Sinbad, my carpet guy, was a sweetly jolly Persian family man in the habit of checking my flat for things that needed repair. He had changed my kitchen floor a few years ago, back when the Sewer was still around. He had sharply chastised him then when my dining table swayed slightly after Sinbad thumped a thick hand on it. His actual words to the Sewer were as I recall it, "What's wrong with you? You should take care of her, you suppose to be man, you should fix things." For a tradie, he certainly didn't hold back. I had blushed shame faced for the Sewer, but it proved yet another thing I've long suspected. That when it comes to each other, Men can really sniff other men's Bullshit out.
Sinbad notices my distracted dismay, "Is that the boyfriend?," he queries,"Not the same as the last one I hope." Gee, I think, thanks for yet again casting your vote in what's been hands down the most horrifying relationship experience ever. Sinbad moves it along and I rush through errands, calculating in my head how much time is considered polite to spend with a man I've never met yet who'd just launched a micro Tour de France on my behalf. Soon enough, I get a text and Mr. X is at the pier asking me to come on down.
Give me 15, I text back - I was barely ready. I dash to the mirror and freshen up my make up, deciding that the ratty grey tank I had on would be good enough for the exercise. That's what it would be right? Surely after having aided him towards job loss and likely making him lose 5 lbs in water weight after the lengthy bike ride, I'd have to humor Mr. X in satisfying his youthful folly. I get there, feed the meter an hour and carrying a frosty bottle of water, pray the encounter wouldn't be grindingly awful. Except I hadn't realized that at 5'1", most every man on the walk-street is taller than me. Hmm. How to tell?
Then childishly, well if he did I hope he gets slapped by a fish. I don't know what it is, but I'm simply unafraid of hurting Mr. X's feelings. It reminded me of when I was eight and I'd landed myself in the principle's office after I sucker punched Fredrick, the significantly bigger drooling class bully who'd spent the last 4 months threatening to steal me away from my bed in the dead of night. Maybe it was from being tired with B's wavering, or the whole business of knowing I could like Mr. X but not really wanting to.
It's warm yet windy, and I shield my eyes against the sun when I find it suddenly blocked by a shadow so tall, it momentarily disconcerts me enough into mistaking it for an eclipse. I'd hoped that the distance, albeit short, was playing tricks with my perspective. I pass him purposely, catching my breath, then turn around to see Mr. X smiling at me.
All I see is my puzzled face tauntingly reflected back in his mirrored shades as he stood there, with his long blonde hair bunned at the back, strands falling to his face. He grins even more widely as I crane my neck to attempt eye contact. He must be at least a foot and a half taller than me. "Uhmm.. X..?," I croak, wondering what the chances were of my falling backward from all this upward staring. Or getting vertigo.
The weather, I think, talk about the weather. "Yeah, so..how was the ride? You didn't get burned I hope?," I try to punctuate my lame questions with helpful concern. Mr. X stretches his considerable length towards me, "Do I look burned?, he asks. I uncomfortably examine him, "Well, I don't know what color of pale you started out with before the ride..and honestly, from where I stand you're so close to the sun I can't tell the difference."
It was meant to be a barb but he laughs it away, I see an eyebrow raise over his shades in amusement and I shift unsteadily - I can't see his eyes but I'm getting the feeling I resemble a light snack. When we were still going back and forth on Face Crack, I'd told him I ate boys like him for breakfast and saved the more robust meals for inmates, evil overlords and anyone 99.99% covered in tatts - all bluster of course. It was banter, but now, I was struggling not to look like a limping wildebeast in a predator's line of sight. I make a split second decision, Just Be Friends and instantly start to joke with him.
"Can we sit down?," I ask pointing to the bench. "You have a really unfair advantage standing and I think if we're on equal seating, you'd fully grasp my brain in all its wonderful magnificence. And really you won't want to miss that, it's like fireworks."
"Oh, I already do get it," Mr. X quips back, "It's really the rest of you I'm appreciating now." He says that with lingering pleasure. Ah. Not down with the friends thing then. But it's early yet and the next 45 minutes left on my meter should allow me to wrap this up nicely. That should be enough time for me to define the unknown quantity of Mr. X and well, run.
Run, Angel. Run.