Saturday, November 11, 2023

Should we not, at least, enjoy the wake?

 Fernando is off on a week-long trip to Argentina. His mom’s eightieth birthday is today, so he flew home to surprise her. Opportunities have to be seized when they present themselves.

Of course, Argentina is in crisis. It has been for much of the time that we’ve been together—a few days over twenty-seven years—and, honestly, for most of his life. It’s still almost unbelievable to me that he grew up in a dictatorship or that I’ve walked and talked, with him, with women who lost their children to that dictatorship’s “dirty war”.

Now the crisis is financial and political. Inflation is out of control. The peso is worth about a tenth of a cent, while it wasn’t that many years ago that it was pegged to exactly one dollar. There is a second round in the presidential elections coming where the people will choose between someone much too tied to the current clientelist left-of-center regime and a madman who worships Murray Rothbard and hungers after the good old days of the junta. 

But, Fernando tells me, the restaurants are full and people are out and about enjoying their lives, even as they complain about the disastrous times in which they live. That’s the way it’s always been, at least since we’ve been together: so many amazing—and meat- and wine-filled—dinners over conversation late into the night about the never-fulfilled promise of the Argentine. I’ve rarely met anyone there who didn’t see clearly the national situation, but I’ve even more rarely met anyone who was unable to enjoy a meal and time spent with friends.

I think they’re getting something right. One way or another, we are all heading to our doom. Every life, every human pursuit, every love is a tragedy. They all end, one way or another, badly. At a minimum, they all end in death and grief. 

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy what we have when we have it. The funeral and burial are always going to be dismal affairs, but should we not, at least, enjoy the wake?