An Unlikely Conversation

This is a guest post by author Bill (Béla) Suhayda

My family and I emigrated to the U.S. in 1956 after a revolution against Russian occupation and communism forced us to leave our native land of Hungary. I attended East Aurora Schools (Illinois) and East Aurora H.S. before going to Waubonsee Community College, Northern Illinois and Aurora University eventually graduating from Aurora in '73. While playing soccer at Aurora University, I was an All-Conference and All-NAIA District 20 performer for the Spartan Soccer Team in '72 and '73. I lead the team in assists both seasons and was named Aurora's MVP in '73 after leading the team in scoring as well. I returned to the East Aurora School District and East High where I taught biology and coached both soccer and wrestling for 30 years. I established both boys and girls soccer programs at East Aurora. I was also founder and president of the Fox Valley Youth Soccer Club in '91. The club is still turning out excellent young soccer players to this day. Following in the traditions of my father, who was a fighter pilot in World War ll, I obtained a private pilots license in '74. I was honored by being inducted into the East Aurora Athletic Hall of Fame in '12 for my coaching in both wrestling and soccer along with the wrestling I did as a student athlete at East Aurora. In 2016 I authored my first book "From Tyranny to Liberty" in which I chronicle my families escape from Communist Hungary.

“This Asparagus soup is delicious!!” said Sal, as he licked the slightly salted consommé from his lips.

Old Charlie stroked his gray beard as he plaintively replied: “It certainly nourishes the body!”  “But, It’s more than nourishing.  It brings me joy,” he explained as he rubbed his bloated soup laden belly.

“It has a smooth creamy texture. And, more importantly, for an old man like me, there’s no need for chewing, only swallowing.”

Young Sal looked at the old man and wondered if he would ever get as old as Charlie.  And if he did, would he also lose his teeth?  Which of his current girlfriends  would accept him in such delicate condition he wondered?

“The soup adds enjoyment to my life,” Sal said with a half smile.  “Happiness is found between misery and death where contentment can find a place, where it is allowed to be savored for just a little while.”

The old man’s memories of his youth were jostled by Sal’s morbid words.  He was helpless to think back on the long ocean voyages that took him to far away places and away from his wife.

“Death is a part of it Sal,” lamented the old man as he sat gazing at the dirty Deli floor.” “It contains a process that has persisted from the beginnings of life on the planet.” Life can only continue because there is death.”

The darkness of his own comment made Charlie wonder why he had uttered it.

“What a disturbing idea!” mourned Sal.  “I don’t want to talk about death.” How did we go from talking about soup to talking about death anyway?”

Charlie brushed off the responsibility of the strange shift in topic by inserting a bit of irony to his response.  “Well I think you brought it up.”

But the old man couldn’t save himself from his own gloom as he continued.

“The dark angel comes for all of us, maybe even to all things eventually.  And the fear of none existence, determines to a large degree, the activity of the living. It’s the eventual end that leaves room for new beginnings.  This is death’s purpose.”

Sal looked around the restaurant trying to catch the eye of the attractive young waitress who served them the soup while responding to the old man.

“I want my existence to be filled with love, Charlie!” The young man’s eyes sparkled as he continued, “I want fulfillment. The kind that feeds your soul like when anticipating that special someone who messages you heart and then soothes your lust.

The old man, staying loyal to his training in the sciences and medical field responded.

“Sex is a primordial force drawing male to female. And in that union, we get the timeless dance, a genetic coupling, of one living pedigree with another. A diversity, with new possibilities, flows from each union.  Our DNA supplies a kind of memory that flows from generation to generation. It maintains an integrity of our species within the same time frame in which it changes it.  This is true for the ant as well as the whale..or even the great oak.”

Sal felt put off by Charlie’s science oriented lecture while feigning a shiver.

“I don’t think I’m “horny” any more after your “analytical cold shower.”

“I didn’t mean to “dampen” your spirit,” quipped the old man apologetically.

Charlies apology had been insincere.  He had intended every word, the tone, and even the spirit of the comment.

“That’s ok, Charlie!” said the young man smiling.  “The urge for sex is not much different than my hunger for this soup.  As one of my appetites fades, another comes to take it’s place.  I’m young and I have plenty of time.  I’ll be hungry again very soon.”

“That reminds me,” Charlie responded, Have you seen the Seinfeld episode entitled the “Soup Nazi!  Jerry trades a perfectly good woman for a chance to get a bowl of soup.”

The old man’s view of Sal was blocked momentarily as the pretty dark haired waitress refilled his coffee cup.

“Is that the “Shmoopy Shmoopy” episode?” chuckled the young artists.

“That’s the one,” smiled Charlie.

“Yes I have,” confirmed Sal.  And I’m sure Jerry just had sex with his Shmoopy, or he’d never have made that trade. No soup could be that good.”

“I can’t imagine such a soup.  However, many use food, not only for nourishment, they use it for pleasure as well. And I’m sure some use sex as a distraction from the horrors and even the boredom of their pathetic lives.  Life can become more tolerable when having opportunities to escape into lust.  But lust has no staying power.  It’s fleeting! Once you act on it, it abandons you.  It leaves you parched in the desert,  like a thirsty  hiker with an empty canteen.  Have you ever experienced this phenomenon Sal?”

Sal quickly thought back on two girlfriends before the one he had just left in his bed a half hour before.

“Unfortunately, I have” responded the young artist. “That’s when I get dressed and come in for this soup.  Or I get busy with a painting.

It’s the time between my lust for this soup and my appetite for women that I get my work done,” lamented the young man. “I can only focus on work when I’m hungry for neither.” Then the clock melts and distorts away until my next craving. My paint filled brush strokes the canvas creating images from dreams. Those lines of paint come from what is left over from my heart and mind. And as those furrows of pigment are applied, they crate the images I’ve conjured from my unconscious of the warping of time and space. This is the third way I escape from thinking of horrors and death, Charlie. I escape to my fantasies.”

Old Charlie had long admired the talents of the young man in front of him.  So he decided to pay him a small compliment.

“You are indeed an amazing artist” admitted the bearded old man.  “But I know Nature to be the greatest artist. Nature creates that which a maestro like you can only copy. Do you know what She uses in her paintbrush, Sal?”

Sal answered with just a small sliver of curiosity as he ate another spoonful of soup. “No Charlie…what?”

“She uses time!” And time paints only in one direction using a broad brush called change. Time edits and recreates this world and the life it nourishes. This celestial oasis of ours has continued to be modified by geologic events and forms of life that have come from organisms that existed previously. Species, which have not been able to adapt to changes, have been erased from existence. They’ve been replaced by new species that are better suited for a world that will no longer support that which came before. Nature selects harshly and seamlessly the winners and losers.  And it is Natures invention of sex…your wonderful distraction from reality… that creates the diversity of life from which She then chooses the winners and losers going forward.

“Yes” agreed the artist.  I think I understand what you’re saying, old man. The dreams and musings I incorporated into my last project made for an even more fertile, surreal place for new creations on my most recent canvas. I learned my lessons from previous work. I adapted them nto the here and nowso that my work can survive into the future.  My work has evolved. I have found my niche and I have also been changed by it.  Art imitates Nature as you have suggested.

The old man sat back in his chair with a contented look and a bit of soup on his beard. He was pleased to hear the lucid words of the young artists who was better known for abstractions than for his realistic grasp of the lecture Charlie just delivered.

“We live and learn,” sighed the old man with poetic flare.  “And then we die.”