So Sartre,” says Middle Child, as he pauses on his way to the shower. Our only shower is an ensuite in my room so there’s a regular procession of human traffic that stops to chat en route to ablution.
Propped up in bed with a coffee and a purring Biggie Smalls, waiting for my eyes to open enough to focus, I’m a captive audience. I shut them again tight, feigning death.
“Sartre,” he repeats, louder.
Oh god, not existentialism please, not at this time in the morning. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir probably had a no-chat-before-their-first several cups of coffee rule, only starting to philosophise some time mid afternoon.
“What’s Sartre all about again?” I say, playing for time.
“Well, I’m still looking at it, but there’s this bit where he said look at that seat, then deconstructed it, said what is a seat? It’s a bit of wood that’s for sitting on, and there’s a cup on the table, which is just a cup, and we are nothing but mammals who occasionally touch genitals and lift a cup that’s on a table and… I used to think it was about searching for the answers...” he says.
“There is no answer,” I croak. “No point.”
“… but now I realise we already know the answers. It’s just about being… creating your own values and meaning…”
“I always prefered his girlfriend Simone myself,” I say. “Equality for women, there’s something you can get on with while everyone else is sitting around smoking Gauloises and stroking their chins.”
“I was looking at all the religions before,” he says. “But now I realise they’re just trying to give answers and there aren’t any. It’s more spirituality that’s the way ahead.” He gazes out of the window. “Camus said you will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life...”
At which point the door flies open and Youngest Child races round him into the shower room and slams the door.
Yeah, and in this house if you stop to look for the meaning of life you will never get in the shower first either.