The unlikely ones: By night

I woke up at 3 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I couldn’t repress the bitterness from her words. “My heart tells me it’s not working,” she said, and how to argue against a heart? If only life were that simple in other aspects of our lives: “Sorry boss, my heart told me I should be a couple of hours late today.” Or: “Sorry bank, my heart tells me the interest rate you gave me is unfair so I won’t pay.” But she argued her heart, and apparently in these matters there’s no greater authority. Who came up with that stupidity? What does a blood pump have to say of any value? Are we to decide on our lives according to tachycardia? “My heart tells me we’re not for one another.” What will be next? “My asshole told me that I can’t?”

Those are the kind of thoughts I have at 3 am. I may not be Einstein, but I’m sure he didn’t have to deal with this level of stupidity. I couldn’t even be properly sad, so mad I was. I mean, you don’t need a reason to break up with someone, but please don’t make up a stupid one. The problem is that my daily hours are not any better. I’m an economist in Argentina, and when I say I’m an economist, I mean a real one, not the kind that mixes economics with ideology. Economics is a science as hard as physics, and if you don’t respect its rules, you’ll be hit by gravity. So, when I say I’m a real economist, I mean I’m a liberal capitalist, who’s had the mischance of having been born in a country of communists. Now for you to understand the distress of my situation, imagine that a gay party wins the election in your country. Unfortunately, this party is not liberal as you are, but rather socialist. As liberals, you profess your right to decide whether you’re straight or not, but they, as socialists, think that your right should be subordinated to the public good. So, they constantly demand from you that you contribute to the society by opening your mind and your sexuality. That’s exactly how I feel in this country. This charity with someone else’s ass is successful in Nordic countries, they say. But there is a high level of economic equality in those countries so the decisions on taxation affect their inhabitants equally. Here the taxing policies are Robin Hood style, deepening the antagonism among classes.

I work for people who ask me the ignorant question: “Why the currency keeps devaluing?” They say there are no stupid questions, but this question upsets me because it shows the level of misinformation in this country. The currency doesn’t devalue by itself, the Central Bank keeps devaluing it by printing more money. People keep thinking that Venezuela is just bad luck and that defaults are natural disasters that simply can’t be avoided. They don’t see the direct relation between fiscal deficit and the inability to pay our foreign debt. That’s what populist politicians have been feeding them all this time.

I’m a liberal in every aspect of my life, which means I enjoy romance in books and movies, but I know how to distinguish fiction from reality. In real life, we need to decide with our brains, that’s why we have them. Eric Fromm explained well that we endow the word love with magic powers. When we are attracted to someone we pronounce the magic words to try to cast a spell on the other person so they feel the same about us. By calling it love we attribute some heavenly feature to something as basic as instinct. It takes two to tango, and also to love. Love is not a feeling but action conditioned on the acceptance of this love by the other person. We can’t force love on anyone, and we can’t love unilaterally either. That wouldn’t be love anymore but selfish emotional relief. Liberalism implies the respect for reality and data, because romantic views of reality lead to an askew conception of love in the personal sphere and to fascism and demagogy in the political sphere.

So, there I was, besieged by the moral stupidity of communism by day and tormented by the lack of self-awareness of this girl by night. Why do I care about her? Being such a liberal, I should let her rot in her own decisions, but this dream keeps recurring. I wake up upset in the middle of the night and I feel my romantic mind wanting to take over my rational mind. To my utter shame, I contemplate the following thoughts: “What if she had a change of heart? What if I could convince her heart that us is actually a good idea?” My reason tells me that it’s useless trying to convince a heart, but loneliness and yearning have led me to this communist idea: To force a feeling on someone. It goes against my liberal values of proposing something and then accepting the other’s decision to take it or not. I know I’m closer to the Marxist doctrine when I think of convincing her to do the right thing. Even if being with me was the right thing, what if she doesn’t want to do the right thing? What if she wants to make mistakes and live a careless life? Who am I to trample, Che Guevara style, on her freedom to be hedonistic? Who am I to force virtue on anyone?

I know it’s sad that I need to talk myself out of communism till 5 am to finally get some sleep. But what’s the other option? To kidnap her and hope she develops Stockholm Syndrome? Besides violating all my liberal values, that would lead me to jail. I’m a smart person so I´ve finally stopped texting her just to ask what’s up, pretending nonchalance while I trembled with rage at her smallest slight. I miss her as much as a rock star misses his cocaine, but I´ll survive. However, the dream keeps recurring. However, now I distinguish it better. I’m positive it’s the same exact dream, because I always have the same feeling after it. At first, I didn’t remember anything; I just felt extremely anxious when I woke up. It was a cocktail of impotence, frustration and outrage. Now, please bear with me while I tell you my dream. As you know, dreams are nonsensical, so most of what I’m going to say is incongruent with reality and incoherent.

The dictator of Argentina comes to my bedroom to ask me where the communists were. He comes personally, surrounded by soldiers in civil clothes. Now, I know in real life we’re in a democracy, but, in my dream, a real dictator, with thousands of murders to his credit, rules Argentina. I’m afraid at once, because I feel that, according to his standards, I am a communist too, so I choose the path of the coward and I tell him the communist were at my neighbor’s Jorge. When they leave I am sad that I turned in Jorge; I wish I knew the name of my upstairs neighbor, who sometimes tap-dances for me in the middle of the night. Then the dream becomes weird because of a joke I know, which plays its part. The joke goes: “A man is sometimes woken up by his neighbor loudly taking off his shoes when coming back from work. One night he’s woken up by the sound of one shoe falling heavily on the floor. He tries to go back to sleep but eventually he goes upstairs and knocks at his neighbor’s door. When the door opens, he says: Could you please take off your other shoe?” So, in the dream I´m looking for my neighbor’s missing shoe to be able to go back to sleep. Finally, I find it and I realize that it is a communist shoe. It’s him the communist, not me or Jorge. So, despite my fear, I go to Jorge’s apartment with the shoe. I want to show the dictator that Jorge’s shoe is not like this communist shoe. But when I get to his apartment, the door is ajar but they’re already gone. I’m certain Jorge is dead and this fills me with remorse.

Now, there is a huge gap in the dream. I’m on trial for having killed communists. The man accusing me is my upstairs neighbor. The dictator is a witness. He points at me in the trial. He identifies me as the one who gave the order to kill the communists. I beg, crying, that they let me find Jorge’s shoe to show them that he wasn’t a communist. Don’t ask me why my line of defense is to prove that Jorge wasn’t a communist instead of proving it wasn’t I who killed him. As you know, dreams are amoral and I think, given the circumstances of the trial, it was my best shot. Now she comes in and sits on the witness bench. Don’t ask me why, but her testimony is even more important than that one of the dictator, who by the way, keeps ruling and murdering people, but now, apparently, he’s against killing communists. They ask her a simple question: Is he a communist? Meaning me. It’s very simple, but she doesn’t know the answer. I see her rack her brains trying to remember. In the end she says: Maybe, and that destroys the argument of the prosecution. Because if I’m a communist, I couldn’t have killed communists. That’s probably how the dictator got away with it, but that’s not explicit in the dream.

Now the dictator comes to present his apologies to me. He curtseys in front of me and tells me: “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, Your Highness.” I’m outraged at being mistaken for a communist. I say: “I’m not royalty; I’m a capitalist. I work for my money.” They all laugh at what they deem a joke. I go find her and I tell her: “I’m not a communist. Don’t you know that?” and she answers simply: “I forgot.” “But didn’t you check my shoes?” I ask. “I washed them,” she says and shows me a pair of communist tennis shoes. At this moment I always wake up and sometimes I even stretch my hand towards the floor to try and find my capitalistic shoes, but I only find a pair of neutral slippers. I don’t know why, but, in this dream, I associate my leather shoes with capitalism.

As I mentioned, it’s only after having broken contact with her that this dream started remaining in my mind when I regain consciousness. Before that, it was too ambivalent to come to light and therefore it was strongly repressed. Its meaning is very clear to me now: She never cared enough about me to know that I’m not a communist. She even carelessly washed my shoes. However, she saved my life by doing so. As I said, the dream is really ambivalent, same as communism or socialism. On the one hand you represent the interests of the people, but on the other hand you rob the people of their own money to just give it back to them. It’s as if Robin Hood stole from the poor to give to the poor. I couldn’t see the logic of it, but now I see it. Her indifference saved me. By distorting the facts, she welcomed me to the bosom of communism. In this world, facts are irrelevant, what’s relevant are feelings. People feel well because they feel included, taken care of. And that’s actually how I feel in the end of my dream. I’m glad to be a communist. I’m not upset when she tells me she’s washed my shoes; on the contrary, I’m happy. The reason why I get so upset and wake up suddenly is that I want to reach down to my capitalistic shoes and take them off, hide them, and from then on, be taken care of by the loving, redistributing hand of communism.


I'm a writer born in Argentina, but currently living in Poland. I work as an English and French teacher, translator and copywriter.

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