What is this, some kind of convention? Did someone send a memo out calling all formers? Was there a public announcement on Kiss this morning, or Nyambane’s salaams show? [Does that still air?]
Lets begin at the beginning. Entrance. Gypsy. White top, lace, bare shoulders, puff sleeves, and just a touch of cleavage. Nice solid corset inside to keep everything in place – but he’s seen me without it, and he doesn’t mind. Floral skirt, tiered, chocolate brown, matches my skin. Sash at the waist, other sash at the hair, coyly wrapped around the dreads. I skipped the shawl wrap, that’s tacky. Boots, black, calf length, drowned in the skirt. No spikes, I need to walk, and maybe even dance.
He looks gorgeous as always in a ripped jeans and a vest with that shirt open over it. I love that shirt. How I love that shirt. The shoes are cool too. Suede, deep brown, and none of that elfin pointy-tip or open toe that so annoys me. He smells great, probably Calvin Klein. Or maybe Boss. Nah, probably some non-descript thing he grabbed off an Uchumi shelf. He’s sweet like that, not into branding. I’m on Nivea floral, the fresh one. I usually wear the blue scent, but not tonight. He likes this one. He says I smell girly.
I shouldn’t really be here. It’s a work thing. But his boss said to bring a date, and you know I can’t say no. That’s why I’m here. Coz I’m an idiot and I can’t say no. And also coz he wore that shirt.
It’s not like I had any plans. Just ice cream and DVDs. No biggie. Godfather, the Underworld, then LOTR. We could have stayed home and watched them. It took me ten minutes to get ready. Ten minutes!! He likes that about me, I never make him wait. Damn that shirt.
He strolls in, bounces really, with that spring that so annoys me, all casual, arm on my bare shoulders. I can smell him, and I want to melt, but it doesn’t mean anything. I look around, spot the bar, squint. YES! They have malta.
‘It’s kinda warm in here. I’m going to go over there and-’
I don’t get beyond that as I hear the squeal. Some girl – she must be a girl – all I saw was ribbons and hair – flies off the ground and onto my date. I’m bumped off his arm and onto the gr…no wait, there’s a sofa to cushion my fall. Phew. I consider my options. I could gracefully [heeeheee] get up and cover. Or drop my gypsy hankie and feign picking it up. Or I could sit back and watch the fun…
Thank heavens for bohemia. My skirt’s a floor sweeper, so no embarrassing sights. My dignity’s intact, I’m all covered up. My hair’s still in place. She squeaking now, and covering him with kisses. Red lipstick. And she didn’t blot. Drat.
…she’s missed him so, he looks fabulous, love the shirt, why didn’t he call her, what’s he been up to…and who is…that!?
She ‘notices’ me, finally, gives me the once over. I’ve somehow arranged myself into a pose, legs crossed under my skirt, boots peeping out underneath, hands…well I couldn’t think what to do with my hands.
‘That your new girl?’ she asks. She’s not worried. I’m half the girl she is, she reckons. Her dress is shorter, and tighter, her claws are longer. I am so not taking this one. They proceed pleasantries, and she whisks him off to some corner somewhere, but he’s nice, a gentleman, one of the good ones. I liiiiiiike hiiiiim. He stops in mid-whisk, takes my hand, pulls me to my feet and asks, ‘thirsty?’ He gives me this look, and in that second, I’m the belle of the ball.
Short-skirt gets mad and storms off someplace, not noticing that he didn’t introduce me, or answer her question : that’s your new girl?
We’re part way to the bar when the next one comes. Power suit, short and sweet. The legs. He has a thing for legs. It’s why I hide mine. I hear the heels before I see them, and hands slip over his eyes. She’s little, she has to tiptoe to reach. The suit is red. I don’t stand a chance.
She giggles, she flips the bob, she drops her hands. He hugs her and she’s lost in his arms. Literally. She’s so tiny! How he ever fit is…none of my business. Get a grip CB !! She doesn’t notice me, not openly, but I can see the glances and jabs. I’m starting to inch away when she looks me straight in the eye. It’s a stare-down. Three seconds – I was never any good at this game. She wins, dismisses me, walks away. I don’t cut it. I’m not good enough. ‘Baaayeeeeee!’ I hate the way they draw those syllables.
A few more pounce between the floor and the bar. All shapes and sizes. He’s been around, this one! Hotshots, wallflowers, shy girls, prom queens, the lot. They all have him in common. They all suss out his new girl. And in all their eyes, I don’t pass. Must be the skirt.
I’m just sipping my drink when she appears. Ooooooh HER. I can’t fight her. Coz he’s not over her. I can see it in his eyes, the way he looks at her, the way he hugs his glass when he looks at her, the way he grips it’s misty curves like…get a grip woman!!
She’s simply dressed. Jeans and a tee. Boots, like mine. But brown suede. Matching his. They smile at each other, they hug, a warm easy hug that’s way too long. She sits between us and looks at me. She sizes me up for a second while I panic. What to do? Should I speak? Should I stare? Should I drink? Should I walk away?
“Hi. I’m Sue.”
Her hand is stretched out, so I can’t ignore it. She made the first move, so she has advantage. I can’t be a bitch, coz she’s ‘nice’ compared. I can’t claim she’s being mean to me, dissing me, bullying me. I can’t describe the subtle tone in her voice without being paranoid. I can’t win! I return the handshake. ‘CB.’ She smiles.
I want to hate her. I need to hate her. I’m trying so hard to hate her. But she’s so damn nice! Everyone adores her. The others avoid her. He’s all over her, and she never oversteps. She leaves me ‘my space’. But while she’s seated there, I’m nothing but a skirted, booted bar stool.
The night is over, he drives me home. He’ll notice if I’m quiet, so I fake it. Cheerful, grinning, lots of stories. ‘Did you see the guy at the pool table? He’s crazy! Who makes shots like that?’ That’s Mo, he explains, champion snookist. ‘And the guy on the bass? He was awesome! I’d love to jam with him sometime.’ He can organize a session, naturally. He can do anything. He’s just amazing like that. ‘Did you have fun tonight? It was a great party. The food was great.’ He’s glad. He was sure I’d love the cake. He knows I can’t resist a blackforest.
We’re at my door. He’s thanking me. He hasn’t mentioned them. He didn’t know they’d be there. He hasn’t mentioned her. We’re talking. It’s a pretty night. The stars are out, the moon is twinkling – or something like that. There’s a gentle breeze. Lots of mosquitoes too. My shrouded legs are safe, but my poor arms! I’m scratching like it’s lice ! I hate mosquitoes.
He’s laughing. I love it when he laughs. I’m slapping them off, but I keep missing. He’s staring at my shoulder. He’s gone still. He’s inching closer, concentrating. I can’t breathe. He’s raising a finger ever so slowly, inching to my skin. I’m trembling- I must be. Then PAP. He slaps the shoulder and I jump. He caught one. I don’t know what look is on my face, but he looks at it and laughs harder. Then he moves his head to my shoulder and blows off the dead thing. It doesn’t move, so he flicks it off. I tingle at his touch.
His phone rings, and he checks to see who’s calling. I see the smile. I know it’s her. But he doesn’t answer. He talks a bit more, then he hugs me. Firm and long. I like the way he hugs. Thanks for the night, you’re a lifesaver. A true pal. My tummy just broke. Shattered in a million pieces. I hope he didn’t hear it. ‘Anytime’.
He leans forward and I shut my eyes, but the kiss doesn’t come. Not where I want it anyway. It’s on my cheek. He pulls back and the phone rings again. He turns and heads for the car. I can see him answer as he gets into it and drives away, still with that smile on his lips.
In the movies, the girl is supposed to get into the house, slam the door shut, lean against it and sink to the floor crying. But I feel kinda numb, and this isn’t really a movie. So I sit on the step, stare at the moon, curse the mosquitoes and sigh. This is going to be a looooooong night.
PS : Fiction. Had you going for a while there, no?