“Excuse me.” The man in the brown suit takes out a small handkerchief and rubs his nose, blinking at us with reddened streaming eyes. Softly, almost decorously, he sneezes again.
“And there you have a metaphor,” she tells me.
“A metaphor? For what?”
“Well, sort of like modern life. Here you see that guy sneezing, something as natural as breathing, and he has to apologise for it – even though we’re the only ones near enough even to hear.”
“So what’s your point? He should sneeze out loud and spray germs everywhere, and not say a word?”
“Of course not. But it’s kind of, you know, like – oh, I don’t know – maybe like saying what a nice solar heater you’ve just installed on your roof, when there’s a drought on the land. Inessential. Is it worth it? Jewellery on a corpse. Besides,” she says, "how do we not excuse him? It's superfluous."
“You’re not making sense.”
“No,” she agrees. “Probably I’m not.” Then, leaning over, she sneezes violently.
“Excuse me,” she says.