I am happy to leave well enough alone with Dragan, figuring it would be simple enough to let slide into ambivalent decline, not unlike a rotting corpse. While we had no agreement to be exclusive, I'd made it clear the burden of proof for commitment would be his. After all, he was the one hankering after an arrangement which would take at least three years with most of the sacrifice on his future spouse's part. To my mind, it's as simple as a business proposition, even if swaddled in mild affection.
It's an investment, and to get a backer, he would have to prove he was solid. And I don't just mean in pictures. Maybe he got lost in translation?
Dragan and I have breakfast the next day, lounging around after dressing, too lazy to go anywhere on a Sunday morning. Like anyone foreign, the weekends are times of catch up with family overseas. He video chats with his sister and a female friend he used to work with, apologizing as both conversations draw out. And completely oblivious he was giving me a demonstration of exactly what I'd outlined were my concerns if this were to go any further.
But he's happy and gregarious, I hear the sister ask what he's eating and realize I'm beginning to digest Serbian words here and there. Prosciutto Italiani, he chattered in Serbian, wrapped around melon slices and it was very good. I glimpse the female friend as I flit by, attractive with cheekbones I'm sure could double as paper cutters, but Dragan while not introducing me, makes it clear to both of them he's with someone as he translates parts of what he said. He tells me about the friend, "I talking to Iliana, she work with me before and her boyfriend also, they send me the Serbian cds." They continue laughing as they catch up on old times, I'm both happy and sad to see him like this.
Happy because home is not just a place, but the people and sad, because I am absolutely right about everything I'd said. It will be a few days before this sinks in, I think and all will depend on what he does. It's past noon by the time he leaves, off once more to yet another Serbian party, he kisses me with familiar affection like we'll be doing this over and over again. Certainly it has that feel to it, but I know this will be the last time. Somehow.
Dragan is decidedly more relaxed once we get back to my flat, the almost altercation at the fair already forgotten. The pleasant heat of the day has dwindled off with the dusk taken by the unfolding cool of evening. We're both relieved to be inside and cozy, having been out for most of it. I kick my shoes off, and head barefoot to the kitchen.
In a rhythm as old as time, he leaves me to it and takes himself off for a shower. I hear Serbian words mingle with the spray of water as he sings muffled through the door. The last time I saw this kind of quaint domesticity happen was with the Sewer, and yes, in a black and white film. It was oddly comforting then as it was now, I shiver at the memory.
The only other men I cooked for were the Frugens and B, well, formerly. The Frugens usually occupied themselves happily kissing or sniping at each other like naughty puppies, and B would either hover round me chatting or watch tv nearby to keep me company. I was surprised to realize that I'd actually been cooking for B for almost a year, he used to tell me he was the envy of the office break room as colleagues leered drooling at one of my artfully packed leftover lunches. It was a sweet thought of curious belonging.
The festival weekend finally comes. LA for all her smog and wonky multi-lingual signage is for the time, sunny and bright. A strange feeling of familiarity has begun to settle between Dragan and I, by virtue I think of having seen each other more consistently.
Something I liken to how a prisoner starts to view their captor as human, just because he always happens to be there. In retrospect, way too Freudian a thought.
Dragan's comfort is such that he arrives an hour early just as I pull up my driveway, sweaty and flushed from a run. I bounce out of the car with a "Hello, Bossy! Here already?" The question doesn't daunt him, and I'm wondering if this was his way of shifting himself from someone I'm "seeing" to "official boyfriend who can come round whenever". He eyes my hot pink towel shorts, the wispy steamed tendrils of hair and hugs me anyway, as if he wanted to try out the glistening gym version. Surprising, considering how stringent his post-coital hygienics had been. Maybe the comfort zone is a spectrum, dare I hope that this may later manifest itself in the bedroom? I notice him riveted by my bottom as I run up the stairs. Hmm, promising.
The festival is a slice of longed for summer. The day is so crisp and lush, we cannot help but attack it with relish. Revving the engine up, I give Dragan a conspiratorial smile and ask,"You up for discovering LA, Bossy?"
Dragan leaves me after brunch, looking hesitant and a touch unnerved. As we walked back to the car, he’d observed somewhat interestingly that he knew quite a few Serbian men married to Asian women, “it look like they very happy always,” he adds. I don’t know what to say to this, probably as I’m now literally gun-shy. Did THEY get asked to buy guns post-coitus as well? Ah, the romance.
I disappear into him as he crushes me in an embrace and tells me to let him know if I’m free the next weekend. I think, hmm, despite my refusal to gun run, he still likes me. He rushes off to be at a Serbian party where he is meant to play, of all things, the accordion. Great, I’m dating a gun-toting Geppetto.
Before brunch, he’d sat with me to explain the mechanics of the instrument very patiently, pointing out how wind travels through the different moving parts and actually manages to make the dratted thing come off as sexy. That he’s intelligent was never the question.
All I’m wondering is what happened to all that manual dexterity? Woops. Sorry.
Once in my own space, psychic impressions of this latest encounter fall like a ton of bricks around me. A gun??? And what about all the sexy build up falling flat as a winded souffle?? Sure I could do Madonna/Whore with style, but not for that kind of bed-work. I’m conscious of feeling antsy, as if I’d had a meal on the run and I was still ravenously hungry. I rouse the Council for immediate advise and submit my tale of woe for careful consideration.
Glad to have escaped the feathery clutches of Kentucky, I receive a message from Dragan informing me he was uncertain if he had work on the weekend, but that he'd like to see me SOON. Aside from normally being prompt about making plans and appearing for them, well, save for that first week when Serb-ice suffered derailment - the sense of urgency is thinly veiled.
I thought we were going a dignified pace, but he seemed to have acquired the velocity of a heat seeking missile. "I have a business dinner", I reason. "Is ok, just say when," he responds.
"It may last past 9 pm," I counter. "10 pm is fine,"he replies. Then adds,"We also do lunch tomorrow, da?" Right. It seems that would imply he was staying over.
Thankfully, the meeting is distracting and I lose myself in the whys and wherefores of fluctuating futures and the like. There's nothing quite like a bar chart gone haywire to dampen the delicious anticipation of possible surrender. I stealthily answer his texts as he asks me for an ETA. Typically Arien he deems the failure to respond to text messages or scheduling dates in a timely manner, an issue of Respect. Ignore him at your peril is the message I get.
It's actually a relief from the push-pull flakery rampant in LA where too many things are concluded with a shrugged whatever. I get home just in time to indulge my Venus and appear nonchalantly put together as Dragan looms at my door. It's decided we catch a late movie, which I thought should be a fitting prelude. Yet sitting in the dark of the theater, Dragan remains self-contained and neither holds my hand nor attempts even a whisper of physical closeness, except to occasionally tap me on my shoulder and say something funny. Like I was his sister. Or something.
Most memories of movie dates I've had usually involve ignoring it altogether. I sit uncomfortably through three long hours of piracy, mayhem and maiden ravishing. At least someone was getting some action.
Hearing Dragan inform me that he is indeed, the Magic Plumber elicits a reaction akin to getting news of an impending catastrophe. I am hastily smoothing the Sex Dress under my coat, clutching my things and already teleporting myself 20 minutes forward to when I will be in my soft cotton negligee, safe and sound in the cozy cavern of my home having tea and forlornly writing the Golden Venus of how the date went bust. Or that really, I had the good sense to RUN while I still could. Yes, in those 5 inch patent heels.
FA on feathers, fangs, furies and all sorts of folly, yes, even the serious kind.
content copyright 2011
Yep, my life, my insanity, my copyright. If you like what you read, let me know :)
Did I use your image & attribute it incorrectly? Sorry! Let me know and I'll take it down. "Sssshhhh" image on blog header by Deborah Azzopardi. It's an amazing print now available thru Ikea.