your theories, yes.”
The two friends decided they would take a seat in a small park.
“So, if you’re looking for your soulmate, it’s in your best interest to be blind.”
“Yeah, pretty much. So, if you want, I can take a jab at your eyeballs.” Sebastian gave him a weird look. “I’ve got these lightning hands,” he said, jabbing at the air. “You won’t feel a thing.”
Sebastian replied only with a chuckle. He entertained Pieter’s silliness for some reason, perhaps because they had always been friends and that was just the way things were.
“I don’t think anybody would wanna give up their eyes,” Pieter said in mock thoughtfulness.
The pair sat there, underneath the gentle blue skies, not saying anything to each other, each lost in a thought. Pieter’s stomach grumbled, and he thought of asking if Sebastian wished to get something to eat. But when he looked over at him, he saw that Sebastian looked so pensive with his eyes closed that he didn’t wish to disturb him. And so he entertained his friend’s propensity for deep thought for as long as he could manage.