On photo #206475
, and #206479
I have recognised ourselves.
Péter Bencze Szabó
25 March 2021
Frigyes Karinthy’s Reality, or Meeting a Young Man
A neat young man with a hint of self-esteem does not show himself without an attaché-case.
The fact that in such a briefcase, with its standard size of 44×32×11 cm, intended specifically for carrying and filing documents with its internal compartments and a number lock, one cannot fit an apple without at least creating a hump or making it burst open at the top is irrelevant (I know, I know… a sandwich, an ID card, a travel pass, or a set of keys fit perfectly and more resourceful people cut the apple in half.)
It is indeed the essence of the briefcase that creates an air of being an important person; after all, a diplomat walking on the street carrying important diplomatic notes, assignement letters, or confidential documents is a fairly rare phenomenon.
And if one turns out to be a diplomat indeed, carrying such important documents on foot, let’s say, taking them from an embassy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he or she certainly does not take a break and sit on their briefcase in the middle of the street.
I met two young men.
They were sitting on their briefcases set on the ground on their short side in the middle of the street. (If we accept the abovementioned criteria, we can be dead sure that they were not diplomats.)
They were talking. Nothing could derail their attention. Even though they could have had a great view of, let’s say, female legs passing by as they were sitting on their briefcases, about a meter above the ground. Or of car wheels.
I immediately recognized both of them.
I know what was inside their attaché-cases. (A sandwich, a travel pass, a set of keys, an apple cut in half.)
I know exactly what they were talking about. I also know their plans.
One of them was planning to marry: he was guhsing about his fiancee.
The other one—a young engineer by the way—was setting out his ambitious business plans to purchase a couple of acres of land to produce cabbage and mastering the art of fermenting.
One of them mentioned, briefly, without any reference to the cabbage, that he was about to write a stroybook about their childhood in the near future.
The other one was not really moved by this information and started to talk about yet another topic, the international success of Ernő Rubik’s Magic Cube and his own success at matching the colors under 4 minutes. Apropos of color cubes. If and when he has the money, he would buy a color tv set that the company Videoton in Székesfehérvár was about to produce.
One of them quickly moved from color cubes and color TV sets to another topic, casually mentioning that at the age of 88, Josip Broz Tito died the other day.
“He ascended into Heaven and Berci [Bertalan] Farkas made it back from above with Szojuz 36,” the other one joked.
They both agreed on this and quickly turned to discuss what to expect after the protests in Gdańsk led by Lech Wałęsa.
Something is happening in Poland, it is going to be a huge blast, as huge as the eruption of Mount St. Helens in the Casacades in the US, they said.
I was not evesdropping, but I know they were pretty well informed.
It is strange that they did not know what I knew right at the start of our meeting, for instance, how the Polish protests would end. I knew that the one with those plans would never produce cabbage on that piece of land, let alone master the art of fermenting. I was aware of the fact that the current world record in spinning Rubik’s Cube is under 6 seconds, I knew that one would have a happy marriage and the other one would divorce soon; that the storybook would get published and that 40 years later, a signed copy of it would appear in a second-hand bookshop (what an atrocity!)
I knew that one of them would never have a digital footprint—no Facebook, no Twitter account—and that he would dissappear without a trace from the life of the other one, the world, and his first family. (Even though he is still alive.)
I knew the dreams, the plans, the convictions they would give up along the way and I knew what they would and would not become.
I knew all this the instance I met them—in a photo taken in 1980.
It is us sitting face to face on our briefcases in this photo.
It is part of a series of 1800 photos that was taken in the 1970s and 1980s by István Kereki. Kereki donated his collection to Fortepan 50 years later.
If you start browsing the collection under https://fortepan.hu/hu/photos/?donor=Kereki%20S%C3%A1ndor
, there is a good chance you will meet a young man or woman.
It could even be you.