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That Would Do - by Ana

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Tristan always ate the same boring lunch for lunch, the same bland breakfast for breakfast, and the same banal supper for supper. No wonder why, when he lost his sense of taste, he did not notice a thing. One could even say that he had lost taste years ago, when he started nourishing himself solely with boring bland banal meals that “would do”. Of course, they “would do”. They were enough to keep him alive and satisfy his hunger for a few hours. What he ignored, intentionally or not, was that they were not enough to keep his palate alive. But that would do. Tristan did not need to taste things to remain human.

There was not much of a noticeable difference now. The memory of the taste of the boring bland banal things replaced the palate, hence Tristan did not see the change. His projection of what he expected to taste was enough to create a false impression that all was just as boring, bland, and banal as before. He saw eating as a necessary instinctive process which he wished to finish as quickly as possible. Ingestion was much like elimination of food. Tristan did not see why one process merited any bigger ritual and care than the other.

Not long after, Tristan lost his sense of smell. It was impossible to know precisely when the event happened. The thing was, smell had always been loyal to taste. So it fled, seeing no point in continuing to smell boring bland banal things. And again, that would do. Tristan did not notice. He was so accustomed to the repetitive unoriginal smells that reappeared everyday around him that he, without consciously being aware of it, made believe that he could still smell them and went on with his life. In a normal, middle-class, uneventful, tasteless and odorless grey life, he did not need a sense of smell to survive.

A long time had passed since Tristan had last enjoyed his sense of touch. Now, he did not even notice the feeling of the carpet, of the bedsheets, of his clothes, of raindrops, of paper, of the boring bland banal things. Naturally, he did not notice either when his nerves stopped noticing these numerous textures. They did not bring much to his life; where his fingers lay was not a matter to pay attention to. If he could live without his sense of touch, that would do.

Tristan sometimes talked to people that he called friends for the sake of having friends for the sake of pleasing society. These people were his coworkers, his neighbors, his life-long acquaintances, or friends of his family and relatives. They were a few. They were not close. They were not interesting. They were not different. They did not often see each other outside of the conventional places to see each other. His coworkers, he would see them mostly at work. His neighbors, in the neighborhood. And so on.

Tristan had not chosen his friends. They were assigned to him the way his life had been assigned to him. And Tristan was indifferent to it. If life was this finite unmeaningful tiny tale, why disagree or be grateful about it? Tristan was given friends like him and that would do.

Whenever someone asked him how he was, he would say “okay” without thinking much about it. That is how Tristan went with most aspects of his life. All that would do was okay. No need to think much about it. The same way that Tristan never seeked better meals, better decoration, better vacations, art and beauty, Tristan never sought better friends or conversations. He would say “okay”, the others would be okay about it and that would do. He would then forget about it and move on. That was how his meals went, how his work days went, how his days, even weekends went. And how his conversations went. All were so similar and so expected that there was no need to remember them.

Just like the “how are you —okay” exchange, when Tristan spoke with his friends, they simply repeated the conversations written in the book of societal norms. Everything they said could have been predicted in advance. Surprise was unknown to these boring bland banal people. They said what needed to be said and were satisfied with these exchanges since it told them that everyone was sane. Tristan, just like everyone else in the discussion, knew what to answer before hearing what the interlocutor was saying. There was thus no need to listen. Hearing was an unnecessary sense for Tristan and those around him.

When Tristan turned deaf, it was as if he wasn’t. Or maybe he simply had always been deaf. One or the other, it would do. Tristan was still as able to participate in conversations. He was not aware of the difference and no one else was. As far as we know, Tristan's relatives could very well have lost their senses too. When someone played music, they all danced to it just like they would have danced to any music. They smiled because that was what was expected when one listened to music with others. It was a wedding, so music was playing as expected. But outside of weddings, Tristan did not listen to music unless he was driving and it was playing on the radio, since it was what was expected. But overall, music did not keep him alive. One can do without it, one can do without hearing.

If someone told Tristan that he had lost his sense of taste, smell, touch, and hearing, he would not have felt sad. He would have observed how his life had not changed without these and how he would do without these the same way he would with them. More so, he might even forget that this conversation would have taken place. If he was doing fine without the information, why would he need it?

Tristan had only his sight left to guide him. But he did not need a guide when he simply repeated the same day every day in the same little cage he had put himself in. Where he needed to go, what he needed to say, how he needed to react, what he needed to do, these were things he had learned by memory. None of his five senses were necessary. Things started to appear colorless to Tristan. But Tristan already lived in a grey house with grey walls and grey furniture. Tristan led a grey life, and grey would do.

Maybe Tristan himself was the one who told his sight to leave, thinking he could do without it, and then forgetting he had spoken to his sight in the first place. There was nothing to see, nothing to notice anymore. When Tristan’s last of his five senses left him, he therefore did not notice.

Tristan could no longer enjoy things. Yet Tristan had never enjoyed them. That was not a big punishment. Tristan lived a boring bland banal life with no sense of taste, smell, touch, hearing, or sight, and for him, that would do. Tristan did not even notice living anymore. No wonder why, when Tristan died, he did not notice either. And neither did anyone else.

By Ana Lambert-Bernal

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