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INTRODUCTION TO A CHEERFUL NIHILIST
 

I was walking on the sidewalk with a baguette in my hand.

 

It was one of those glorious Saturday afternoons, just a little bit chilly but with a clear monochrome sky and a tepid sun, lukewarm enough to keep you lukewarm, cold enough that you could stare at it for a few minutes. 

 

I was feeling like a rockstar -and walking like one -for no particular reason. I get that feeling sometimes. Maybe it was the weather. But I also remember having the same feeling with not such good weather. Maybe it’s any weather…the mere existence of weather. Perhaps it’s the rockstar walk that tricks your brain into feeling like a rockstar. Yeah, I read somewhere that sometimes it works like that. 

 

I wasn’t too hungry even though I hadn’t had anything to eat in the entire day. Still, I started poking on the baguette and eating bird bites, just because it was there. I had also bought the baguette because it was there, and I was supposed to be hungry; after all, it was almost 3 PM and by that time one is supposed to be hungry. 

 

I got to the street I was gonna take to get to a friend’s house. It was a more important street than the other streets I had been walking on; it was twice as wide, and the division between incoming and ongoing traffic was marked by an anciently painted and ever-fading white line. There was also some commerce and short buildings, like five stories high or so. I guess you could call it an avenue, but I’m not sure. I’m sure it wasn’t a boulevard. But avenue, I don’t know. 

 

Some of the little restaurants had put tables on the sidewalk for the first time in months, making the scenery quite picturesque. As I was passing one of them, I noticed a table with four girls. They all had tiny cups of coffee and two of them were smoking, whereby I could infer that they were not gonna finish their plates, which were still on the table, a couple of them with plenty of food still intact. 

 

“What a waste of perfectly good food” I thought. I was feeling confident, so I approached them. “Hi” I said, as I lifted my hand to accompany the greeting with a friendly wave, not remembering that I had a partially-eaten baguette in my hand. I felt stupid, which caused me to freeze for a couple of seconds. From their perspective, what I had done so far was interrupt their conversation with an unoriginal “hi” and then lift a baguette. As far as they knew, I was probably a baguette peddler about to offer my goods. 

 

To make matters worse, some breadcrumbs fell on their table. Things were going south. I felt my confidence weakening as two of them looked at me with a “who’s this idiot?” face and another one reached for her cellphone. Luckily, I was wearing sunglasses which (sorta) shielded me from the embarrassment, or at least hid my twitching eye. The fourth one, who coincidentally was the prettiest one, gave me a gentle smile. She seemed to be curious to hear what I would say. Yes! My confidence was back. I was in control of the situation again.  

 

I laughed at myself. “Sorry, I forgot I had bread in my hand. Which is funny, considering that’s the reason I came in the first place”. As far as they knew, I was still a baguette peddler. I knew I had a few seconds before completely losing them, so I hurried, “see, this is the thing. I couldn’t help but notice that you’re done eating. I also couldn’t help but notice that that chicken fillet is almost intact. Now, it’s not that I couldn’t buy a chicken fillet, but I think it’s a real shame to see that perfectly good chicken go to waste”. The pretty one was laughing, the other ones weren’t so keen, and the cellphone one, was looking at her cellphone. “This idiot couldn’t possibly be asking for the chicken leftovers” I thought they thought. Honestly, I didn’t even want the chicken. I just wanted that scene to happen. I wanted to amuse the invisible crowd that follows me around expecting me to say and do funny stuff. I continued. “I have bread. You have a chicken that is going to the garbage. We have an opportunity to make this world a better place by making a sandwich. So, I guess my question is, can I make myself a chicken sandwich?” 

 

The pretty one burst into a mix of laughter and incredulousness. The other two were kind of grossed out but nevertheless one of them grabbed the plate that contained the chicken and placed it near me, probably to get the whole thing over with as quick as possible. The cellphone one kept looking at her cellphone. 

 

“Thank you ma’am” I nodded, tipping my imaginary cowboy hat. I then proceeded to open the baguette in half as graciously as I could, which wasn’t very, and put the chicken inside with my hand. Come to think about it, it was kind of a gross thing to do. It looked funnier and less cringey in my mind. But that’s the thing about humor. It's a risk. Sometimes you’ll miss the mark by a little. Sometimes by a lot. And sometimes you fucking nail it. 

 

I got nervous again, so I didn’t talk. I raised my sandwich as if saying cheers, and nodded again. The interaction was over. I left the scene walking like a cool action movie star from an explosion, looking back wasn’t an option. I walked a few meters, and I heard the explosion. An explosion of laughter that is. I didn’t look. I smiled. Mission accomplished. 

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