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  • Had a talk with my journalist friend yesterday. I mentioned that I recently started listening to the audio book of a particular writer. "Before, I never felt compelled to listen to audio books. Felt that they were a bit intruding of the privacy of my own imagination. Like the narrator would tell me what to see and think while listening to another man's story. Or that the narrator would be the witness of my own private thoughts. But ever since I've listened to this man, hearing his own voice tell his own story, his own recollections, I am utterly intrigued. I see the sceneries he's painting with his words, feel the anguish he describes. It makes me see the world through his eyes. And sometimes, I have to rewind a few sentences because I'm listening more to the man's voice than what he was actually telling." My friend shows a hint of a grin. "Describe the man's voice."

    I think for a moment, hesitate but share nevertheless. "Dark. Lived life. Rough on the edges and yet very vulnerable. Vivid and personal. Pure chocolate - or no, espresso. Quite intoxicating, really. Blue eyes. You feel, ehrr...sheets." My cheeks flush. My friend looks straight at me. "Blue. Like yours?" "Something like that. But then with a...tormented quality." He smiles vaguely and mumbles a sentence containing 'oh no, just like my wife' and 'God forbid it's not Sean Connery again'. He stops abruptly, corrects himself and looks at me, kindly. "I can imagine his voice, almost see what he looks like in my mind. Is it an older man?", says he. Well, he is, but 'older' does not really seem to cover it. "Vintage", I say. "You on the other hand, my dear, are not vintage. A bit tormented here and there, maybe, yes. But vintage, no." "Ehr, yes. And that is something that seems to irritate some."

    I feel my friend examining my face with his eyes. "So maybe they think something like 'When is gravity finally doing it's job already? Give the gal the wrinkles, I can't stand this'?" I laugh out loud. "Hope not, but I suppose they do. Frankly, I wouldn't want to know their honest thoughts concerning that. I think it would perhaps disturb the comfort between two friends of not saying everything that comes to mind. Maybe it's more gentle that way in friendships. It's also a sign of respect. The things that aren't being said are very valuable. You can feel their space. The not saying can be a sign of love." My friend seconds that, and says: "I've been watching you for the past minute or so. And what I've felt since I've met you, is that you're timeless, inside and out. Maybe you've been timeless all your life. Since you were a child." I recognize that thought, though I never felt the liberty to express that freely, but now I do. "I've never felt as I've had a particular age." "It is true, then", says he. We are silent.

    "So, he's vintage." I listen to my friend, slightly puzzled. "The narrator, the writer", my friend adds, impatiently. "Err, yes. And I can appreciate that." "And does the man know he's 'vintage'?" My friends fingers paint quotes in the air. "You never know the moment you become vintage, I guess. But he sounds as if he secretly knows he is, and that it's a mere quality. Without any arrogance." My friend looks intrigued. He is sixty eight years old himself. "Fascinating. You hear a lot in his voice, characteristics. They may be true, they also may be projections. Once, back in the days I talked on the radio shows as a journalist almost daily, I visited a lady unannounced. I was stunned when I saw an enlarged picture of myself standing on her chimney. She turned out to be absolutely smitten by me. Because of my voice, she told me. She used to work abroad and listened daily to my show. Apparently, my voice made her feel like she was 'home'. I never knew that. This is also how my wife fell for me. "It was the voice, you see", she said, years of marriage later. Or don't you believe that story?" I smile. "I have no reason not to believe you. Good for her. And good for you. Do you need people to love you for your stories? Or your voice? Or do you need people to believe you?" My friend's face shows a hint of his feeling of being caught. "That's quite the question. If you can answer that same question honestly yourself without blushing, right here and now, we'll discuss this further." My friend's expression turns slightly devious. I like that liberty of showing oneself in my friends. "Touché", I answer, amused. "Well, I've been accused by many of being blunt. And of having 'vivid fantasy qualities'." His fingers scratch the air once more.

    "Oh, why don't you just send that chocolate vintage character an email. Just don't put an enlarged picture of him on your chimney. It will be too much of a shock when he appears on your doorstep unannounced. Make him suffer." It's a sign of true friendship that he does not say what is so obvious - the absolute silliness of the infatuation. It's a nice gesture that he indulges my teenage-like fantasy and plays along with the same childlike joy. "Hm-hm." I nod, although I know the spell would be broken once that would happen. We finish our espressos silently. "Oh, and dear - never grow up."

    I love my friends.
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