My friend Leo (short for Leonidas, truly) and I had been to the cinema, and it was late at night. The film was a Japanese silent film that was narrated by a visiting Benshi, and accompanied by a live pianist. It was a free showing at the archives, so we had decided to go along for a laugh, but in the end we both enjoyed it greatly, Leo much more than me. "100 out of 10!", he had said when the credits began. Afterwards, we had stopped at the 24-hour corner shop to buy some ice creams, and were walking back to college, hands in pockets.
On the way back we had been talking about the film, and then there was a long silence, after we had both run out of things to say. We were just walking, looking at the pavement, and suddenly Leo decided to tell me something. Leo is German, so the following should be read with a thick German accent. I think it's funnier that way.
"You know, I almost wasn't going to come out tonight, but I'm glad you convinced me," he said.
"Yeah, well, it's not something that you get the chance too see very often, huh."
"True, but I'm usually not into that kind of thing. And it's almost more trouble than it's worth, most nights."
"Where's the trouble," I asked him, "it's free."
"You know, that's what people always say, 'it's free, so why not', but that's bullshit. That's pretty much the only thing that doing Economics has taught me, that everything has a cost. It's the opportunity cost."
"Sure, but would you have been doing anything tonight anyway?"
"That's not the point, I could have been doing something. Opportunity cost is the most valuable thing you can do instead of whatever you're doing, so I figure that something is only worth doing if it's better than wanking."
I broke out laughing, spluttering, covering my eyes. When I looked up at him, he was just smiling at me, which made me laugh harder. But I don't think he was joking.
He said, "but really, what could I be doing right now? I could be sitting in my room, masturbating. And that's the same for every night! So if I don't know whether or not to go out, I think about the plan, and if it doesn't look more enjoyable than jerking off, I don't do it."
I was still laughing, but I said, "well, I watched a TED video by some guy whose idea was that we should all just ask ourselves what we love doing, and then do those things more often. So I guess you're giving good life advice there, huh.
"Exactly. Do what you love. And who doesn't love masturbating?"