Before News Cafe

Big Square

There we were, at the tipsy tipping point (if you got the reference, consider yourself part of the culturally elite), the one after which things could either go, either way, getting lucky or getting gone. Just beyond two beers for me, just beyond four glasses of wine for her. We started talking about our relationships. I had always been slightly jealous of hers with my college roommate. Theirs seemed ideal.

How had we come to this? I had started by first getting to know her (then) best friend when we were still in school, who we both found out had become awkward with both of us. We laughed about this. We reconnected after we graduated and found out we work quite near each other. How had we started talking about our relationships? I gave her a hint of mine and told her how I used to hear their intense fucking, separated as we were by a diaphanous wall (hence, roommates).

She smiled and then told me how she was never that into it, how she used to fake it all, how well she could act and put on a show. “Why?” I asked her. Because he had been pursuing her for three years and her friend told her to give it a shot. Or, more appropriately, let him give her a shot. She was in her final year of university so what did she have to lose? She acquiesced. She regretted it from the get-go, the fun times they shared an insignificant consolation.

How did you do it?“, I asked. She had her eyes closed the whole time, and when she closed her eyes, he could have been anyone. A sardonic smile paints her lips as she says this. There is no irony, no sarcasm. Just the cold hard truth. All this put quite the spanner in the works of my intentions with her.

So, what will be happening when you close your eyes when you are with me?” She smiled warmly and did not answer, instead sipping from her glass and retouching her lip gloss. And then it occurred to me: if there will be this, us, I may also be rendered nameless at the moment, obscured for an ugliness that only she can see. This thought terrified me. I did not want to be invisible, a fungible unit of what is supposedly a memorable interaction.

I wanted to sleep with her, had wanted to for a long time. The problem with wanting something almost obsessively is your mind builds up a certain feeling of entitlement and a fragile hope that, indeed, you fantasy will come to tangible fruition. I certainly found myself there. Throw alcohol and good music into that soup and you have quite the collage of emotions and actions.

She ended up saying no and I was oddly relieved. I gathered we would not be more than what we already are, good friends, which works for me just fine. It was an itch, which in hindsight, I can do without scratching. Sour grapes? Perhaps, but more, the cliché goes, that I was a dog (guffaw) chasing a car. I would not know what to do with it if I “caught it.” There is always a “Then what?” for me with these things that I have never been able to get a satisfactory answer.

The bigger issue there was that I was able to catch myself, and to a much larger degree, she was able to stop me, before I became a complete caricature. That long conversation cast an inviting glow on my habits and behaviours: how many things had I done without necessarily having had to do them? It reminded me of something I heard, where I do not remember: you are not missing much. I should dial myself back.

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