“Why do you do that?” she asked him.
“You call something ‘the best-ever.’ ”
He thought about it.
“I guess because it’s a popular expression. In English,” he shrugged.
“In American, you mean,” she corrected.
“Well, yes, I suppose,” he said. “People there say it all the time. ‘It’s the best.’…”
“Such a stupid expression,” she said, frowning.
“What do you mean?” he asked. “What’s wrong with it?”
“First, of course, because everything cannot be ‘the best.’ ”
He looked blankly at her.
“Well, something needs to be ‘the best,’ doesn’t it?”
“Who says so?” she asked, looking at him. “And why?”
He was about to instruct her about his work, commercial advertising, but knew he wouldn’t get far. Not with her.
Still scrutinising him, Rosa continued.
“Saying this, you become guilty of deceit — of deceiving yourself, if nothing else.”
He stared into her brown eyes. When they’d met the first time, he quickly decided she was cold. Just now, he reconsidered.
“Calling something is ‘the best,’ ” she continued, “runs against the thing that words do — or what they should do.”
“OK,” he said. “What should words do?”
“They should bring genuine light to something. …Not darkness and lies.”
She leaned forward into him and, in speaking the last part with such great humorous melodrama, she surprised him. How difficult for her, he thought, indulging herself with this little performance. It made him smile, even as he yielded to his old devil-instinct.
“Maybe,” he said slowly. “But, as things go, isn’t calling something ‘the best,’ a fairly innocent deception?”
Rosa backed away, reaching for the pipe. With a stern look, she shook a finger at him.
“You be good, American,” she scolded. “Just be good….”