Stain looks at me perplexed while we walk, slowly, much slower than usual, and he says: “aren’t we always walking.”
“Yeah, sure. We’re always walking.”
“What does it mean?” he asks.
“Walking? It doesn’t mean anything. We just walk a lot because we like to.”
“No. What we’re doing. What does it mean?” he asks.
“Stain, man, are you asking me the meaning of life?”
“Yeah, I guess I am.”
“That’s cool man. I know this one.”
Stain looks at me as though he’s waiting for the actual answer.
I stop the first man I see walking down the street. “Excuse me sir. What’s the meaning of life?”
He gives me a dirty a look and keeps walking, so I stop a woman. “Miss, can you please tell me the meaning of life?”
“What?” she asks.
“I want to know the meaning of life,” I say.
“I don’t get it,” she says while shaking her head.
I giggle a bit and say: “I saw you coming and was just trying to get you to talk to me. I apologize, but I’m not a great conversationalist.”
“Oh, well . . . that’s ok. I do have to get going though,” she says.
“My name is Sappho.” I hold out my hand in greeting.
She shakes my hand and says: “I’m Poubelle.”
“Really? That an unusual name,” I return.
“It means beautiful and louse in French. Pou and Belle, louse and beautiful. It’s like Yin and Yang. The best and the worst. It’s balance.”
Stain starts laughing out loud. I get it now.
“Get what?” Poubelle asks.
“The meaning of life,” Stain returns.
“What?” Poubelle asks.
I look at Stain and say: “life is like Poubelle’s name. The person living with it can never really understand what it means, but they can always make it into whatever they want it to be.”
Stain laughs again. “No. It’s just garbage.”
Stain and I start walking away, Poubelle looks back at us and shouts: “I have a boyfriend.”
I laugh. “You didn’t a minute ago.”
Stain looks back then at me: “I was about to call her a bad name, but I think I already did.”
“This is pretty cool Stain. This is pretty cool. This’ll be my new test for friends and more than friends. I’ll ask them what the meaning of life is.”
“What if they don’t know?” Stain asks.
“They don’t know is the only answer I’ll accept. Well, either that or it’s whatever you make of it.”
“Why am I not wearing a brand new Sappho t-shirt?” I ask.
Stain walks up to a shop, opens the door and gives me a hand gesture to go in. He was leading us to the t-shirt shop the whole time.