Cherry Picking

I met the criminologist at the tapas bar where I met N last year.  It was this night that  I was supposed to go dancing with Trasi at Scared to Dance.  She said she would get in touch if she felt she could make it,  but I didn’t hear from her.  So I was just sitting there in the tapas bar holding hands with N and staring into his  eyes over a Margarita… he said ‘don’t look at me like that’ but we kept looking.  I kissed his hand at some point.   It was this way of having intimacy without daring to have any intimacy…but it ended up being more powerful.   I remember going to the toilet there and discovering my skirt was absolutely drenched in blood… I was relieved that he didn’t notice, and rushed out of the bar to meet him before the waiter noticed the blood that was on the chair.  Later Trasi said she was trying to call me the whole time but the call wouldn’t  go through.

Hugging the criminologist goodbye I feel that’s it’s not a very good hug, and he’s just being polite.  I walk towards a pub in Stoke Newington.   J. W.  used to live there.  I find a shop with a lot of cards made by artists.. They have a book  by Sophie Calle, the artist who had 50 psychiatrists analyse the emails she got from her ex.    I am low on cash but I buy a card that reminds me of J. W.    It’s a happy orange lion that says  ‘Let’s Fuck It Up’   I remember J. W. saying ‘I’m sorry for fucking things up’ over and over.  It wouldn’t  be funny to  send  him the card would it?  I have to find someone to send the card to. 

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I go to the pub, I feel a little less bad about my garden party when I see I’m the first unrelated person to show for the going away party of the happy couple.  I ask the sister if it’s a bit weird for someone to whatsapp  you pictures of themselves with a baby before the first date.   She says “You have to let me screen these people for you!   He’s Irish isn’t he?  I knew he looked Irish.”

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 I’m getting my last half pint and I start talking to a Portuguese sound engineer at the bar.  We are talking for 20 minutes quite spontaneously, forgetting to order a drink  and ask each other’s names.  He’s cute.  Then he says something about a girlfriend.  He reminds me we should order a drink, I offer to pay, but he pays for me anyway.  We have a talk about the institution of marriage, which he doesn’t believe in, but he is marrying his Filipina girlfriend so she can come to England.  I’m trying to explain why I like it even though it’s part of the patriarchal concept of owning women.  It’s also like a promise protecting your partner from the rest of the affects of sexism on her body… saying that she is not a consumable discardable person.  But he says that she should know that anyway.   I’m thinking about N’s ex spending almost a decade with him without the piece of paper, never really feeling secure, and being disappointed in the end.  I think about all the times men have said all the nicest things to me…and they can still believe those things even, but it doesn’t have any effect on my relationship status or even whether they want to spend time with me…So I like the piece of paper…it’s something that’s outside of their usual system of bullshit.  Maybe it’s a problem of hearing more bullshit than truth.

We get kicked out of the garden, I lose him in the crowd.  I go back to the party table… I feel like I’m inarticulate and have nothing to say to these people.  Time to go home.

Then I made the mistake  of flirting with a Frenchman.

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I am walking back to the station.  A guy  is walking  in that direction at the same time…and starts to talk to me.  I never do this, but he is cute, has a nice build, and seems age appropriate.  He starts to share cherries with me. He is French, from Bordeaux,  I tell him the rumor I have heard that ‘Frenchmen never quit’   and ask him if he likes French films.  He only watches Hollywood movies.  He becomes brave enough to place the cherries between my lips.  I start  being quite silly and dramatic about it,  getting a few twirls in..waltzing down the street, being fed cherries.  After several requests, I agree to have a drink with him, but then I will go home.  As we walk into the bar, I find out he is 29 and a manager at Nando’s in East Finchley.  I say ‘How old do you think I am?’  He says 20.  “Ha!” I say, “Yeah right!”

I have to show my license at in the door, but he doesn’t look.  I say, “No, how old do you think I am?”  He says he doesn’t care.

I tell him to buy me a Sex on the Beach.   We talk about education, family background.  No uni. that’s what I guessed. I ask him how he likes London.  I am actually hoping to hear stories of culture clash, but like with the films he disappoints me.  He says he’s happy here, and his family has moved here too.  He is asking me whether I’m Indian.  I explain that I’m only half, and I ask “Are the French racist?”  He says yes, and then it comes out that he is half Tunisian.  That’s interesting, and I never would have guessed it.   My drink is done,  I want to go home.

We walk to the station…..He’s actually telling  me that he’s hard …I’m thinking  geez, all  we did was have a drink.    Instead of kissing  me on the cheek he tries to hold me against himself.  I have faulty middle class reflexes. I say that’s not appropriate instead of screaming.  I run away.

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