...an unlikely group pieced together these past few weeks from parties and family references, friend-of-friend happenstance, and (in one case, just now being introduced) sheer, scarcely tolerable intrusiveness-five people who, in normal life back home, would have been satisfied never to have known one another.
Five young expatriates hunch around an undersized cafe table: a moment of total insignificance, and not without a powerful whiff of cliche.
Unless you were one of them. Then this meaningless, overdrawn moment may (then or later) seem to be somehow the summation of both an era and your own youth, your undeniably defining afternoon (though you can hardly say that aloud without making a joke of it). Somehow this one game of Sincerity becomes the distilled recollection of a much longer series of events. It persistantly rises to the surface of your memory-that afternoon when you fell in love with a person or a place or a mood, when you savored the power of fooling everyone, when you discovered some great truth about the world, when (like a baby duck glimpsing your quacking mother's waddling rear for the first time) an indelible brand was seared into your heart, which is, of course, a finate space with limited room for searing.
Despite its insignificance, there was this moment, this hour or two, this spring afternoon blurring into evening on a cafe patio in a Central European capital in the opening weeks of its post-Communist era. The glasses of liqueur. The diamond dapples of light between oval, leaf-shaped shadows, like optical illusions. The trellised curve of the cast-iron fence seperating the patio from its surrounding city square. The uncomfortable chair. Someday this too will represent someone's receding, cruelly unattainable golden age. (4-5)