Secret Favours

New York - Times Square - July 1977

The contrarian compliments my playlist. “The songs really flow into each other.”

I thank him. And stop there. To point out the randomness of the song order is pointless.

He would misunderstand me. “Yeah, you switch styles smoothly.”

“Literally random; the music player is in shuffle mode.”

Having firmly put his second foot in, there is no walking it back. He would puff himself up, the right hand starting to come up and then, in an act of absent-minded self-control, aborting, letting it fall back down, resisting the temptation to finger-wag. “Oh! No.” Smile. “I was talking about the CD in the car.”

For him facts are secondary to making a point. I collect facts for fun. And I need to make sure everybody has theirs straight. “We heard Les Deuxluxes, the Libertines, then … Linda Hoyle and, while parking, Little Feat.”

I would look at him expectantly. A few seconds later he will realize that there is something significant in what I have said. And that I expect him to decipher it. His brow will assume the thinking position. In dread, I will wait for the eyebrows to go up.

“That’s what I am saying, even played alphabetically, it sounds as if the order is on purpose.”

Intentions cannot be argued.

I will avoid saying “whate’er” to avoid the lecture about being dismissive of his ideas. (Why do I use a bad imitation of an Essex accent whenever I say whatever?)

This will be a good time to change the subject.

It is a good thing I stopped after the thanks. One of us was spared that painful conversation. Secret favours.

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