After a trip to the meter, the hour whiles away into another. We stay on the same bench while the nip in the air turns into a bite. I shiver. Even more so as I notice that almost everyone walking down the pier gives us a lingering look. Where we an odd couple?
I, dark and short, he much, much taller and blonde. It's probably that, but I'm less sure as I notice people actually smiling and making eye contact as they pass us. Do I detect delight in their stares? I must be off my head but then this entire sojourn with Mr. X had landed me in an upside down world already.
When I was four, my teachers gave me my first major role in a play. I was Alice in Wonderland and at the time, I remember them telling my mother I was the only child in class they felt could take the material on. I thought maybe it was because I read well, but I heard them say that it would be good use of my troublesome yet fertile imagination, which they'd apparently had concerns about already. It was true, I didn't find Wonderland strange..to me it was as real as my family or my friends, a world beyond sleep. It was being in school that felt out of place.
Mr. X doesn't walk as much as he moseys. We get to my place and I skip about giving him the tour, I hope he doesn't make the usual tired leer most men make about my bedroom, about how it's where the "magic happens" etc etc. Instead, I go a bit agape when he openly adores the YES room. "I LOVE that big, fat huge YES on your study wall!" he goes near it to examine the fiery red block letters. I hold my breath, waiting for him to use this as a predictable seque way to my acquiescing to all sorts of lascivious things.
"You know why I love that YES?, " he continues as I try not to wrinkle my nose, "It's because saying YES to things is what opens your world up, you know what I mean?"
He whips his shades off and smiles at me benignly, "You mean in the blog you don't want me to read?" And I feel a stab of guilt for being so elusive, for not Face Crack friending him, for being so spare with the details of my life. Yet nervous as well as how despite all that, we weren't exactly running out of things to say to each other.
"Uhm, yeah," I hustle to distract him, pointing to the couch across the YES, "Why don't you sit there and I'll sit across, I'll be the therapist & you be the patient. Now, tell me your deepest, darkest secrets so I can heal you instantly!" He doesn't even bother sitting but stretches out comfortably with his feet hanging past the edge, sighing, "I love this room. I could live in this room. For an office, this couch is perfect." He lazily strokes the under curve of the guitar hanging near his head while he does a slow study of the room from where he was.
I feel a bit choked, I'd had a hard time being in the study despite having it refurnished, repainted and feng shui'd to oblivion. I'd spent a lot of time in it with the Sewer that even after all that ritual and cleansing, some kind of wound had stayed. A phantom hill I couldn't seem to get on the other side of.
His eyes which I could now finally see rendered him softer, they were sincere and un-layered. A light sea green with flecks of gold. Different from the artificially hard stare I wasn't quite sure about on a few of his band photos, no wonder he wore shades in most of the pictures or rarely stared straight into the camera.
He'd told me he'd been in LA for the last 5 years, but the eyes I saw now were unguarded. I always looked for that, for some proof of a choice other than cynicism. Because I was like that. I hope for people who can still believe. And his eyes told me he did. In something.
I perch on my clear lucite chair, hugging my knees in and we talk, words unraveling like knitting spilt over the floor. The cadence is lulling, the sky deepens to the azure of evening and I make noises about food. He follows me and plays the guitar while I tend to the pizzas. "Do you like this?," he asks doing some Spanish guitar picking. "Or this?," shifting to something more mainstream.
I'd asked him to play because I don't like talking much when I'm cooking, or fussing over the kitchen. Usually it's meditative, sometimes lonely but all of it felt disturbingly normal, I couldn't stop myself from saying, "I love all of it. And I could get used to this." Crap. I stiffen up a bit but decide pretending I didn't say any of it would be the way to go. Over dinner, he tells me more about his not so extensive past and I enthusiastically razz him about this, that or the other thing. I'm mid-chatter when he reaches over to move my fringe away from my eyes, an action so tender that I suddenly hear myself. I haven't talked this much to anyone in like.. forever. And it kind of made me happy. But. He doesn't know that now, does he?
I nervously laugh through the pause and force him to try mochi, a Japanese concoction of sweet cool balls of ice cream wrapped in rice gel and rolled in powder. You eat it with your hands, which I figured would keep his busy. In an hour, I think vaguely, I ought to drop him off back at the pier, and he'd have to cycle yet another two hours back. The evening would end, and we'd be none the worse for it. These are the wise thoughts that occupied me as we sauntered to the lounge, but after what seems like only minutes later, I look up and it's midnight.
I ignore this. "Wait," I hop on a chair to TRY looking him in the eye,"did YOU know it was getting late and never said a word?"
Mr. X shakes his head laughing, "NO. Frankly I wasn't paying attention to the time." I'm practically wringing my hands. If I kicked him out now, he'd be cycling till almost 3am in the morning. What kind of heartless harpie would that make me? I hold my head in my hands, a silent groan echoing through it, "OMG, it's so SO late. You can't cycle back, can you?" I ask hopefully one eye blinking through my fingers.
Mr. X watches me from his great height, his smile un-rippled by my mini panic attack. I can't even look at him as I cocoon myself at one end of the plush couch and hug a pillow for dear life, "You won't mind sleeping on this couch right? I mean, nothing really fits you but you know, I have like..these things called blankets.." I finish faintly. And cross my arms even more tightly.
"I am NOT having a crisis, and I will have you know, I do an excellent Golum voice - even the one where he sounds like he's hacking up a hairball," I answer peevishly. Though I'm not quite sure why I was so proud of being able to mimic a slimy mutant hobbit of all things. "Oh, really, go on then, let's hear it," Mr. X is unaffected by my frown and when I stayed sullenly quiet he offered,"I did dress up as one of the elves when the second movie opened, my hair was even longer back then, I did the cape, the braid, the whole thing."
I start laughing,"You? An Elf? Yeah, sure, the hair and your..general blondeness! (this I say with accusation). But size-wise, you're more Ent - I mean, that could've been you, laboriously moving through the forests, in fact we should check your hair for left over hobbits. And nests. Possibly a small plane or two."
"Not having it, come on, do the voice. Do your Golum," Mr. X insists. I let the pillow go and sit up straight for this, my diaphragm needing to be unbent to get Golum's voice right. I silently congratulate myself on how this is possibly one of the geekiest conversations between a man and a woman ever, clear my throat and start, "Wheee Waaaants Itt, Wheee Haves to Have it, My Preciousssss, you Stoopid Fat Hobbits.."
And it was there in mid-Golum rasp that I suddenly felt the room darken as Mr. X swooped in to kiss me.