Blind Date by Mario Diament

This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent

Scene I

The plaintive notes of a melancholic tune, preferably one of
Piazzolla's tango compositions, fills the stage, followed by the
chirping of birds.

A bench in Plaza San Martín, Buenos Aires. THE BLIND MAN,
approximately 65 years old, with thinning hair, is sitting at the
right end of the bench. Sitting upright, very still with both hands
holding on to a cane, he is impeccably dressed in a suit and a tie.
Enter THE MAN, 50 years old, formally dressed in a business suit and
tie. His very short, punky hairstyle is at odds with the rest of his
appearance He is carrying a briefcase. He looks nervous, jittery. He
briefly looks at THE BLIND MAN without really seeing him. After a few
moments of hesitation, he takes out a handkerchief and wipes the
opposite side of the bench. He sits, at first a bit fidgety, cradling
his briefcase in both hands. He then leans back, trying to relax. He
loosens his necktie, reaches for his cell phone, but after a few
moments of self-doubt he turns it off. He looks around. Something in
front of him draws his attention.

MAN: (After staring intensely at the distant object.) Excuse me
Would you by any chance know what kind of tree that is?

THE BLIND MAN: Are you talking to me?

MAN: Yes. I'm sorry. I was asking you if you knew the name of that
tree.

THE BLIND MAN Which tree?

MAN: That tall tree, in front of us

THE BLIND MAN: That's a jacaranda. In spring it blooms into
beautiful mauve flowers. You must have seen them

MAN: Yes, now that you mention it, I'm sure I've seen them.
Thanks

The MAN turns to thank him. At this point he realizes that THE BLIND
MAN's eyes are closed.

MAN: (Shyly.) I'm sorry. I hadn't realized. You're blind

THE BLIND MAN: Me? No.

MAN: Aren't you? (Confused.) I'm awfully sorry. I thought you
couldn't see.

THE BLIND MAN: I can't see, but I'm not blind.

MAN: (Puzzled.) I'm not sure I understand.

THE BLIND MAN: Some people are blind even when their eyesight is
intact. Others can't see, but they're not blind.

MAN: (Smiles.) I see

THE BLIND MAN: Are you sure?

MAN: (Unsure.) What do you mean?

THE BLIND MAN: Well, lots of people say they see when they don't.
Haven't you noticed? Even I often say "I see" when I actually
can't see

MAN: (Chuckles, intimidated.) I can see you like to play with
words

THE BLIND MAN: Well, unfortunately in my condition I don't have
many options

Pause.

MAN: (Observes THE BLIND MAN with curiosity.) Excuse me, but
aren't you the writer?

THE BLIND MAN: Who? Me?

MAN: Yes, the writer. Aren't you?

THE BLIND MAN: Well, to tell you the truth, people say I look like
him. But, as you can well imagine, I have no way of finding out

MAN: (Hesitant.) You're pulling my leg!

THE BLIND MAN: No, it's the truth.

MAN: (Admiringly, in awe.) Now I recognize you perfectly. Of course
it's you! I saw you once on TV. I can't remember who was
interviewing you It was one of those talk shows You were talking
about one of your books I can't remember which But I kept
watching because the things you said were very interesting

THE BLIND MAN: Well, thank you. That is definitely a compliment.

Pause.

MAN: To be honest, I can't say I've read any of your books. But
I promised myself I would as soon as I found the time.

THE BLIND MAN: You probably have plenty of time now

MAN: (Surprised.) What makes you say so?

THE BLIND MAN: Well, I assume, since you're sitting on a park bench

MAN: Oh, no! As a matter of fact, I was on my way to the office.
It's not far from here. But, since it's a beautiful day, I decided to walk.

THE BLIND MAN: So what happened?

MAN: What do you mean 'what happened?'

THE BLIND MAN: What made you stop?

MAN: Well, I don't know. Nothing in particular It's just that
all of a sudden I thought: I never sat in a park You'll
probably think it's ridiculous, but it's the truth I'm fifty
years old and I never took the time to sit on a park bench

THE BLIND MAN: So you decided to do it

MAN: Yes.

THE BLIND MAN: Bravo! And how do you feel?

MAN: Geez, I don't know A little guilty, perhaps Right now I
ought to be in my office. I have a very important meeting at 11. (He
looks at his watch.) I didn't call my secretary. (He smiles
mischievously.) I even turned my cell phone off (Pause.)
I've never done that before. I don't know what came over me.
I'm surprised at myself After all, you don't get to be in my
position by being irresponsible.

THE BLIND MAN: And what is your position?

MAN: I am a vice president at an investment bank. A small bank,
mind you. But in the last few years we've really taken off

THE BLIND MAN: What do you do precisely?

MAN: Real estate banking Construction projects high rises
commercial malls office buildings that sort of thing

THE BLIND MAN: (Without much conviction.) Sounds important

MAN: The way you say it sounds almost sarcastic.

THE BLIND MAN: Not at all, believe me, quite the contrary. I know
nothing about banks. I've never had a passion for money. Of course
I like to spend it, like everybody else, but I never really think
about it. That's probably why banks intimidate me. All those busy
people counting bills

MAN: (Smiles.) Nobody counts bills anymore

THE BLIND MAN: (Surprised.) Is that so?

MAN: Most of the money that circulates in the world is virtual.

THE BLIND MAN: Virtual? How amazing! But tell me, how is money virtual?

MAN: Because no one ever actually sees this money. It's intangible,
just transactions on a computer screen. Numbers added or subtracted,
debits and credits that circulate through electronic systems.

THE BLIND MAN: Well, that's somehow the way it works for me. When
I go out for a walk my housekeeper puts money in my pocket, but I
never know how much. And when I have to pay for something, I tell
people to take whatever I owe them. In that sense I've become
virtual myself, don't you think?

Pause.

MAN: Excuse me for asking, but how do you know that that tree over
there is a jacaranda?

THE BLIND MAN: Well, I can still remember it from the days when I
used to see. Besides these trees have a very peculiar fragrance.
Haven't you noticed? And that other tree, the one with the enormous
branches, right here in the middle (He points.) It is a ficus. It
must be over a hundred years old. It is the largest tree in the city.

MAN: Amazing!

THE BLIND MAN: Those are very aggressive trees, you know

MAN: Really? I never thought trees could be aggressive.

THE BLIND MAN: Oh, yes! These, for instance, spread like tentacles
over neighboring trees and end up killing them.

MAN: How come?

THE BLIND MAN: Well, no one ever asked them. But it is supposedly a
matter of territoriality.

MAN: (Admiringly.) Fascinating! (Pause.) Do you come here often?

THE BLIND MAN: Almost every day, weather permitting of course.

MAN: So, what do you think about?

THE BLIND MAN: (Astonished.) What do I think about what?

MAN: I mean, what do you think about when you come to sit here.

THE BLIND MAN: Well, I think about many things, as you can imagine.
I think about fantastic stories or books I have read. Sometimes I
think about things that have happened to me or things that have
never happened to me At times I think about death.

MAN: And today, for instance. What were you thinking about? I mean,
before I came If you don't mind telling me, of course

THE BLIND MAN: I was thinking about a woman As a matter of fact,
more precisely, about a missed encounter

MAN: (Interested.) A missed encounter?

THE BLIND MAN: Well, you see, a missed encounter is a riddle It is
essentially a twist of fate. It's what could have been but never
was The vector that changes the course of history. Just think, if
Napoleon hadn't met Josephine; or if Lenin haddn't encountered
Krupskaya The history of the world would have been different

MAN: (Overwhelmed.) Well, yes. I guess so.

THE BLIND MAN: Have you ever stopped to think about the complex web
of coincidences that a simple encounter entails? For instance, you
and I meeting here, today What were the odds that you and I would
run into each other? In fact, what are the probabilities for two
complete strangers to run into each other in a city of ten million
people: one in a billion? One in ten billion?

Pause.

MAN: (Intimidated.) Sorry. I've never been good at statistics

THE BLIND MAN: Naturally, one has to factor in all the variables that
affect probability: age, social status, range of interests, the
geographical parameters within which two persons orbit… Take me, for
instance; I lead a very predictable life, but you, on the other hand,
had never sat on a park bench Therefore this encounter had even
less probability of happening than an encounter between two people who
have a similar routine, right? In any case, even when all the
parameters have been established, the probability for two people like
us to meet by chance is still extremely remote. Don't you think? And
add to all this the component of love

MAN: (Smiles.) You make it sound really very difficult

THE BLIND MAN: But it is! Every chance encounter has the complexity
of the universe. Just think of the infinite number of trivial details
that could have conspired against this encounter between you and me
If the day had been colder or rainy, for instance, I wouldn't have
come A button missing on my coat jacket could have delayed me
I'm very obsessive about my appearance Interesting, isn't it?

MAN: Absolutely.

THE BLIND MAN: Look, once in Paris, long ago, when I was young, I was
riding the Metro escalator up, at the Boulevard St. Michel station,
when I noticed a young woman coming down in the opposite direction.
I can't describe the impact she had on me It wasn't just her
beauty, which was considerable, or the freshness of her youth, but the
exquisite simplicity of her demeanor I can still remember her
She was wearing one of those brown pleated skirts that were
fashionable then, and a pastel color cashmere sweater She was
holding a book to her chest, the title of which I was able to
decipher It was Flaubert's "Sentimental Education" Which
was remarkable, because upon my return to Buenos Aires I was scheduled
to give a lecture precisely on Flaubert She also noticed me I
remember she had huge, intense eyes that reflected great
intelligence And at that moment, believe me, I knew with all
certainty that this woman was the inevitable love, the one which I had
been waiting for all my life All this, as you can imagine, happened
in a flash, because my escalator was going up and hers was going
down I had the impulse to jump to the other side and talk to her,
but because of a moment of hesitation I didn't do it. And when I
reached the exit, I knew that I would regret it for the rest of my
life. I spent that night in a terrible state of agitation and
anxiety… The next day I went back to the same Metro station, at
the same hour I retraced every step, exactly at the same time I
waited but she didn't come I returned every day for a week
The week after I started altering the sequence One day I'd take
the earlier Metro, the following day I'd take the next But it
was useless I never saw her again I think there isn't a day
that goes by without my thinking about her Who was she? What was
her name? What did her voice sound like ? What was the ring of her
laughter? What was the warmth of her body like? Who was the lucky man
who had the privilege to love her and be loved by her? What direction
would my life have taken if we had met? Did I also leave her with an
indelible memory? What a cruel and unfathomable mystery! Don't you
think?

Pause.

MAN: (Moved.) Was it her you were thinking about?

THE BLIND MAN: Yes. And what makes it even worse now, since I can't
see, is that I wouldn't be able to recognize her even if she stood
in front of me. She has gotten irretrievably lost in the fog of my
blindness.

Pause.

MAN: Excuse me for asking You don't see at all?

THE BLIND MAN: Shadows Sometimes I see shadows And one
color

MAN: Just one?

THE BLIND MAN: Yes, just one. Yellow Apparently it is the last
color to vanish from the retina.

MAN: I find blindness hard to grasp.

THE BLIND MAN: Really? Why?

MAN: I don't know I wouldn't know how to live

THE BLIND MAN: And now you do?

MAN: (Taken aback.) What a strange question!

THE BLIND MAN: Why do you think it's strange?

MAN: No well You're obviously a man of extraordinary
intuition The truth is that, these days, I'm going through some
sort of a crisis A midlife crisis! Supposing that I'm going to
live 100 years (He laughs.) The fact is that, lately, I have the
feeling I don't quite understand my own life. I mean, suddenly,
even the simplest things have become inordinately complicated My
job, for instance It's been twenty-five years I've been at the
bank. A quarter of a century! Half of my life! Eight hours a day
frequently ten. No one has ever asked me if I like what I'm
doing Don't you think it's odd? No one. Not my wife, not my
children, nor my colleagues or my friends Nobody! They all take it
for granted that this is what I do, and, consequently, this is what I
am. But it hasn't crossed anybody's mind to ask me, for
instance, if I like the people I'm working with There are a
hundred employees in that bank! I spend more time with them than I
do with my family But to be honest, I don't care about them, they
mean nothing to me. If I saw them in the street I'd avoid them. In
there, no one has dreams. Only petty ambitions. The other day, one of
the vice presidents, Palmieri, had a heart attack. He collapsed on the
rug in his office, next door to mine. When I saw him waxy, gaping
mouth, bulging eyes do you know what I thought? I thought:
'Palmieri is dying.' That's all I thought. And I've known him
for over twenty years. We almost started together. I'd never been
to his house, or he to mine. And he was lying there, dying, and I
didn't care. I mean, all I felt was curiosity. To see death coming
is quite horrid, particularly when you know the person. It makes you
put everything in perspective But if it had been me lying on the
floor, he wouldn't have cared either. His office has been empty
since, but no one seems to notice. It makes no difference. (He raises
his voice.) Do you realize what I'm trying to say? It makes no
difference!

THE BLIND MAN: I'm sure that, with time, you'll have another
perspective

MAN: No, because until then, until Palmieri's death, I was like
everyone else, do you understand? I wasn't paying attention Not
anymore though I've taken the big leap Now I've learned.

THE BLIND MAN: (Curious.) What did you learn?

MAN: I've learned to see that's what I learned. A big
improvement. I learned to look around, to discover things. Like this
tree Well, maybe for you it's a minor detail, but believe me, in
the milieu I'm in, people aren't used to probing into existential
issues They're too busy making money. I was like that too. My
entire life revolved around money. Everything I've ever learned had
to do with money. My father was an immigrant. He arrived in this
country without a penny. Money was always very important to him At
home, money was the only subject of conversation He used to say:
"Either you're born into it, or you make it." That was the
extent of his philosophy So, for me, making money was sort of a
mission. There was no alternative. Do you understand? That's why I
was so moved by Palmieri's miniature trains Much more so than by
his death (Pause.) You know? I was wondering about something you
said before.

THE BLIND MAN: What about?

MAN: The inevitable love.

THE BLIND MAN: Did I say something about inevitable love?

MAN: Yes, you said "She was the inevitable love." I mean, when
you were telling me about that girl in the Paris Metro

THE BLIND MAN: Really? I wasn't aware of it. What were you
wondering about?

MAN: Nothing Just a coincidence Some time ago I met someone
who said exactly the same words A woman

THE BLIND MAN: I see

MAN: (Amazed. He smiles.) There you are! You said it!

THE BLIND MAN: What did I say?

MAN "I see." You said " I see".

THE BLIND MAN (Laughs.) Did I?

MAN: Yes.

THE BLIND MAN: I told you…

MAN: If you hadn't told me I wouldn't have noticed. (Pause.) Do
you think that what happens to us is inevitable?

THE BLIND MAN: Well, the inevitable implies determinism, the
decision of a higher will, and, naturally, in some cultures, this has
been a manner of interpreting human destiny. Of course, it's a
fascinating concept… I even wrote a story about that. A man
inexorably walking towards his own destruction! The interesting
thing, however, is that, lately, science has made some extraordinary
discoveries that challenge us, at least in theory, to think that what
we call fate is perhaps not, as we've always thought, the doing of a
higher will, but it is, on the contrary, the very nature of reality.

MAN: What do you mean?

THE BLIND MAN: I mean that, perhaps, the world in which we live may
not be the only one but, instead, one in an infinite number of
parallel worlds where, eventually, every probability actually happens.

MAN: I don't get it. What do you mean by parallel worlds?

THE BLIND MAN: Well, imagine that it is possible to live more than
one life, to live events with more than one outcome; like a play with
multiple endings

MAN: But that's impossible!

THE BLIND MAN: Do you really think so? The theory is not new. Already
Democritus believed that the world was composed of a succession of
similar worlds coexisting in time and space, like an image infinitely
reflected in opposite mirrors. But it was only recently, once science
was able to look inside the atom, that the notions we had of reality
literally collapsed. Because what they discovered utterly challenged
rationality. (Draws figures on the ground with his stick to
demonstrate his theory.) They discovered that all the little particles
of matter that collectively form our world, as they move inside the
atom, have no specific position or direction. They may appear in one
place, or they may appear in another, depending on how or what they
interact with. In other words, they are in a latent state in which all
possible outcomes coexist simultaneously. All of which has led
physicists to conclude that the world, what we call reality, behaves
similarly. It means that, confronted with a number of choices, the
world branches out into other similar worlds, where everything is
identical, except for one different outcome. Like when we flip a coin.
It can be heads or tails, right? But what happens if you get both at
the same time?

MAN: You can't.

THE BLIND MAN: That is precisely the point. The same coin that falls
heads in one world will fall tails in a parallel world. Once these
worlds bifurcate, they progress independently, so that those who live
in one world don't know what's happening in the other. What is
"present" for us, may be "past" or "future" in any of
these other parallel worlds, and vice versa But the most
important thing is that all that could possibly happen, does happen
somewhere. For instance, you and I are talking here, at this moment,
but, perhaps, in a parallel world, you and I haven't even met. You
went straight to work, and now, you're probably in your office, at
one of your meetings; and I am sitting here, alone, pondering on my
story of missed encounters

Pause.

MAN: (Perplexed.) Do you really believe in all this?

THE BLIND MAN: No.

MAN: What then?

THE BLIND MAN: But I don't discard it either. Let's say that
I've suspended judgment until better evidence emerges Or that, in
fact, I am both persons at the same time: I am the believer and the
disbeliever. Yet, I am still the same person, do you understand?

Pause. The chime of a distant clock is heard.

MAN: (Looks at his watch.) God! It's already ten thirty. I really
should go I have a meeting at eleven. (He stands up, undecided. He
again looks at his watch.) Well, five more minutes I'll tell
them . Something I don't know that I was stuck in traffic.
I'll find an excuse (He sits down again.) It's not everyday
one has the opportunity to talk with someone like you. I hope I'm
not disturbing you

THE BLIND MAN: No, not at all. As you can see, I have nothing much to do.

[end of extract]

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