‘I found a quote the other day about it.’
‘Oh yes, what was that?’
‘“To find out if she really loved me, I hooked her up to a lie detector. And just as I suspected, my machine was broken.”’
‘You mean that it’s unknowable, or that you would break it before I got the chance to find out?’
‘Ha, no, it’s that he thinks the machine is broken because he loves her so much he can’t believe that she might not love him. I think that’s what it means, doesn’t it? He’d rather believe the machine was broken.’
What I think is, hmm, but the premise is false. I don’t want to hook you up to a lie detector. That’s never the right way to discover truth. I simply want you always to tell me it, even if what you have to tell me will cause me pain. But on the two or three occasions I have resorted to saying, tell me then that you don’t love me, and I’ll leave you in peace, you can’t do it. So either you are a coward and are more scared of hurting me than anything else – and given that you’ve not been shy of telling me hard truths nor much inclined to shield me from your blues, I don’t think it’s that – or there is sufficient love in your heart still that you cannot deny it.
What I say is, ‘So are you telling me now that you don’t love me?’
‘No, but I’m telling you I don’t know if I ever love. I honestly don’t know if I do. In moments perhaps.’
‘And in moments you do me, I know you do.’
‘Yes, but it’s not like you.’
‘Well, if I am blind, I can’t help thinking that your memory is selective. You said yourself, how you forget things, whereas I don’t.’
‘No, you’re like an elephant.’
‘Well then. I remember clearly, distinctly, that there have been times, moments, hours, series of days even, when you have been head over heels with me. I’ve seen it in your eyes and heard it in your words and I’ve felt it both in the air between us and here (strikes chest); it’s inarguable. I also know the hurt and pain that I’ve suffered when you have not been head over heels, when you’ve been shunning me. I’m not blind to how what you feel varies, and yet still I want to persevere.’
You try to argue me into giving you up, moving on, and though I can see the sense in what you say, you can’t win, quite. I try to argue you into a sense of the love you have expressed in black and white, the love you have felt in colour when we are together – the love that unrestricted I believe would bloom till it filled your heart and your head and put them permanently over your heels – but neither can I win, quite. So maybe we both lose. But if so, then we are beautiful losers, and I’d rather be one of those than an inviolate, impregnable winner.