(Translated from Romanian by Mihaela Alecu. For Romanian original, click here)
The guests started to arrive around seven. I had already tasted two glasses of plum brandy, the first to check it out, and the second to make sure it was really that good. I was difficult to convince everybody to have this surprise party for Mihai, in fact, I wanted it to secretly be my party, the last one as a bachelor. It was difficult to convince Clara not to come, that it was not a real party, with music and dance, but more like a men’s gathering, where there will be a lot of drinking, smoking a lot of cigars and tobacco pipes, discussions about Philosophy and Literature: shortly, besides the fact that she would be the only woman, she would get bored first and, eventually, upset. Therefore, she should choose. However she was not convinced, so I had to raise the stake: it is not long until our engagement party, where you will be the number one attraction! Where not only will you entire family come, all women, but most of all Michaela. Alright, alright, but if I find out there were women, or that you brought strippers like in prom movies… Eh, women, come on, I told you. Don’t worry.
Now it was almost seven and it was only me and Mihai. I, the main planner, warned him, it was going to be tough, to carry this cross all the way. He shook his head, I don’t know, not even now, if he had an approval or not, what is sure is that he also liked the two years old plum brandy, from ’90, the year of all beginnings for us. Not only the first year of freedom, but for us, especially, the year when we graduated college and started to live in the present, to stand on our own legs and to rely on our own strength. At seven o’clock sharp, obsessed with punctuality, entered Ghiţă immediately followed by Stancu and Marin. The hall we rented could easily fit 50 persons, without them being crowded, but since we were going to be less and our party was, most likely a symposium, we arranged the armchairs and couches around some tables loaded with bottles. There was some music, however, but it was Bach, for now. We didn’t want to be different from others, but we did not want to be like them either. If Cristian would have entered, the faculty’s Don Juan, I think he would have laughed at us for months. He could not conceive a meeting without women, beautiful, desirous, conquerable, of course, by him. That is why he was not invited; too much frivolity could ruin our plans. Immediately, the other four arrived as well, Ioan, also known as Nelu or Jonny, Dorin, Dan and Carol. So there were all nine of us. The party could start.
I cannot remember the beginning very clearly, I say to myself as I wash my face with cold water. Oh, but you are so heavy this morning, I say in my mind. I put some water into the kettle, after I wash it well, the coffee grounds which remained from yesterday morning got hard as hell; a strong coffee, no sugar, can be the answer. It is good that I wasn’t sick; I wasn’t since I ate all the cherries after my parents put the cherry brandy from the demijohn into bottles. So sick that until college I no longer touched alcohol and, not even then, and never sweet alcoholic drinks. I would rather have a plum brandy, beer or wine, but not liqueurs or something similar.
Let’s sit down, I told the guys. I presented them the bar; everybody serves himself when he pleases, with as much as he pleases! That was how we all did. We talked until morning about everything, about time, in Aristotle, in Zenon’s aporia, in Einstein’s theories, about the bi-, tri- or four-dimensional space. We each had a personal opinion, which the others tried to expose to difficult probes. If it would pass, we would write it down on paper. Even on the new laptop that Mihai had recently received, of which he was so proud; I envy him. This taste lingers in my mouth, although the bitterness of coffee should replace it. It is an indistinguishable taste, I don’t remember ever having it before, no matter what had happened the night before, drinking or love.
That is why I like so much avant-garde in art, Dorin continued one idea. If you remember, I wrote my master’s dissertation on this topic. I am a little bit sorry that because of the hangover I cannot remember his theory exactly, it was something about postmodernism and avant-gardes, especially those in painting, like its predecessors. But he had also spoken about mathematics. In arts, the first big step was giving up the perspective. Three-dimensionality is an illusion; therefore we should give it up. Since we cannot draw something quadric-dimensional, we shall draw bi, must have said the grate painters from the end of the nineteenth century, start of the twentieth century. Then, mathematically speaking, the description for the world with multiple dimensions is simple: if we for instance take a measure a as the expression of a line’s length, a² represents the surface of a bi-dimensional square, a³ the volume of a three-dimensional cube, than a⁴ (or to any exponent larger than 3), what is it? Mathematically, a⁴ represents a quadric dimensional object called hypercube. From this point of view, mathematically – both algebraically, as well as geometrically – , any world with n dimensions is perfectly coherent.
I find the cup among the sink dishes, dirty, dry, and full of dust; it is dark-blue. Cobalt-blue I believe it is called. It is my favorite cup that this crack which started in the middle might enlarge. For now it hasn’t reached the other side, but if I were ever to drop it, or if it will knock with other dishes, while it is in the sink waiting to be washed, it will definitely break in two. Then I will be sad. I pour my coffee. I drink; in fact I sip slowly, not to get burned. It feels so good!
According to my opinion, I said then, it is completely wrong to imagine that our world is three-dimensional, I agree, but even more that space is independent from space. It is like music. They can both exist absolutely independent from space, no matter how many dimensions it might have. But our world, the real one, if I can say so, it is necessary for it to be considered as having four dimensions. The fourth one is time. Then two, said Ghiţă. Space, time and that is all. No length, width and height or depth, however you wish, plus time, which is in its own turn past, present and future, and therefore we would already have six dimensions.
In fact the confusion is brought by the terms, Mihai added. “Dimension” is not the appropriate term, because it immediately sends to something spatial. “Features” should be used, or even more so “aspects”. Our world is made up of two aspects, space and time, each one with its own measuring units, with its own subdivisions etc. then, said Dorin, I believe we could only talk about one aspect of the world, only one feature, or order to maintain the convention, only one dimension.
I fuzzily remember how the discussion was stirred. Which one? We all asked. Space-time! Simple as that. It is wrong to believe this one could exist without the other, in fact we could not talk about one without the other, moreover we cannot talk as if there were two, but only one. It is precisely our world, the one we live in. Only the human mind could theoretically divide what is actually undividable. The proper thing to do would be to find a different term, just like for atmosphere, with all that it comprises, we say “air”. It is a whole, which we perceive as such. We do not care that is made out of oxygen, carbon dioxide etc. We could live an entire life with air, without knowing what it is made of. It is the same for space-time. It is a whole: we live in it, we die in it. What comes afterwards, no one knows. However, said Stancu, as dizzy as us all, do to all the drinking and to Dorin’s theory, we can clearly see space, but we cannot see the air. Look, this table is a table; it occupies a volume in space… that’s right, said Dorin, taking advantage of Stancu’s little moments of hesitation. But the problem is generated precisely do to the misleading eyesight. A blind person would probably “look”, figuratively said, at things differently. Our senses mislead us, and if we were ever to get rid of them, I am sure we would we would be able to navigate in this unique dimension, as our heart pleases. Probably if an appropriate machine would be invented, added Martin, ironically.
I watch myself in the mirror. When did so much dust get on it? How and when did I get home is the real question. From this last stage of our discussion I can only remember the thick smoke, the heavy voices the stumbling eyelids. Probably they brought me, one of them, probably not all got as drunk as I did. I wipe the dust off the mirror. Yes, it is good, my beard hasn’t grown yet. What time is it, 10? Actually, look, it’s not working; maybe it’s run out of batteries. If it would have been a mechanical clock I definitely would have forgot to fix it last night. So you have it that the electronically one is no better, it gives up on you when you most need it. They should also be equipped, like mobile phones, with warning signals like beep! Careful, low battery! Never mind, I’ll go and buy one today. To at least know what time it is. I dial the phone number; at the next signal it will be forty minutes and thirty seconds past nine, beep. It is early, if I come to think that it was almost morning when I fell asleep. However, I’m not tired. I should call Clara. Hello, Dobrescu family? No. I’m sorry. I dial it again. It happens. Hello? The same voice, a little hoarse. I’m sorry, I’m looking for Dobrescu family, they have 1906 90. What number is this? I’m sorry this is our number and we are not Dobrescu family. I hang up. Still, I dialed this number thousands of times, it cannot be wrong. I check, as if it were necessary, in my phonebook. 19 06 90! I’m sorry, it’s me again. I’m very puzzled. I checked my notebook and the phonebook. The number matches… How long have you had this number for? For about 11 years, since we moved in. Now I’m sorry, I have work to do. Goodbye.