It wasn't clear to the man what he wished from him exactly. It was the case that almost everyone, even the toothless lunatics on the street, spoke English. The whole world now spoke English, it was the internet. The guide himself had a website.

"There are certain colorations," the client explained. Colorations was a good word, though the client wasn't particularly interested in the difficulties of translating it here.

"Guide services, of course," the client added. Yet he seemed not to raise to the bait when the interpreter mentioned the beauties of local women or the availability of therapeutic massage. Nor did he seemed interested in boys or men. Bathhouses raised no interest, nor did the bar named Bronco Manhattan, a well-known hangout.

"Hangout isn't a word we have an easy alternative for," the interpreter suggested.

"How interesting," the client said, disinterested.

Veels geluk met jou verjaarsdag!

Deiz-ha-bloaz laouen deoc'h!

Tillykke med fodselsdagen!

Eftixismena Genethlia!

Nkwagaliza amazalibwa go amalungi!

These, too, from the internet.

Still he was willing to pay to have the guide accompany him, at least part of the day.

In a novel a character imagines setting soap back upon the rubber nubs, thus struck by the ordinariness of certain objects which could stand for the reality we share.