The Strangers

She was sitting alone at the bar counter, indulging her fluttery eyes with Picture of Dorian Gray, carefully leafing through the pages with her porcelain, slender fingers while listening to the soft and mellow Bill Evans’ Blue in Green and slowly sipping her Soixante Quinze as it produces more cold mists on its glass.

He was there, alone as well– making his way towards the nymph with a light blue-coloured silk dress. The scent of expensive alcoholic drinks and cigarettes are wafting through the air, combined with the chatters and fine music revolving the room, and the pale lights and gloomy yet sophisticated interior…these things only made her standout, like Sir Ernest Cassel’s pink diamond on a Strawberries Arnaud.

The band kept playing, and it felt as if he was being pulled towards her on every note from the music and her fragrance. Lily, was the first note. Elegant, refined. A woman with a pure heart and full of aspirations. Iris. Second note. Dominator. A woman who is free-spirited, a wanderer. White musk, last but not the least, was the base note. Classic, mysterious. A woman with a mind as vast as the forest, and as deep as the ocean.

He found himself finally standing beside her, but his presence was of no significance to her realm.

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” He said. At last, the woman folded the page and closed the book to grace him with a glance. He was pleased to see her smile so vividly.

“Not a sparrow falls to the ground without him seeing it…but if it falls, just the same. What good is seeing it fall?” She replied, and he chuckled. “The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain, his least known writing.” he answered. “Would you mind if a being out of the pages accompany you?” She smiled once again to reply, “not at all.”

He sat on the bar stool at the left side of the woman and called the bartender for a Martini. She placed the book on the other side and entertained her drink. She took a sip, and the man took his when the waiter handed the drink.

“Austen.” She said.

“Fitzgerald.” He answered.

“Chopin.”

“Debussy.”

“What a philanderer,” despite of such remark, she chuckled while he took a sip from his glass. “I can see it just by knowing your preferences.” She added.

“Milady, a romanticist and dignified one, why do you come here to read books knowing that you will encounter a ‘philanderer’ such as me?” he quoted.

She laughed, her eyes fluttered and bit her lip. “It’s not bad at all. But if you didn’t know Wilde nor Twain, my eyes wouldn’t leave my book.”

Their conversation started almost twelve midnight and ended at two in the morning, leaving both of them drunk and blabbering things that still made sense to them and not for others. They didn’t go back to their respective houses, instead, they went to a hotel, slowly held themselves between each other’s arms and swayed without music– just a drunken memory of the fine jazz from the bistro as their background.

Hands started to have their own will and wander, lips slowly reached out each other. They ended up peeling each other’s raiment and making love– to him, they were strangers just a few hours ago and are now completely open with one another, sharing the same thoughts, lust, rhythm, passion as if they were a single soul separated by fate only to find one another full in age and of wisdom.

Light came streaking through the oak-colored window blinds, bringing such intolerable agony in his eyes that caused him to wake up from a deep sleep. He rubbed his eyes, faced the other side of the bed only to find out she was no longer there.

He was back to reality indeed. The sound from the busy streets– cars honking from traffic, sound of people protesting against the parliament, the chugging sound from the nearby train.

Without her, the room looked very dull and dark, and cold with its monotonous colors of autumn. It felt, as if, he was not whole – he was missing something, and only she could complement him.

He roamed his eyes on the dreary environment and laid his eyes on the lamp table left with a note.

“There could have never been two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved.”

Reading these words hurt him more, because the nymph with the light blue-coloured silk dress never opened her heart to him.

Not even a second.

 

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featured image source: cliqq.co.uk

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The Act of Sour Graping

You and your friend took up an exam to your top choice University. Weeks later, you received an email from the said school saying that you passed but when you asked your friend, he said he didn’t. Instead of showing how frustrated he was that he didn’t make it while you did, he just said the school isn’t his top choice and it’s yours anyway. Your friend is in a situation where he is sour graping.

Sour grapes is a term derived from Aesop’s fable, The Fox & the Grapes.

Illustration by John Rae, 1918

The Fox & the Grapes

A Fox one day spied a beautiful bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine trained along the branches of a tree. The grapes seemed ready to burst with juice, and the Fox’s mouth watered as he gazed longingly at them.

The bunch hung from a high branch, and the Fox had to jump for it. The first time he jumped he missed it by a long way. So he walked off a short distance and took a running leap at it, only to fall short once more. Again and again he tried, but in vain.

Now he sat down and looked at the grapes in disgust.

“What a fool I am,” he said. “Here I am wearing myself out to get a bunch of sour grapes that are not worth gaping for.”

And off he walked very, very scornfully.

Illustration by John Rae, 1918

 

The Fox and the Grapes gave way to the term “sour grape” which the Merriam Webster defined as disparagement of something that has proven unattainable his criticisms are just sour grapes.

Sour Grapes and Sweet Lemons

Neel Burton M.D. explained that these are just some of the various ways on how people tend to rationalize a situation that is hard to accept (sour grapes) or “to make it seem not so bad after all (sweet lemons)” in defense for someone’s ego.

In the case of the fox, he perceives himself to be agile and clever but he cannot reach the grapes on the branch (dissonance). Instead of accepting the fact that he was not good enough to reach the grapes, he rationalized the situation with the thought that the grapes are sour anyway. This lessens the dissonance and in defense to his ego or self-image.

When people can’t attain something they want, they put it down.

When people can’t attain something they want, they put it down,” said Joshua Spodek. “The greater the discrepancy, the greater the need to resolve the internal conflict, so the less secure the person, the deeper the insult.”

Most people do sour graping for them to just brush off the negative situation that has happened instead of accepting the painful truth and hurting their ego. In a person-to-person situation such as liking someone, this can be more risky. For instance, you like someone but that person rejected you and told you that he/she prioritize his/her studies first. Instead of accepting the reason why you got rejected, you thought he/she isn’t cut out for you anyway, and started calling him/her a nerd, wimp and many other insults. Now the person you like before will feel bad about the things you told, and the long argument goes on.

That’s how people cope up with things they can’t have in order to please their discomfort or not hurt their ego.

Human beings are not rational, but rationalizing animals.

“Human beings are not rational, but rationalizing animals. If they find it frightening to think and painful to change, this is in large part because thinking and changing represent major threats to the beliefs that make up their sense of self,” said Neel Burton M.D.

People who tend to sour grape will do this in the long run, they will always tend to rationalize things that they can’t have by sour graping. If they won’t then they have to accept the painful truth and cope on the situation by changing themselves, adapt on why they were not cut out for it and may even result to their improvement, which is in fact, even a better way rather than putting down things to conform on one’s ego.

 

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Featured photo source: miriadna.com