A Catholic and an atheist were discussing faith. The Catholic said:
‘Without faith you are like a blind man wearing a blindfold, searching in a darkened room for a black cat which isn’t there.’
‘Then we’re not so different,’ replied the atheist. ‘You, too, are like a blind man wearing a blindfold, searching in a darkened room for a black cat which isn’t there. The only difference between you and me is that you found it.’
* * *
The Mystery of the Smiling Women raised its head again today. I was sitting in my car when a young woman pulled up in a van nearby and got out. She made a point of turning towards me and smiling. She was pretty, devoid of make up, and possessed of hair which appeared (most uncommonly in England) to be naturally black. There was a hint of Romany about her features. When I walked across the car park to get a ticket she smiled a second time, and a third when I walked back again. Later in the afternoon, three more young women caught my eye and smiled.
This is becoming an oddly common occurrence and I suppose I ought to be pleased, but I’m not; I’m mystified. The fact that they never used to do this maybe offers a clue of some sort, but what sort? I’m neither young enough to attract libidinous attention, nor yet quite old enough to evoke either condescension or pity. So what are they seeing? I wish I knew. Maybe I should stop one of them and ask.