Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Year In Review, a little late

2008 was the year of compassion for me. Never before have I tried harder or more passionately to keep the things I had been given, only to lose them because sometimes we are just not enough. 2008 taught me some, in a visceral sense, compassion.

Last year I was given the man I wanted, the future I wanted and the job prospects I wanted. None of this was an orchestra-swelling sort of climatic moment but rather I found myself, for the first time, on a trajectory that I really, truly enjoyed. I was able to let go of my usual petty complaints and it felt like life had shifted into a higher gear, one in which I could sway my small piece of the world in ways I felt were useful and then return home to a man with whom I could discuss, debate and process the day in a way that felt natural. It wasn’t the Hollywood sort of thing without fighting and all soft lighting but it was real in the ways that I valued. I had everything I wanted.

Unfortunately though, no matter how much I loved, hard I worked or earnestly I fought, the entirety of my being was not enough to keep what I needed. And, I feel that is a rather important lesson to learn.

I always knew, intellectually, that sometimes we’re just not enough to keep the things we love but I had never known it on such a completely decimating, primal level. I am infinitely, eternally grateful that I didn’t have children to sort out, no family passed away and that the only person I had to get through this rough patch was myself.

It has, however, left me on the other side a rather changed woman. People ask me “What are your plans now” and I’ve truly got none. I’m going to try law school because that’s always been my final back up plan but I honestly no longer care. When asked where I want to live, I don’t care. I know I can’t stay here much longer but I don’t care where I go. And, I’ve always had the caveat that I might consider staying put should I meet the right man and his life isn’t flexible but last night, whilst talking with a friend I realized that I no longer think I’m capable of that, realistically speaking. I no longer want romantic love or the hope of it. I no longer want to think about my future, the great family I could have or the work I could do. And I’m not particularly sad about all of that, which is the weirdest part.

But it has made me much more compassionate towards those who have lost the things they really wanted. I no longer even consider the notion that they didn’t work hard enough for it. What’s gone is gone and though we’ve all done the best we can to prevent loss, sometimes we’re just not enough and there’s nothing to be done about it.

Friday, June 06, 2008


I have plunged headlong back into the haze of heartache. I don’t fully understand why I am here and I probably never will. All that is left to do is wait it out and get to a place where I can move on.

Simon and I grew insanely close over the past couple of months. It was lovely and perfect in a very real sense; we functioned as a process and not as some picture-perfect, static destination. However, he’s officially been blowing me off for two weeks now and I figure, it’s time to put my feelings to bed. I have my suspicions as to why but ultimately I don’t actually know.

And what upsets me the most is not the loss of Simon (which sucks, believe me) but the growing cynicism inside me. I’m just growing tired of the Russian Doll effect of my dating life. I would like to be DEVASTATED, DESTROYED, RAZED by the thought of never having him in my life again but I’m not. At the core of it all, I’m just highly irritated. “Oh right, this. Again.” The death of my passion is unsettling. That he feeds into the death of my passion should enrage me but it doesn’t. “Of course he feeds into it. He’s just like all the rest you’ve ever chosen.” Granted, I don’t long for the days of gut-wrenching sobbing and stones lost because I can’t eat but I do wish I wasn’t stronger than the sum of us.

I would like to finally be building towards something and not just in a relationship that will only amount to “lessons learned.” Frankly, I resent being as invested as I am in my relationships only to have the other bow out either with cowardice or without explanation. I hate being the girl that gets fucked over. And I know there are all these games and rules you’re supposed to follow about getting “your man” but the fact of the matter is I am who I am. The games and drama don’t really work for me. If I’m angry, I act angry. If I’m happy, I act happy. I’m brutally honest about how I feel because, well, life’s complicated enough without having to sort out what the real emotions are.

But, that would appear to be counterproductive.

So, here I am. Yet again. Irritated with the Russian Doll version of my love life.

Ultimately, what unnerves me the most is I’m less and less fazed by such disappointment because I’m starting to believe I don’t actually deserve the happiness that precedes the collapse. It makes sense to me that things would fall apart because I’m not supposed to find companionship. I hate that idea but it’s starting to seep into my foundation. It’s nothing I’ve consciously taken on but over the years, it has silently curled into my gut and like the unshakable tapeworm, it doesn’t look like it’s about to leave any time soon.

I am fully addicted to my iPod. There is no way around that fact. It is the simple truth of the matter. Granted, like the paranoid freak who really does have people out to kill him, I have very good reasons for my addiction. Well, one very good reason; I live in China.

For reasons beyond my control, I have spent the last two weeks without my iPod and I will be remedying that situation as soon as humanly possible. However, at current I am sans iPod.

Fuck, it’s brutal.

The constant invasion of China into my personal space is making me batty. Actually, it’s driven me into shut-in mode. I refuse to leave my apartment unless I have to now. What my iPod has been doing for me until now has been to provide a bubble of ignorance. The men I know who stare at me and talk about me are no longer drowned out by music of my choice that I control. I am now fully aware of their dialogue and it is the most irritating, base, chauvinist commentary about my physical self and how all foreign women fall within the stereotype applicable to me.

There are men who clearly think that I am little more than a blow up doll to be their dumpster. There are men who cut me down to impress their girlfriends. There are men who crack a multitude of jokes at my expense to impress the masses. Then there are the men who realize I speak Chinese halfway through their truly base conversation and then call me the equivalent of a “frigid bitch” because I won’t then engage in a dialogue with them. There are the women who giggle and compare themselves with my height to marvel and how big I am. There are the grandmothers who insist their grandchildren interact with the circus freak. There are the punk teenagers who try to work up the nerve to talk to me but then settle for being forced to merely rub (their genitals) by me as they pass through the tighter of the two squeezes of space on the bus or in the shop.

It is fully grating. It is fully irritating and offensive. It is everything New York purports to be but isn’t. I’ve never had to have such a thick skin in all my life. And, the truth is, I’ve never been a bigger bitch.

With my iPod, I missed the set up. I missed the dialogue explaining what was going on. Before, I was merely being jostled or pointed at. Now, I am forced to listen in painstaking detail, to why. I am forced to listen to the small minds and the prejudice and, worst of all, the lack of education. I am forced to hear grown men discuss in great detail how the “little girl” body is far more appealing than my fully developed woman’s body. What grown, heterosexual man finds breasts the sign of a ruined female body? Growing breasts is jumping the shark? Huh?

However, what I find heartening is the groups of silent people who awkwardly watch the spectacle I used to be able to blast into oblivion. Granted, those people are of no practical help and would never defend me but at least there is some semblance of what I recognize as a conscience somewhere. Two years ago, the complicit would have been what infuriated me the most but now it is the instigators who infuriate me. For some reason I have grown a soft spot for the hogtied, the silent resistance. In my old age, I have found compassion for those of us forced to live on our knees because we lack the psychotic streak that frees us and condemns us from the shackles of society. I would choose no other path but I do understand (and am jealous of their ability to conform) and can no longer fault them for their sheep-like behavior.

Fuck, I need to get my iPod situation fixed.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


The first time I ever heard of the “emotional gesture” was when I was eavesdropping on a master’s class at the Actor’s Studio. Essentially, the emotional gesture is to one’s emotions what a “tell” is to a poker hand; it is a moment when all pretense is dropped, subconsciously, and truth is distilled out.

Simon and I have been through a fair bit recently, none of which I’ll be getting into. Essentially, lots of externals have tossed themselves into the mix but what is between us seems, at least to me, to have remained fixed. It is safe to say he is notably good at not letting the rest of the world bleed into the space we have together. Whatever this is, I love it and I’ve never felt safer or more content.

Last night, somehow Simon and I ended up back at his apartment drinking wine. J- being the third of our musketeer troop- showed up just as I was passing from “buzzed” to “drunk.” The three of us had quite the evening and it’s safe to say I made quite the ass of myself. It was really, really fun and exceedingly silly. We stayed up until the Liverpool game was on and then the boys watched the game while I fell asleep… or passed out. Whichever works for you.

As all the commentary was in Chinese, the boys turned off the tv sound and hooked my iPod up to the speakers to listen to Linkin Park. It’s safe to say I was really out as I vaguely remember rolling over and thinking, “Gee, ‘Crawling’ is rather loud. Might wake the neighbors.” (For those of you not familiar with Linkin Park, their music is very loud and very aggressive.) However, I did eventually stir from the bowels of my nap at the deafening silence when the match ended and the iPod was turned off.

As my mind was pulling itself back to consciousness, J decided to go home. I hadn’t really stirred or opened my eyes but my capacity for processing sound was beginning to work again.

“What do you think the odds of her going home now are?” J asked.

Simon snickered. “Yeah, good luck with that man.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

I don’t remember if I actually said “Goodbye” to J or if it was something I merely thought I should pull myself from sleep to do. However, a blurry bit later and J was gone.

Lying there on the couch, I simply dissolved to unconsciousness again.

My consciousness was stirred again at the gentle brushing of fabric across me. The familiar sensation of being cocooned in a duvet settled me into even more relaxation and then Simon picked up my feet to tuck the duvet around them. Gently, he tucked the duvet in all around me to keep me warm. Curled up on my right side in the fetal position (the same position I always sleep in), he tucked his way up to tucking the duvet in around my hands in front of my face but was careful not to cover my face. Throughout his tucking-me-in, I was too tired to stir and so it’s safe to say he thought I was out. Whatever he did, he certainly wasn’t about to meet resistance from the barely there me. Finally finished tucking me in, he just placed a gentle hand on my head and tussled my hair a little.

It was the sweetest, loveliest gesture. That it was something he couldn’t help doing takes my breath away. I have never felt more adored in my life. There was more comfort and respite in that one gesture than in a thousand confessions or love letters. That is precisely the way in which someone makes me theirs.

I have recently turned down a multimillion-dollar offer for marriage, children and (his) American citizenship from a man who would pay others to pamper me. Frankly, I already have enough in terms of “things” and the notion that my stalker felt he could overcome my obvious disgust of him by appealing to the lowest common denominator of greed is just insulting. Frankly, there is no need to sell myself, much less forgo the chance of a man like Simon so that I might change my silver rings to platinum.

I am truly fortunate in this moment. I have a boy who can’t help but touch my hair after he tucks me in.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I’m pushing 30. Come October, I will usher in the time I actually turn 30. As much as I feel I should dread it and hate myself for getting older, things just seem to get better with age. Granted, I’m 99% about my head and 1% about my body most of the time, so that may come as little surprise to anyone.

And, one of the advantages of being around your thirties is the clarity you get about men just beginning their twenties. Whereas once they were all powerful and soul crushing to the exclusion of interest in romantic relationships with them, now I find them cute and silly. I have become the “mysterious” older woman that they all abandon the perkier girls their own age to be “tutored” under. Granted, I have no interest in tutoring but it would appear their hope springs eternal. How adorable is that?

I was speaking with J the other day about my concern that Waffle House might actually make good on his threat to call me. Frankly, I have no interest in blowing him off but I’m certainly not about to give him false hope. And the problem with 20-somethings is they say, “I’ll call you” and, in the moment, they mean it. However, they lack the follow-through. I was explaining to J how much I hoped Waffle House lacked follow-through. Unfortunately, Simon had been standing behind me, unbeknownst to me and overhead a portion of that conversation. Clearly, his curiosity was raised.

“Who are you talking about?” He asked.

“Some 19 year old who wants to fuck me.” I answered as bluntly as possible. Frankly, it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing to be deceptive about as he can tell when I’m hiding things and frankly, I don’t want to give him reason to be suspicious. Besides, if there is a way to sugar coat that, I have NO idea what it would be, short of using my grandparents’ lexicon of “winkles,” “woo-woos” and whatnot.

He paused, snorted a small laugh and spoke. “Look at that; ask a question, get an answer. Wow.”

Then, last night my platonic French husband’s (“The Boy”) cousin (who is here, looking for a position to teach French and is 20 years old) asked me to take him home with me. He was adorably cute about it and it came up contextually but really, what could I say?

As I was leaving the apartment they share after watching “The Last King of Scotland,” the Cousin put on his hat and shoes to walk out with me. I was still puttering about collecting the rest of my things while he was clearly waiting for me.

“Where are you going? It’s 2 in the morning,” I said.

“He’s hoping to go home with you,” the Boy said.

The beautiful Cousin looked at me with puppy dog eyes and shrugged a little, “Hoping.”

“You tired of living together? You want to crash in my guest room?” I asked, still not getting it.

“No, he wants to crash in your bed.” The Boy said.

“Hoping,” the beautiful Cousin said again, still giving me puppy dog eyes.

My first reaction to that was, “But I’m in my bed and I’ve got a perfectly good guestroom.” However, I only actually said, “But I’m in…” before the light bulb went on. To which I did the only thing I could; laughed. “Oh honey, I’d eat you alive. I’d break something off you and I can’t send you back to your cousin broken.”

“It’s alright. I don’t mind.” He spoke up cheerfully.

I laughed again and it was later revealed if he wasn’t actually able to go home with me, he was going to get his iPod in the car.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Welcome back to the merry-go-round that is my heart. I am still not used to how fast and hard I fall but damn, when the planets align, who am I to turn up my nose?

In a phrase, Simon is utter perfection. He is incredibly, physically hot but that is simply nothing compared to his mind. He is without the vast majority of the hang-ups manly men of his generation (mid-thirties) often have. He is utterly comfortable with fraternal affection (case in point: he full-body hugs his close male friends and espouses how “fucking amazing” they are) and he possesses a staggering knack for finesse. His life is constructed around making the world a better place and he’s willing to put in the hard time it takes to make real change. He’s neither threatened by outside feedback offering a suggestion and thus shutting it out nor does he take said outside feedback as a whipped little boy.

After Saturday’s blow out with Simon and his incredibly quick turnaround apology to J, he took J out for dinner Sunday night. Apparently, Simon explained everything that had gone on between the two of us and spoke to J about how he felt I might feel. According to J he mentioned that he was lucky to have me in his life because I make him a better man. He then confessed that he needed to apologize to me for his ungentlemanly manner.

While I appreciate the sentiment behind the idea that he felt he needed to apologize, the fact of the matter is that he did nothing wrong. I came in hard and fast and he reacted appropriately. There were openings for things to get personal but neither of us took them and we just went hard about the issue.

St Paddy’s Day rolled around yesterday and J told me I should come out for beers with he and Simon. I double-checked with J if he was sure that he thought Simon would really want to see me and J insisted. So, I agreed, as my problem with Simon had nothing to do with me but fucking up with my boy. As my boy was fine with hanging out with him and it wasn’t about Simon and I, all was good by me.

J and I met at the South Gate Youth Hostel for dinner before we were to hit up drinks with Simon around the corner and a block North on the bar street. While we were in the middle of dinner, Simon texted J about meeting for food. We explained where we were and had a moment when we weren’t sure whether or not we were going to get blown off again. We just looked at each other.

“No,” I said, “we should make a good faith effort to take him at his word. He apologized and the only way to move beyond is to take him at his word.”

“You’re right,” J said and with that we found a larger table to fit him. Not a moment later, Simon texted J to ask him to order food for him. Just as J was finishing ordering, Simon arrived, inconspicuously not making eye contact with me. He sat down clearly a little nervous and, disconcertingly, not looking at me at all.

So, we proceeded to make small talk about nothing and everything. Slowly we came around to actually talking just about the time we started talking about books. We talked about our book collections and then I went off on a tangent about how I’ve divvied mine up into fiction, non-fiction, classics, foreign language fiction, foreign language non-fiction, foreign language classics and textbooks for straight learning. I also have an “oversized” section that contains most of my art and reference books. And of course, within each section, everything was alphabetized. I may or may not have been accused of being “anal.” And I may or may not have confessed to being an “entomology whore.”

All in all, it was really nice to sort of find our groove again.

We then changed venues to meet up with two men I shall call “Steven.” One calls himself “Bad [Steven]” and the other guy was named “Good [Steven]” by Bad Steven. In short, Bad Steven is the sort of detestable chauvinist that gets away with it because he talks a lot about “glamorous” things, calls himself an “artist,” is very young (mentally, physically he’s probably mid-twenties) and is good looking. Good Steven is a lovely, smart, silly, subdued, young English gentleman.

Bad Steven started off trying to charm me with his generic sleaze and when I wasn’t having it, informed me that I might be earning a place on his shit list.

“Okay.” I said, generally bored with him. And, as there is nothing more offensive to me than being tedious and boring, the feeling he was expressing was mutual.

“I’m done talking to you!” He hollered, trying to bait me into begging him to come back.

“Okay,” I shrugged and took a sip of my gin and tonic.

Laughing in a way that can be best described as “jocular” he turned to my boy J to try and socialize. I refused to engage in the conversation the two of them had despite Bad Steven’s many pathetic stage whispers to bait me into conversation.

Frankly, I was too busy watching Simon being, well, Simon. He is truly a sight to behold.

The only time Bad Steven was actually able to break me from watching Simon at the end of the bar was when he would physically touch me to get my attention so I’d hear another one of his stage whispers to J about how I was standing in the way of their good conversation.

Finally Douche Bag left and J turned to me. “Girl, you are always right on. You just cut through it.”


“I thought you might be being a little harsh. I wanted to give him a chance but you were just right. You just knew and shut him down instantly.” My boy J is nothing if not flattering. “God,” he said exasperated at the thought of Douche Bag.

Then it was time for J to go up and play and Simon came over to me. “Should we move up to flood him with love?”

“Where do you want to move?”

“You pick.”

“You know he plays the Irish flute for you.”

“Yeah, I’m not that stupid.”

“No, I mean he told me specifically that he likes to play it for you because he hopes it makes you feel more at home.”

“That’s because he’s fucking amazing.” Simon then moved to walk past me but stopped. “You know, I’m not a total moron. I do know how to pick my friends.”

“You’re a very insightful man. You just need a good slap on the ass every once in a while.” Which made him snort a small, amused laugh.

So I moved us to a table up front and Simon took the seat straight in front of me. With him, he brought three beers. I got the first one, he then placed his across from me and then brought the last one up to J on the stage. Good Steven sat to my left and J’s empty seat was to my right. Several random folks and Douche Bag sat on Simon’s side. A beautiful, pouty girl took a place next to Douche Bag and clearly began to pout her way through some sort of lover’s quarrel with him.

As I studied her have her quarrel with Douche Bag, I noticed her stunning necklace a black metal choker in the shape of a rose vine complete with thorns and dewdrops in crystals. I then looked back to Simon and noticed him watching me.

“First thing; beautiful necklace. Second; very moody.”

“Yeah, it’s very beautiful.” I concurred.

“But very moody,” Simon made a sour face. Teasing he then dramatically rolled his eyes. “Women!” He unleashed, exasperated.

“Look, we can only work with what you give us.” I explained.

To which he smiled and took a swig of his beer.

J then started his set on stage and we more or less grew quiet to listen to him. He started off with one sort of flute/recorder type wind instrument. He then moved on to a large flute that had the mouthpiece almost half way down the body of the flute. He finished off with the Irish flute.

“Happy St. Paddy’s Day!” he opened with. To which there was a smattering of “whoo”s and clapping, primarily from our table. J started to play and Simon just lit up. He was clapping and hollering.

At one point, Simon turned to me and said, “You’re never going to hear this again; an Irish flute, a guitar and a synthesizer on ‘accordion’.” Simon then turned back to J to provide him some desperately needed rhythm. Later J thanked Simon because J was having a hard time keeping time with the way the back up was playing but when Simon’s clapping kicked in just then, J was rescued.

Good Steven and I then started talking about all sorts of things. He’s a very sweet bloke with a gentle demeanor and a strong sense of propriety. During our chats, I would occasionally tune in and out of our conversation to listen in to Simon’s. Often he was busy bragging about how amazing J is. There was a brief back and forth about going to yi jia yi (1+1) which is one of the local clubs. Simon made it none too clear that he wasn’t going and I like to think of it as “Rape Motherfucking Central” because it is. You literally cannot be in that club after midnight if you are a Western woman and not expect to be groped and fondled so aggressively and inappropriately that the last time I left my breasts were purple with bruises as were my thighs and I had a long key scratch across my stomach to say nothing of the fact that the men grab your clothes so hard my bra-covered breasts popped out of my shirt. “What the hell were you doing that you go treated like that” you ask? “Leaving.”

So I made it clear I was setting no foot near yi jia yi and went back to Good Steven.

While Good Steven and I were talking, Douche Bag made his drunken way over to me to review precisely who he had met for the evening.

“I’m sorry, I’m terrible with names. It’s not you, I’ve just forgotten your name again.” Douche Bag said for the hundredth time that night. “I know that [J] because he’s like me. He’s an artist but you, I just can’t remember.”

I resisted the urge to say ‘Cunt’ and decided to go with “Christina. And I fully expect you to forget it before we meet again.”

“Yeah I will. No, I’m just giving you a hard time, you know but we’re fine right? I mean you give me shit and I’m giving you shit.” He continued to go off at full volume about how we’re all good and he hopes I think we’re all good. Finally, he offered me his hand and I shook it.

“Right,” I said, desperately not giving a shit.

He then shifted around behind me, put his hands on my chair and announced to everyone that, “We’re all good!” He hollered that over and over for a minute. Then, to prove how “good” we are, he grabbed my chair and tipped it forward as if to tip me out of the chair. In lieu of tipping me out of the chair he merely slammed my knee into the large, heavy table directly in front of me and sliding it a good foot. He dropped the chair and tipped it again two more times and then grabbed my shoulders, squeezed them super hard while hollering about what good friends we are.

It all happened so quickly that I was merely stunned. I happened to glance up in my stunned-ness and see Simon in “kill” mode.

Douche Bag then drunkenly stumbled off to the bathroom.

“He’s actually a good guy.” Simon said, trying to subdue the situation.

“Yeah, I’ll take your word on that.” I said.

Somehow or another, the night went on and J got a phone call from his girl. J went outside to chat with her and Simon saw his bag.

“Where the hell did he go?” Simon pointed to J’s bag.

“His girl called.”

“He wouldn’t just leave all his instruments like that, would he?”

“He didn’t ‘just leave’ them. They’re with me. He trusts me.”

“Yeah. You’re just a LITTLE defensive about him,” Simon teased good-naturedly.

I picked up my fingers and made the gesture for “teeny tiny” with my pointer and thumb while I squeezed one eye shut and squinted the other. I mouthed, “just a little.” That made Simon laugh some more.

Eventually, all extraneous members of our group left and J was outside talking with his girl so Simon and I were left alone. Simon told me how happy he was for it just be the two of us and we just started going. It was just nonstop repartee. He was brilliant and hysterical and accommodating and incredibly patient with my alcohol-addled brain. It was just the two of us and it felt amazing. I wanted to never ever leave that moment. I’m never quite as fully present in the moment as when he’s around.

And then Simon leaned over. “You know, there was a point in the evening where I wanted to take [Douche Bag] outside.”

I shrugged and quoted Eddie Izzard, “Like you do.”

“I wanted to take him outside and put him up against a wall but there wasn’t really an intro. Had it gone on any longer, however, I would have.” He looked at me directly to be clear I understood. “I would have taken him outside and put him against a wall.”

“Oh,” I said, not really knowing what to say to such chivalry. He’s the first man I’ve ever liked that I know will not only fight with me but for me as well. “Strong all the way through” without being impenetrable is a very sexy notion. It’s safe to say I swooned.

“So, where shall we go next? I didn’t sit through all of that not to have a nightcap.”

“I don’t know.” I said. “I think Henry’s is still open.”

“Where’s Henry’s?”

“At the top of the street.”

“Henry’s it is.”

“But I only think it’s still open. I don’t know.”

“Henry’s it is.”

We collected J and headed off to Henry’s but discovered the bar just across the street was empty, quiet and still open. So, we piled in there and proceeded to chat for the rest of the early morning, leaving after 3 in the morning, all of us having work in a few hours.

Dear god, he is perfection.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I am IN love with men again. I always love men, even when the whole gender seems out to make me feel like utter refuse, but like all long-term relationships, one slips in and out of the passionate phases. However yesterday, I managed to rediscover my passion for men with a vengeance.

Simon and I keep circling each other and while he’s been allowing his intimidation to curtail our time together, I have nevertheless been perusing him shamelessly. However, he overstepped his bounds and blew off my boy J when my boy J (who is also his friend) needed friendly faces at this nightmare setup of a performance (J is a brilliant musical talent; he plays all instruments effortlessly but is most drawn to wind instruments and traditional folk music). That is unacceptable. I’m fine with Simon’s skittish games with me but J is, at best, collateral damage. And no one fucks with mine.

J had been invited to play at some bar and when we arrived Friday night, we discovered that the bar was, in point of fact, a death-metal bar (for those of you unfamiliar with “death-metal” it makes Metallica look like Britney Spears). Simon had declared he was coming out to see him play and while J and I were back and forth with his anxiety, J and Simon were back and forth about getting Simon and paper-perfect to the bar. And, what was a ten-minute wait at 9:30 for a 5-song set, turned into a 2-song set at 1 am. The whole time, my poor boy was hoping against hope that Simon and paper-perfect would show up. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that once paper-perfect took the phone from Simon and had a less-than-effortless conversation with one of the locals about directions, the boys would not be coming. I know precisely how little effort paper-perfect is willing to make about anything because he’s so beaten by life and now that I’m out from under the pressure to date him, I see precisely that it is his cowardice and refusal to risk anything that was the reason I could never feel for him.

I knew they would blow off J with paper-perfect’s pathetic, unwavering shrugging and go back to their drinking. Life happens and people can’t make appointments; I’m fine with that. This, however, wasn’t “life happens.” This was active, willful laziness with a duplicitous candy shell. This was “I’m too lazy to make the effort and too much of a coward to say ‘I don’t want to.” And, it wouldn’t make me nearly as crazy if I didn’t know for a fact that Simon needs to consider himself a decent friend to J. I could see it so clearly in my mind that it made me more than a little violent. However, I did my best to keep my mouth shut and only support J as this was his thing, not mine. J was, understandably, hurt when the jackasses blew him off by not sending him even a message to let him know they ultimately weren’t coming but J, being my boy, kept wondering if perhaps his expectations were too high.

Once I got home, I spent most of the night tossing and turning, pissed. So, at 7 the next morning, I sent Simon a rather strongly worded text message that called him to task and told him if he wanted to do the standup thing by apologizing, where he could find J. Around 10, I got an angry text message from him about how I wasn’t going to “pin this on” him. We had a brief back and forth mostly about him thinking I was “projecting” onto the situation and me thinking he lacked “common fucking courtesy,” but I would be lying if I didn’t confess to the fact that while we’re doing the text equivalent of screaming at each other, there wasn’t a part of my brain that was super happy to learn a few new curse words. But, that’s my special brand of crazy and there’s not much I can do about that.

Nevertheless, he put his foot down, presented his summation of things and asked that I not respond to his final message. I, being me, had to be the bitch and have the final word. So, I responded to his summation of what he feels my personal flaws are with, “Glad that works for you.”

And that was when I realized I had become a Dane Cook sketch because I was more than certain he was circling his apartment muttering, if not screaming the Irish equivalent of “You don’t even KNOW! You don’t even KNOW!”

My bitchiness aside, I was proud of the fact that through the whole fight, I didn’t get sucked into personal attacks. I stayed on issue and despite what he threw at me, I didn’t have to fight dirty.

I then called J to confess that I may have overstepped my bounds and apologized for the ensuing awkwardness he might experience with Simon but he’s my boy and no one treats him like that. I explained that I wasn’t fighting in lieu of him and Simon wasn’t under the impression I was doing his dirty work. I’ve tried to make it clear to all parties involved that I was acting alone. J, being J, forgave me and said not to worry about it.

We then arranged to go to Canada and Paris’s house (my married Francophile friends) for their barbeque. As I was going to meet my boy at the South Gate, I realized something; I was happy. I didn’t get caught up in distracting, petty squabbling. It didn’t devolve into attacking to simply wound. It was conflict to reach a resolution, not to hurt and I can live with that. My temper usually ends up consuming me and allowing me to say extraneous, irrelevant thing merely to hurt. Not this time. It felt and feels damned good. I’ve never managed to express precisely how furious I am while maintaining complete control of myself. It felt very precise and I love it… not that I want that everyday or even “occasionally” but I do quite like knowing it is now a talent I possess.

So, I waited for J in the kite park on the Southeast corner of the South side of the wall of Xi’An and felt more serene than I have in a long time. I sat under the warm sun with the cool breeze cutting across me and just watched the kites. It was one of those rare moments when my whole life became very still and my mind just embraced every sensation. It was delicious.

Eventually, some dude who works for Amway (it’s HUGE here in China) interrupted my peace and tried to force me to speak Chinese with him but I just kept insisting I didn’t speak any Chinese and he finally left me alone.

J showed up and we were off to Canada and Paris’s.

When we arrived, paper-perfect was there and looking beat. Paper-perfect and Simon had apparently been out all night and he crawled his ass to barbeque. Simon, knowing I would be at the party, did not show up… for reasons I assume are perfectly lucid. It may have been my projection but there seemed to be something extra attentive, extra puppy-dog-ish in paper-perfect. He didn’t stay for very long, begging off with having to go to a birthday party. Not surprisingly, Canada later told me she felt he would be perfect for me. It was all I could do not to laugh.

Anyway, a bunch of new people showed up at the barbeque a little later in the afternoon. Clearly all collegiate oriented, some of the folks were mid-twenties, some of the folks were younger but they were all fun. There was a band of fabulous gay men who I am madly in love with and with whom I shall be spending a fair bit of time; we’ve mutually decided to collect each other. There were also two boys; both of whom were clearly interested in being my lover. However, one was 26 and one was 19. The 19 year old, who I will call “Waffle House,” was sweetly, adorably, loquaciously desperate to get my attention. It was nonstop, “You’re beautiful,” “You’re brilliant” and “You’re polished” from such a sweet, silly, innocent boy trying to puff up his chest. Were I ten years younger, I would have been madly in love and utterly shattered when he flitted on to the next piece of ass. The 26 year old, who I will call “Puma,” was smooth, sweet, confident and charming in that down-home-southern boy way that Matthew McConaughey only dreams he could muster. That he has the faintest air of a broken heart about him makes him all the more appealing. I’m not the girl who looks to “fix” or save the bad boys (personally, I prefer them “bad”). Instead, that “fix-it” energy gets channeled into boys who are perfectly fine on their own two feet but have some element of melancholy lurking about them. I’m not interested in men who are hobbled by life but I am interested in men I can clearly make happier, provided they’re not exploiting said melancholy. Exploitation is just gross, predatory and ultimately, worst of all, lazy.

Nevertheless, we spent a lot of the evening in the basement pool hall and I spent my time on the couch as I can’t play pool to save my life.

J would come in from having chatted with some of his Spanish speaking friends to check on me every once and a while. I just maintained my domain of the couch and the boys came and went. To Waffle House’s credit, whenever the gay boys were piled up with me giggling, he would just sit on one of their laps. It was highly appealing to watch such comfort from a straight, southern boy. And, when Puma would come over, he always sat with me but his tenderness, affection and protectiveness for the gay boys was so touching and, frankly, startling coming from a southern Marine (because I’m aware I’m an elitist New Yorker with her own “Southern Boy” hang ups).

Paris and Puma started playing a few games of pool and, to be totally honest, I was weak at all the masculine concentration and swagger. Poor Waffle House was trying desperately to explain the massive love bite on his neck away and I was having none of it.

“I would have stopped her but it wasn’t during foreplay,” Waffle House tried to explain, “and I don’t want to interrupt a girl while she’s in the middle of all that.”

“I don’t know, I’d like to think if I got out of line in bed, he’d have the wherewithal to put me in my place.”

Which shut Waffle House up for a moment, while my boys started hollerin’ “Ooh, giiiirl!” and Paris and Puma just snickered and nodded knowingly.

“Hey, look, I’m very giving but she was a pain in the ass…”

“Or neck” I cut him off

“Touché.” Waffle House replied and without missing a beat continued, “and when we were done all she wanted to do was fucking cuddle!”

“What’s wrong with you that you haven’t learned the ‘hug and roll’?” I laughed, referencing the move guys do while they wait for women to fall asleep in the nook between their shoulder and their chest, pull the girl into a hug, rock her up on to their body and then roll her back onto the other side of the bed so they can get some sleep.

“I know the ‘hug and roll’! She just wanted to cuddle and talk.”

“Fuck, have some fucking patience, jackass. I know the urge to sleep is strong but you need to step up and manage that.”

“I do but she wouldn’t go to sleep. We were fucking for five hours and after, she wouldn’t shut up.”

Which gave me pause. Frankly, the idea of sex for “hours” on end just seems unappealing. I don’t know what other people having going on down south but south of my Mason Dixon, I’m a sensitive girl. “Hours” just seems like it would lead to a lot of pain and bruising and who needs that? “Wait a minute, you fucked for five hours and she just wanted to talk? Baby, you ain’t hittin’ it. I can tell you, you hit it right, it’s 20 minutes tops and I can assure I don’t want to cuddle much less talk after. Just put me to bed.” To which the boys playing pool started snickering again.

Which made Waffle House defensive. “I was hittin’ it right.”

Which made Puma speak up, to me, “Have you ever given a man a hickey?”


Puma nodded, knowing that already for some reason. “And what would make you bite a man like that?”

“I have no idea. Hickeys are disgusting.”

“Exactly. But have you ever left a mark like that on a man’s body?”

“I usually leave a scratch mark or two but those are, uh… unintentional. Intentionally, only ever on his ass as I was kicking him out of my place after not having hit it right.” I then demonstrated with my foot, “Get out!”

“Exactly. It’s a mark of frustration.” He smiled at me.

“No, no, no, no. See…” Waffle House started in but then Puma cut him off immediately.

And then Puma went from “hot, quiet man with a hot swagger” to “man with fist-sentences.” “Boy, you need to shut the hell up. You have the answers to everything in front of you right here” Puma good-naturedly started to scold Waffle House and then snapped his hand towards me in a gesture of ‘voila’ “and she’s telling you everything you will ever need to know AND she answers questions. The only time you need to be talking is to ask her questions. You need to be all ears and suck it all up like a sponge. If I was you, I would shut the fuck up and listen to every little thing that comes out of her mouth. Memorize that shit. And thank her. Fucking worship her.”

With that, Waffle House immediately rolled over and spoke directly and earnestly to Puma, “You know what? You’re right. You’re the god. You’re the man. I need to listen to you. You’re the god.”

To which Puma was clearly getting irritated so I interjected. “Actually, that would be me. I would be the god.”

While Waffle House was explaining the difference between me being the “goddess” and Puma being the “god” Puma just thanked me.

And in that moment, Puma went on my radar.

I then started to notice every time Puma and I were having a really good moment together, he would mention his girlfriend (which everyone else has informed me is “not working out”), but never by name… only the titular “my girlfriend.”

His girlfriend aside, we really got on, me and my Puma. He’s great fun to talk with; smart, compassionate, funny and he chose to stay sitting with me on that couch than to go out to a club with Waffle House and the rest of my (new) gays. I’m always a fan of a man who is willing to change his plans to hang out with me.

As I was beginning to sober up (it’s not a good sign that I started drinking at 3, was drunk by 7 and was sober by midnight), Puma was finally beginning to relax and drank a bit too much. And, he was just silly. The fact that he started calling me “Boo-boo” was super cute too. And we talked about everything and nothing.

Suddenly, he started talking all sorts of crazy, silly shit about “his” reality, how he would take me to “his” reality and got all super flamboyant. It was cute to watching him perform for the lot of us still there on the couch.

As it was after midnight, J and I decided to call it a night. Which prompted everyone else to call it a night. So, Puma came with us and as J, Puma, an Austrian friend and I piled into a cab, Puma started talking silly again for me.

As we drove along, Puma started to get a little serious as we went through a “Baghdad” street.

“But, baby, we’re in China. Ain’t no Baghdad in China. That’s the nice thing about China.” I explained gently because, frankly, there are no men more fragile than super heroes.

He looked at me as I looked at him earnestly and gently and I could see the joking defensiveness drop. “I know that. No one knows that better than me.”

He took a deep breath, looked around at the open boulevard we were traveling on closed his eyes and rested his head forward.

“Do you need some air?” I asked softly. No one needs kindness like people who pay for the rest of us to talk a big game.

He looked up at me, studied my face for a moment and shook his head, clearly relaxing a little.

“Are you sure?” I pushed.

He smiled through his haze and nodded.

“Okay.” I said.

After another moment, he went on to lay out his perspective on what people are “supposed” to do; the standard “get married,” “have kids,” step c, step d etc etc bullshit. It all sounded rather bleak.

“Am I right or am I right?” He asked when he was done laying out what one is supposed to do with their life. He sounded remarkably defeated by it all.

“I dunno. I’d say you sound very Christian.”

This pierced his haze and he perked up a little. “What do you mean?”

“I dunno. It just sounds sort of bleak and you Christians always have this bleak haze over you.”

“We do?” He asked with hope. “What do you think it should be like?”

“I think it should about love. And I’m not talking rainbows and puppy dogs and bliss, I mean real love. The shit you have to work for and it gets ugly sometimes but it’s real and it’s beautiful. I think family should come organically from love, not dictated by obligation.”

This made him very quiet and not ten seconds later we arrived at his house to drop him off.

He got out of the cab and scooted over to make it possible for me to get out with him. I wanted to make sure he got home okay. He seemed incredibly vulnerable going off into the night in that condition.

“You going to get home okay?” I asked.

He nodded and we all said our goodbyes. I watched his hulking frame disappear around the corner as he headed home and we headed off to drop of J.

J then checked a message he had gotten while he was talking with his girl in Spain and I was talking with Puma. Laughing to himself, he then turned to me, “Girl, you know how to get shit DONE.”

“Huh?” I asked utterly confused.

J then showed me the text message he had on his mobile. There was a very long message from Simon apologizing for the night before and what had happened.

There may be nothing sexier than men willing to step up.

Monday, March 10, 2008


So, the Jude and I were talking last night about the- if any- thread of consistency through the men I date. In the last twelve months, I have knowingly dated (and perhaps occasionally been accidentally engaged to) a Buddhist Sichuan, a Muslim Turk, a smattering of various Chinese men and then (kinda, sorta) an agnostic Catholic/Jewish Frenchman. It should come as precisely no surprise that I am now skirting the/my issue with a Belfast Republican (don’t think “Bush and the right wing”; think “socialist revolutionary”) I will call “Simon.” Simon is here teaching criminal defense at one of the local universities, as he is a criminal defense barrister with over a decades worth of experience in London and a successful lecturing series on international law. In short, he is 180 degrees away from anyone I have dated in the past 12 months. Then again, they’re all 180 degrees away from each other… which kind of distorts the space/time continuum but who’s counting?

However, it occurred to me this morning that what binds them all is that they make me laugh. They make me laugh until it hurts. They all have a capacity for silly that is effusive. And what makes Simon so unique is that he cannot only play my verbal games but he can best me at them. I am well aware that I am an intelligent human being (kinda, sorta) but that doesn’t really help a gal much. Simon and I are intelligent in similar ways (he clearly more so) and our twisted sense of humor aligns quite well; from Monty Python to the obscene.

We first met a week ago when J and I were talking on the phone late at night. J had told me about Simon the moment he got back from Spain and his beloved. He told me all about how he wasn’t sure how to gauge the attractiveness of men but he would venture a guess that I would think Simon was hot and he thought we’d just get along being that he’s “a big, burly, loud, smart Irish dude.” Though I knew about Simon, we hadn’t managed to get together thus far.

“I just got a message from [Simon] about going to the bar tonight. I don’t have any money left on my phone to send him a message. I’m not going tonight but I’ll got tomorrow.”

“I’ll send it” I leapt at the chance. “What’s his number?”

J gave me his number and I promised to call him back the moment we had clarified what was going on.

I sent Simon a message explaining that J had run out of money on his phone but I was a friend and we had been talking when he got the message so I was sending the message on his behalf.

“I don’t know. Sounds highly suspect to me. [Same bar] tomorrow night at 9.” He sent a reply.

Never one to let a chance to flirt pass by, “Honey, I’m a broad from New York. You have no idea how suspect I can be.”

To which I all I received was, “You’re coming too, yes?”

We then had a solid back and forth for a good long while in which we started slipping in Monty Python quotes. The conversation lasted into the evening and we picked up again the next morning. That continued through the afternoon and on through the evening up until 5 minutes before he arrived at the bar where my French boy, his cousin, J, a student of J’s and I were sitting.

The one thing to understand about the French boy, his cousin and me in heels is that we are all well over six feet tall. The Frenchies are the classic lithe, poetic-looking, dark haired French men that they write about in teen romance novels. I’m (the “fat” version of) what Hollywood would have you believe all Americans look like. Taken as a unit, I know we can be quite intimidating. Nevertheless, my boys are my boys and I’m not about to exclude them from the goings-on in my life simply because they’re too good looking for anyone’s good.

“My god, I never thought I’d feel too short in this country but there it is,” was the first thing out of Simon’s mouth. Not that it matters but in flats, Simon is about an inch or two taller than me; in the platform heels I was wearing, he was solidly “shorter.”

And there with him was the paper-perfect man my friends had all been so keen on me dating back in December. It was jarring for me to see the two of them together. Seeing the paper-perfect man with the text-perfect man threw me for a loop. I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with all the randomness surging through me.

Frankly, I don’t know what I was expecting when I saw Simon but I think that discovering that he was a flesh and blood man just threw me for a loop, not unlike what my mother says about giving birth; you spend this time talking with a person and once you give birth, the baby they hand you is cute but it’s not really the person you were talking to. Granted, nothing would fit the bill you were expecting because you were expecting an abstract but nevertheless, there we were.

We switched to a larger table having realized the table we were originally at would be too small. The paper-perfect man took the seat across from me, I took an end seat. To my right sat the French boy and then his cousin. To the paper-perfect man’s left sat Simon and to Simon’s left sat J.

Simon then tried to make small talk, clearly put off by the French boys and nervous about me. Very quickly, my French boy got up to get me another beer and Simon clearly tried to sort out what the story between the two of us is.

He then asked me some question, his soothing baritone drowned out by the falsetto wailing of the on-stage group.

“What?!” I yelled towards him, making him reel back at the piercing sound of my voice. A moment later, he came back at me, mocking my American, nasal accent.

“What?!” he screamed back.

We volleyed back and forth like this for a moment until it was clear he could take no more of the nasal wailings, and could merely blinked from the sheer agony of the noise.

“Are you saying my accent is abrasive?” I accused as he shrugged in possible consent. “Fine. I’ll just sit here and look pretty.” I said, goading him to get out what he was clearly thinking of me.

He took the bait and made a comment to the paper-perfect man who laughed in agreement. Better to lance the prejudice boil than to let it fester and grow.

Though I have no idea what he actually said, I fully understood the sentiment and kept my mouth shut, merely raising my eyebrow at his comment.

Which set him off back peddling.

“So, what are you doing in Xi’An?” He asked nervously, rapid-fire. I shrugged dismissively. “I remember somewhere in the back of my very small brain you said something about your students. My deductive reasoning would lead me to believe that you are a teacher of some sort.” I nodded briefly. “Do you teach university students?” I shook my head. “So you teach younger students?” I nodded indifferently. “Do you like doing that?” I shrugged indifferently. “What do you like to do in Xi’An?” I pushed my hands up in a “whatever” gesture. “How long have you been here?” I waddled my head back and forth suggesting I’ve been here long enough. “You know, I never actually asked for you to stop talking.” I shrugged ambivalently, with the slightest air that he might have. “Really, you can start talking again at any time. I never said your accent was abrasive…” he trailed off for a moment, “I merely didn’t disagree when you said it.”

I looked at him directly and nodded, which stopped his rapid-fire questioning very quickly. “I’ve been here about a year and a half.”

And that began a discussion about “liking” Xi’An versus surviving it. Simon fully believes I must sum-total “like” Xi’An if I would stay here so long. I tried to explain it’s far more complicated than that.

He then got up to get us some shots of iced tea and whiskey. He came back with a pitcher and some shot glasses. Quickly everyone but the two of us stopped drinking shots. We, however, kept on in between verbal sparring sessions.

He told me about how his first assignment was an analysis of a track off Radiohead’s “Amnesiac.”

“It’s off Amnesiac,” he explained.

“Really? It’s not off Pablo Honey? Or Kid A?” I teased.

Sheepishly, he spoke, “I didn’t know how much you knew.”

“No, I appreciate that but I love Radiohead.”

He smiled, “Really. Well, which track is it?”

I paused for a minute trying to count how many in on my iPod it is but couldn’t think of it. “I…. have no idea.”

Smiling triumphantly, he toasted another shot.

Then he challenged me to a drinking contest and before I knew it, we were through two pitchers of booze.

Not much later, the French boy and his cousin informed me they were going to leave.

As I was hammered and I will not be swayed when drunk from the decisions I made when sober, I went home with the Frenchies. I had promised myself that no matter how drunk I got or appealing it was to go home with Simon, I was going to go home with the Frenchies. I’m old enough to know that I trust no one like I trust myself to make decisions for me but I have to be sober. So, I make sweeping decisions while sober and stick to them while drunk. No matter how horribly torturous the decision seems while drunk, I know that there were very good reasons I made those decisions while sober and I just stick to it. Such thinking has spared me a vast and varied array of STD’s, pregnancies, broken friendships and broken hearts. It is the magic behind my ability to drunkenly dodge bullets.

I kissed Simon’s cheek and hugged him goodbye, his hands lingered on my hips holding me in place against him as his siren song whispered into my ear, “You sure you want to do that? We’re going to go play pool.” And suddenly I was Odysseus lashed to the mast of his ship screaming to be released and allowed to crash upon the rocks. But like Odysseus, I was tied fast by the sober me and despite my desperate cries of protest, my ship sailed on.

I released my grip on him completely and he let me go totally. I nodded and wistfully said, “Goodnight.”

And, frankly, it’s a good thing I did because the moment I was outside, I hit a drunk-wall and needed my boys to get me home. Apparently, I made quite the (entertaining?) fool of myself but I have no recollection of that, senator. I thank god that if I did or said anything that was truly mortifying or upsetting, my boys have been discrete enough not to mention it. Later I apologized profusely for my inexcusable behavior (despite the fact that they somehow got me home utterly unscathed) but they insist that I was merely highly entertaining.

We then continued our increasingly inappropriate texts to each other until we were to meet again on Friday.

Friday, Simon entered the bar and immediately took the seat next to me. He briefly told me about his shit week and then stopped himself. “I’m sorry, how are you?” he said apologetically.

“Alright. I had a shit week. I hit a new personal low. I wanted to punch a 6 year old today.”

To which he laughed briefly and then said, “I’m really sorry but I can’t sit here. I just can’t do it.” As he got up and switched to the seat across from me, he apologized again. “I’m sorry. I just can’t. Besides, from here I can look at you and not this ugly bastard.” He said, trying to lighten the mood as he joked with the paper-perfect man.

Simon took a deep breath and called over for beers immediately and it sunk in that he, while friendly and not defensive, he was clearly edgy.

My mind instantly settled on the fact that he grew up in a war-torn country, is a criminal defense attorney who lived in enemy’s territory for more than a decade and the seat next to me was the most vulnerable (in terms of seeing who’s coming and going around us) at the whole table. He switched the seat for the one directly across from me as it was the least vulnerable. However, our first meeting, he had been fine with his relatively vulnerable seat. Clearly he was spooked about something. Considering who he is and now that he’s teaching in China, I can only imagine how spooked he must be.

Not long after he switched seats, he mentioned he’s got a meeting Monday with Party members, which is what I settled on as being the thing that spooked him. Distracted for most of the evening, he flitted back and forth, never really talking to me. We had brief conversations but nothing like the verbal sparring we had had earlier or even had over cell phones.

A large group of German tourists showed up with a new, German Xi’An arrival who has made friends with Simon. They wanted to sit with our group so we had to switch to a larger table. Simon was immediately antsy about finding the right spot to sit in. He parked himself on the far side of a pillar, and clearly wasn’t happy about that.

“Your seat’s over there.” I pointed to the safest seat at the table.

He looked over the table and then looked at me smiling, “You’re right.” He reached down for the beer at the seat he was going to sit at.

“Don’t” I stopped him from taking a swig. “That’s [J]’s.”

“Are you playing musical beer bottles? How the fuck do you know?” He asked.

“That’s your seat there, so that’s where I switched your bottle to.”

He smiled at me at took the beer as I passed it down to him. “Thanks.”

I nodded and smiled.

My favorite Francophile couple then showed up and he (a Parisian) started getting on well with Simon. His wife (a Canadian) then started trying to pick fights with everyone at the table, most of all Simon. Simon handled it all with great aplomb and I was thoroughly impressed. However, I was definitely disappointed I wasn’t getting the face time I had been looking for. In fact, he seemed to be actively avoiding me.

At one point Simon got a round of beers and I happened to drink one extra fast. I then asked him, “Can I have another one?” pointing to a full beer near him.

“Of course.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, feeling like too much of a leech.

“Why did you just waste two questions when you know you can just take anything of mine?”

Which is one of those sentences that hits a girl like a fist. Somehow I fumbled through a recovery, which led to a back and forth that ended with me saying, “Well, then I guess we can’t hang out anymore. Oh well.”

And all his aloofness and stand-off-ish-ness evaporated as he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Considering what’s going on between us, I think we’re actually going to be hanging out a lot… for quite a while. I think.”

Again, another fist-sentence but this time all I could do was relent and smile. “That’s true.”

As the cloud of exhaustion descended upon me, lots of the extraneous people seemed to evaporate into the nothingness and we were left with paper-perfect, Simon, J, Paris, Canada and a few local bar fixtures.

Simon had seen fit to spend most of the evening at the exact opposite end of the large table from me for reasons my tired, alcohol heavy brain was unable to discern. (Granted, later it dawned on me that if he was spooked then I either distract him to a level he feels unsafe at or he was trying to protect me as he spoke at length and depth with everyone at the table but me.) Nevertheless, for reasons unknown, I have 100% faith in his word over one night’s actions so I decided to scuttle my irritation and just enjoy the moment with my friends.

Sandwiched between paper-perfect and Canada, we started talking about everything from the body-grooming habits of various countries to Eric Satie.

Canada was busy baiting Simon into an argument to prove her superior knowledge of music. Simon, like a good boy, remained evasive and refused to fight her.

“Do you like Debussy or Satie?” She flat out demanded at one point.

“Debussy” Simon answered, flashing a Mona Lisa smile.

“Good boy” I thought as I watched the two of them go at it. “Don’t get sucked in.”

“Do you even KNOW Satie?” She started in aggressively.

The Mona Lisa smile went up again and I knew exactly what was coming. So, I tried to sort through a way to steer the conversation away from the oncoming lecture about the finer points of music. “Of course I say I prefer Debussy because I know Debussy.”

Which, of course, launched her into a self-righteous lecture of the finer points of the difference between Debussy and Satie. When she got to the part where she explained his 4-phrase structure, I interrupted.

“Satie is the gateway drug to Minimalism.”

Which lit Simon up. “Does anyone have a pen? That is fucking brilliant.”

Too tired to suss out if he was mocking me or not, I sat upright. “But it’s true!” I insisted.

“I know” he smiled earnestly, “that’s why it’s fucking brilliant. I want to write it down.”

I laughed, took another sip of my drink, spoke with some local fixtures and when I turned back both Paper-perfect and Simon had vanished.

Paris was amused and outraged. “He’s great! You always got to have that aloof motherfucker in your group. I’m sorry, ‘aloof wanker’!”

Irony of ironies, I find him one of the most straightforward, purest, least aloof men I’ve ever met. He doesn’t need to be sorted or decoded. He’s just to be enjoyed.

And goddamn does he make me laugh.