Arnon Grunberg


Don't take this personal

Last night I was supposed to have dinner with my companion and her family. While we were eating the appetizer – an Italian dish prepared by my companion and me – I fell ill. For a few minutes I tried to hide my nausea and I engaged in polite conversation.
Then I whispered to my companion: “Don’t take this personal, but I believe I need to lay down.” While the other guests were eating their main dish I was throwing up.
My own diagnosis is gastroenteritis.

(When I was fourteen I read Pinter's play "The Birthday Party". [In Gerard Reve's translation] It was a defining experience. This dialogue made a big impression on me:

GOLDBERG. We'll watch over you.
MCCANN. Advise you.
GOLDBERG. Give you proper care and treatment.
MCCANN. Let you use the club bar.
GOLDBERG. Keep a table reserved.
MCCANN. Help you acknowledge the fast days.
GOLDBERG. Bake you cakes.
MCCANN. Help you kneel on kneeling days.
GOLDBERG. Give you a free pass.
MCCANN. Take you for constitutionals.
GOLDBERG. Give you hot tips.
MCCANN. We'll provide the skipping rope.
GOLDBERG. The vest and pants.
MCCANN. The ointment.
GOLDBERG. The hot poultice.
MCCANN. The fingerstall.
GOLDBERG. The abdomen belt.
MCCANN. The ear plugs.
GOLDBERG. The baby powder.
MCCANN. The back scratcher.

Harold Pinter died on Wednesday.
To all others I would like to say: Please, scratch your own back.)