That was it, basically. I had no concept of time exiting my rental apartment and descending that massive, ancient staircase, as I knew that before tiny me got to the bottom and opened that giant door to the outside, I had better be cool or at least nail the faking of it. Time seemed to be moving in slow motion but my brain was revving in overdrive. There’d be no epic disappointment this time as he’d actually showed up and would be waiting outside that very door. My ex holy-grail. Did I want to kiss him, punch him, tear his clothes off? I didn’t know. Maybe all of the above. I told myself – smile like an ass and tell yourself ‘you got this’. At least if I did it enough I could maybe fool myself into believeing the Radiohead song ‘Creep’ was not about me and my occasional drunk texts and sappy three (plus) decades of pining for him…
Couldn’t look you in the eye
You’re just like an angel
Your skin makes me cry
In a beautiful world
And I wish I was special
You’re so fuckin’ special
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here…
After exchanging small talk while grabbing a quick drink at the bar next to the apartment, he said we’d go to lunch at a Sushi joint across town, for which I would happily go along with as I could figuratively cross said activity off the long list of epic disappointments via unkempt promises of the past.
So, was this meeting going well thus far? Maybe. I could only hope he didn’t consider me a charity case, but I wish I knew what he was thinking…
Friend zone? Like a sister? Chunky thighs? Shag worthy? Girlfriend material? Why is her Italian grammar so bad? How long can I keep this up?
He was being kind to me though, as he could have ghosted me or just made up some lame excuse. Then I heard him mention the word ‘gift’ which I thought must have been a mistake and thus quickly dismissed. Since when has someone actually chosen and gifted me something nice for no reason? (Let the Cakes McCain pity festivities commence…)
He passes me a small wood box. I don’t touch it, I just stare at it, and him, in disbelief … undoubtedly resembling a stumped game-show contestant or confused guinea pig. “It’s for you, open it.”
I opened it to see a piece of jewellery inside, a bracelet – something I’d actually wear as opposed to flipping it on Ebay the next chance I got. I loved it. Maybe more because it came from him. When was I last gifted a piece of jewellery that hadn’t been fenced or a wasn’t some neon rubber band you get free from dropping 50cents in a Unicef box? He asks me if I like it (more than once), and I say I do because it’s true and I’m floored because he’s being so nice to me AND he’s is non-douchy and doesn’t drive a crappy blue Fiat so therefore he won’t expect a hand-job later. I could have easily facilitated a river of tears if I had really wanted to slap it on thick, and if it were more socially acceptable and had I drunk 6 more flasks of warm Sake and had the approval of the crusty sour-faced Asian waitress, I could have leaped over the table like an Olympian gymnast, only to end up on his lap and really demonstrate my appreciation, stopping short at any hard-core skankyness or over-zealous canine-like affection .
He says: “It’s Lapis stone, do you know it?” I say: “No.” He does an Google image search and shows me and points to an example on his cel. “Here see?”
“Oh ok… it’s really nice.” As I enlarge the photo on his screen, “I guess I should be relieved you didn’t gift me THAT instead,” We laugh… we drink more Sake.
(On second thought, I haven’t had sex in over 2 1/2 years).
But here he is, finally, right in front of me, just us and there’s no one else, and he’s totally present. When he’s in my zone, he’s focused. It’s all about me and he’s always checking in. He wants to make sure I’m ok. Am I still hungry? Do I need something, am I contented? What do I think of the sashimi – is it good? What do I want to do after this?… I’m so easy. If next he suggests riding shotgun in a stolen police car or lame ladder-climbing mime in the main piazza, I’m up for it it, but we end up browsing at a couple of vintage shops instead. Right up my alley.
Then after we take a long walk on the beach, and subsequently lose (and then find) his car, we end up in the city centre and I find myself standing in a men’s underwear shop in the city centre. “There isn’t one of these shops near where I live, mind if we go in?”
“Of course not.” But I DO mind… BOUNDARIES.
I’ll steal the cop car myself and risk incarceration, I’ll sacrifice my already skewered dignity and public ladder-mime… but stand there while you select your underwear? Seriously? Are we THAT familiar? Can you really ask that of me? Even if this IS a date … that doesn’t make it normal. Damn you. Do I take you to buy tampax or ask you to stand by while I get a labia wax or pelvic exam? This is so embarrassing.
The first sales agents gingerly commences to removes underwear from the display’s drawers to place on the counter to show him. It’s so creepy I can’t stand it. I stay back and avoid eye contact. I can’t look over. If I do I’ll feel like a pervert and he may ask me my opinion and then I’ll have to concoct a mental picture complete with him in said fitted garment. And for the record, I’m not a prude or ‘wooden pussy’, this is all about-self preservation and maintaining mental balance as the two-year, four-month sex-less me could be destined for an imminent future of cold showers. And as we’re not even close to getting vertical, at this this stage I don’t want to know what underwear he wears or assess which ones would be ok without ever have seen him with or without his underwear. What if I were to get it wrong and I picked too-snug ones? I’d be tragically responsible for an itchy scrotum without even getting within 6 inches of it.
If shopping for intimates is an Italian opener, why don’t I know this after spending 8 years in the south? OK, I suppose I could have done it with ‘stalker-ex’ but by the time that happened I would have seen his junk up-close and personal and we would have fucked about a thousand times already.
I initiate a damage control… Look busy, kill time. I immediately and feverishly start to text…
The second sales agent is smirking, I’ll bet she knows I’m mortified. That bitch. Thank god, they’ve now moved on to socks and he’s cashing up. Get me out of here already.
Outside he reaches in the bag and shows me a pair of socks with bananas on them. I try and look enthusiastic but wonder if my ten minutes of angst was worth it for banana socks, or if I got off easy. He proceeds to explain he has the matching boxers. (Oh hell, thanks for that. No cold showers needed then.) He proceeds to explain a ‘father – daughter thing’ – they went shopping , she picked them out for him and she wanted the same for herself. Sweetness overload. In my micro post-traumatic stress, I nod, smile, and hope it ends there.
I quiz him on when he needs to set off. In ‘about an hour’ he says. I can live with that, as it’s already been 6 hours and my brain is starting to shut down my bilingual setting into dumb-foreigner auto-nod. We eventually proceeded to the car and exchanged pleasantries. He says thank you. I wonder ‘for what?’ as he paid for everything and I got the gift. I say “thank YOU.’ He asks “for what?” I say “everything.” Neither one of us knows quite how to close or what the other expects so we do the typical Italian kiss-on-the-cheek thing and he adds “piano, piano.” Meaning slowly/all in good time. What did that mean? It was like one of those things you’re thinking and know why you’re thinking it but no one else does. So in what context did he mean it? I surely don’t know… but I guess time will tell.