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conversation between him and her

published: 2011-06-20

“But what does empathy actually mean,” he asks. He is being serious. His question is serious.
Oh for chrissake.
“Well. It means the ability to feel what someone else must be feeling,” she says. She then adds, “I think.”
She lays down on the floor, stares at the ceiling. “You’re right. What does it actually mean?”
” ‘A narcissist lacks empathy’, they say. But do they mean empathy as in “okay my uncle is in hospital and I’ll pay him a visit”? Because that isn’t really empathy is it? That’s simply doing what’s expected. That’s more about feeling good about yourself. Not about your uncle.”
“Here’s an example. I feel bad for your having lost your job,” she says.
“Why though?”
“Because I love you.”
“That’s lame, don’t you think? You say you love me. But to love me is first and foremost pleasurable for you.”
She sighs. “All right. Empathy doesn’t exist.”
“Maybe I don’t want you to love me. Maybe I prefer you to hate me. Have you ever considered that? Have you ever wondered what I need, and I mean really need?”
“You want me to leave, is that it?”
She sits up, puts on her shoes, slowly, while looking at him.
“If you were to reallyunderstand me then you would quit your job. That would be empathy. Even better – do something that would make them fire you.”
She has put on he second shoe and stands up.
“You know what? I really feel like a cigarette,” she says.
He now looks at her too. His ernest frown is broken by a small smile. He says, “To be honest, you don’t look like one.”
She allows the silence to last for a second longer, after which she cracks up, and so does he. She sits down again. Kicks off her shoes.

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