Anita

You smoke fifty sigarettes a day. It tastes like shit every time we kiss. I soak my tongue in apple juice, but it won’t wash off. A chemical aftertaste nestles itself in my taste buds with the obstinacy of dug in Japanese infantry on a besieged island.

You should be writing your thesis, but you ride me three or four times a day. Five on Sundays. You take the purple ribbon out of your blonde hair and you strap it around my cock. After the daily morning fuckfest, it’s the only way to keep it completely hard later in the day. Every vein feels about to pop, but the pain drowns in your moans. A moaning barbie. Runs on sigarettes and water melons. If you’re not sucking sigarettes or my grateful dick, you’re sucking on big juicy watermelons. That and feta cheese is about all I ever see you eat. “It’s summer”, you say. As if summer is an excuse to have a very monotone diet.

To call you impulsive, is to call a nuclear bomb a bit destructive. We go to restaurants at 3 am. I don’t know how you find these places. You never order any food, only cocktails and espresso. The cockails are surprisingly cheap. When the bill comes, it kindly says: ‘Pay what you think it’s worth’. The underground part of this city likes to think of itself as liberal, original, arty. Superior. And by being anti-artificial, this part simply reeks of artificial superiority. Everyone seems to behave like they are the next big thing in show business. Maybe some are.

Homeless poets crowd our table and pay you with verses to get some of your attention. Little rhymes on pieces of magazines, napkins, cardboard and even wall paper. The walls of the restaurants get stripped bare by hungry wanna-be-poets and you plaster the tiles of your bathroom with their drunken musing.

‘I wash myself in street poetry’, you say. It keeps me young.’ Your childhood heroine is that Bathory chick who tortured young women and bathed in their blood. Allegedly. “Bathory is misunderstood”, you say, “she was the first punk”. Well, your bathroom sure looks like a temple of punk. For some reason your hands are on the mirror, dipped in your menstruation blood. You have no idea why you did it. “But it looks pretty cool, don’t you think?” You love it when I go

down on you when you have your period. “Good doggy”, you say afterwards and then you grab my balls and just squeeze them real hard, until, against all expectations, after an agonizing eternity of 15 minutes, the pressure makes me come. You only like sex when you are in full control. You like giving blowjobs, but only if you leave your teethmarks.

You always get your way. You once walked up to a girl and offered her money for the boots she was wearing. You got them for 40 euros and a kiss on the lips. I call you Miss Pallenberg when I text you. As in Anita Pallenberg, Brian Jones’ girlfriend, until she ‘eloped’ with Keith Richards. You kinda like it. “I guess we do have the same decadent style”, you say. You pride yourself on your decadence. “Some people they try so hard to get their yaya’s out, they go on till it’s five to twelve. I go on till it’s five past twelve.”

To this day I don’t know if you knew you were paraphrasing Hitler. Decadence was your politics, you kept saying. Never really saw the connection. Would be nice though, to be able to vote for the Decadent Party. But I suppose, they already exist. We call them liberals. Still, maybe you meant something else. You said decadence was the way to liberate mankind. Liberate them from what? And how exactly?

It’s too late to ask you. You also ‘eloped’. You called me ‘too much of a thinker, not enough of a do-er’. That stung. That stung badly. For months after you left, I tried rather obstinately to prove you wrong. But first of all, I had trouble locating these underground go-go’s, as you liked to call them, and then when I did locate them, the people there looked at me like I was the taxman, about to bust their moonlighting asses, clumsily posing like one of them. I kept falling asleep whenever I sat down during the daytime. I had to admit you were right.

That was hard, swallowing my pride. Getting used to ‘normal’ sex after you left, was even harder. Like going back from cocaine to cafeine. Sometimes I still run into one of those bum poets. I smilingly throw them a dime. As a small offering to fucking in the fast lane. I often wonder what kind of guy could keep up with you. They say you are sharing a floor of an old factory with a manic-depressive playwright somewhere in East-Berlin who keeps a blog on cheap wine. I have a good feeling about that.

When I really miss you, I look at the napkin you left me, pinned on my own bathroom wall.

Stand up and face the music

Embrace madness, everybody is already so frigging normal

embrace madness, but do it genuinely, open your eyes

everybody is already so stupendously

delusionally

blind

embrace madness

it’s the only thing that’s pure

I go for a jog then, even if it’s 4 am and pouring harder over my inconspicuous town than over the Mekong delta. And when cops pull over and ask if I’m in the habit of running so early in the morning and I say, without bothering to look at them, “Sometimes I just feel like it” and they drive off with a wry smile, I feel like you and I really connected at some very deep level. And the eight months we were together suddenly feel like so many life-times. And when my new girlfriends put up some token protest when I want to lick the crimson nectar right off their thighs, I just say “embrace madness” and dig right in.

Bojana

You didn’t love me. And that’s alright. You didn’t really need me. And that’s ok. You didn’t want to need me. That’s fine. I’ve been loved before, I know what it’s like. Being loved scares me more than not being loved.

You were Serbian. I liked that about you. I have certain exciting associations with Serbia, because I’m something of a history buff.

You wore a long black fake leather coat and boots with heels like daggers. When our eyes met for the first time, I thought I read: ‘Wanna see my gun collection?’, in those green, enticingly aggressive eyes. But you didn’t collect guns. You collected orthodox icons. Your room was full of them. Fucking surrounded by icons is way more disturbing than fucking in the midst of stacks of kalashnikovs and old ammo, I must admit.

Bojana. I thought it meant something like ‘battle babe’, but ‘boja’ means colour in Serbian, your name wasn’t derived from ‘boj’ meaning battle. It didn’t change much, I kept seeing you like the twin of Xena, warrior princess. We would meet after work and you’d say: ‘My boss wanted me to re-do all last week’s invoices’ and I would say: ‘So you cut his throat with the rim of a plastic cup.’

You didn’t like that. And you wouldn’t answer and get out your pocket mirror and put an extra layer of screaming crimson lipstick on your fleshy Angelina-Jolie-lips and put an extra layer of hysterical violet around your eyes . Bewitching, a cock-devouring deity.

It was a joke”, I said. “You just look like some killer babe of some do-or-die partisan group.”

Your jokes aren’t funny.”

You were distant, yes, and you took everything very seriously and looked like you could ram your head through a brick wall if you wanted to, but you only looked that way. You walked your 11-year old dog every day. He couldn’t walk very fast, so you skipped lunch at work to take him out. You brought your old grandfather his newspaper every morning. You would knock on his wooden backdoor and yell: ‘Are you still alive?’ in a very fragile voice. I thought it was funny, but of course you were serious. You were always serious. ‘I put my soul into everything I do’, you said. And you did. You had a ritual for everything.

You would only put your running shoes on when you were standing exactly in the middle of your doormat. You would make a cross every time you ate something. You ate beans at every supper. No matter what the main dish was, you would warm up a can of beans to go with it. You said it protected you from colon cancer. You sounded so convincing, I started myself on the beans cure too. The only obvious result was not flattering to my nose.

I liked observing you do things. Everything you did was like a prayer in motion. You didn’t like me watching you all the time. “What? What? Why are you smiling?”, you would ask while you were folding towels or something.

When you broke up with me, you said: “You never take anything seriously and I don’t think you ever will.”

I said I took our relationship seriously.

You said: “That’s the only thing I don’t want you to take serious. You make me feel like I am your study object. It’s exhausting. Like some puppy dog is following me around all the time.”

I was confused for months after. With new girls I started behaving like a clown more than ever. They didn’t stay either. I texted you and asked if you really thought I was never serious about anything. You answered: “God, you are like a Martian studying to be human.”

I became passive with women. Just sat there with them, didn’t dare say a word, afraid that every word I’d utter would be fake anyway. Passivity turned out to work rather well. It gave timid girls the courage to open up and made them playful. It made extraverted women use me like a living dildo. Before I knew it I was being passive on purpose. Can a chameleon go against its nature?

And so, as I sit here eating my beans and I keep staring at your picture with the defiant pose (truly sorry, but you really look like you’re about to climb aboard an Abrams battle tank and shoot some village all the way back to the middle ages) I have to admit:

You were right once again my serious Serbian girl, I am in fact studying to be human.

A study that gives more rise to questions than answers.

Why does a knock-out babe like you collect orthodox icons? Why all the neurotic habits?

My only guess is that you needed those things to protect yourself from the endless possibilities your beauty gives you in this superficial world. That’s probably also why you hated my compliments, you wanted to stay down to earth.

Or, maybe, just maybe, I never saw the real you. Star-struck by your physical beauty, I never could understand why your beauty wasn’t the center of your life, just like it was my center of the universe, for a mere six months of puppy dog love.

Cathy

What we had was brief, but the memory stretched. Hooking up with someone when you least expect it, has the pleasurable quality of becoming a movie stored in the library of the mind. It usually lasts no longer than one night in real time, but it takes up more memory space than a boring year will.

You were half American, half German, but you felt German. We spoke German. In a park, close to the outdoor reception where we met. The first hour or so we talked about the feeling of guilt young Germans still carry with them. You said you could travel nowhere without someone bringing up the Holocaust. I was no exception. I apologized. You patted me on my shoulder a second too long and said: “It’s ok, I’m used to it.”

You were used to a lot of things. Being compared to your mother for example. The worst one is your father. He never fails to notice: “It’s a pity you don’t have your mother’s nose”. She was a model when she was in her prime.

You are not a model. Not by rigid 21st century standards anyway. You hate your nose, you say. I protest and insist you have a very attractive nose. The outdoor reception seems to get more and more distant, but one of your colleagues keeps bringing us wine.

We end up in my bed at around six am. My roommate won’t be able to concentrate all day, because he woke up to the sight of your breasts. Very firm breasts you have. Pointy nipples. You are very active, even after a night spent walking through town. Is this an attempt at compensation for an inferiority complex? I don’t wanna feed your inferiority complex, but, damn, I like your action.

I walk you back to your hotel around 10 am. When my therapist makes me associate something with women I spontaneously say: “Lack of sleep”. All the way to the hotel your head is on my shoulder, your eyes are closed and you say: “You know, my boyfriend would never do this, he always falls asleep right after”. I raise my eyebrows, but am too tired to react.

In the hall of your hotel I ask: “Can I have your emailadress?” You say no. “There’s no point, my boyfriend and I share the same emailadress.” I ask how long the two of you are together. “Five years”, you say. “Like an old pair of shoes you are attached to and can’t throw away”. I leave it at that. “You have an attractive nose”, becomes my pick-up line for quite some time. Seducing girls is about breaking patterns.

It works best with girls who already have boyfriends.

A girl in a relationship is a girl who hasn’t had a spontaneous compliment for the duration of the relationship minus the first three months.

Be proud of your nose, German girl.

It gave us a night never to forget.

Denise

In a relationship there can only be the certainty of choice. The relationship in itself never comes with any certainty. I gave myself the certainty of choice when we were together for about a year.

At one moment I said to myself: “This is as good as it gets. I choose you and rid myself of all the nagging what ifs.”

I remember the moment well, because I was walking back to my place from a night spent in bed with Hilde. A girl I cheated you with for the second or third time. You were studying at home, with your parents. The easter holidays. I stayed. Close to the faculty. Where the lonely studying women were.

Hilde. If I hadn’t been with you, Denise, I might have ventured a relationship with Hilde. And not just a fling, like last night.

A very fine night it was, and now, walking back, I have the quietness of dawn in a sleepy student city on Easter morning to be torn between feeling elated and being scared out of my wits because you might discover what I did.

Yes, FEAR. Fear that you will find out. Hilde and you move in the same circles. It’s not impossible. People have seen us together. Some people you know, vaguely, saw Hilde and I leave after a party, somewhere near dawn.

And now, fear. Not guilt. No, of course, not, I can’t allow guilt, I can’t slip down the guilt lane. My libido needs stability. But there is fear. Fear of losing you.

So no more of that. It’s all very clear now. What this fear is telling me, is that the one for me is you. Could it be? Yes, why not? In fact I’m quite happy with you. We have lots of good sex. You allow me a lot of freedom. You’re always supportive of my writing ambitions. You give sane, practical advice. A no nonsense attitude to life I lack, but envy in you.

So it’s decided then, let’s get committed. I choose you. Just you. No more escapades that make me risk losing you. My devoted partner in the vital necessity of swapping body juices.

And in choosing you, I wasn’t settling for less than I thought I could have. I must be clear about that. In all fairness to you. There was more I could praise you for than there were things I could criticize you for. I am ready to admit that. You understand, I had to tarnish you, after you broke up with me.

You had good taste in everything. A bit posh sometimes, but still, good taste. You looked great. A hardbody. Slim waist. Long legs. D-cup. Very Arian, but with an original face. I especially liked what you called your ‘Ukranian slut look’. Tight glitter top, tiny tennis shorts and leather orange high-heeled shoes with lots of kinky looking straps. Purple eye-shade. A one-woman sex invasion.When you walked the streets, you were like a magnificently glistening sword cutting through the masses. You never had much patience, and you did look down on most people, espically people in groups.

The only reason I stopped telling you how beautiful you were, was because you got it into your head to sign up for beauty contests. When you told me that, I could already see you in glossy magazines, showing off your new slick looking boyfriend. I was sure you would trade me for a famous soccer player the second they put that crown on your head.

You called me on my cell phone while I was jogging along the river. They hadn’t accepted you. I tried to sound empathic. Hard when you’re smiling with relief. I said you were too beautiful to enter. You wanted to believe that, but didn’t. You said it was because of me and my constant compliments that you even tried. I promised to stop complimenting you altogether. You promised to see beauty contests as what they were: the mainstream promotion of a very shallow beauty ideal, backed by small enterprises who need a national promo face for their brand.

We had a very quiet dinner that evening. It takes a lot of talking to reach a compromise, but as soon as you’ve reached it, an eery silence can creep in. Silence was new to us. We were never silent before. Always laughing, or talking and if we weren’t talking, we filled the room with the sound of your moaning. You were the loudest by far. Your orgasms could trick nearby factories, schools and companies into thinking they were having a fire drill. My dad used to say: “Something kept me awake last night. It’s about 1.75 cm high, blonde and puts a dumb grin on my son’s face.”

Yeah, you were blonde. Out the window went my pathetic adolescent ‘alternative’ boast: “I don’t do blondes.”

I also propagated the anti-macho statement I preferred small breasts.You asked: “I can’t figure it out. What do you even see in me?”

How much time do you have?

When I first saw you, you were unlike any woman I’d ever seen before. You looked like an angel with developed sexual organs and at the same time you looked like you killed your five previous husbands in a way that would make the most talented Nazi henchman envious. You even said you were a Nazi on our first date. Not that you had anything against jews, but you couldn’t stand the sight of weaklings. I remember you saying something: “Without inflicting pain, I go insane.”

The part of you inflicting it, wasn’t quite true. You liked being administered pain. You could reach orgasm by hitting your ‘chatte’. Cunt. You spoke French at home. Which makes it even worse that you beat me nine out of ten times we played Scrabble. We played it in Dutch. As a break in between having sex. Even you and I couldn’t have sex ALL the time. Your father often had ‘I can’t stand losing’, playing in his car. I don’t know if he did that on purpose, but it was a fine soundtrack to those days.

The moment I chose to be with you for good, I became so scared of losing you, that, instead of talking you up, with compliments I had always meant, I started talking you down, with scathing comments I never even believed I meant. I kept taunting you about your mediocre academic results. I knew that hurt you, because you really made an effort to get good grades.

Why do things become so clear only in hindsight?

You broke up with me, because I got too arrogant. Excellent observation, I must say. Arrogance, a bombastic, yet very fragile shield for insecurity. In all those sex marathons, you, looking so aggressively sexy and independent, giving yourself over to me, so passionately, made me overflow with self-confidence until it turned into blind over-confidence. I was starting to feel infallible.

I was dealing with the same question you were dealing with. I could never quite figure it out either, why did you ever fall for me? In the end I was too arrogant to ask you. I think now, you fell for me because I wasn’t a macho, was modest, funny and caring. Walking hand in hand with someone like you somehow convinced me I should be a bigger, taller, more muscled, better, much more confident man to deserve you and so I turned into the exact opposite of what you liked. How ironic can self-destruction get? What we fear has a sadistic tendency of becoming reality.

It took me six months and a lot of innocent broken hearts before I stopped trying to mend the cracks in my arrogance. And three years to get over my fear of the certainty of choice. I felt like I had been punished for being monogamous. I was reasoning that women only stayed when they were afraid to lose you to an other woman. It took me a while to figure out you left because I was vampirizing you. And that outside of bed we weren’t that great a match. I really resented you for your posh taste and your lack of rebellion against such conformist plastic festivities as beauty contests. And your commitment to getting good ‘grades’ for subjects that didn’t matter in my eyes.

We’re still not on speaking terms, but at least I got rid of enough arrogance to finally wish you a happy life and thank you for some of the best sex of my life and especially for those sweet peaks in confidence, when I was showing you off to my friends and family.

And, ow,

sorry to have objectified you and treating you like a status and luxury product.

Elise

I called you the Lady of the questionmarks. You flooded me with questions. It even started with one. We were on a train. You sat across from me and you said: “I am sorry, but may I ask what you are writing?”

Nothing of any literary worth.

Ehm, my diary”, I said.

You write a diary?”

Yes, but if you would read two sentences of what’s in there, you would run to an other compartment at the speed of lightening. Nobody likes self-incisive, self-dissecting, self-incriminating, whiny emasculated drones.

Of course, I didn’t show you my diary and so we managed to have a drink at the train station. More questions came. Normally that’s my part of the game, but you didn’t even give me a chance to ask you one. It was a welcome change, I must admit. A girl who showed initiative.

You asked my telephone number. You asked me in which part of the city I lived. You asked me if I wanted to go and see a movie. No girl ever invited me to go on a first date. And you weren’t even even unattractive. Something between a 7 and a 7,5. Close to 8 when you giggle.

And then finally, my first question to you: “When?”

How about tonight?”

When you woke up in my bed the next morning you asked:

Why do you have so many pictures of dead people on your walls?”

They inspire me. A man needs great examples.”

To do what?”

Your best question so far.

Why only dead people qualify to get on your wall?”

A man finds it hard to take men younger than himself as examples.”

I went to get you some breakfast. When I got back you had already cleaned my place.

Do you mind if I tidy the place up a bit?”

You were very skilled in the tactic of ‘fait accompli’.

You didn’t ask if you could move in, but you did. You would only ask if you could put your this or that here or there. My closet started filling up with your clothes very rapidly. That was fine, I’m used to using the floor to store my clothes.

Sometimes you didn’t ask questions. Like when you were cooking. You liked cooking. You also liked to braid my hair. You liked to wash, shampoo, brush and braid it. I don’t think you were trying to tell me something about personal hygiene. I’m sure you would have asked me something about it otherwise.

When we went out to restaurants, I would pay. You were still studying. You could pick whatever you liked, but you asked:

Why do you always order the cheapest on the menu and nothing to drink?”

I am an artist. I don’t believe in artists who eat well.”

Why not?”

Writers are like mushrooms. Keep them in the dark and feed them on shit.”

No really, why do you never treat yourself to anything good? You always buy the best for me.”

If you choose to be an artist and never produce anything of any practical use, you are like a parasite. So when I deny myself some of the luxuries of life, I feel less like a parasite.”

You don’t like being an artist?”

I love being an artist.”

‘I think if you had a different profession, you would invent some other reason to deny yourself the luxuries of life. Maybe you think you don’t deserve it. Maybe you are just not satisfied with yourself?”

I could stand the questions, but the analysis that came with them was something else.

The first time we had dinner with your parents I saw where you got your questioning habit from. Your dad was a cop. He would ask your mother: “How long was this chicken in the oven? How many degrees? Did you put enough salt and pepper on it? How much does it weigh?”

Where were you at the time the potatoes burned? What were you doing in the bathroom? Was someone there with you at the time who can confirm this?

Any question he had about me, he directed to you. I didn’t have a name. I was this guy. “Is this guy treating you well? Is this guy good for money? At what time does this guy get up? Is this guy handy with a hammer? What kind of car does this guy drive?”

The answers rolled right out of your mouth. Like you had prepared for an exam.

The only question he ever asked me, was: “What’s your poison?”

Meaning my favorite drink. Apparently you weren’t supposed to know anything about liquor.

I knew it wasn’t the right thing to answer to the man’s question –he had a reddish, strawberry like nose-, but I said I didn’t really like the taste of alcohol.

When we were walking back to my place afterwards, you were bouncing up and down and telling me what a good impression I made.

I couldn’t understand all this enthusiasm and asked:

Why do you like me so much?”

You said: “You are like a cute little bird with a broken wing. I just love taking care of you.”

Wrong answer.

I asked:

What if you like taking care of the bird so much, you don’t want the wing to ever heal?”

What do you mean?”

I don’t know why I didn’t keep my mouth shut. I mean, you were good-looking, very girly, very soft skin, nice hips, fashionable, but unpretentious clothes, subtle perfume, a bit short maybe, but still, you had a sensual walk. I could get used to your cleanliness. Your spoiled me with your cooking, and I was afraid of gaining weight, but I liked the time it saved me. And your giving nature was most giving in the bedroom. I was grateful, but tense. I prefer girls who exploit me for their personalized hedonistic purposes. I don’t respond well to altruistic bed partners. I guess it gives me a sense of uselessness. But still, we had a good horizontal connection.

It didn’t make much sense.

All those qualities landed you straight on the list of luxury items I like to deny myself.

Why do you wanna break up with me?”

I can’t stand being pampered.”

Why not?”

Did you ever read the novel Oblomov? You’re going to rock me to sleep with all this good care of yours. I’m afraid I’m going to be like a sedated baby eternally sucking at his mother’s breast.”

But I like taking care of you! And it’s good for you too. You’re finally getting some colour.”

Look, I don’t wanna be your rosy cheeked baby, ok?”

Is this your way of saying I clean too much? I take after my mother. I can stop if that’s what you want. What do you want?”

I walked out on you then and there, but thanks for letting me discover, I was never looking for any easy ways out of adult life, but for hard ways in.

It took an altruist to make me see I’m a masochist.

Fay

Half Japanese. It said so on your T-shirt.

I don’t know why a similar taste in music should pave the way for sexual intercourse, but it often does.

You liked Half Japanese, but you said it wasn’t one of your favorite bands. The reason you wore the T-shirt was because you actually were half Japanese. Your father was Japanese, your mother was Belgian. At least she was at the time, now we would have to call her Flemish.

We met on the second afternoon of Pukkelpop. I only go to music festivals when a girlfriend drags me along or to get over one. That time the latter was the case. We were in luck.

Normally I only like the atmosphere in the camping area. When I’m in front of the stages I always catch myself watching the band on the tv screens. Why go to a music festival if you are going to just stand there in a meadow and watch tv? I can do that much more easily at home, without feeling like a cow staring at passing trains. But I like the camping grounds and the smell of pot that gently floats among the tents, like a marihuana sea breeze. I like the fragmented bits of conversation that come to my ear and it makes me feel young and free and neo-hippie-like to see people wash their hair out in the open. And I like having sex in a tent with music in the distance and bass beats shaking the earth under our twirling bodies.

You were there, because you worked there. You helped build the stages and you were supposed to take them down after. In the mean time you were free to catch some of the concerts. The only reason you became a roadie. That and the sense of freedom the irregular working hours gave you. You had ‘the 9 to 5 world ain’t no place for me’ tattooed on your wrist. In some kind of very aggressive pink, that made quite a psychydelic mixture with your Asian complexion. I guess roadie is one of the few career options open to someone who has that kind of a tattoo displayed in full view.

I was in the middle of getting over a break-up. So when I was walking back to my tent, after our first conversation, I was telling myself: this time it’s going to be different. This time I am not going to make the same mistakes again. Not that you had just agreed to a life long relationship or even a short festival fling, but one can dream, right?

We agreed to meet in front of a stall that sold something that was called Chinese food, but wasn’t. You knew Asian food, so I didn’t argue. “You were in China?”, I asked.

Yes, is that strange?”

Isn’t that a bit like a German going to Russia?”

How do you mean?”

I wasn’t making much sense. The sun, the vibes of the masses, quite a bit of beer (I drink at the end of relationships and at the start of new ones, and here the two situations blended, so yes, quite a bit of it) and the old butterfly feeling was making me blurt out crap.

Nevermind, I was just wondering how Chinese people look at Japanese people. Knowing what a rowdy time the Japanese had in China right before and during world war two.”

Right”, you said, “you are one of those guys who read history books. I guess you haven’t got a sixpack under that Daniel Johnston- T-shirt then.”

You looked at me like you’d just said: “Right, you are one of those guys who wake up every morning in their own vomit and like to brag about it.”

Nevermind”, I said again. And caught myself rubbing my stomach to feel if any abs were there and I threw a guilty look at the beer I was drinking .

Yes, Nevermind”, you said with one eyebrow raised, “great album, though In Utero and Bleach are my favorites.”

You look like the bass player of Shonen Knife”, I said.

Which one?”, you asked.

Right, had to admit;

a) I didn’t know they went through more than one bass player.

b) I didn’t know any of their names.

It doesn’t matter”, you said, “they’re all good-looking. So thanks.”

I like girls who can take a compliment. Girls who don’t fend off compliments, usually have no trouble stating what they want in bed.

Do you want to grab a bite?”, I said. Being so near to all those food stalls, it was the most logical thing to ask.

No, I am not hungry.”

Are you one of those girls who never eat?”

I can’t stand girls who don’t eat. They don’t have calories to burn in bed. Or tent. And if they have trouble ordering food, they do have trouble stating what they want in bed.

No, I eat. I’m sure I’ll get a bit peckish when the sun goes down. It’s just too hot to eat anything now.”

Are you sure? Because you are really slim.”

Seriously, you should feel my thighs.”

You pulled my left hand down and put it on your right thigh.

Feel that?”

It’s firm.”

Maybe. Broad is more the word for it. Only lumberjacks like to stare at my legs.”

Seriously, you’ve got a great waist and you’ve got killer legs.”

You sound like a monk on his first day out of the monastery.”

You were wearing black shorts. So short, the rim barely peeked from under the rim of your T-shirt.

I’m serious. I once dated a girl who was on some olympic swimmer team, and she had legs just like you.”

That wasn’t a lie. Those were two half truths. Yes, I dated that girl, but nothing ever happened. And Fay’s legs were great, but not olympic. But whatever. Great legs are enough of a scourge to my hormones.

Really”, I said after a pause.

Ok, ok, enough with the compliments.”

Sorry, but it’s true.”

Grinning and silence.

Ok, give me an other one.”

You got a very feline look.”

Is that a good thing?”

That’s a very good thing.”

Ok then. Give me an other one.”

How many compliments does it take till you get to the centre of the…?

I didn’t keep count, but we put up a separate tent that night. All the way in the back. You moved out of the one you were sharing with your friends, I moved out of the tent I was sharing with mine. It sort of felt like moving to the far corner of the island to engage in mystical initiating rites, which was a good feeling to have. At least we could make a little bit more noise there. And we were closer to the toilets (and the typical festival cessspit stench, but I only had to bury my nose in you, to escape that) And it wasn’t like we needed to be close to the concert area any more.

You smell like basmati rice, but better.”

You talk too much.”

Silence.

But come on, go on. How do I taste? And please don’t say something like hot Sushi.”

You tasted like the most expensive cocktail on the menu which an experienced bartender in a very good mood took all the care in the world to get just right, and you don’t want to lose the taste, ’cause you can’t afford another one.

You sat on my face.

Now you have your cocktail on tap.”

When you rolled away, you asked: “Doesn’t it make your tongue hurt?”

We are those who ache with amorous love.”

What?”

It’s the title of an album by Half Japanese, isn’t it?”

Yes, I know. Stop trying to impress me. You already have me naked.”

I was really starting to like you.

The tent at the border of the island, seceded from the rest and formed its own little kingdom. We only crossed back to the main island when we ran out of food. Which we didn’t buy at the stalls. We walked all the way to a supermarket.

I am what you would call a skinflint. I like that word to describe my obsession with saving money.”

I suppose a roadie doesn’t get that much pay.”

Ow, it’s ok. Saving money is more like a hobby. Or a challenge I can’t resist. Has something to do with a residue of old Samurai perfectionism.”

Being cheap never sounded so sexy.

I had promised myself not to make the same mistakes again. But it all felt so right, so I copied that habit of yours. And every time I pick up a new habit, I overdo it just a tiny bit. The first month of our relationship, I managed to save over 70 percent of my salary. Which wasn’t much, I was working or pretending to be working as a teacher, that time, but it’s amazing how much you can save if you really want to.

After Pukkelpop we filled the gaps in your tour schedules with fucking. The fucking was long, the gaps were short. Every time you left, it felt like the waiter snatched a big dessert I had barely touched right from under my nose.

We texted the skin of our fingers off. Saving money didn’t seem to count for our phone bills. Sometimes we even spoke on the phone. Every other day at 11 am. You were very given to routines for a girl who vowed to hate the nine to five world.

There were a lot of pauses when we were on the phone. Half of the time there was silence, the other half of the time we were looking for a topic to talk about. We had agreed not to fill telephone conversation by repeating over and over how much we missed each other. I hated missing you, your physical presence and your laughter, so much I drew up a wall between us, to not get too emotionally attached to you.

That’s not very smart. Going into a long-distance relationship while rejecting the pain of missing, is like declaring war while rejecting the violence it will cause.

During our last telephone I said: “Who needs the disappointment of a telephone call?”

What?”

It’s in a song by Razorlight.”

I know that. Tell me the title of the song.”

Why?”

Just say the title.”

Who needs love?”

Yes, if you can’t fucking handle the distance, then fucking have the guts to tell me so, straight on.”

You hung up.

Very girly thing to do.

I didn’t call back.

Very boyish thing to do.

I still can’t listen to Half Japanese without craving your body and wondering in which tent you are sleeping tonight.

But at least we could blame it on the distance. We never found out those annoying habits that would drive us up the wall. A relationship that gets killed by distance, keeps the promise of ‘it might have been that perfect match, that one true love’, alive.

But it’s a sham. That one true love would have conquered the distance.

Georgina

We had both started work on a PhD. Different faculty, same building. I was walking on a cloud. Job security! After years of plodding along, jumping from one chaotic teaching position to the next and getting some extra cash for obscure artistic projects, I felt like I’d hit the jackpot. That I was writing a phd about a writer I had never read more than 20 pages of, didn’t seem to matter. My promotor was so talkative, it never showed that I didn’t know the least bit about avantgarde writers in the interbellum era. I got the position, like you get most of the best jobs in this world, not thanks to any knowledge or through any particular skill, but by sucking up to the right people, big time.

We met at the coffee machine. We called him Eddy.

Giving names to things you both use, creates a first layer of intimacy, a private language.

You always had some trouble putting together a regular outfit. That day you were wearing a flowery grandma dress with faded blue yeans underneath and cowboy boots. Very grunge

You always looked bored, because everything was just too easy for you. I liked the way you dragged your feet passed my cubicle. You looked so convincingly sleepy, it made me smile.

In a very quiet sort of way you radiated more self-confidence than any girl I had ever met. When we would go for lunch in the garden of a nearby restaurant, you would blurt out things like: “By that time I will already be the head of the department.”

Your cocksure attitude gave me a feeling of peace.

If you behave I will hire you to serve me coffee. And maybe if you really behave, you can serve me something else too.”

In your attitude towards me, you displayed an uncommon degree of verbal cruelty.

I would say:

We can have a candle light dinner on the roof of the faculty building.”

And you would say:

Great, I can throw you off after. Or right before. More food for me.”

Be sure to make it look like an accident.”

Oh, don t worry, everybody knows how clumsy you are.”

When we did have the candle light dinner I asked:

So when do you plan to throw me off?”

Oh, I have decided it’s too soon. I want to torture you some more first.”

We only met when you felt like meeting. Which wasn’t often. You took your PhD very seriously –easy work or not – and you had three girlfriends who were entitled to spend at least one night a week with you.

Whenever you texted me to ask if we could meet, everything had to give.

I started rushing as soon as I had put my mobile back in my pocket. A whole battle plan would develop in front of my eyes:

-get home, hit the shower

-change clothes

-perfume

-50 push-ups to inflate the muscles a bit

-buy a bottle of vodka and multivitamin juice to make your favorite cocktail

-buy one freshly baked brownie in the chocolate bar

I never arrived at your door without a sweaty brow.

Friends started to wonder why I had let a girl enslave me-kiss me to life, would have been more exact- virtually overnight. They looked at me like I was volunteering to shovel coal to keep hell’s furnaces blazing. I couldn’t answer their questions. I was puzzled myself. It had something to do with the stern, inflexible look on your face. Like it was sculpted. It was hard to please you. I could almost never do anything right. Not that you would ever scold me or anything. You’d just upbraid me, in some off-hand way.

I would be two minutes late and I would apologize and say:

I am sorry, but I had to walk my friend’s dog. He is in hospital, so he can’t do it himself.”

Well, it’s interesting to see where your priorities lie.”

I’d bring a bottle of wine from a shop on the outskirts of town where they were supposed to have the best wine North of the Seine and you’d say:

White wine? To go with spaghetti? Interesting.”

When you did say something nice, it washed my brain with endorphines, because I knew it must have been a very sincere compliment. You said I always found a topic to talk about it. Though sometimes I did it to show off.

What was I looking for? A strict, disciplinary mother or just a hard to please girlfriend? Me falling asleep on your chest and not the other way around, made it all the more worrisome.

I felt like a puppet on your string, but the puppet felt he belonged there. Any other girl would have cut the string and chucked the puppet out of the window. Bojana dropped me. And I dropped Elise. Who can stand someone who passionately pursues the fulfilment of your needs? Who seems to thrive on satisfying you?

You could.

I never needed anyone to feel complete, but still you complete me. You complete what was complete already. I think the most important thing is that with you I can combine the freedom of being single and have the security of having someone who embraces my uniqueness, without trying to mold me into something I’m not and you are there when I want you to be there.”

The best compliment you gave me. Huge ego boost.

One year into our relationship, friends had to agree I was a stray bullet which had finally found a direction. You were the only girlfriend, up until that time, they all respected and didn’t look at with pity or dread, but with enthusiastic glee.

I renamed you Zenobia. After the famous strategist who bested the Roman legions more than just a few times.

The same quiet confidence, dignified realism and unpretentious beauty emanate from her portraits.

It’s hard to drop a pet name like Zenobia into a conversation, but I used it when I wrote you mails or letters or when I texted you.

For a time it worked quite well. You liked being treated like a queen. Though you never said so. The few times I met your parents, they did say so much. “We never thought a guy could put up with our Josh”

They changed your name to Josh. A habit I didn’t copy. Too male sounding.

It wasn’t hard to put up with you. You were lazy in the house. Yes. And a bit lazy in bed. Yes. But we never fought.

It’s hard to pinpoint what went wrong exactly.

Me losing my scholarship for my phd didn’t help. Didn’t make that deadline. Was used to be giving second and third chances when I messed up or when I was nonchalant. But not this time. No more phd. The board was quick to decide. Crisis, you know. No money reserves, specially not for guys who don’t meet their deadlines.

I was afraid you would break up with me straight away. I was unemployed. And hating myself for letting an opportunity like that slip by. You said: “Ow, come on, don’t make such a big deal out of it, a phd is just an excuse to put off entering the real job market.”

That’s what people who are cosily working on their phd tell the suckers who are faced with the strain of less comfortable jobs. Back to being a highschool teacher. Back to a degree of self-loathing not uncommon for teachers.

Then it hit me that I could put up with your criticism only because I felt so confident thanks to the phd status. Now that I felt like a lowly teacher again, I needed some support. And you did support me. Nothing changed. It didn’t matter to you. It did matter to me. And I needed your verbal balm on my self-inflicted wound. You weren’t forthcoming. I started fighting back when you had sarcastic remarks. But while your sarcasm was mild, mine was harsh and scathing. I especially started spewing irritating comments on your laziness. Now I had the right. I was a working man, you were “wasting tax money”.

But the worst was: my comments bounced off of you, like stones thrown at a German panzer. And after one long harrowing rant of mine you said, with full equipoise: “You’re never going to rid yourself of those insecurities by attacking me. If a phd is so important to you, then make sure you get another opportunity. Opportunities are like busses, there’s always an other one coming.”

The break came when we were having dinner at your friend’s place. 5 people there. And me the only one without a phd on the way. I was silent and moody all evening. Couldn’t stand the conversation. “How many pages do you have?” “How many books did you read so far?” “What did your promotor say?” “Don’t you just hate editing all those references into your first draft?”

You broke up with me three days later. Three days of uneasy silence. You said: “Look, it’s not that I mind your self-confidence is so low, and that you’re full of insecurities, it’s that it hurts your ego so much when I try to help you to get over them. I think it’s better if you stopped seeing me, and worked on it, start anew, stop teaching, try something completely different, being so full of bile is really not going to solve any of your problems.”

I felt mortified. I was feeling terrible and the cure was to break up with me?

I didn’t know what to say. And for some reason, I have no idea why, all I could think to do was to stick out my tongue to you. I felt so stupid for doing that, that I never wanted to see you again. And I never did, as soon as we’d giving back all the stuff we had borrowed from each other.

I was convinced there was a lesson to be learned in every break-up. This one puzzled me for a long time. I liked you. Sex was, well, adequate. Maybe I was in a period where I wasn’t so demanding about that, but it was adequate. Conversation was good. We never fought. We laughed quite a lot. There was a barrier sure. But ok, we hadn’t known each other that long. So my insecurities killed this one?

If that was true, it didn’t matter which woman I found, one way or the other, my insecurities would undermine any kind of relationship. I needed someone to talk to. And the first woman I told about my chronic insecurities became my next girlfriend.

And I felt good for a time, as if the mere act of realizing the existence of my insecurities had dispelled them. But no, easy cures to self-confidence pitfalls are like easy diets to lose weight: they don’t exist. Three days after Georgina I was in the fast-lane speeding towards my next break-up.

Herlinde

Quiet interlude.

Why so many?”

You lie tied up on the bed. It looks like we stole it from some medieval castle, velvet roof included.

Your wrists and ancles look even better, even more enticingly vulnerable, with the thick rope curled around it, like some adamant snake, that seems intent on strangling your limbs.

I come and lie next to you, repeating your question. For the past two weeks you have been bombarding me with questions about my past exploits. Despite the huge age difference, sex is sort of new to you.

Why so many, hey?”

I take a deep breath and say:

I don’t know. Every woman is an adventure. A university of life moving on killer legs.”

What do they teach you?”

I caress you, with slow strokes, my hand barely touching your naked skin.

Some teach me to enjoy life, to be less tense, some teach me to get a grip, some heal me, some teach me about women in general, how to be good to them, what it is they need. I enjoy pleasing them.”

Why?”

I guess it heals the wounds in my fragile manhood or something. Apart from giving me the deepest pleasure I know.”

‘What am I teaching you?’

That the most freedom loving people find it most exciting to give themselves over to the feckle will of an obessed womaniser.”

Don’t flatter yourself.”

I grab your breasts, and knead them like dough. You want me to come between them.

You are more excited than I am. I prefer to come in different fashion.

When it’s done, it’s like there is a white jellyfish sucking on your neck. I rub it off with my hand and put my fingers in your mouth.

Why does it taste like salted coffee?”, you ask.

I don’t know. It just tastes like that.”

Is it because you drink so much coffee?”

I don’t know. Some say you can sweeten the taste of it by eating a lot of fruit. But I don’t believe it.”

Why don’t you give it a try?”

‘I don’t know. It’s time-consuming to eat a lot of fruit.’

Then drink smoothies. You should take better care of yourself.”

I’m tempted to say ‘yes, mummy’, but given the circumstances, I don’t.

Choke me”, you say.

Your sea-green eyeshade looks really hot. It’s my fetish colour, but you don’t know that.

I straddle your belly and put my right hand firmly round your neck. Do all girls like this? Maybe not all, but I’m starting to think 20 percent is a fair estimate.

You breathe heavily and I move away to go down on you, my right hand still gripped tightly around your neck.

I lick you to the rhythm of the song ‘When the levee breaks’, by Led Zeppelin.

You come shaking and trembling, the bed moves a few inches.

I untie you, and you lie there, beaming, curled up, like a little child, half awake, half asleep.

I put on ‘Summer of 69′

It’s meant to tease you. You were born in ’68.

You are the best friend of my aunt.

My aunt introduced us. She thought it was exactly what you needed after a 24-year marriage to a guy who tried to plaster his insecurities with lots of booze and lots of insults thrown at you. You have two children. The eldest is already copying his father and calling you ‘a limp brain chicken’. You let him, you have no self-defence mechanisms. Your mother was an alcoholic. The world crashing down on you, is your idea of normal every day life.

Apart from a wrinkle here and there and the stretch marks on your belly, you look like you have just turned 18.

When I go down on you again, 20 minutes later, you say “thank you”.

That’s the difference between 18-year old girls and 43-year old girls, the former you thank for letting you go down on them, the latter insist on thanking you.

I say you have nothing to thank me for. To me you really are 18.

My tongue moves so slowly, you almost sound like you’re in pain.

I stop and say I give you 24 snail paced licks, for every year spent in a sham marriage.

You make it almost worth it”, you say.

When you come a second time, you say: “good boy, very good boy, that was…lush.”

You run your fingers through my hair.

A woman who understands dogs, has all the knowledge she needs to keep a man happy.

Before we fall asleep, you say: “I know I have to find someone my own age, but for the next six months or so, you can give me all the licks I have been missing out on.”

Orgasms do something to the spirit of woman. It makes them more self-confident.

When you kick out your oldest son and send him packing for calling you names again, I say, with a big smile, I think you can move on now.

What was in it for you?”, you ask.

I never pass on beautiful 18 year old girls”, I say.

You’re crazy”, you say.

And you smile, with such radiance, I just have to give you one last kiss.

Women often try to fend off a compliment, because they know it’s impossible for them not to believe a compliment.

When I close your front door behind me, I’m also smiling.

In the bible of seduction, ‘The game’ they say: “always leave them better than you found them.”

For once, I think I can be sure of that.

Irene

She pulls down her knickers and asks: “Am I your first Lolita?”

And when I don’t answer:

So you like my fledgling breasts do you, my lecherous pedophile?”

While I suck your tiny nipples, I think:

A) You read too much classics

B) Who on earth uses the word lecherous?

C) No, I keep cupping them to keep my hands warm, what do you think?

You push my head down, and say, “lower, my sweet pedophile”

Some words come with anti-erection missiles, somehow.

What do you mean, pedophile?”, I ask.

Well, you ARE a pedophile, aren’t you?”

What?”

I’m 17 and you are what? 24? Ergo: you qualify as a pedophile.”

My other three girlfriends are adults. I’m a 25 percent pedophile at best.”

I’m licking your virgin pussy in the hope of shutting you up, but I can’t seem to hit the right spot.

I hope you are kidding, promiscuous pedophile.”

I am in fact kidding. I only have two other girlfriends. And they are mature in age, but not in spirit.

You are my first groupie. If writers are entitled to have groupies, that is. We started emailing after you read something on some site where exhibitionist writer types post things to beg for attention. Sometimes it gets you exactly that. Most of the time it gets you as much as what your writing is worth. Nothing.

Are you naked in my bed because of what you read there? Or in spite of what you read there?

Your self-control amazes me.”

How do you mean that?”

This is the third time we are naked, and you haven’t tried to penetrate me.”

Well, you are a virgin.”

And you intend to keep me that way? Like a toy you don’t unwrap from its package? Is there some kind of perverse pleasure behind it?”

No, I just don’t think I should be the one to do it.”

Why not? Am I not attractive enough?”

Well duh, but you’ll never hear me saying so. You’re attractive. Just not so attractive that I want to rob you of your virginity the first chance I get.

I’m not sure if what we have, is going to last, so I don’t want to be the first and then leave you.”

Oh, so you are planning to leave me?”

I didn’t say that.”

But you implied it.”

She sighs.

What?”, I ask.

Nothing. I was just imagining what it would be like, if you thought I was so attractive you just had to take me. Even if you knew you’d break my heart after.”

Sometimes I think you read too many 19th century classics.”

When I read what you write I start to wonder if you ever read anything at all.”

I jump up like a bunny out of its hole.

Really?”

Haha, ooh, got a soft spot there.”

I can’t seem to hit any spot, so at this point I stop licking her, it’s no way to lead a conversation anyway and I go to lie next to her and just stroke breast, arms and belly. She keeps talking. Aren’t groupies supposed to throw themselves at your feet, unconditionally and uncritically?

You know, if you would just penetrate me and be done with it, you might actually have something to write about.”

I guess not.

Look, if you are so bloody intent on losing your virginity, we CAN do it right now, you know.”

Yes, it is a bloody intention, I must admit.”

Now it’s me who’s sighing.

No, it isn’t, I’ve never seen it to cause any sort of bleeding.”

Said the expert.”

Why do you make me feel like I am your study object?”

Well, I am a psychology student for a reason.”

You should be studying literature. Avant-garde stuff. Suits you better.”

That’s like taking a course on how to end up unemployed.”

“‘I wish I had your insight in the dynamics of university education at your age.”

And I conventiently forget to mention that a degree in psychology is about as bad a as degree in literature.

Now you sound old. But seriously now, why can’t you just say you are not really that attracted to me?”

I am attracted to you.”

Then penetrate me.”

Fine. I will.”

I put her on top of me. Which is still quite safe. I’m still wearing my pants.

Why are you such a slave to what you think I might want or not want?”

Look, I don’t mind psychological analysis. It’s very fascinating, but it’s not exactly setting a sexy mood, is it?’

Ok, I’ll shut up. How long do I have to shut up?”

What?”

Well, how long does it take? On average.”

I look her straight in her eyes and say: “Stay on top. You do it yourself”,I say.

Ow, and you can wash your hands in innocence, right? Pedophile Pilate.”

This way I can be sure you really want it.”

I demand the universal right to be passive during my first time.”

I nod to my right and you slide next to me again.

What’ s the big deal anyway?, I ask myself.

I lose the pants and I slip in. After three attempts. Not that it hurts, but she starts giggling every time we’re close. I get in. You say you don’t feel much. Neither do I, to be quite honest. Sex is in the head, not so much in the mechanics. We stop.

I’ll get to like it”, you say. “And then you’ll like it too”, she says.

When you got what you came for, apparently, you ask:

So are you going to write about this?”

Maybe you should write about it.”

I don’t want to be a writer. I want to be happy.”

You are not very fond of writers, for someone who reads as much as you do.”

So if I like cars, I should naturally like the people that build cars? One can like books without liking their authors. How new are you to being in the writer business?”

What if I told you I already have two girlfriends?”

I would say: tell me something I don’t know already.”

How do you know?”

I didn’t until now.”

Silence.

What are they like?”, she asks. “No, wait, don’t tell me. They are in your latest story, right?”

I nod.
“I should do some research. Something about the harem longing.”

I think there’s no research needed. Every man wants to have a harem.”

No, I’m talking about women longing to be with men who are already taken.”

Oh that.”

You are making me miss class. Give me one good, tender kiss.”

You got dressed and slipped out. When I got down I saw what you’d written on my laptop with black eyeliner.

the only writer I’ll ever like is the one who knows he will die if he finishes a manuscript , knows that the manuscript will never be read by anyone, but finishes it anyway”

It’s still the most eloquent way someone told me he/she didn’t like me or didn’t approve of what I was doing or trying to do.

You left your sweater behind. It smelled like you looked. Good, attractive, but not attractive enough to make me fall head over heels in love.

Why does a girl lose her virginity to some guy she gets in touch with over the internet? Why does she insists on losing it?

A female friend with whom I have a desperate, yet obstinate pact never to have sex with, says:

Why are you making such a big deal out of this? Guys are always dying to lose their virginity as if it’s the plague. Why should it be different for girls? She was curious. She wanted to have it over with. She picked a guy outside of her social circle. Which is safe. She picked an older guy. And by the stuff you throw on internet, she judged you would know what to do. And she probably found some reassurance there, telling her you’re not a complete psycho. A guy she wouldn’t get attached to. She correctly assumes she’s too young to be committed. That’s all. Why do you always have to read so much into these things?”

You think she was very dissapointed?”

Because you didn’t give her five screaming orgasms that set of the car alarms in a three mile radius? I think a well-read girl like her, studying psychology, probably had a very good idea about what she could expect. It’s you who’s dissapointed. You habitually overrate sex. Like it’s going to transform you into a superior being. Never gonna happen.”

You think I took advantage of her?”

Yes, but not by having sex with her, if you can call that sex, but ok. You took advantage of her by putting your damn ego first. If you didn’t think she was attractive, then don’t undress her. If you did think she was attractive, then give her what she obviously wanted, without overcomplicating. But don’t go halfway, in the hope of getting something out of it. Some half ass story or something.”

We sit silently for a while.

Maybe she was a messenger”.

My friend is very deep into esoteria.

Some angel, teaching you a lesson. You look for wisdom in women, don’t you? Well, this one wrote the lesson all over your laptop. You get sex and the best writing advice you ever got and still you are complaining. If you focussed a little less on analyzing every stupid thing that happens to you and focussed a bit more on building plot in your stories, you’d be a lot better off.”

Remind me why you and I never have sex.”

I like discussing your soapy encounters, I don’t want to play a part in them. Besides, you’re too much of a pleaser. I don’t like that. It makes me tense. And don’t put this conversation on paper, you hear? You’d only do it to attract more of these strange psychology students.”

I won’t.”

Jess

I like your firm back, your broad American football shoulders, the length of your shiny brown hair that flows all the way down to your butt. You’re at least four inches taller than me in high heels, and while that bothers me in public, it excites me enormously, in private.

Your eyes are a bit small, but they burn brightly like glistening hazelnuts. Your legs look slim in pants, but are full and round naked. The red lipstick on your lips presents a blazing fire made of flesh.

When I’m alone with you, you are highly sensitive and can’t watch drama movies for fear you will break down and cry. You cry often enough, I’ve come to see the inflationary rate of your tears. There’s no sadness in your crying, only the joy of living. With wet cheeks you have the mesmerizing beauty of a sad sea-green mermaid. By the way, you look the hottest, with your sea-green blouse and fiery red skirt.

Sex with you is only perfect if you end up bruised, with islands of blue and purple marking the spots where I claimed you. You’re an easy comer. Between five and ten minutes of medium fast penetration will do it. Sorry if this reads like the description of a car. You’re not a thing. You’re an animal. A ferocious glutton. If it gives you pleasure, you have no limits. It’s a miracle you’re still so thin. You wolf down cupcakes faster than twenty sugar addicted toddlers combined.

And it’s a miracle you haven’t dwarfed me and locked me back in your womb. You are that excessive. When you are with friends, you look like you haven’t been socialized yet. An eternal teenager, ever the playground outcast, your ways are studied, non-spontaneous and crude. You give boys slaps on the back that twist their collar bones. Strange how you can be such a succesful business woman. Maybe because you can’t be overlooked?

And maybe for that exact reason, you make such a lasting impression on people. Men around you, are either too intimidated by your looks to approach, or they turn into little school boys who play the equivalent of pulling your hair, with their verbal teasing. Sexual tension behind every tiny insult they throw at you.

You are everything I could ask for in a woman. Your height dwarfs me, you are a divinely soft retreat from the scary outside world, in your arms it’s suddenly ok to have a fear of life, all I have to do is cover you in continuous caresses, you’re a natural anxiolytic with breasts. Tiny breasts in comparison to your height, which arouses me all the more. They look like perfect sculptures with no risk of ever sagging. You are the soft padded tunnel out of this life. “Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back”, screams Cobain while I’m in you. Dissolving. I only like life when I’m escaping from it.

Transcendental. ‘Bi-polar opposites attract’, goes the next song in the background. I never thought my weaknesses could turn on a woman. I crawl in your armour and you close the steel vaults behind me. I love the feel of your protective pincers in the skin of my neck. And you relish the security that I could never hurt you. A feeling you find contradicting, because: “I am never attracted to sweet boys. Maybe it’s because I’m the only one with whom your sweetness is not pretended.”

My Isis, your Osiris. You keep me on a tight leash. No glancing at other women allowed. Granted the fruit of your gifts, I will subject myself to you, to you and no other. Or you will shun me and leave me to dry on the beach in the hot callous sand. Glad we got the rules sorted out.

You text me about 150 times a day. It drives anyone around me crazy. I’m unable to hold any kind of coherent conversation with anyone any more. Up until the point that people don’t want to meet up with me if you are not there in body and spirit, so at least we aren’t texting.

You’re not texting me because you miss me. We are so connected missing isn’t an option. You text me, because you are boundless in any area. Including my ambition. You prod me on to accomplish things. You arrange everything so that I can write. For once I can stand the pampering, because the pampering is conditional. You get all administrative chores done that come with living together, on the condition that I write. You switch off internet. You delete all my porno files. You delete all computer games, which pose a far more time-consuming threat. When friends want to see me, they have to arrange it with you. You’re the first girlfriend to tell me:

Ok, you talk about wanting to be a writer. And then you complain about not being one. I give you two options: you start writing and you never ever bitch about how hard it is, or you never write a damn thing in your life anymore and you never talk about it ever again and you find some other thing to focus on. Writing is only for those who haven’t got a choice in it. Either you need to write or you die, or you don’t need to write, then you don’t do it, you don’t die and you don’t bitch about it.”

The sex is blissful. It’s the sort of sex astrology books describe when talking about Pisces(male)- Cancer (female) relationships. For months on end we are locked inside each other. And when we wake up, it’s like arising from an opium dream. Eyes still misty and vision still blurry. Head and body slightly numb. If everyone woke up in a relationship like this today, we’d have world peace by next week.

You read and criticize everything I write, except this female alphabet.

Why do you have to do that? I at least hope it has some commercial value for a change. These plotless things don’t sell. There’s no story, they’re just portraits. They won’t sell.”

It’s the perfect time for me to muse about bygones, because you’re the last one.”

Don’t be so fucking corny.”

Look, this female alphabet stuff, it’s just a warm-up, it’s what I write every day before I write the real stuff. The plot stuff. The stuff you read about in that book you like so much. The breakout novelist.

You’ve promoted yourself to my literary agent/manager and you take your job VERY seriously. You’ve read 8 ‘How to write books’ in two weeks. Including Stephen King’s ‘On the craft’, which came highly recommended, but “sucked big time”, according to you. As did most other ‘how to write books’. You are the overnight expert, because you read 8, but you started reading over 20 of them. The ones you liked are ‘How not to write a novel‘, ‘how to write a damn good novel‘ and this ‘the breakout novelist’, especially this last one seems to be THE manual.

Your advice is sound, critical, but fair. “There is never any conflict in your stories.”

I do like your dialogue. But you need more conflict.”

O no no no, these last two chapters read like a history text book. Stop that. Make the history come alive. Show, not tell.”

You put a big cardboard sign behind my laptop reading: SHOW, NOT TELL.

My no-sex-female-friend asks where did you meet this one?

We shared a cab coming back from a conference on international security.”

What were you do doing there?”

Research for my book about the American Civil war.”

Is that still a threat to international security?”

No, but there were a lot of Americans there.”

Ok, whatever, what was she doing there?”

She represents a Belgian company that specializes in technology.”

War technology, you mean.”

Well, night vision devices and stuff like that.”

Right.”

Look, she’s really good at what she does.”

At helping to kill people?”

Don’t be like that. If she doesn’t do it, someone else will. It’s the system that pushes people to take jobs like this.”

Right, let’s not get into that the-system-causes-all-the-evil-discussion now. So, she works for the military complex and now she’s your own private dictator.”

No, she’s ambitious, and she gives me direction.”

So you can write, but it has to land you a huge pile of money.”

Well, huge, not exactly, not with this book market. But some money, yes. And I can’t see what’s wrong with that. If I get money for it, it just means that enough people like it. That I’m not writing just for me. If I was writing just for me, I might as well go fishing on a Sunday, just for me.”

Completely non-sensical argument, but whatever. Are you under contract with this woman?”

Her name is Jess. Short for Jessica.”

Yeah, ok, Jess, wess, dess, mess, are you under contract? When is she ditching you? When you don’t deliver a bestseller, say, next year?”

No, I’m not under any contract. And she makes plenty of money by herself, it’s not like she needs me to make a lot of money. She just insists on getting me to go the whole nine yards with this writing, ok? She’s one of these people who go for it all the way, 100 percent of the time. No matter which field they are in. And I like it that she helps me. And we have great sex.”

Yes, I guessed that. You wouldn’t let her dictate your entire life, if she wasn’t at least giving you great sex. It’s just sounds like your dating Courtney Love. And you know what happened to Kurt Cobain.”

If she gets me famous I don’t even care.”

That’s what you say now.”

In the months that follow, you get fatter and much more of a dictator. The fatter you get, the more of a mother figure I see in you, less a woman, less a sex partner with every pound you gain, more a mother with whom I have an incestuous relationship. You become massive.

The difference in height, at first so hormone arousing, becomes ridiculous, how much I wanted to get in you at first, how much I want to get away from you now. The loss of sexual interest appears to be mutual. You say you often have quick drops and gains in your weight. It has something to do with stress at work. I bide my time. You’ll get thin again. And I feel guitly for finding something so basic, so important. We’ll weather through this. With my eyes closed the blowjobs are still good.

Then finally, you want me to write a thriller.

But I don’t write thrillers. I’ve never even read a thriller. Not one.”

So? I don’t want you to read one, I want you to write one.”

But it’s not my genre.”

You don’t have a genre. Plotless dialogue isn’t a genre either. It doesn’t sell.”

I don’t know if you understand this, it’s something of a paradox, maybe the surest way not to get sold as a writer, is to write mainly with selling in mind.”

That’s exactly the philosophy that got you zero bestsellers so far.”

And then the word comes. The dreaded word. A word sculpted in the coldest ice.

You’re such a loser.”

We break up, on the spot. The conflict you deemed so imperative to get a story going, is what ends our story. Maybe it’s true, maybe that is what is lacking, both in my writing and in my life, a fundamental fear of conflict.

Thanks for the lesson, but in a world where ‘loser’ is already so much on the tip of anyone’s tongue when looking at our fellow men and women, you just can’t allow your girlfriend to call you that way. That ice dagger of a word, that sums up the spirit of our age: winners versus losers. A spirit I want no part of, not the slightest bit.

You did get thin again, I hear. And you maried an architect. After which you bloated again, like an inflatable vessel. Also very Cancer-like, astrologists agree.

Kate

Church bells. If the music is not too loud, church bells accompany our every fuck.

We are sharing two rooms in an old house, right next to a small church. You fantasize about doing it in the backyard or in those box-like cabinets where people come to confess their sins. Very peepshow like with the curtains and all. There are videocameras hidden in every corner of the church, so we end up not doing it. Standing naked for one second in our doorway, is about as far as you go, acting out your exhibitionism.

Sex is still relatively new, a bit newer to me than to you, but still new enough to you, to make even doggy style sort of experimental. Especially when we try to combine penetration and fingering. I’m really not used to being so intimate with a girl. So it sort of feels like you are boy, only way prettier, with breasts and no penis. I have no idea how to handle what’s going on.

You break up every routine I have. I used to go running 12 kms every other morning. I don’t do that any more. Sleeping in and having sex with you, beats the hell out of getting up at 6am to go and run ten laps around a park.

Your blue eyes and black hair will be on my wish list for years to come after you are gone. That’s past now. I buried you, in a way, when I buried the little boy inside me. His death knell started echoing when I met you. I didn’t realize it then. Though the song in the background ‘No way back, by the Foo Fighters, felt like some kind of adrenaline filled omen.

Most first loves have to die too. Or at least be destroyed at some point, before they can be allowed to be reignited. Our love died. Mainly because I thought any pretty looking girl was exactly like you. And so pretty looking girls should have been interchangeable. Nope. They weren’t.

So our path didn’t lead to church bells and two whispered ‘I do’s’.

You did break my autistic patterns. I still don’t know if that’s such a good thing. It gave me the strange and rather self-sabotaging association that a disciplined life can’t be combined with great sex.

I should mention the obvious part: you left me because you couldn’t stand my ongoing self-analysis any more. I don’t blame you. And you also didn’t like the status-seeking streak in my personality. Something you didn’t have at all. Very Virgo like. And you also didn’t like finding me in bed with naked girls past midnight. Not that the time of the day mattered much in that regard. You just didn’t like that.

If a relationship depended on sex and sex alone, we’d still be together. And maybe if I’d had a bit more experience we’d also still be together. I had the best sex ever with you. And then there’s this quantity versus quality debate in my head. If this alphabet had only the letter K, what would I be like today? Richer as a person or poorer? Richer, of course. Are we only as rich as the number of wounds we survive? Or is that just what optimistic masochists like to say?

For a long, long time I saw your face whenever I came. Like an orgasm ghost. I lost that along the way, the intensity of that. It never got so intense after you. It probably can’t. You took a piece with you. And I don’t think you kept it. I think you dropped it somewhere. It would be nice, nice or maybe just cruel, to experience one more orgasm like I had them with you. When living was living. The future was bright and promised the sun on my face and the wind in my back. When your scent was in my nose, and I couldn’t imagine what death was, feeling young and immortal, all my senses drunk. The high watermark of my emotions and my hormones. When faced with death, I’ll think of you, and know that I sucked the marrow out of life, thanks to you. And I won’t have any need to cling to life. ‘No way back.’ 26 letters and you are among the three or four that I actually loved. And yet your chapter is among the shortest. There are things too private after all. You stumpstarted my life, in the mere nine months that we knew each other, I’ll think of you when it ends. In your honor.

Lore

A man-woman friendship that ends in sex, ends well. Well, maybe it doesn’t end well, but the friendship usually ends.

We weren’t ‘allowed’ to have sex. We weren’t ‘available’, so we shared any physical pleasure we could without resorting to sexual intercourse.

Restaurants, snack nights, sun bathing, massages, swimming, running, cycling, windsurfing, wrestling (a lot of wrestling), but mainly:

Alcohol (mostly cocktails with dirty names), food (lots of red fruit and melons) and talk, talk, talk. Talk about anything.

Also a lot of shopping for clothes. Only sort of legitimate way I got to see your breasts.

I never had so much fun with a girl. We’d go outside during the summer, walking arm in arm under a UFO-sized, yellow umbrella. Telling people who were already miles out of our way to step aside. Sneaking into cinema’s by the backdoor, so we wouldn’t have to pay. The money we saved I spent on cherry flavored candy for you.

I swelled with pride when we walked the streets together. You were a pretty hot looking chick. A real hardbody with big steamy eyes, like a libidinous bambi.

When we did have sex- Somewhere near the end of one of our wrestling matches, somewhere under your kitchen table- it didn’t even feel like our first time together. More like the 1000th time in a three year relationship that still has fire in the belly. That my girlfriend was also there made it a bit kinky. It made it ok, we didn’t so much have sex, we had sex, ok, together, with my girlfriend. Sort of.

We wanted to keep the authenticity between us intact. We figured if we started a real relationship we would cheat on each other within the next three to four months. Probably even sooner. So we decided to leave it at that one time.

Back to restaurants and all the rest. It was good for a while. We talked about what happened. A one time event that was bound to happen anyway. We’d be fine. We had gotten it out of the air.

But the ersatz activities didn’t do it any more. So we were doomed anyway. A relationship wasn’t possible. I really wasn’t your type. And though I thought you were very hot looking, sex never really surfaced. But we had eaten the cliche forbidden fruit. And to eat it again was out of the question. Not sober anyway.

It’s better to burn out than to fade away’

We didn’t have to have one last conversation. We were that close.

Close enough to both realize at the same time, it was time to cherish the memories and be forever apart. But it was grand, while it lasted. I’m not sure if I should call it friendship, looking back. Friendship would have lasted. More something like a pact to see how far we could go. How far we could stretch the concept man-woman friendship. A threesome seems to be somewhere near the border.

Margot

The only way to remember the name of a physically unattractive woman is to sleep with her.

It’s a nasty joke best left to an all male company. Biological injustice.

It’s not a waterproof approach, but the prospects of remembering the woman’s name are much brighter once you’ve been inside her.

And Margot is a beautiful name to remember.

The things you said about yourself were painful to hear.

You would sigh and say: “Life is fair for no one, but it’s the least fair for ugly women.”

I hate the word ‘ugly’ and never use it, never even think it.

It’s my feeble attempt at not being superficial.

Margot, you had an obession about your abs. “It’s the one thing I have going for me”, you said.

I couldn’t agree. I don’t care about abs. Abs don’t do ‘it’ for me.

I care about long hair, big eyes and thighs.

And, not as much as I should, but still, I care a great deal about personality.

You had a lot of that going for you, if you hadn’t cut yourself down with every other sentence that sprang from your pitifully pale and thin lips.

But you were fun. You were such fun to hang out with. And you were a babe magnet. A real babe magnet.

We’d go places and you’d be chatting with a ton of good-looking girls in an instant. Maybe you didn’t pose a threat to them, but no, that can’t be it, you were simply that much fun, let’s leave it at that.

And ok, at first I went out with you, primarily for that magnet quality, but seriously, there were soon so many times the best part out of a night out was when we were slumped back in big stuffed sacks used as chairs and talking about anything. You had a sharp, quick-witted mind and you were amazingly well-read.

Girls like me don’t get asked out between the age of 14 and 20. So I had plenty of time to do a hell of a lot of reading.”

What happened after 20?”

I realized the stunning imbecility of waiting around for guys to ask you out to start a social life. I only had two dates in high school. One was with a guy who wanted to figure out if he was gay. He thought he was after our date, but no. He hooked up with the girl next door a week later.”

And the second?”

The second really was gay.”

I don’t really know why I waited till then, but I kissed you. Right smack on those near invisible lips, which seemed to have developed attractiveness out of, well, sorry, thin air.

Is this going to be a pity fuck?”, you asked.

Talk of killing the mood…

No”, I said, “I really think you’re hot.”

And you really were hot. Not in a beauty magazine kind of way. But who in a right mind cares about those?

I saw it. Right that instant I took in your beauty. And the old rock and roll of attraction found its devious rhythm.

And we could have been great together. We really couldn’t have been something.

If it hadn’t been for streets.

There are a lot of streets in this world.

And couples walk those streets and get stared at.

And I saw your beauty. But the others wouldn’t.

Evil others.

Evil me.

I’ve never deserved a slap more than the one you gave me when you walked out on me.

And the truth is that I miss your unique look. It’s not that you were unattractive, it’s just that you were totally different.

A bit like a sinewy Viking woman with droopy eyes and an albino complexion.

Magically attractive at fifth or sixth glance. But really, magically attractive.

If only there hadn’t been streets.

Ok, you’re welcome to give me another slap now.

Nadia

It’s starts in Bosnia. With another girl named Nadia. Your best friend. My sleeping partner the whole stay in Bosnia. Sleeping and hugging, never anything more, though it was intensely cosy. I already have an N, or I might write something about her too.

Other Nadia starts chatting with you in an internet café in Sarajevo. I notice your picture. I instantly like your nose. I like big-nosed girls. You also have a preference for big noses, I find out later. I tell your friend to tell you, you have a beautiful nose. She does so. I’m not exactly sure if we started texting right that moment. Possibly. You like texting. We both do. I think there have been years we have texted without ever meeting.

Back in Belgium. Your friend’s mum happens to like me. She says a few flattering things about me when you meet her. A lucky coincidence. I never mind some help in getting closer to girls. There’s probably a technical pick-up artist term for this sort of help. Social promotion assistance, SPA, or I don’t know what. I’m pretty sure we are texting now.

You come over to my place one evening. It was a quiet period. July. I had exams in August, but I was mostly writing. My second manuscript. A flop. Should have been studying for those exams. It was a manuscript about a guy who rolled from one girl to the next. Sort of autobiographical, except for a next door neighbour Zulu who skins dogs and the fact that in the course of the story the guy stops rolling from one girl to the next. Comments of publishers six months later: “very well written, no semblance of a story, no room for it, sorry”

But then I still had all my hopes. It was one of those summer nights, when, looking back now, the air smelled like summer in a way it doesn’t any more. Not ever. That scent that makes you divide the old days from the now days. Or the days with color and the days without color. We have that in common, you also make that division. It’s the hope in the head, a confidence that everything gets better all the time, that makes us smell what summer really smells like.

You had a friend living in my street who had his birthday. He wasn’t home. You got him a present. I got the present. Candy, I believe.

Of course, I want sex with you right away. Which I don’t mention. Not sure why not, but there are rules for that. Much, much later, too late, maybe, I find out that sex most commonly happens after SIX hours spent together. Not in one stretch. Just six hours spent together. Three dates of two hours, is fine. So is 6 six dates of six hours, though a bit less convenient.

Does texting count? Or does it really have to be six hours spent physically together? I don’t know. Let’s see. That first time you spent 45 minutes at my place? A small studio with the walls plastered with pictures. Adolescence hit me quite late, you see. I remember you wanted to smoke inside.

I think you wouldn’t describe yourself as beautiful, but that’s crap. And any compliment you could ever get, wouldn’t change your self-image, but still. You looked like the girl I pieced together, in my mind, lying on the floor, 16 and horribly lonely, horribly longing for the touch of skin on skin, you looked exactly like that girl. Wounded, but defiant, rebellious, but well-mannered, hot, but slightly distant, very sexy, not too approachable, without being arrogant, witty, without a need to impress, slightly self-effacing, without being too modest, very freedom-loving, sexually experienced, and always, always

always

complaining.

About a-ny-thing.

Attitude: if I don’t expect much, I can never be dissapointed.

You had just moved in with the father of other Nadia. You were decorating your room. And making a really thorough job of it. You were a painter. With talent. And ambition. The ambition is gone, last time I checked. A pity, I liked your style. I liked meeting a serious artist. Made me feel less crazy for wasting time writing.

I think we talked about your stepfather, who made ugly faces before you went to sleep. Not just ugly faces, but crazy ugly faces, deranged behaviour he only displayed when you were alone with him. Your dad had left when you were young. He would die a few months, or ever only a few weeks later. As would mine. I wrote an entire manuscript about you, starting from the relationship you had with your stepfather and father. Also a flop. But a bit better than my second manuscript. An other writer said: “well, you are a writer after all.” You read it. You liked it. Which didn’t mean anything. Of course you liked it. It was based on you.

We talked about the divorce of other Nadia’s parents. You and the father decided to become room-mates shortly after their divorce. He worked in some boarding-school. And he played bass in a band. Hence the divorce. He was always out. The mother couldn’t stand it any more. I don’t know why I always remember shit about everybody. Must be the human capital sponge you carry with you as a writer.

I walked you to the station after your visit. Not sure what we talked about then. You also mentioned a vibrator that was so good, no man could ever emulate its performance. Never expect too much and you can’t be dissappointed. You had this look on your face: everything will always dissappoint us, and let that be our solace.

I don’t know when we met again. The week after that? Your roommate, the divorced father of other Nadia, felt terrible. Terribly lonely. You asked if we could go out with him. We did. We went to Hot club de Gand, some crowded club for people who need to pretend they like jazz music. Somehow it was arranged that you would stay the night with me and not go back home with him. We mainly talked about his daughter. And how talented she was. Which she probably was, even if he was stuck in an admiring dad’s rave. I didn’t talk much. And near the end I was sort of picking a fight with him. I forget his name. He was nice, but we had other plans. He dropped us of in front of my door.

We went to lie on my couch. You weren’t planning to have sex. Remind me how did get to have sex, because I don’t remember that part. My bed at the time was a platform with a ladder. A matrass right under the ceiling. Quite cosy. Perfect place to watch movies on a laptop with girls. Like a small universe above the clouds, with the wooden ladder and all.

I wanted to make you come. And you were annoyed by that. Not just because you like being annoyed or because you think it’s necessary to be annoyed, you really were annoyed. You are most annoyed when you stop saying you are annoyed. You were also annoyed because I had said something about not being comfortable about blowjobs the first few times. That’s a size queen buffer rule. You have a beautiful body. Which you won’t believe. But you have. Long firm legs. Firm, cover magazine breasts. No excess weight to them. Not these floppy, fatty puddings, that wobble and cause dizzy spells when you look at them too long.

You came in the morning, but I suspect you faked it. You’re a chronic people’s pleaser in some strange, indirect way. Something you want to change, but can’t. You’re basically too nice. Right after the first round you say: “Well, you are a swell guy, aren’t you? You’ve cheated on your girlfriend.” Ehm, yeah, but I couldn’t have done it alone.

You eat cornflakes in the morning. A very tiny portion. You smoke. You go. We text. We’re sort of relieved the sex wasn’t earth shattering. I go back to my girlfriend. Feeling guilty. An unneccesary feeling. My girlfriend had been cheating on me too. Which didn’t bother me. I’m the grandchild of flower power free love hippies. You are having sex with an other guy who also has a girlfriend. You Some girl that’s way too young. And you’re not the only one he’s cheating his girlfriend with. I start wondering how many STD’s this night with you is going to present me with. You specialize in guys who are already taken.

I bumped into you on the street some time later. Always happy to see you. Not awkward. But sort of uneventful. A hint of opportunities never acted upon.You and I have an escapist vibe between us. To stand there chatting on a street corner about I don’t know what, is unlike us. We want to run off. We want to watch a marathon set of road movies, have sex in between, and drive off ourselves round 5 am. To nowhere. A fast clean death maybe. Go out with a bang. Make it big, by some accident. “I’m gonna go up to Hollywood, they will see I’m so good. The money will roll right in and I just sit and grin.” Hollywood. Whatever. Any place but here. But we don’t. We have that in common too. Not really the self starting kind. We develop this elastic relationship. We text. We decide to meet. We don’t meet.

There’s a whole period where you text me you are wearing nothing but a flanel shirt. Grunge is our philosophy. Heavy slow, heavy slow. Grunge dynamics. We like to be in the all consuming noise. And to be spaced out in the quiet and be melancholic after the noise. We like the eb and flow of life. We like extremes. And we’re both not getting any extremes. Nothing in between. At this point in life. We don’t meet any more. I stay with my girlfriend. We do talk about having a threesome. Or in fact you ask me if you can have sex with my girlfriend first and THEN have a threesome. Neither of these situations happen. And I start having these frightful attacks. Attacks by what is called ‘maturity’. I start asking myself what the whole point is in arranging threesomes. I get this very scary mature reflex: what’s the point if it doesn’t lead to…money? We stop meeting.

You get married. In Vegas. Close to Hollywood, but not quite. With the other guy who had a girlfriend. I move to Slovakia. I’m about to get married. You say you miss the old days. You miss doing the wrong thing. I never got to see you in that flannel shirt. And nothing but that flannel shirt, of course. And you’re the only one who’s ok with having her real picture in this alphabet. Some small act of rebellion. Some people function best as backdoor lovers, it’s only real and worthwile if it’s hidden and forbidden, when it happens at irregular moments, when the rest is sleeping, our regular partners included, and there’s the faint possibility of packing one suitcase, one suitcase only, and dissappearing, without leaving the tiniest note. And never returning.

And we both know, it’s a trap. To spend all the time together, is to become regular, to kill the excitement, to slowly strangle any sexual tension, any feeling of being young and fresh, and wild. And even a flannel shirt can become routine. So we never meet. And leave it at a summer night and text conversations about having sex that never happens and never dissapoints. And the recurring day dream that somehow, way back, there was the opportunity to break free, and to go out and live fast, die young, stay pretty. Like all those who get caught up by the tangles of regular, working, married life tell themselves. But it’s nice though, it makes you feel that today’s life, is just the sleepy, somewhat boring, rockNroll-less but somewhat safe afterparty of the wild, edgy underground grunge fest that went before. When we were young and had unprotected (??) sex with strangers we’d just met, wallowing in romantic teenage depression gloom, that made sex feel like a revenge on our creators for putting us on a colorless earth, where grunge is dead. And most of our soul is too. And when we text now, it’s only to remind ourselves that we were once two entirely different people. Or maybe not different, just alive.

Oljga

Russian girls come with a couple of certainties. They will treat your money like they treat your sperm, they drain it all, daily, with a smile. The only area they economize in, is textile surface”, says an Austrian guy I am having breakfast with on the first day of language seminar in Ljubljana.

It’s harder to keep a Russian girl away from her two-weekly manicure and pedicure and nearly daily shopping spree than it is to keep a rooster from cackling.”

I meet you five days later.

You have steel blue Scorpio eyes. When you look me in the eye I never know what you are really thinking. Could be anything from very deep to no thoughts at all. When you drive your fluorescent pink nails in my back, I never know if you mean to do it, want to do it, or simply think you have to do that.

I’m skipping almost all the classes of a summer course of Slovene to be with you. I met you in the castle overlooking Ljubljana. On the windy top of the castle your over-sized pink sun-glasses blew out of your hand and I scooped them up from the ground. Like it was a classical invitation to fuck you. I was tanned from all the sun. I was lean from the frugal seminar fare. I was confident.

Four days into this escalated flirt/ hormonal rollercoaster/ budding relationship (??) my hands smell like this salty-fishy blend of semen and pussy juice. It’s in the air, it dips the bedroom, the hall and the bathroom in some ubiquitous haze. It puts us in a state of constant arousal.

We never talk. We joke and we fuck, but we never talk. Not really. Every time I ask you a question about what life is like in Russia, you say something like: “Ow well, you know.” You’re either laughing or moaning. Or humming. You like to hum. Very zen, very hot, very zen. Always unperturbed. Whenever there is silence you start laughing hysterically and say: “Your eyes are funny.”

After meeting at the castle, we went straight to this house. You wanted to change your shoes. You were wearing white tennis sneakers and you wanted sandals. You only wore the sneakers for the steep walk to the castle. The house is neither mine nor yours. It’s the house of your uncle. An ‘uncle’ named Sasja. “How old is he?”, I ask. You drink yoghurt out of a can in the fridge and say in between two sips: “No idea, 50 something?”

There’s no vodka in the fridge and I say: “He is not a real Russian.”

He is”, you say, “a true Russian doesn’t store vodka, he drinks it. Besides, a real Russian drinks cognac, especially in his class.”

There are two bottles of expenisve looking cognac on the book shelf of his study. We try some. I don’t like it. But it’s gets better, later, when it blends with the aroma on my and your hands, your belly and the inside of your wet thighs.

When does your uncle come home?”

He won’t. He’s in Montenegro. Business.”

It’s too hot to be outside”, you say. You ask if I want to watch cartoons.

I’ll say yes to anything.

We watch Ice Age 2 dubbed awfully, in Russian.

I’ve seen this movie over 40 times and I love it”, you say.

You warm up lasagna after the movie. I don’t know what to say. You don’t say much to questions. And you never ask me any questions. Except what kind of car I have. I don’t have a car. And I feel ashamed and tempted to lie, but I bite my tongue and admit: “I don’t have a car. At the moment.”

As if I’m planning to get one.

I want to buy a pink mini cooper”, you say.

Around 22h, I say something like, “my dormitory is gonna close if I don’t go now.”

You put your hand on my cheek and push my head halfway around. “Don’t be stupid”, you say.

I stay. We watch ‘Wall-E’, the original version, thank God, and after that we decide to sleep spoon fashion. With clothes on. You press your butt so close to me, I slowly move one hand up, close to your breast. A very small kiss in your neck. And you turn.

In the morning I go to the centre of Ljubljana and buy all kinds of fresh fruit. Over 40 euro worth of vitamins.

Maybe I have the subconscious belief I have to pay for sex in some indirect way. If I seem to have confidence, it’s a lick of paint at best.

We watch the first Ice Age and you eat blueberries and nectarines.

I lick you half way through the movie. You wipe my mouth with a napkin and kiss me.

You’re very unrussian”, you say. “It’s cute. You’re like Scrat.”

And we continue watching the rest of the movie. Only when the credits appear on the screen you give me a handjob.

It’s all over my T-shirt. And you give me a very disco like shirt of ‘uncle’ Sasja. You think it looks hysterical.

On the third day I do go to classes. Very much against my will. You go sunbathing with a friend. A Slovenian girl with short hair. She’s surprised I speak Slovenian. “Isn’t it hard with the dual form and all that?” She thinks I have a Czech accent. Czech sounds harder and less melodic than Slovene.

I stay at your house again. “Why are you studying Slovene?”, you ask when I come back from the faculty.

It sounds like you think there can’t be one good reason to study Slovene.

The professor who teaches Slovene in Belgium is very inspiring”, I say.

Ah, a father figure you’re looking to please”, you say.

Yeah, probably. That’s a no brainer.

You put on terrible, I mean terrible, Russian dance music and we have sex standing up in front of a mirror in the hall. You keep wearing a white T-shirt with a pink bear on it.

In psychology pink stands for the message: treat me tenderly.

I think I do.

I get very protective feelings when I look at you. And I wish I was twice as muscled and 10 inches taller, so I could make a nest for you in my arms and keep you there forever. This male power impulse to want to possess and cage youthful beauty.

Where is this going?”, I ask on the morning of the fourth day.

With that question you piss in our soup”, Olga with a mjagkij znak says.

Olga with a soft sign: Ольга as opposed to Олга without a soft sign (ь). Pronounced: Oljga.

If you manage to pronounce my name correctly for this one time, I will tell you where it’s going.”

This mjagki znak makes the L sound like a French L, she tells me.

You know French?”, I ask.

Russian aristocracy is traditionally well-versed in the French tongue”’, you say sitting wide-legged on my chest.

You’re an aristocrat?”

You rub yourself off on my chest and say:

Stares like the way you stare at me, make me royalty. I don’t think I’m royalty. But men insist on making me royalty. Like any girl’s dream is to be a princess.”

Isn’t it?”

You know nothing, Billy boy.”

This isn’t going to last. I feel it. Girls like these, they don’t stick around with guys like me.

On the fifth day, you say “I think you’ll have to sleep at the dormitory tonight”.

An ice pick through my left eye would have hurt less.

Uncle Sasja is about to return from his conference (?) in Montenegro.

We promise to stay in touch. You kiss me on the cheek when we part. A doernij znak. A bad sign, as they say in Russian. A doernij znak from the girl with the mjagkij znak.Walking to the dormitory it feels like there’s a hole in my belly, my gut is tied to the doorknob of your house and my guts are spilling out of my belly with every step I take. Still I walk on.

I send you a friend request on Facebook. You don’t respond. Russians use a Russian variant of Facebook, a friend tries to comfort me. But I don’t find you there.

Ljubljana is small. Very small. Everything happens along the river. It’s a village. I see you. Sitting on the steps of the Preseren statue. There this small, fat, round, bald, pink worm-like entity glued to you. I hear your giggles, before I see you. I turn my back to you. And start walking. Just walking. To a bar. Any bar.

My friend sees my face drop and says: “Cheer up, dude, you had four days with her. You had a great time with her.”

I don’t know if it’s such a good thing”, I say. “I feel like a man who was born blind, got his eye-sight for four days, only to have it taken away again. Those four days were so short, it’s like they never happened.”

My friend shoves me against a wall and walks on, saying: “You know what I can’t stand about you? No matter what kind of delicious soup life serves you, you always have to piss in it.”

I protest. The soup was great, I just want more of it. A little bit too much, is just enough for me. And four days is far, far too little.

My friend goes on. “Cherish the memory. Quit yanking. Move on. What else are you gonna do? Stalk her? Become a billionaire? Maybe it’s not a billionaire. Maybe she loves him. Maybe it’s really her uncle. Maybe she doesn’t want to get into a long distance relationship. We’re flying back in two days.”

I get horny. Far, far hornier than when I was still with her.

I read somewhere that lavender suppresses sexual desire. I buy lavender soap. I wash my hands in seas of lavender. I put lavender on my pillow. I hang lavender on my neck. Lavender like garlic to fight off the lethal attraction to a modern day vampire, a giggling angel. Olga with the mjagkij znak.

My friend frowns: “You’re excessive about everything you do. Control-freak.”

I don’t answer. The lavender works. A little bit.

It’s better to be always blind, than to be always blind minus four days.

Paulien

You wanted me to write a book about you and the behind the scenes affaires of the national beauty contest. Something about having to have the right people backing you in order to win. Even beauty contests are about politics. You wanted a book to uncover all the scheming.

I’ll never know if you were serious about that. I was. I wrote the first pages the next day. Still have them somewhere. I sent them to you. You never answered. Let’s try to figure out why not.

You rang my door around ten or eleven at night. Minutes before you had been at one of those beauty contest events. You sang on the radio and stuff like that. I hate beauty contests, but I seem to like the women involved in them.

To my surprise you had a whole bag of bottles of wine and such with you. You said we were going to drink all of it. You had this strange allergy. You could only drink alcohol if you hadn’t eating anything all day. You could only drink on an empty stomach. Otherwise it was the emergeny room for you. Was that true or a dramatic embellishment? I never saw you as the biggest fan of truthfulness.

We installed ourselves on my bed. That’s the advantage of living in a place where the bedroom is an integral part of the living room, with no dividing walls. It feels natural to go and sit on the bed. It wasn’t the first time we sat on a bed together. It could be the fourth time. Only this one time we did get any further than talking. And I’ll never know what your real objective was.

You didn’t come first place in the beauty contest. But you did win the ‘miss sympathy’ title. So to me you did win the contest. And you ranked among the 20 most beautiful girls in the country. In theory, of course. Only in theory.

We had met two or three years before that. It was your first year at university. It was my last. In fact I shouldn’t have been there any more. I had already graduated the year before that. I was studying something completely out of my range of interest, in a very desperate attempt to cling to the freedom of my student days. We were the welcoming party of your student organization. You and some 60 other newbies sat there in front of us. You stood out immediately. You had a lovely brown jacket. You had taken much more care than any of them to look good. All the simple tasted guys were drueling. The ones with refined taste, like my friends, didn’t care for you. Said you looked too childish, too barbie-like, too cliché, too typical. I don’t have refined tastes. I like barbies. And you were more than a barbie. To steal a line from the Blackadder series: you had in your eyes a hardly noticeable spark hinting at a sharp mind “as cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University”

At the first party the student group threw, we talked till morning. If I remember correctly, it was you who sought contact with me. Not the other way around. It puzzled a few people. I was negging you. Before I knew a word like that existed, I was negging you. Bashing you. Trying very hard to make you feel I wasn’t impressed by your looks. Which was total bullshit of course. Why was I talking to you about nothing at all, if I wasn’t drawn to your looks? Or was it the nonchalance and the not taking anything seriously that did it? You said you liked Sarkozy because he was a total flop, but managed to get away with it. Was that a jab at me or am I simply reading too much into it?

When we left that morning, the first rays of sun licking us, we arranged to have dinner together. A feat I was particularly proud about. Sad to admit.

We had dinner in a fancy restaurant. To my standards, not yours. If I remember correctly we went to rent a movie afterwards. I have no idea whatsoever which one. We watched it on my bed. I was suspecting you of playing some power game with me. When we were picking out a movie, you came close, very close, and made me feel uncomfortable, because I didn’t have the courage to hope.

And you were trying hard to be somewhere near my height. Again, I’m only conjecturing. You were much taller than me. But the whole being too close stuff, came across as entirely innocent, as if you didn’t know girls communicate by the centimeters of distance they leave between them and the guy.

The same happened on my bed. Our shoulders touched. Sign enough to do more, with any ‘regular’ girl, but you weren’t regular. I had trouble reading you. And I didn’t move. The gut feeling said no. After the movie we had a small discussion. You could sleep with me. I tried to convince you, just to stay and sleep.

And you left, you wanted to sleep in your own bed. Or no, no, wait a minute. Wait a minute. I completely forgot. How could I forget? You did stay the night! Why did I forget that? You slept in my bed. We didn’t do anything. Perhaps it was part of your power game. Maybe you were just too tired to walk home. It was only one mile, and you’re not the type that tires easily. So that’s unlikely. I can’t even remember how many clothes you lost. I think you slept in your bra. You had been a model for underwear. You didn’t care that much.

Strange I forgot. I probably suppressed it. You made me feel entirely asexual, by staying the night and making it seem completely natural that nothing more happened. Did we sleep spoon fashion? I have a hard time remembering. I think we did. And I hadn’t read all those pick up artist methods yet. Most a pity. I was stuck with my own crude tactics. I think I held you spoon fashion. It was you who moved closer. When nothing more happened, I didn’t have the tactic of turning away and ignoring you, so you would have tried a bit harder. Mabye. Just conjecture. So I just held you.

You had an absolutely amazing body. I would never get to see it, except your breasts. Two years later. Holding you had the exact right effect. The effect I love the most. To dissolve. To dissolve in femininity. To drown in it. To blend with it. Nirwana by diving in womanhood. I never told you. You’d have claimed that as a victory and you’d have move on. Conjecture, I know. You weren’t looking for more compliments. You got showered with compliments all the time. You were looking for a challenge. And somebody to take care of. You had a very motherly personality. You were elected Miss Sympathy two years later. When you left I had cold turkey. There was heroine in your scent and in touching you. I wasn’t in love with you. Strange to say. I would compare it more to a risk of substance abuse. I am good at warding off addiction risks. I have to be. I fit the junkie profile. I left you alone.

It was a period that my arrogance was peaking. Rapidly disintegrating. But still, high. So I was too proud to run after you. And I instinctively felt there was no point anyway. Your game was more subtle than mine. We ended up in bed again. I was slightly drunk. I had just kissed another girl. My memory feels riddled with bullets here. It was either right before, or right after I had sex with that girl. But anyway, that night she had rejected me. I had come on too strong. I was talking too much about other women. I was ignoring the rules of the game. Impatient. Intensely in need of Woman. It was that horrible two month period where I didn’t have a steady girlfriend. No Woman on tab available.

You had a very cosy, very small room, that was very warm, and you had a ferret if I remember correctly. Could be confusing with some other girl’s room. Also decorated in pinkish, reddish hues. Your room was so small, the only option was to sit on the bed. I was bolder. I started touching you, rubbing across your belly and your arms. The ‘safe’ havens for lusty hands. After a while you stopped me. Said it was bad for our friendship. We didn’t meet again for two years. Or maybe we did once. It’s blurry. The two years after my graduation got deleted.

Somewhere in the course of those two years, you texted me and asked: ‘Why did we never have sex?’ I suspect it was right after you read something I had written on internet. Something similar to this Female Alphabet. Things like this always attract more female than male readers. The obvious answer to your question was: ‘Because you didn’t want to’. But did I send that? Did I answer at all? I was doing a job I resented, I hated myself, I hated my life, the only bright thing at the time was my girlfriend, who was right next to me, in the same bed you slept that one time, so maybe I didn’t answer. However unlike me that might be. I was feeling worthless enough at the time.

I was doing better little over a year later. That same girlfriend was studying at home. Instinctively knew you were coming over, and more than talking would be going on. We were on my bed. I was keeping some distance on purpose. And respectfully. I know most people would be surprised, but I’m basically a decent guy most of the time.

You put one of your legs across my lap. You jumped on my lap. We started kissing. Again this flooding feeling of heroine. No more pain, welcome emptiness in the head, symbiosis, like being back in the womb, being one, one with life, no thoughts, swallowed by you, your beauty, your strength, your easiness with life. We didn’t get far. You were wearing this really intricate body suit, with lots of laces at the back. Would have taken something like 10 to 15 minutes to get it off. Only your breasts were easy to free. I kissed them, a lot, and long. You’d told me you liked anal sex. Was that to tease me?

You said you had a very tall boyfriend with a tiny penis. You never felt much, except from behind. But he was so ashamed he insisted you sat on him, in which position you felt the least. I rubbed between your legs, but your clothes stayed on. This medieval like chastity body suit you were wearing was yellowish, brownish. Did you wear it on purpose? Like a harness? It’s hard to imagine you left anything at all to chance. You said you were sorry. Sorry has a very redundant, inappropriate ring at moments like that. Why did you so obviously initiate kissing if you didn’t really want anything? A game? A test? A small adventure? Curiosity? And all of a sudden you had to remind me I had a girlfriend. Yes, but you knew that before you jumped on me. Your game was still way more subtle than mine. Maybe we weren’t even playing the same game. I certainly didn’t know the rules to it. Perhaps in your head you were singing: ‘an other one bites the dust.’ My internal jukebox was aiming for ‘shot down in flames’. I didn’t feel too sorry. A bit puzzled, maybe. Like losing a poker game, with low stakes, just prestige.

You left at three o’clock in the night. You wanted to wake up in your own bed. At goodbye it occurred to me for the very first time how much taller you really were. You completely dwarfed me. I felt like the hobbit. I never saw you again. I had some small rise of euphoria that lasted one or two days max. Post-adventure adrenaline. I told my writing partner what had happened. He said I shouldn’t be so surprised and insecure.

My girlfriend emailed you the next day. I had mentioned a few times too often. I’ve always been in the habit of trying to share my elation of conquest with my girlfriends. With women openess always trumps fidelity, though few men feel comfortable with that fact.

You were easy to find. You were famous. I don’t know what she wrote you. I don’t know what you answered back. Maybe she wanted to scare you off. Maybe she wanted to emphasize her existence. You were polite and friendly. My girlfriend never told me your answer, not specifically. She wanted to spare my feelings. My girlfriend and I were very, very, very close. And always looking for some easy way to canalize my excessive (or just healty, depending on the observer) libido. And hers, eventually.

You and I never met again. I think you asked me only once how I was doing. I answered, and got no answer back. Much later I asked how you were doing. And got no answer. Or you never got my message. Also possible.

And now it doesn’t matter any more. You wouldn’t have the same effect on me now, as you did back then. You know why? Because I know that sleeping with Misses, won’t cure my insecurities, won’t cure me of my fears, will not appease me and Life, nor my doubs as how to contribute to a modern day society as a man, not in a lasting way.

Having finally found a girlfriend more beautiful than any Miss also helps, of course. All the more attractive, because she would never enter a beauty contest. Though some have urged her to do so. I’m not saying this to hurt you. I would never do that. I’m stating it as fact. I am with a girl now who wraps me in her Womanhood without arousing my insecurities.

And there’s not much to be read into our sloppy encounters. The truth is you were simply not that attracted to me. A little bit, yes. But only because, unlike most guys, I puzzled you, and wasn’t too obviously attracted to you. And I negged you, before I knew what negging was. When I tried to be like Rhett Butler in Gone with the wind (see: Rhett Butler negging Scarlett). When I was trying to overcome insecurities, coating them in arrogance and directionless ambitions, instead of accepting the insecurities. Trying to overcome insecurities as a man, trying to make up for feelings of inadequacy as a man in society, by luring the most beautiful, ever more beautiful girls in your nets, not even because you think they are so beautiful, but also in part because society labels them as such, is not that different form a gambling or a drug addiction.

Anyway, I don’t have to neg you any more. You’re beautiful, you are warm, you are witty, funny, not because your jokes are funny, but because of the way you laugh at your own jokes, and you dress well, even though I hate people who spend too much time and money on dressing well, I like the way you dress. You have a talent for attracting the good things in life and a talent for having no worries. I have the former, but not the latter. A paradox, one might say.

I’m glad that on at least two occasions you chased off the boredom that was hanging over my life as a pall. In the end, whatever happens with the women in my life, what is left, is always gratefulness, for x time spent in your beauty, for the x time we made a blend, sturdy and less sturdy, for the x time my fear and rebellion towards being alive were squished, and for the peak moment memories, however hard to really put back together.

You are now a stewardess. I had an ‘of course’ moment when I saw that.

You have 1,572 Facebook friends. 1,573 if you accept my friend request.

Q- Sometimes a fetish is just a fetish

Sick giggly one.

Who likes to fuck me with a black strap-on.

Must be something Freudian. But I don’t believe in Freud.

Neither do you, Femdom Queen.

No strings attached.

You get me down on all fours.

You try to make me cum with no hands touching.

It never works.

It makes me feel on the verge of coming. But penetration itself never pushes me across that border.

Afterwards I feel physically ‘open’. And very vulnerable. As if the world has pierced my armor and can now enter me at will. An effect that lasts for a couple of hours, until my ass recovers.

I’m also afraid it’s not quite healthy. Afraid it will give me prostatis or something else that sounds vicious.

With my fragile personality that is so easily bored I look for exciting things that I can’t handle.

A little bit too far down the lane of insanity is just far enough for me.

Like a pendulum I soon come screaming back from extreme behaviour towards, boring every day sanity.

You want to go further.

I call it quits after about two months. Before I need to wear a diaper to work, because you ruined my bladder with your fake cock.

It’s taught me a lesson about the receptiveness (or something) of women.

And how scary that is. To receive. To take in.

I’m more prone to dissolve and not to receive.

And in a big leap of thought this makes me conclude:

Men are always running from life, whereas women are almost always running towards it. Receiving and not meaning to penetrate, not taking from it.

Except Q.

A heterosexual woman who likes to penetrate men with a 12 inch dong.

I won’t go too deep into it. Sometimes a pleasure is just a pleasure, and not the result of a horrible childhood trauma.

Q happens to be one of the best high school principals in the country.

Jedem das seine.

Roxanne

You were quiet, thoughtful, extremely well-read, very particular about using the right words, very sensitive about language, outwardly very calm, inwardly very, ehm, shifting between different options, yet very loyal to your decisions. But still, ever pondering. Yet never moody. Dreamy, calculating for self-preservation, but always considerate, never selfish, funny, very charming, conflict avoiding, or no, conflict smoothening, good at creating a sort of cosy, classical atmosphere, very much a fan of candle light. HIV-positive.

You’d think that somebody like me who looks at life, like life is this cursed burden one is carrying to the edge of a cliff to throw it down and lose forever with one’s neck tied to it, would be ok with that. Would insist on unprotected sex. As a sort of legimitate way to circumvent the suicide label/sin/legacy. But I wasn’t. I didn’t even trust it with one condom. Was much more considering putting on two. The worst was that I couldn’t lick you without putting some plastic cover over you. Which tasted rather chemical. I never got to taste you. A point of frustration, because I need that. It suits my taste for extremes. Not that it’s extreme to taste a woman, but it’s extreme in the minds of some. Never ignore the revulsion of the imaginary audience we all have there sitting with us, when we are doing the old in and out. The things we do for effect on the audience that isn’t even there. You were a psychologist. What we do in bed we always do with the judgement of the outside world somewhere in the back of our mind. You agreed that this unseen audience exists. Always. And that mine was big, being something of a narcissist. Besides, I simply like it.

You were very ok with being HIV-positive. “These days it’s not that different from being a diabetic.” It had made you cherish your days more, made living much more acutely felt. “I know it’s a cliché”, you said, “but it’s like that. Faced with your mortal nature, living is more intense. I’d almost say it was a gift.”

It wasn’t a gift of course. The day you found out, you called the 34 guys you slept with. And the one girl. Your number one move-towards-value was respect.

You were a vegetarian. Of course. Not so much because you loved animals so much, but because you thought putting people in factories to butcher animals, was degrading. You’d eat meat if you had raised and slaughtered the animal yourself. You didn’t, because you didn’t have the time and you didn’t like the taste of meat all that much.

Dating a psychologist comes with certain advantages. Especially if it’s a smart psychologist. “I didn’t learn psychology at university. Those five years were an introduction at best. A rather boring and lengthy one.” She did have an astute insight in anything revolving around emotions.

About my writing: “You are too afraid of hurting your characters. I mean really hurting them. Make the worst thing that could ever happen to them happen. And then make it some worse.”

I said I did that.

No, you don’t. You only make bad things happen to characters if you don’t have an emotional bond with them. And so neither does the reader. You’re basically too nice towards your characters. Your readers want to be moved, they want to have the emotional piss kicked out of them. Hurt them, by hurting your characters. If it hurts you to write it, you know you’re writing something good. If literature isn’t there to shake people’s feelings up, then it has little or no value. The action in your stories doesn’t magnify reality. It needs a bigger scope. And a bigger scale. Higher stakes. The decisions your characters take need to have bigger consequences.”

About my narcissism:

you are not a real narcissist. Maybe you could have been one. You have the right setting for it. Only child, good memory, good people reader. Assets that make life dangerously easy at times. But you aren’t. You have it in check. It only comes out in certain circumstances. Like when you’re playing a board game. Then you throw in some nasty personality traits, but never when it really matters, not in real life. And not in your writing, which is a pity. Your writing needs more evil. Real evil. It’s all too sweet.”

about women:

that’s easy, your love for women has several components. There’s an aesthetic aspect, you find women to be the most beautiful thing to look at, by far. There’s the sexual attraction. There’s the trophy aspect, the status involved in having a woman by your side, a way to emphasize your masculinity, you basically like to talk to women, you don’t bond so easily with men, because your father scared you, and you don’t like drinking or sports, or action movies. All your male friends are a bit effiminate. You expect some therapeutic, healing skills from women. You’re very lucky with me there. Also a basic human fear of being alone, of course. A love for strategy that asserts itself in the hunt for women. It’s a pity you can’t find an other area of life to do something with this strategy thrill. You’d make a savagely succesful banker, if you were better at mathematics. I also suspect a need to leave a legacy by raising a family. Also normal, except that with you, there’s an impulse not just to raise a family, but to found a dynasty. If you could, of course. You need a woman for that. And not just any woman.”

She had basically said that she didn’t correspond to my hidden demands. We couldn’t raise a family. Unless we adopted.

Anything else?”

You basically like to get to know people inside out. And to get to the bottom of people, in your case women, it helps to have sex with them, of course.”

Anything else?”

Maybe a need to control. To prove to yourself you can turn a situation to your advantage.”

That’s the same as a love for strategy.”

About my career options:

Failing a talent for mathematics, you should have become a lawyer. Especially divorces and murder cases would have been right up your alley.”

I find that very hard to believe.”

That’s my professional opinion. It combines manipulation, reading people, a good memory, acting skills, and you would always be defending somebody, you wouldn’t be playing dirty tricks for your own sake, and it gets you attention. And it has status. Entirely undeserved in most cases, if you ask me, but still.”

Well, it’s too late to become a lawyer.”

It’s never too late, and you know it.”

Any other options?”

You’re way too insecure to join the military. And a military career would seperate you from women much of the time. So that’s not an option. And military strategy these days is too much about pretending to protect human rights and shit like that. You’d feel held back by that. Anyway, good option, but you’re too insecure.”

And I’d have to cut my hair.”

And you’d have to cut your hair. And anyway, it’s not so much about the options. You simply need a very wise, very driven male rolemodel who will coach you through it, very closely, who understands you, sees your ambition, and can help you overcome your insecurities.”

Why can’t a woman do that?”

Men and women do things differently. Sometimes anyway. Different approach. But it’s not that. It’s that you need an older guy to believe in you. An older guy who knows the world, especially how to move in the higher circles. To overcome your worker background.”

What is worker background in psychological terms?”

Fatalism, the basic idea that you are fucked no matter what you do, this self-fulfilling prophecy of naturalism, pent-up despondency, a resistance to smooth-talking, a resistance to give up dialect, you suffer from that, though you could turn it into some charm, if you stopped feeling less for it.”

For what? For speaking dialect?”

Yes.”

Ok, what else?”

A basic fear and hatred of government and all official institutions. A scepticsim towards anything that reeks of official doctrine. An adversity to passing through regular channels to obtain something. A reluctance to communicate openly, figuring ‘anything you say can and will be used against you’, and most importantly a deep reluctance to seek professional help in any area of life.”

You learned that in school?”

Of course not. And see: if I had learned it in school, you wouldn’t believe it. Because it would qualify as official doctrine.”

And what to do about it?”

Learn from somebody who has a better belief system. Not a worker belief system.”

Any other option?”

Why do you need options? I thought you’d decided. You decided to be a writer and you are one.”

Not a very succesful one.”

A very impatient one, you mean. Just keep at it. The world will never run out of the demand for good quality stories that move people. Keep at it.”

And what do you look for in men?”

It’s not so easy to analyze myself. I can’t be objective.”

Try.”

Ok. Support. Loyalty. Good conversation. Cosiness. Humor. Discussion. Mutal respect. Always treat each other respectfully, like adults. Always. To share problems with each other and talk things through. Openness. And sharing moments.”

So your parents fought a lot? And one of them drank heavily?”

My dad.”

And your mother played the martyr?”

You don’t need to study psychology to figure that one out.”

Why does one need to study psychology?”

Good question. To get a methodical approach, I suppose. To have a certain basis to fall back on.”

DSM?”

No. That’s crap. I mean it’s crap if you treat it like some oracle that’s always right. The DSM offers a basis, it needs the interpretation of a trained psychologist. Otherwise it’s worthless.”

You ever cure people, you think?”

I am curing you, aren’t I?”

You are?”

You were. Slowly. Not just in our after-sex-conversations, but with the assignments you gave me.

Make a list of all small daily pleasures you can come up with. Not sex related.”

I don’t care for those at all. They scare me.”

That’s why you have to make the list. Life will always be a burden, if you don’t learn to enjoy the day to day small pleasures. It’s part of living life in the moment.”

What if I come to like them so much I accept a simple life?”

You want to be miserable, and desperate, and insecure and afraid and feel inadequate all the time?”

I made the list. 50 items. Just like she asked.

Most of these things I never see you eat, or drink or do at all. Some not even once.”

I know.”

Ok. Next assignment. In the course of the next two weeks you will do all of them.”

All of them?”

Yeah, come on. You can do 20 in a day, if you wanted. That’s why they are small pleasures.”

I did thirty or something.

I drank a cup of green tea.

Now just enjoy the tea. Taste it. Right this moment, nothing matters, except drinking that tea. No unfilfilled ambition should spoil the taste of that tea. It’s all you’ll take with you to your grave, that’s the sum total of all moments like this. Savour the tea.”

I took a sip.

I’m sceptical about this, to say the least. Must be my working class background.”

You stared at me with mock commanding eyes.

I took an other sip.

So this is called mindfullness.”

Forget concepts. Focus on the tea. Right this moment, nothing is more important. Be one with the moment.”

A big sip.

This isn’t working you know. I want to be a famous writer. I want to fuck you and then read about it in the papers and have my name twittered 100,000 times.”

Quit the sarcasm for five minutes. I’m really trying to help you.”

No, you’re trying to save me, because your mother couldn’t save your father. And now you want to have an other try, with me.”

That may very well be. But the point is to be one with the moment. Stop thinking. Focus on the tea.”

Ok, ok.”

Life is just a string of moments. The you today is not the you yesterday. There’s no point in judging yesterday’s actions. No point in pondering over tomorrow’s potential problems. There’s just right now. Life has no history and no future. Only the now is real.”

You also ponder. You also have worries.”

I’ve mastered this technique and I’ve learned to bring everything back to the now.”

So if we ever go on a trip I shouldn’t let you plan it?”

Wrong. I can plan intensely well. The now would be the planning process. I would focus just on that.”

Ok, ok. And how does this help?”

It lets you shed all unnessary ballast. It masters cravings. It keeps frustrations at bay. It’s a great technique. Always return to the moment. Because the moment is…”

…all there is. I have a lot of difficulties with that.”

I know. You are almost never in the now. Always somewhere else. And missing out on a lot of things.”

You were also in the now when you contracted HIV?”

That says nothing about this technique. Look, if you don’t want to be helped, tell me. If you want to be stuck in your tough set for destruction, beating by all odds, belief system, then fine. We can watch a movie and stop wasting our time.”

It was a joke. I am in the now when I make a joke.”

Maybe, yes, whatever.”

You are not in the now now.”

All I was trying to make you see, is that most of the time you feel miserable and frustrated, because you think you need to feel that way. Because you focus on certain things that feed those feelings.”

I know. I know. Thanks.”

You have to get centered, when you get those feelings. Shift your focus to essential things.”

What if it’s essential to me to want to be a famous writer?”

Focus on the writing. Feel the writing. Enjoy the writing process. Focussing on the frustration of not being a famous writer is never going to get you there. There’s only the now. There’s only writing. You are a writer. You write. The fame is only a very small, insignificant part of writing. If you can’t be in the now when you write, it won’t work.”

Ok, ok, that makes sense.”

Really, life changes when you focus on being in the now.”

What if you are being violently tortured. You should be in the now then?”

No, of course not. I’m talking about every day life.”

Is this technique going to give me self-confidence?”

If you master it, yes.”

How?”

Because you master the now.”

And the now is all there is.”

So you become better at what you do. Hence, your selfconfidence grows. And also, if you live in the now, you stop questioning things like your self-confidence level.”

I must say, your technique works. The trouble is, I always forget to apply it. It requires constant training. I’d have to get up half an hour earlier each day to do nothing else than programme my mind for the now, for the rest of the day.

We did that for awhile. Together. At the same moment. But in seperate rooms. Half an hour each morning.

It worked. For awhile. Until I saw the down-side, the gaffe of the technique, it made me…settle. Settle for just about anything. Your technique was even more fatalist than my worker belief system.

And the now with you, was like living in a private sanatorium. Everything got psychologized. I caught myself reading something into the way I arranged food on plates.

We decided we needed some now-time, apart.

The now-time apart, became the forever-time apart.

Therapist-patient relationships make the now expand steadily towards unbearable intensity. That in the end has very little to do with being a couple or unconditional loving support, without resorting to some fix all technique. Living in the now gives me a feeling of enternity and immortality. Which is probably great for most people. But immortality is the last thing I want to experience. The jail of now. You had blown up one of the aspects I seek in a woman: a blissful way out of the now. That half hour in the morning, we should have spent locked in each other. The HIV risk was enough for a very intense feeling of now.

Soraya

Just kids. No money. Living richly. With almost no money in the bank. Me with my head in the writing clouds. Or completely down, contemplating suicide. How many times did you talk me out of those suicidal, self-loathing, desperate moods? ‘Out of the sky, into the dirt.’ Manic-depressive eb and flow. You fulminating because I forgot to pay internet bills, electricity bills, the water. Getting fined for administration, seven euros a time. And we didn’t have that much money.

I was making peanuts as a teacher. Sometimes full-time, sometimes only halftime. Selling plays at 500 euros. Until we started staging them ourselves. You directing them. Win-win operations at best. Terribly time-consuming. Exciting yes. Terribly confronting. Never being satisfied with the script. Not me anyway. You frustrated, when I lost myself in strategic board games with carefree friends who were still studying and not in this sort of relationship, where you depend on each other for so many things. When the other is more than half the world. All the world, the only world in desperate times.

Your parents had kicked you out. They wanted to kill me. They cursed me. I wasn’t good enough for you. Too low born. The Iranian stuck-up pricks. How many times did they come to pick you up? How many times did you run away, back to me? Every time the same pattern. I had the most violent daydreams about torturing your mother to death.

How must I measure the time you and I spent as one? By the hours we spent watching series and drinking tea with meremiya, from the endless supply we got in Palestine? The hours we spent in bed philosophizing about everything possible? The discussions we had? The laughs we had? We laughed a lot. You have a wonderful laugh. When it was genuine.

The times we went to restaurants? We had little money in the bank, but we lived like rich people. We economized in every possible compartment of every day life, but not on restaurants. At home I learned to cook nice dinners from scratch. Poverty stimulates creativity. You disagreed. And you were right. “Don’t think so much about what we spend, think about making more money.”

We had fights over the water you used. The light you weren’t quick enough to switch off. And at the same time I was always buying you the food you liked. The quality cheese from the shop just round the corner. Sweets. Your kind of potatoe chips. Your kind of apples. Your kind of rice.

You took care of me, mostly emotionally, which was a tough job, I took care of you materially, which felt like a tough job, and emotionally, which wasn’t that hard most of the time. Even though it could look like that to the outside world. You had a short fuse. It was easy to label you as hysterical, you will agree. But whatever, when we were together, just the two of us, we got along fine, more than fine, grandly.

Especially the first two years you got into a lot of fights with people we met. Very empassioned discussion. Lots of drama. Quick-tempered. Violent. You hit me quite a few time. Like the time I kissed a girl in front of your eyes at a party, because you were sulking, because that one morning of all mornings I thought it was your turn to get a loaf of bread. You smashed up our place a bit. Not because of the girl. Because of the loaf of bread. And you hit me then. Not that it hurt or anything. But it wasn’t respectful. I never yelled so loud as I yelled at you. And I probably never will. I’m not a violent man. Though you’ll say the evidence in my defence is inconclusive.

Our relationship started with the lowest point in my psychology and the highest point in my physiology. I mean, I never looked better and I never felt so bad. The two facts are unrelated. Let’s not complicate things and keep it at that. I looked great, I felt bad. I thought you were from Morocco. Most people think you’re from India. But worse exists. You’re from Iran. You’ll forgive me that I’ve become prejudiced towards an entire nation.

I don’t remember being particularly drawn to you at first. The swimming pool teacher said I was really good-looking, you thought the swimming pool teacher was me, but I wasn’t. I was there to take the lessons, not teach them. You thought I looked good, but I wasn’t your type.

It was just after a bad break-up. A sour break-up. Taking swimming lessons, was only part of the strategy to get my girlfriend to stay. She didn’t. And so I met you. In our downfall we find the seed of our rise. And in our rise is the seed of our next downfall. And so we go. Up and down.

You and I. Hard to judge, hard to evaluate. The sweet and the sour had a way of balancing each other, day to day, month to month, year to year. Hell was hell with you, and heaven was, well, quite like heaven, there’s no honor in denying that, only self-deceit. And when times got real bad, you weren’t to blame.

I could read the hundred something letters I wrote you. Or the ten volumes of diaries I kept. I don’t want to do that. Nor will I plunge into the 500+ emails that are still in my email box, because I never delete any email. I don’t want any of that Hineininterpretierung. I don’t need to be so thorough. Let’s give my memory the solace of forgetting, of blotting out some of the more painful passages.

I’m most grateful to you for being there when my dad died. A comedian with no name, a funny writer with no name, a hard-working factory worker with no name, who said in his last month on this earth: ‘I leave nothing behind’, when I said the drummer of Jimi Hendrix had just passed away. ‘But what a life he must have had. I leave nothing behind.’

He did leave something behind. A blue binder with lots of funny letters. All very much drawing on the idiocy and small hypocrisies of every day life in a very small town. It could have been much more, if you’d worked at it, if you’d known like your son knows, that it doesn’t just take talent. It takes talent plus 10,000 hours of very hard work, of shaping your craft, by listening and heeding high quality feedback. How many hours did you spend behind that typewriter? Not 10,000 hours, but a couple of thousand. It could have been something. But you gave up, understandibly, the odds were tough, with no connections and almost none of that high quality feedback until I got an idea what good writing was, but still not much more than an idea at the time. So you gave up, for which again, I certainly don’t blame you, but you gave up and you died of it. Of that giving up on your dream. And that’s the lesson you left behind, unwittingly, if you give up on your dream, you die. First inside, than outside.

See, I’m talking about my dad, when I set out to talk about you. My dad’s suicide really marked our relationship, my old love. No girl has ever seen me cry so much as you have. So, so many tears. After we watched ‘The road’, about a father and a son. I broke down. On many occasions when we drove from my house to our appartment. I broke down. In the morning when I woke up crying, having dreamt that somehow my dad had been restored to life. I broke down. Funny feeling to open your eyes in the morning with the tears already in them. You were there, when I was crying desperately.

And when you cried, I was also there. And when you cried it was mostly because of something I did. Because I didn’t give you enough attention, or because I was chasing some other girl, just a momentary distraction, but still, sometimes a big momentary distraction. But I stayed, I always got back to you, and you stayed.

Or the time I was so afraid I had irrepearable heart-damage from snorting cocaine, some six or seven ridiculous little times. And you took me to the hospital and you got me to see the head of the cardiology department or something and he said it was entirely impossible that I had any heart damage. Which my doctor later confirmed. I was scared shitless, but you were there. You called me Wall-E for getting into awkward situations like that. Or for being distracted and somehow managing to get chewgum all over my hands, while daydreaming.

You were also there when I wanted to kill myself when I’d written some script that I had written completey in vain, because the director decided to try something different. Partly my own fault for missing a deadline.

You were there when I was in the deepest pit of depression, just reading, reading, reading, and going for groceries and cooking, and reading. And you were mad. Because I read books, and nothing changed. The books about psychology didn’t make me any happier, they didn’t get us money. Money was very important in your family. Money and status. And we both wanted more of it. And you pushed me and pushed me to get more of it. Though I travelled roads less travelled to get it, because I didn’t have the right passport or something to get on the regular roads to it. Didn’t much like the traffic there either.

And so I did plays with an alchoholic director. Which you qualified as a loser. You were quick to qualify people as losers. And I hate that word. But you were usually right, if I’m honest. And sometimes you called me a loser, but only when you were really mad for something I did or didn’t do. Which sometimes could amount to twice a week. Which was a lot. And then we both wanted to walk out on each other. But we didn’t. We had a lot of sympathy for each other. Not just love, but sympathy. And that’s not the same. Sympathy might be even more fundamental. You were a small, tough, clever fighter. I always saw the small child in you. A lonely child, I needed to protect and spoil. Which I always did, even if you didn’t always think so. Most of the time you agreed that I did.

And my God, -I can say God, you thought I was a closet-case christian anyway, based on a combination of my fears and the habit of taking care of others- it was so, so hard. So very hard. We always had to worry about money. My dad died. I hated my job. Your parents hated me and looked down on me and I was already loathing myself for my low or completely non-existing status. And all your friends were doctors, or going to be doctors, or God, neurosurgeons. And I felt like nothing. Even if I commanded some respect, somehow, with your doctor friends. It was tough. And you and I were just kids. Just kids. Living in a place, so small, very small, but cosy. And then you wanted more space, so I moved our stuff to a bigger apartment in the same house. And you left me to handle all that by myself, you were studying at home, and I had a hard teaching assignment at the time, and you wanted me to go to Palestine with you, the next month. And I was so, so mad at you then. Maybe the first time ever that I got mad at you. But I managed. And when you first saw the new apartment, which cost about double as the old one, you said you didn’t like it.

And I quit my job to go with you to Palestine, which had to be done in June, because you had to study in July. I was simply too flexible for my own good. So we went. And your parents wanted to keep you home. One of those many times they tried to kidnap you. A threat that was always hanging in the air. But you always escaped, with some bruises sometimes. And you had escaped then. And we left. Early in the morning. To Palestine. From one family war zone to a much bigger war zone. And we were one day earlier. We were rushing to catch our flight, but our flight was only the next day they told us at check-in. And so your crazy parents thought we had already left, when we hadn’t. Which was fortunate. And so we spent the night in a hotel close to the airport that we couldn’t afford. And we had a very formative experience in Palestine.

You were just a tiny little trooper, more back-pack than girl. And you had eyes like the oriental princess in a Disney movie. My mum liked to say so. But it’s true. And I was wearing your golden ‘evil eye’ round my neck. And you were wearing my golden Pisces necklace round yours. We were very adventurous sort of people. Especially as a combination.

What worried me most was having children. Not that I didn’t want children with you. But I was afraid your mother would

a. kill them

b. kidnap them, fly them to Iran

c. brainwash them, and make them hate me

d. a combination of any of the above

No, that wasn’t much of an option. I had just lost my father. I wanted my children to have one big, very big, happy family. No evil grandmother witch who called me ‘the sheep’. Even being nice was wrong in her eyes.

It was hard to let you go. Or more exactly: to push you away. You made it a bit easier with your regular outbursts of anger. That made me forget the child in you that aroused my nurturing impulses so easily and so deeply. You had a certain loneliness that I liked to lift from you. We did spend a lot of really cosy moments together. Even when I was one blop of depressed, suicidal, frustrated mess of an old man. Yes, an old man. Ancient. You didn’t let me slip away at those times, not completely. You had me hanging on there to a reed, in my morass of bile and self-loathing. And for a long time you read everything I wrote, unless it was too much about girls. And you liked it and you believed in me, much more than I believed in myself.

And if I felt completely miserable and worthless, I could still think I must be doing something right, because I am with you and we have intellectual conversations about any topic. So you kept some framework of my ego intact. Even if the roof had come crashing down and the walls were full of holes. Quite like our apartement, where the wind just blew right through the roof. Which was fine in summer, but Siberian in winter. I remember that winter when I was wearing all my sweaters, and reading ‘the cider house rules’ by John Irving, under the covers in bed, while you were studying at home. I saved more than 400 euros on heating that year. And I lost my mind only once, from loneliness, cold and malnutrition. And I could have saved a bit more if you hadn’t had an other fight with your mother, about me, and come home, your real home by now, to study with me. And I cooked while you studied, and I did the dishes, and we watched something in the evening, and I wrote while you slept. You slept so much. You had this affliction that made you tired. So you slept, a lot. And I wrote at my desk, while you were in bed, some two meters away. And you looked so peaceful and so soundly asleep. And when you woke we ate. And you continued to study a little bit. Or we went out. We went out so much. And spent the money we saved on clothes, heating, electricity. Looking back it’s almost impossible to see how we managed all that time. If your parents had supported you in any fair way, I could have saved quite a lot of money. But it was a small price to pay, back then, to live together. Only later did you say you were happy at that time. Only later. Back then it was never enough. Never enough. Money was a constant worry, but what we did manage to buy we enjoyed. We were both rather spoiled, even if we shared the distant memory of a childhood in relative poverty, we were spoiled. And it was bitter to feel poor, even if we did live rich.

And most of the time we found a way to forget our (mostly mine, maybe) financial troubles. And we had long, deep- or we thought so- discussions about a lot of things, and we analyzed every person we met, and we laughed a lot, and discussed movies, and I talked crazy diets out of your head, and you tried to talk the more impractical plans out of my head, and got mad when I spent too much time with friends.

It feels like an entire life-time. And it was. It had enough challenges, enough laughs, enough setbacks, frustrations, pains, sexual experimenting (let’s be brief: we tried everything), enough comfort, enough talk, enough cosiness, more affection than most couples pack in their life-times, and so on, and so on. I died a few times when I was with you. I died when my dad died, I died and was reborn after my first miserable job, I died a couple of times when my manuscripts got rejected, and I got reborn when your parents tried to kill me. It really mystifies me how I can still look so young. I have felt 80 at times.

There’s no point listing everything we did. The free love experiment alone could fill an entire volume and we already staged a play about that.

We had days that were days like days should always be. You coming home from class. Walking up our road. To our apartement with view of the river. That view came free even for poor punks like us. And I was sitting in our open window, waiting for you to arrive. And we waved at each other. And you said my pet name that you invented for me. That I won’t repeat now, because I’m already crying, and I had dinner ready. And I served you and we ate. And the sun was shining and it was warm inside. And we could hear birds chirping. And the city was waking to student night life. Slowly. And there was the smell of the neighbours’ barbecue not far off. And after dinner some fifteen of our friends would fill the house till somewhere near three a.m. Or a pothead medical student would crash on our couch after asking me to hit him with a whip. Yeah, we met some crazy people. Almost as crazy as we were.

Crazy kids, just kids, in love, and sympathy, lots of sympathy. And we lived there. In that house. Near the river. With our best friends at the time only a few houses away. In that dusty, windy apartement, that felt more like a boat when it stormed, there we lived. First all the way downstairs, then al the way upstairs.

Until I moved 1,200 kilometers to get away. Not from you. But from your parents that I resented by then, like I have never resented anyone in my life. And don’t want to think about that again and taint those perfect summer days.

Those I want to remember. The summer days. When I slipped chocoloate in your bag when you left for class. When we woke up in a big bed with an other couple. After drinking an insane amount of bottle of wines sitting next to the river. Bottles we kept buying, already uncorked, in a night shop. And you threw up on a small flower lot when we walked back in the morning. And even then you looked adorable. Really, adorable. Those summer days I want to remember. And conclude: for I have lived.

In between all the fears, the dread of live, I did live. And maybe I’m prejudiced but I never seem to meet people who have experienced something so profound like we experienced on those summer days. When we sat in the park and I made up some lengthy funny story about the ducks surrounding us and having a conversation about how they would go about selling us dope. We ruled the night, you and I. And the city. Every corner of that city holds more than one moment of us.

Like that time I bumped into you. Completely by accident. I hadn’t seen you in months. You didn’t get the postcard I sent you from Portugal. Looking back of course it’s clear your mum hid it. If I hadn’t bumped into you that day, I would have left for Slovenia most likely by the end of the academic year. I had a teaching assignment in a town called Velenje. I jumped up and down from pure joy when I got that assignment, but I stayed. I stayed because I bumped into you that day. And I cooked for you, because I was dazzled by your black curls and the red nail polish. Such exotic beauty. And you had a very literary voice in your mails. And you fell for me when I said you had such beautiful hands when we were doing the dishes. And I heard it in the silence that we’d be together. And we were. And how many girls did I reject just in those few weeks after that dinner? I won’t count. I chose you. Though it didn’t feel like a choice. You admired me for going all the way in chasing my dreams. I admired you for the toughness with which you studied and the determination you had in chasing your dreams. And for standing up against your parents when they said I wasn’t good enough for you, again and again and again. I had to move 1,200 kilometers to break away from that dark parental malestrom. And your temper, when you got mad for something small, you went for nuclear destruction, and I hated that. And I warned you so many times, that’s not how I did things. This violence. And you said I could never understand how much you liked to be with me and that was the reason why you went so outrageously beserk when I got home late.

The summer days. Let’s remember the summer days. When we ate french fries at the terrace of our favorite place, the entire city feeling like OUR city, went home to watch a movie and saw our candle-lit apartment fill up with all of our friends.

And let’s bask in the all healing eternity of those moments, when all our world came crashing down, plenty of times, and all that held us up, was I for you, and me for you.

Thisbe

The garden of a monastery. Right smack dab in the middle of the city centre. Only the locals find this place. Or students who’ve been around for a while.

I was trying to guess her name. I thought maybe Semira, Bernice or Tanné, perhaps Therese or Thalia. It had to be something exotic.

Her skin was the colour you get when you mix too much milk through your coffee, her yellow slippers accentuated it perfectly. Yellow tends to push me away. Too cheerful. But sometimes it’s interesting to take in what repels us.

She was about 15 yards away now. Moving with the sun. As soon as the shade caught up with her, she picked a different, more luminous spot. She would trail her cubist blanket after her, slung over one shoulder. Her waist was tiny, but she had this lifted ass, that’s more common in black girls. Perhaps she was a quadroon or an octoroon. Her complexion was too light to be a mulatto.

Up on till now she hadn’t been doing much, except for what appeared to be sun-bathing. I couldn’t imagine she was doing it to get a tan, I guessed she was doing it for the rejuvenating effect a few rays of sun can have on a person. Or maybe for the almost transcendent experience of lying in the sun with your eyes closed, as if you’re floating in a sea of light. The closest thing to a sip of eternity, I suppose, that and The little death, as the French call it.

Her inactivity made it hard for me to approach her. She could be dozing for all I knew. If I were to go over to her now, she wouldn’t even see me coming. I’d give her a hell of a fright, for sure. My friend, my ever cheerful roommate, the only male cheerfulness I could stand around me, who was in the habit of curing my sudden depressions, was with me.

He was picking apples and getting mightily bored. He was pushing me to undertake some action, throwing my own adagium into my face: “An offensive that stalls, never regains momentum.” A more philosophical description of what pick up artists call ‘the two second rule’. You have two seconds to talk to a girl after spotting her. For maximum impact, and minimal awkwardness.

My friend had picked several trees bare by now, so it was indeed time for some action. I was beginning to fear that some monks would emerge from the monastery to chase me and friend out of their yard. Their Eden. This green resort right in the middle of the city centre the clerymen had so generously opened to the public. Probably to peek at the young, sweaty student flesh. I could imagine them drueling high up there from the the miniature windows of their cells.

Either make a move now, or we go, alright? I need me one tall ladder if I’m to pick any more apples today. We can come back tomorow. I’ll bring some barrels and I’ll squish the apples into cider with my feet. And you can go on staring, just like a 16-year old rheumatic cat would when…”

I didn’t hear my friend finish his sentence. It was 15 minutes before they closed the yard, but there was my chance. A book. She had reached for her bag, no bigger than a large-sized lunchbox and pulled out a slender volume. Sound the charge, I’d say.

I was planning on a sheepish smile with playful eyes to accompany my “what ya reading?” attack, but halfway up to her, the question became redundant. I couldn’t make out the title yet, but I knew for sure, that she was reading ‘Ars Armatori’ by Ovid. A new translation was out on the market. I had bought it myself, not because I didn’t have several editions already, but because I loved the cover. It was subtly, yet brilliantly obscene. If you put the book open, on its belly so to speak, the front and back cover together clearly made a strawberry shaped pussy, so enticing you were ready to go down on it. The reviews had more to say about the cover than about the translation, which was a pity, because it was exceptionally fresh and well-written. I was envious of it myself.

As I hunched down next to her, unthreateningly near the border of her blanket, without so much as touching the cloth, I asked, “Do you like it?”

She had an amused little smile and without looking up from the pages she threw back a question of her own.

The cover or the text?”

The text”, I answered with the smile I had been planning to fake, but came all by itself now.

I read the original, but I think the translation is quite good actually. Though I still prefer to read it in Latin.”

Never be impressed. Never ever let yourself be impressed. And never try to impress either.

She put down her book, so it seemed like we had a juicy pussy right there between us. I was getting to like the situation, intensely.

You’re not going to go away, are you?”

If you want me to go, I’ll go.”

I got ready to get up. Always act like a hundred girls are calling you every day and you have no time to waste. Take it or leave it.

Silence.

The obvious question, “So you’re studying Latin?”

Stupid. Always stupid. Only correct question is to ask her name. Just her name.

So one needs to be studying Latin in order to understand Latin right? So just because you’re not in law school, I can assume you don’t know theft is a crime, right?”

She had me there, of course. “No, but, it’s not very common for people outside of the Classical Department to be reading a dead language.”

I imagine it’s not. It’s not very common for someone to act like a deranged locust around here either, but your friend is doing a thorough job. What does he plan to do with all those apples?”

I simply shrugged, but inside I was pleased. She’d been observing us.

Anyway, he must like you very much.”

Who?’

Your friend. What’s in it for him? You get to walk away with the girl and he goes home. Or is he coming along with us?”

So I get to walk away with the girl, do I?”

Grin to maximum capacity.

I hadn’t expected her to be so up front.

Wasn’t that the plan?”

Keep grinning. Don’t answer that. Must be a trick.

Let’s go through all the right rituals, shall we? I’m rather a traditional girl.”

I had difficulty guessing her age. She could be between 17 and 22, maybe even 25. She wore a flower in her hair and she was rather muscular. Something in her face reminded me of a reptile or a skeleton even. She was very thin in the face.

Take me to your number one seductive spot for first dates.”

The chocolate bar?”

What will we have there?”

Chocolate fondue for two.”

Sounds about right.”

This wasn’t text book conversation. These pick up artists books are always in need of a new edition.

She stood up and grabbed her blanket, folded it very carefully into a tiny square and somehow managed to tuck it into her bag together with the book. Somewhat to my dismay I now saw she was about as tall as I was. In fact, we were exactly the same height, only I was in the habit of stooping, which made me seem smaller than her. I caught myself straightening my back, like I had swallowed a ramrod.

In the corner of my eye I saw my friend gesturing, a quick move of his hands I interpreted as a big sigh followed by the word “Finally.”

Just before we left the yard, she said:

It’s very rude of you not to ask my name, but I forgive you. I can’t help liking rude boys. Are you very rude?”

Then tell me your name”, I said trying, trying very hard to sound the least bit rude.

Thisbe. My parents called my Thisbe. They both love Ovid. Especially his Metamorphoses.’

During the fondue we did go through all the rituals, so we had to let each other in on our past romantic/sexual experiences. I let her do most of the talking. Some women like to hear every detail about every girl you ever banged. They like to hear about your insatiable hunger for pussy, because they like the excitement, the threat you pose to their inevitably monogamous dreams. Others will simply walk out on you. I hadn’t figured out just which kind she was. Maybe she was playing miss open-minded. A woman you first meet is almost always the opposite of what you expect. Much to my suprise, it turned out she had almost zero experience. I didn’t even know for sure, whether she was a virgin or not.

We ordered an extra brownie, which got us a puzzled look from the waiter. After she had wolfed that one down too, I suggested we’d go to a cocktail bar. I had my own ‘route of seduction’ in this town.

No”, she said, “let’s go to my place.”

To do what?’

Don’t fucking ask. Follow her! Let’s get out of here.

To wrestle’, she said.

Wrestle?”, I asked, still not shutting up, I’m pig-headed, yes, I am.

Yes, I like wrestling. It’s healthier than drinking your cocktails. Doesn’t cost anything and it’s way more fun.”

She had a spacious studio, that got very cold at night, because all the windows pointed straight north and she was “too economically balanced” to turn on the heating, she said.

Whenever I get really cold I just run a few laps around my kitchen table.”

Poor downstair neighbours.

I asked her if she had any alcohol. I almost never drink, but on first and second dates I still need to forget some painful high school rejection scenes. No matter how many girls I sleep with, the first move never comes easy with me. After that first one I’m fine, but that first move always makes me a little bit shy and feverish.

There was no alcohol.

Hmm, I shouldn’t have said that, I should have given you a glass of milk and told you it was mixed with rum. You’d have gotten drunk anyway.”

Yes, why didn’t she? Would have done the trick.

So, where do you want to wrestle?”

There wasn’t much space.

Well, here, on the floor”, she said.

A two square metre arena at best.

She went to stand in front of me.

Come on, try to pin me down.”

I stared at her. Didn’t budge.

I’m sorry I can’t attack a girl. You attack.”

O no, come on, don’t give me that macho crap. Attack me.”

No, sorry, I’m not programmed that way. I can’t attack a girl. It’s not that I think you can’t handle it. I just have a mechanism. I can’t attack a girl, I freeze.”

A mechanism? What are you? A robot?”

I roll my eyes.

Fine, then don’t.”

She sat on the bed. And said, “sooooo…”

I sat on a kitchen chair. Two metres apart.

I could see she was getting cold. She put on a sweater. Then an other. Her hands were up in her sleeves. Before I could ask if she was cold, so I could move over to hold her or something, lame I know, she suggested a ‘no blinking contest’.

We staired into each others eyes for about three minutes and then finally I mustered all the courage I had, lunged forward and kissed her. I was still aiming for her cheek, just to be on the safe side. But she corrected me and caught my lips with hers. After that she took over the action and drew me to her, rather violently. She drew me down on the bed and I believe she hit her head on the bed-side.

She was so impatient and turning and twisting all the time, that we were moving around the bed like some sort of helicopter. Not very sexy. Rather confusing and disorienting. Was she struggling to get into my pants or was she fighting me off? It wasn’t very clear. When we finally got rid of most of our clothes, I tried to get her stable. We were wresting after all. At least it got us warm.

She calmed down a bit when I unhooked her bra and started kissing her breasts. I pulled the covers over us, and I let my hand drift slowly down to her underpants. I rubbed slightly across the surface. Slowly adding more pressure. But when I wanted to slip my hand in, she took it, and moved my hand to her breast. I tried again a few minutes later, but she grabbed my hand again and put it back on her breast. We weren’t getting any further.

I didn’t get frustrated. But I did get bored. So, I took her in my arms, and just held her for a while. Which she seemed to enjoy, as she put her head on my chest. After a few minutes, I asked: “It’s too soon?”

You wouldn’t like it.”

What do you mean?”

You wouldn’t like it.”

Yes, ok, I got that, but why won’t I?”

I got something down there.”

Aha.”

Pause.

So, you have…a penis?”

I wasn’t a stranger to the she-male porn genre. And she really looked good, very feminine, somewhat musscular,yes. I could try.

She didn’t answer.

Look, if it’s that. I don’t care.”

Of course I cared. But I was hoping she (or he??) looked good enough to make me forget this unexpected addition.

She rolled away and turned.

I turned and held her again.

Really, I don’t care so much.”

I shouldn’t have added the ‘so much’, of course.

I don’t have a penis, ok?”

Then what is it?”

Leave it, ok? If you want to go, you can. I’m a freak. I understand.”

I find it very, very, very hard to believe anything you could possibly have down there, could make me see you as a freak.”

Pause.

Really, I am used to just about anything.”

Ow God, that sounded awful.

Like what?”

Look, nevermind. Please believe me that I won’t care, no matter what it is.”

It was nothing. Nothing at all.

She had large slightly protruding inner labia.

She was considering plastic surgery.

I sucked on them.

She didn’t consider plastic surgery any more.

You know, your yellow sandals?”

Yes?”

That’s a turn-off. The length of your labia isn’t. It’s even something of a turn-on.”

I really can’t imagine that somebody wouldn’t be disgusted.”

Stop it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Most girls have it.”

Well, not most maybe, but a substantial number.

We talked about it a bit. How she imagined it would look like if she had them ‘trimmed’.

We talked and we didn’t get to penetration.

She kept that part for her ex-boyfriend who never knew for what silly reason she broke up with him.

I saw them together four or five weeks later. He didn’t thank me. She said ‘hi’ and waved and then started walking twice as fast.

I could hear her labia flopping between her legs.

No, I couldn’t.

How was it with that girl with the yellow sandals?”, my friend asked.

Yellow indicates major squeamishness”, I said.

Really?”

No.”

So what happened?”

I sabotaged a plastic surgeon.”

Sounds…heroic.”

It wasn’t.”

I told him.

Ow”, he said. “She watches a lot of porn?”

You don’t need to watch a lot of it to get insecure.”

True. But, say, you had something with this girl. And now she’s back with her ex-boyfriend. How do you deal with that.”

That’s part of the game. And I left her better than I found her, it seems. That’s the rule, that’s the only ethics involved: leave her better than you found her. So that’s good.”

Isn’t it a waste of time?

You might as well say breathing is a waste of time. She’s a girl, I’m a guy, we met, she got something out of it, I hope, I got something out of it, it’s just nature that tackled some social obstacles.”

But you didn’t come?”

No.”

When I told the story to a couch surfing brunette from Lithuania three days later, I did come.

Unknown

So this one you like?”

A little bit.”

But she’s not your type. She’s blonde.”

Ok, ok, she’s not my top favorite maybe. But still, I like her. And if they are too much my type it somehow hurts to look at them.”

Why?”

Because it’s not real. Because you can’t touch them. Because it’s porn.”

Because you can never have them.”

Because if you would see a girl like that on the street, you’d be lost, I mean, I’d be lost, I don’t have the confidence nor the necessary cheerfulness to get her. Not now anyway.”

And you’re with me.”

Yes, and I’m with you.”

So beauty you can’t have pains you?”

Yes.”

Must be frustrating to be a man.”

We learn to cope with frustration.”

Sounds very defeatist.”

The girl in the movie is pulling her butt cheeks apart, giving us a peak into her colon. Slavic features. Somewhere between 18 and 24. Naked. Except for white socks. Completely shaved. Not that I care about that. But this is internet porn. They’ve almost all adopted the pre-teen wasp waist with breasts look.

And I do think about you, girl, that I don’t know the name of, that is giving us a tour of your lower abdomen. You’re doing an anal scene with a skinny boy who looks like he’s just been drafted in the the Russian army. Some faceless guy with a giant fat dick. I screen your face to see if you like it or not, whether you’re faking it all, if it hurts or not, what you’re thinking exactly, if you’re thinking at all. How much money is in it for you? Really, I think that, sometimes, while I masturbate on your face, and on your gaping hole and the sounds you fake. The fakeness of your moans annoys me. And I have to concentrate real hard to sort of censure out the fakeness. And the guilt. There’s always the guilt and the shame.

By watching this I keep this industry going. Even if I don’t pay for it, I keep the industry going. By watching this, some site gets a click. For that click some guy gets paid. You get paid because of that. I know a guy who makes a lot of money for down-sizing porn files so people can watch them on their phones.

People watch you get impaled on their phones. Why on their phones? In trains? At work? On toilets?

You are so goddamn beautiful. Not my type, no, too blonde, but still, beautiful. Whoever lured you into this business, saw that too. I say lured you into it, because it’s hard to imagine that you woke up some day and told yourself: you know what? Let’s go shoot a porn movie and earn some extra cash. You’re no pro. Or you’re such a pro you’re playing the not being a pro. But no, you’re new to this. You really don’t look like a nymphomaniac. You look like you need the cash. That’s all. And you happen to have some friends close to or in the business.

My curious girlfriend says, after two minutes of watching very intimate close-ups: “This is really boring.”

I know. It’s the same all the time. The girls let out this moaning drone. The guys look bored. There’s no story. It’s hardly exciting.”

Then why do you watch it?”

To get a quick fix. To get the poisonous juice out. To get sex off my mind, as quickly as possible, so I can focus on something else.”

I’m against it.”

I wouldn’t say I’m against it. But it annoys me. It’s repetitive, it’s boring. But the women can be knock-out beauties.”

But you said it pains you to look at beauty.”

I know. It’s annoying.”

It has nothing to do with real sex. It’s so butcher shop like. So mechanical.”

I skip some.

Wait. Don’t skip it.”

Why do women watch porn till the end?”

I don’t know. We’re more patient than guys?”

They think there will be a wedding in the end.”

Did you ever meet a porn star?”

Not that I know of. Why?”

You don’t even have an erection while we’re watching this.”

I know. It’s not that exciting to watch it. It still needs concentration and imagination.”

We’re both bored. I switch if off.

When I see the power feminine beauty exerts on guys, I can’t understand why we women didn’t enslave males. Why the opposite is closer to the truth. But yeah, I guess the answer is guys only like feminine beauty when they can control it.”

I don’t know. It’s a very sensitive issue.”

I hope she wasn’t pushed into it.”

Big chance the economic situation pushed her into it.”

Maybe, but blaming it on the economy is easy.”

Yeah, maybe.”

And why don’t they make better porn? I mean, a movie with a story that is great by itself, not because of the sex, but yeah, with explicit sex scenes. That’s what I would like. Why do they never make movies like that?”

We didn’t hit on a final answer to that question. Neither did we hit on a movie that fit into that category. The category didn’t exist.

Alain de Botton wrote a book about porn. He asks the same question.”

We didn’t read that book. We did act out scenes from porn movies. And we were almost as bored as when we were watching them. My girlfriend at the time concluded: “Porn isn’t about sex. It’s anti-sex. It converts guys into wankers and the boredom in the movie they transplant to the bedroom. Guys who want to have real life sex, have to stop watching porn.”

Maybe. I don’t know. It doesn’t get you anywhere. Why are we still talking about this?”

I wish I could talk to that girl. Ask her how she got there. If that’s her life. If she has a boyfriend.”

We hug for a very long time. And we put the song ‘Sex is dead’ by Mauro Pawlowski on repeat.

http://www.last.fm/music/Mauro+Pawlowski/_/Sex+Is+Dead

And sex really is dead. Killed by too much. By pushing borders to the end of the sex universe. To the point you need to start killing people and fuck them with a hot poker while you do it in order to still try something new. American psycho, it’s all too realistic. But no, mutal consent is the only rule still left. And so sex is dead.

And it will take a very catholic, very religious, very hot, and very, I don’t know, appreciative of the human experience, to revive it. And keep it alive. With borders. With a return of the sacredness of sex.

But before that, me and that ex-girlfriend, who was so curious about the girl in the porn scene, we just lay there, and we buried sex, emotionally evaporated, as if we’d just climbed out of a mineshaft that was leading nowhere anymore, and so I won’t mention the name of the ex, that’s fitting, for the nothingness, the semi-delirious weeks spent in bed, hiding the fact we’re bored with each other. A numb wake and mourning of sex.

That unknown girl in that porn scene also remains nameless and I thank her for an untold number of quick fixes and a long journey towards a rebirth of sex, much, much later.

Vera

A book did it. A hero of our time, by Michail Lermontov. Sounds even better in Russian. Geroj nashevo vremeni. I was experimenting. Not so much with sex. But with identity casting. I was slowly discovering my own identity was so volatile, so kamelon-like, I could piece it together, by choice. And somehow I ended up adopting the identity of a fictional character called Pechorin. A guy oversaturated with life, not interested in anything, only in causing trouble. Trouble for other people. And getting away with it.

And you happened to walk in the line of fire.

You owned a clothing shop in the main shopping street. Looked like a small shopping temple. You’d think you made thousands of euros a month, but no. You made something between 900 and 1200 a month. Rent was steep. Competition was venomous.

You only kept going because your husband was so rich. He owned a company that cleaned bank offices. Talk of niche marketing.

I wanted to seduce you, just to see if you’d take the risk. And because you needed an escape anyway. Oh my, I saw myself as your saviour, can you believe that? Of course, you can. You were 36 when we met and getting a bit, well, plump. But you knew how to dress.

I wanted you to get caught. Really, I admit it. That your husband never caught us ‘in the act’, is really your accomplishment. But I heard you lying on the phone while I had my tongue in you, an acid taste that went well with the sweet lies you told your husband.

I had two girlfriends at the time. Something that both disturbed you and excited you. One of them I took shopping. To your place. The other one wasn’t into mainstream fashion. You were both annoyed and fascinated when we were there, you standing behind the register, waiting. Staring at the girl. Comparing. Evaluating. A woman’s look at an other woman, is so much more taxing, so much more brutal, so much more invasive, than a guy’s look at a woman. When we don’t like a woman, we have the decency to stare at the ground or past her. But no, you stare, like you are flaying the ‘opponent’ with your eyes. It’s brutal.

I enjoyed that. Really, I did. It wasn’t even me. I was Pechorin. A fictional character. From a book. Some dude who didn’t give a shit about anything. Sehnsucht, you know. No, it’s not a German word for midlife crisis or quarter life crisis, it’s worse than that, it’s a romantic teenage trap for young people who have everything and want only want thing: more. Especially when there is no more.

I made the sex extra good. I made it so you would be hooked. I pushed all your borders. Fucking you in the ass with two boiled eggs in your vagina was as far as the border would bend. You started to wonder if you were some kind of nymphomaniac. Putting eggs up your vagina has very little to do with being a nymphomaniac, but I let you figure it out for yourself. And when you said, with half a smile, I was ‘a pain in the ass’, how did you mean that exactly?

When I think about it, something I have been postponing for quite some time now, I feel like that Pechorin again, and I feel almost the lightness again, of being unburdened of any kind of values or morals. That time when the highest revolution seemed a zealous pursuit of hedonism regardless of any consequences. As if the answer to the world’s problems lay in fucking and anything that wasn’t fucking was part of the problem, a mockery, an uninspired theatre, inane breaks in between fucking.

I do apologize for dragging you into my revolution project and one of my identity experiments. I don’t remember how it worked exactly. Borderless and ubiquitous sex equalling revolution, no, I don’t see the link anymore. And yet I was so convinced of that glorious cause. Now I see sex only in its counterrevolutionary light: how sex is used to galvanize mass consumerism. Nope, I don’t see that revolutionary spark in dipping my nose in pussy any more, I still like it, I just don’t feel like a crusader anymore when I get my nose wet. Or maybe just a little bit. As some member of the Pussy Liberation Front.

I pass your shop from time to time. I don’t avoid it. I don’t walk in anymore, I don’t stop and look at the clothes, but I don’t avoid it. You are 43 now. And maybe you miss it. Or maybe you have some other student jumping your bones. I hope so. I wasn’t completely fair with you, but, come on, you needed me. You needed to snap out of the boredom. The three minute friday run through with that husband drunk of yours. “Not one orgasm in 9 years of marriage”, you said. I don’t expect all-out sex to revolutionize the world any more, but that still infuriates me. And I’m still secretely proud I gave you, let’s say, somewhere round 50 in a few months. It’s such a male thing to try and keep count of that. And I even wonder, for a second, what is worse: to never give you an orgasm or to feed my ego by giving you a as many as possible?

I’ve shed my skin -or Pechorin’s skin- enough to not wonder if you’re still thinking about me, if you miss my tongue sometimes, if you think of me when you see a boiled egg. I don’t care. Using you the way I did, I don’t do that anymore. It’s plain wrong. There’s nothing to be gained by it. Fucking to inflate your ego, it’s fun, for awhile. Until you discover your fellow students were building their future, while you were fucking married women and getting a kick out of jeopardizing their future.

I don’t even know if it taught me anything. Besides that karma exists and visits you with frustration, dissapointment and depression, when you use other people in your arrogance, till you feel naked, humbled, stripped of ego, and above all, stupid. And maybe that’s a great lesson and you were a stepping-stone towards my awakening. I wish that were true. And maybe it is.

Wendy

Six hours said the book. Only six. For once I was dead set on not slipping into ‘the slows.’

I’m not good at one-night-stands. I would lose the numbers game to any averagely succesful pick-up artist. I’m too slow. I need several hours of psycho-analysis. Digging into each others’ childhoods. Did your father hug you? Did your parents treat all their children equally? When did you first masturbate? Building a connection. Too big a connection to leave it at one time. I don’t have the technique to walk up to a stranger, have sex with her the same day and never see her again. Not that I never want it that way. Do the monkey, hey? One of my phd friends’ biggest dream is to be a monkey. And I sympathize.

Most women scare me until they open up mentally and emotionally. And after that point, when you know her father was a drunk, her mum has severe breast cancer, her grandfather touched her sister in inappropriate places, you come at the fork: a friendship or a relationship. The in between of a one night stand evaporates when you take conversation too far. It’s a bad habit. Good for getting to know people, not a bad introduction to setting up shop as a therapist maybe, but bad for a sex life in the fast lane.

It’s time consuming to ‘score’ sex that way. I don’t always feel like so much conversation. And I’ve never really worked up enough nerve for putting the quick hook-up theories in practice. I know them only in theory. If my seduction tactics have any semblance to war strategies, I’m a guerilla fighter who’s in for the long haul. Hit and run, bide your time, get them when they are vulnerable. I know the theories. How you basically just need 6 hours after meeting a stranger to get to sex. How to fill those six hours. What to say. How to start off a conversation. Seeminly by accident. Total stranger. Waiting at a bus stop. But what do you say to passers-by? I always look for far-fetched excuses. Telling them I need a model. Or an actrice. Asking writing advice. Whatever. Throw ’em some candy, you know.

I’m a non-smoker. That also doesn’t help. Smoking is a conversation starter. I used to carry around a lighter, even though I didn’t smoke. Just to be able to respond when asked “do you have a light?”. Highly recommended by the way. If smoking isn’t a turn-off.

With Wendy I tried. I really tried. I went to the library. It was premeditated seduction. Meant to be a one-night stand. ‘Victim’ picked randomly. Though I did keep a look on the foreign language sections. I have a thing for the intellectual type. I like some conversation when the beast with two backs gets disentangled.

I stuck to the rules. The casual remark. We were on the fifth floor. Way down below was a park with a fountain. The window was open. We heard some kid screaming in a very shrill voice. The kid didn’t stop. I said: “Why do I suddenly want to read a book about a pedophile serial killer?”

She didn’t quite smile. But she shook her head dissaprovingly. But so emphatically, you could tell she didn’t really mean it as a truly dissaproving gesture. 5 hours 59 minutes 55 seconds to go, right?

The kid was helpful. It finally stopped screaming. She kept her eyes on the back of a book but she said: “Looks like your serial killer got him.”

What’s your name?”, I asked, being too fast now.

Ok, so you’re the serial killer”, she said.

Don’t worry I’ll buy you dinner before I kill you.”

That’s actually…creepy.”

She turned to walk away.

Wait, wait, I was joking.” I brought out my most silly this-guy-is-too-dumb-to-be-a-serial-killer-smile.

Seriously, what’s your name?”

She bit her lip, looked for the exit.

I have to go teach a class in 10 minutes”, I said to hurry her up a bit and to reassure her I’d be gone in a second.

Wendy”

Wanna do something fun?”

That depends”

Picknick in the park. It’s really nice weather out there. And the kid is dead, he won’t bother us no more.”

Picknick in the park?”, she said incredulously. “You mean today?”

At six. You don’t have to get anything. Just meet me at the fountain.”

She didn’t say anything.

I said: “I really have to go now. At six, ok? Just write me down your number, just in case I get held up at school.”

She jotted it down on my wrist, with a pen I’d slipped in her hand.

I took off. Fast.

‘Wait, what’s your name?’

‘It’s on the pen, I said.’

For some reason people always, always ask me to repeat my name once or twice, when I introduce myself, so if I can avoid it, I will. My name was on the pen. A fancy pen, a gift from a wealthy ex-mother in law. Slipping her an expensive pen and leaving it with her, was not a bad tactic.

I didn’t have a single class to teach that day. I went shopping. Picknet-basket, dried slices of mellon, a bunch of chocolate, crunchy Italian bread I don’t know the name of, two bottles of wine, one red, one white. Some cheese. Olives. A whole bunch of stuff I forget. I always overdo these things.

We had 5 hours 50 minutes and some seconds to cover.

I took a risk. I sent her a text message. “Is it wise to go and picknick with a girl who so easily hands out her number to strangers? Well, I suppose you won’t kill me in broad day light. I’ll be there at six. Am done teaching for today.”

She was sort of wicked.

Don’t worry. They are bushes in the park”, she answered.

This was going too smoothly.

She was almost ten minutes late. But she came on her bike and she was red in the face. Looked like she’d been rushing. Good.

When she saw me with the traditional picknick basket and a dumb smile, she said: “You’re crazy.”

I even brought a big blanket to sit on. Red. Very red. Red gets you going.

We picked a spot. Close to bushes.

Mmm, olives and…”

She did know how the crisp Italian bread was called.

5 hours and 30 minutes to go.

The next four hours flew by. She was studying history. I was teaching history. She was writing her thesis about the book burnings before and during the second world war. I love books. I love the second world war. I love picknicks. I love beautiful girls. I love summer days. I was all carefree giddy smiles.

We started fantasizing about her being a Nazi serial killer who was just waiting for the cover of darkness to horribly hack up my body. I often catch myself having conversations like that with women I’ve just met. It sort of empowers them, gets the initial fear out of the them, brings out their self-confidence, gives them initiative, seems to assure them you’re not one of those guys who think talking exclusively about themselves and their o so praiseworthy achievements is gonna do it. I can’t say I do it very consciously. It just happens. It flows naturally from my attitude towards them, I want this to be more about you than it is about me, you are as much in control as I am, if not more, I’m not out to take your freedom. Something like that. Is it manipulative? Let’s say ALL human behaviour is manipulative, mine is just more effective.

One of the last phases of the six hours has to be some swapping of emotional confessions. Getting some emotional depth after the ice-breaking banter, the sending out of ever cheerful skirmishers on the frontline of attraction. Time to hit closer.

That’s the phase I tend to protract way, way too long. I had 1 hour and 30 minutes left, not two days to dig into her soul as a means to overcome my fear of rejection. Stick to protocol. Trust the protocol.

She had a mentally disabled brother. Good, good, let her talk about that. I have a mentally disabled aunt. Plenty of emotional stuff to share. Half an hour to go.

She had a huge complex about her ‘mosquito bite breasts’-her words.

Good, still good. Of course, she hadn’t. I said she was exaggerating.

Yes, you are right, mosquito bites are bigger”, she quipped.

I had a theatrical sigh of frustration. “I am really, really, really sure you have great breasts, ok?”

She put both hands on her chest and said with mock indignance: “You’ve been staring at my breasts? I’m shocked. I am going home.”

You’re going home?”

No. But it is getting cold.”

Something like ten minutes to go.

I moved closer. Held her. We lay there. For more than twenty minutes. Was this six hours meant ‘on average’, or did it really have to be exactly six hours?

I said she had an amazing scent.

She told me the name of her perfume.

I don’t mean the perfume. I mean you.”

She fell into that silence I like. The good kind of silence.

I started caressing her. Slowly. Hair. Cheeks. Upper arms. The insides of her arms. Her side. The ‘safe’ part of her thigh. She didn’t pull away. She kept the good silence going.

I gave her a small kiss on her forehead. I gave her more small kisses. I moved lower. She buried her head in my chest. Clearly a move to avoid my lips. I rubbed her back and slipped my fingers through her hair.

I got that pulling sensation in me. Like internal waves breaking against my skin from the inside. I wanted her.

We were ‘working’ already more than 45 minutes overtime.

Something had happened to her, I heard her whisper. I made her repeat it, because I wasn’t sure. She sounded very fragile. Like she’d been stitched up everywhere and the slightest move I’d make could cut her up.

What sort of something?”, I asked.

I don’t know from whence it came, but I guessed.

Her father had done stuff to her.

Now tv-movies had been telling me, me who grew up with tv, that incest victims end up like annorexic, self-slashing, heroin addicts who sell themselves cheap to old fat guys, so this girl, so beautiful, so serene, so full of smiles, well-educated, so warm and full of humour, and so witty, she just didn’t fit the profile.

And the six-hour-theory was of no help whatsoever now. And I felt that this girl should never have met me.

I kept holding her. And I kept caressing her. And no one will believe me, but in that instant I loved her. I was all love for this girl. Who had suffered, still suffered, and hid it so masterfully, and had somehow managed to build a very pure, very classic even, very attractive femininity. She was wearing a flowery dress. White dotted with small blue flowers. Like she’d just walked out of a great fifties drama movie. I didn’t try to kiss her anymore. Though I still wanted to.

And if I never tried again, it was because of my great big fear that I wouldn’t treat her right, the way she deserved to be treated. And it was a stupendous decision. Because until then I’d never met a girl who was more right for me. And I felt I could have healed her wounds. Somehow. With enough love. But I saw myself too much like a certainty for disaster, disaster in any sort of important situation, and so I let her slip away. And it may have been the least selfish decision of my life or one of the most stupid.

I saw her only once after that night in the park. I was in the library with a friend. We were flipping through some comic books. He looked up and poked me in the side. “Look man, there’s a girl that looks exactly like your type.”

Yup, there was Wendy.

She didn’t see us there in the comic book corner.

We went down.

Well, isn’t she exactly your type?”

Absolutely”

So aren’t you going to do something about it? She’s exactly your type.”

Girls who are exactly my type deserve better than me.”

It took over four years to decide to be the guy who’s worth to be with girls exactly my type, no matter the responsibilties that come with that kind of commitment. But Wendy was long gone by then. Held firmly in some very loving, very confident and very un-egocentric arms, I hope.

X

Just because she is beautiful, doesn’t mean you are ugly”. That sentence only exists, because most guys feel ugly when they bump into you.

You are wearing ripped jeans. The expensive kind of ripped jeans. Not the old faded jeans you ripped yourself. Designer ripped jeans. You’re in front of me, waiting in line at Panos, a sandwich bar. I am star struck. You buy something, you move to a table. You’re alone. And you haven’t looked at me, but you know I looked at you and you know what kind of reaction you’ve caused in my head. What kind of hormones my brain is producing. My attraction to you sends something out. You pick up on that. You get that a lot. Your feelers are wired, they see everything.

There’s a two second itch in my head to go over and talk to you. But what the fuck would I say then? Can I sit with you? Ask your name? Warn you your jeans are completely ripped? God, that’s lame.

But wait, really, why don’t I just walk over and ask your name? I mean, what’s the harm in that? Ok, I’d only ask because I want to tear your clothes off and drown in your body, but still. On the surface it’s just asking a name.

I don’t, because…

I feel like a dwarf suddenly.

I feel my glasses burn into my face and developping voices screaming ‘geek geek geek’.

I become acutely aware of the amount of money in my bank account. The sanity of my reflex is up for debate, but it’s there. A clerk in my head is doing some math and concluding: sorry dude, you’re not rich enough to be with that girl. As if she has a six figure price tag stitched to the back of her neck. It’s crazy. It’s bullshit. And it blocks me. My internal belief system buys that shit, even if my objective train of thought doesn’t.

I start to think I have nothing to offer her. I’m afraid she doesn’t know anything. We won’t be able to have any kind of conversation. She’ll want to talk about blockbuster movies and the bad habits of her best friend. Which is fine, but it’s me who has to start the conversation and I haven’t seen the latest blockbuster movies and I have never met her best friend. Yes, objectively speaking I know this is a stupid prejudice. But my feet tend to listen to my prejudiced internal belief system. I’ll want to talk about shit I write, she’ll want to know how big my car is.

I feel my clothes dragging me down and I feel like I am clad like a homeless bum who hasn’t been able to take a shower in at least five days. Even though an hour ago I was in the shower.

I feel silly in advance, because it’s so very obvious why I would walk up to her.

I’m afraid what I say won’t be intelligible. I speak a dialect. It always takes a while before I slip into some kind of standardized language that a new conversation partner understands. Unless she’s from my hometown, I’ll make a bad impression with my accent. Dialect is low status. I need high status to get this girl.

All this happens in less than ten seconds. The burden of this rationalisation hits me like a baseball bat right where it hurts. When I start walking, away from her, it’s like I’m working my way through some invisible clay. Part of me is still working to get me to walk the other way. Towards her.

The momentary dive towards zero self-esteem prevails. I walk away. I don’t talk to her. I’ll never see her again. A glimpse of her will linger. A lingering decision not to take action. Not so much a decision. A psychological boobytrap system that gets activated when I see a girl like that. And I walk away very humbled, down-trodden, stupid, wondering about how our society can make sex so pervasive on internet, in marketing, in products and yet still so burdened by limiting conventions in every day life. And the only comfort I have is that it’s not always like this. I have walked up to girls like her. Even today I am with a girl like that. So why not now? Because I’m obviously not in a peak state and haven’t been for a very long time. Every x I walk out on reminds me of this: the boundless hunger, confidence, energy, go go go attitude of youth isn’t there anymore. I am sedated. Almost nutured. And it’s fine. As long as I don’t bumb into any x’s.

On average this happens to me once every three months. That’s four x’s in a year. Four girls that activate all male sexual impulses in my body. A force so strong I feel as though all the energy of the universe was squeezed into me, dying to get out. And still, all that force, is held in check by all this psychological bagage, prejudices, low self-image, aversion to looking silly and so on. The mind defeats the urge of the body. Yeah, the flesh is weak, but in a different sense.

On a good day, on a very good day, I can do it. I am ready for it. But then of course I don’t meet any x’s.

The x’s remind me I have something like CSD. Compulsive seduction disorder. Or what we used to call being a man.

And it’s tiresome to be a man. It’s only fun to be a man, when you are an all natural alpha male.

I don’t take pills for my CSD. I just marry the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met, the most beautiful to my eyes, and I ignore all other beautiful women. And then life is bearable. Like a junkie doing only controlled 100 percent pure heroin from only one certified dealer.

And so I build nice walls round my small kingdom. Where I got a nice way to make a living, the most beautiful woman I ever met or want to meet, lots of intellectual entertainment and no distractions that can trigger my CSD and all the ego shit that comes with that. And it frees up an enormous amount of time, ’cause seduction is time-consuming. And on occasion I can walk out the door without brushing my teeth, and I can go months without wearing a perfume that suits me, I can slouch, I don’t have to comb my hair every morning, because I don’t have to be prepared for going after x’s.

And so, slowly, I find myself fading into one of those guys I used to see, when I would think: how can they dress like that, don’t they want to have sex with beautiful women? Maybe they do, but they don’t want to pay the price for it. Just like I’m no longer willing to pay the price of being out there on my ‘best’ behaviour. I just don’t want to overdo my ‘retirement’, because I’ll lose my most beautiful wife if I turn into an asexual couch patatoe. At the very least the x’s inspire me to take SOME care of myself. Not for them. But for the one I got at home.

Yana

You’re here for the artistic nude.

You are rooted in the slight fetish I had as a child for Yoko Ono. Some unconventional looking artist that seemed to do very ‘deep’ things that made no sense to me and with whom my idol, John Lennon, who looked like my dad, fell madly in love. Some iconic woman who made me feel there were deeper, mystic truths to uncover and that somehow art, sex and music were the key.

That’s why you are here. I need a female artist. We. I mean We. My artistic partner and I. Dieter, you know. The guy next to me, here. The cool distracted one, without the inner demons. We do a lot of stuff together. We want to be famous, it’s sickening, it’s a disease, it’s destroying me, we are attention whores. Which sucks. When you don’t get any attention.

That’s why you are here. We want to market this Female Alphabet, this auto-therapy of mine, this exhibitionist feat.

We can’t put pictures of the actual girls here. Except in the one case where the girl sent in her picture to go with it.

And it really needs pictures. Nude pictures. To make up for the absence of a story.

And that is why you are here. And also because part of me hopes to have sex with you. Which won’t work, because even though I hate to admit it, I’ve become monogamous and as the years go by I find it harder and harder to hide the inner demons and play the game, the role-playing game to get you into bed.

The concept:

24 girls we don’t know (24 and not 26 because there is no Q and one of them prefers to have her own picture there)

naked

convinced to pose naked by just asking them on the street

to go with each letter

posing in a way that fits the girl that goes with the letter

is it smart marketing-wise?

No, idea. My partner and I always have ideas that seem to be good. But don’t always pay off when put in practice.

24 naked girls. With several pages of psychological rants going with each of them.

Is there a market for that? Can one sell one’s love life?

The girls can be found. Of course they can be found.

That’s not the problem.

Is there a market for it?

And is that really the question when you are doing something creative, something you feel passionate about?

What if nobody reads this female alphabet? Except, stealthily the girls described in it.

Yana, what do you think? You are what I am not: a non-conformist artist. You just do what you want to do, you have your own aesthetic vision and you’re not an attention whore. You’re just professional about what you do passionately.

Is there a market for it?

You don’t know. And you don’t care.

You want to shoot great pictures of girls who have a little ‘extra’ to offer and that fit with the alphabet.

I want to ask if you like the alphabet. But the possibility that you might not, is so nauseating that I don’t ask.

Caring so much about my own writing makes me extremely vulnerable.

Why am I writing about writing in a book about the women in my life?

Because the two are related.

When I was a teenager and way too shy and too socially awkward I could only communicate with women through letters. That’s how I started to write, as a bridge to girls. A bad bridge by the way. More like an unstable pontoon bridge. Letters are ineffective at starting a relationship, whereas they can be very effective in deepening an already existing relationship.

I want readers just as much as I once wanted girls. And I am as frustrated now, readerless, as I was girlless.

Both frustrations have the same root: a chronic ego hunger, a need to feel ‘significant’. And getting readers won’t do it. It won’t make me feel significant. It will get me problems I can’t even imagine now.

Still, I feel every day how my ego yearns for them. Masses of them.

Yana says it’s not a good idea to put nude pictures here, if the only point is to attract readers.

The point should be showing some of their essence. The only real worth according to her is that I tried to de-objectify the girls and dug for their real personality and how they influenced me and I them. That’s what the pictures should convey. That may or may not lead to readers, but we don’t even have to think about that. We just have to focus on making something that means something to us, the artists. Readers are only bonus.

You mean that. You are convinced of that. You live that way, Yana. You don’t need any external proof to feel significant. And I see in your eyes how you find it repelling, my hunt for feelings of ‘significance’.

Can you cure me, Yana? No, I don’t mean by having sex with me. I mean, really, cure me. How do you do that? Create your art and simply not care if any one values it or not? How do you do that? How do you convince yourself it’s not a complete waste of time if nobody notices it? Don’t you get angry when people get lots of attention with stuff that is sometimes a lot poorer than what you do? How do you deal with that? Or you simply don’t care? Tell me, Yana. Can an attention whore stop being an attention whore and focus on his art for art’s sake?

Do the pictures. I can’t. I would put them in poses to attract readers and somehow I would push potential readers away by doing so. I have tried to bring out something authentic in the girls I have had the privilege to share my life with, on these pages. And only here and there I have written for effect.

Add an authentic picture to each of them. They deserve that, really they do. All these girls that are part of who I am.

Don’t think about the marketing aspect, don’t let my business and success mania poison you or you’ll never be succesful ever again. There are no business and marketing models that apply to art. Most a pity.

You can only put soul into what you do and in what you write.Write for yourself first. Would you still write it if you were the last person on earth?

And so I chose to write about what I feel most passionate about. What touches my soul in the most profound way. Women.

My soul is in it. And my soul will be my soul, whether anybody reads it or not. It’s not how I want it to be, but it’s the truth.

And I don’t need writing anymore to have the honor to call a woman like Z my wife.

I’ve cursed my necessity to write more times than I can remember. Just like I’ve cursed my necessity to sleep with as much beautiful girls as I can.

Z ended that one enslaving urge. And as you’ll see, she tries very much to cure me of that other destructive need. The need to seduce readers. Which is quite like seducing women. The harder you try, the less you get.

Zoya

(“disintegration is a precondition for new life”

Srečko Kosovel, the subject of my thesis.)

Most relationships are about role-playing. The underlying mechanism being: I will play the role you want me to play as long you fulfil my needs. It’s tiresome to play a role. It’s hard work to keep it up. The role-playing becomes strenuous, more artificial, it collapses, the relationship becomes vicious. Some quit the role-playing and evolve into something bigger, some just quit the relationship and move on to a new kind of role-playing with someone else.

We evolved. We chose to be 100 percent honest to each other. It goes from unimportant confessions like ‘I’m horny and want to fuck the next beautiful girl I meet’ to more important and more difficult and more humbling confessions like ‘I did nothing all day, I played a computer game all day’

The basis for our relationship, is that I find you, that to my eyes you are, the most beautiful woman. You may label that as a very superficial basis, but it isn’t. There is something in your bone stucture I find tantalizing, mesmerizing, I never grow tired of it. It’s an image I have internalized. Will I still think you’re beautiful when you’re 64? It’s highly likely. I’ll see the young you in the human clay that will have lost its elasticity. For starters, if you hadn’t been so beautiful I would never have bothered to get to know you. How caring you are, considerate, patient, funny, how you almost never raise your voice, how sweet you are, without being fragile, how determined and stubborn when you set a goal for yourself, how disciplined, how you never set out to harm somebody, how sensitive you are, how well you read people, how at peace you are with life, how good you are at being alive, how very buddhist you are, without being a buddhist, how hot you are in bed, how exclusive you are, how loyal and committed and how supportive and how you are always looking for meaning and depth, how unassuming you are, and how much you like and appreciate truthfulness.

In all honesty your beauty is the basis from which all else is possible. I can be honest about other women, because I’ll never leave you, I’m never looking to replace you, there’s no hidden gem lurking round the corner. Esthetically speaking you satisfy me completely. And if I want to have you by my side, you ask full honesty. Heminway once said: ‘lies will kill love, but honesty will kill it quicker’ I’ve always believed that, but it’s bullshit. I find it surprisingly easy with you. What make it possible, I think, is that I know better doesn’t exist. And you are not the most beautiful woman I think I can get. No, you are the most beautiful woman. Period. At the very least to my eyes. You’ve stopped fighting against that statement and accepted it.

When a woman feels treasured as the most beautiful certain things happen. It becomes extremely easy to be with her. There’s no viciousness, no psychological games, you are never out to punish me for things I didn’t do, you feel you are enough for me, you’re not out to make my life a living hell for subconsciously activating your insecurities. And I’m glad. We avoid the wars that go with couples. If every man who wakes up tomorrow, next to a woman who he doesn’t think is the most beautiful sight he’s ever looked at, would leave, a lot of passive-aggressive violence could be avoided.

You read this entire alphabet. And you are most likely the only one who enjoys reading it and looks forward to the next chapter. You know my entire history. Including the three or four months I was somehow trying to keep two relationships going. That episode where all your friends urged you to break up with me. And you feel justified now, because when they see us now, they can tell it was the right decision to keep going. If it was a decision.

It wasn’t my conscious decision to be attracted to you. You were there in front of me, at your desk with the other students. You looked like part of some other world, a phantasy world where there is almost no evil, and the little evil that exists is only there to keep the joy of forgiveness and making peace alive. You were there, all virgin-like. And that rare quality of looking like you could be a model, but not realizing it.

And the day I deciced to do something about my attraction, was also the day I heard you say you were going to study abroad. In Germany. You were leaving before we even had the chance to get to know each other. That wasn’t the only problem.

When I looked at you all my cumbersome insecurities (described in X) arose. I stalled. Once I let you win a contest in class, so I could give you a prize. Books. You came to pick them out in my tiny office. You took a long time to pick out a book. You asked advice. You were expecting me to ask your phone number. The thought didn’t even cross my mind. I just wanted to let you win that contest. It was a few weeks before I got vigorous and said: if you want her that much, than fuck insecurities and get her. Do all it takes.

First of all I took the entire class to a bar. I chose the worst moment to ask your phone number. When they all could hear. I used one of my more classic excuses. I asked if you wanted to do sketches for a children’s story I was writing. I heard you say you were good at drawing. I waited the minimal pick-up artist time to do something with your number. Two days. I asked if you had msn messenger and if you had time. You said you didn’t have msn messenger. But you did have time.

Discussing sketches quickly became an invitation to come over for dinner in my room at the faculty. You declined. You turned it into a walk. We went for a long walk one week later, after class. At the end of which we sat on a bench. In the rain. In the cold. You didn’t want to go to a bar. You didn’t want to go to a restaurant. I asked if I could hold you. The answer was yes. But you avoided any attempt at kissing. And when I asked if you felt anything at all. You said you felt absolutely nothing.

I walked you to your dormitory and at goodbye I simply said ‘bye’ like I couldn’t care less. And walking back to my room I felt devasted. I had broken every pick-up artist rule, come on too strongly, had thrown myself at your feet, had stared at you for ages with needy puppy eyes. The only tactically sound response I could come up with now, was silence. The seduction rule says: ignore her till she contacts you. Which you did, two days later. One week later you were on a swing in a children’s park and you said: “If you want me, you’ll have to fight for me.” The day before that we watched a movie in my room. “My blueberry nights”, one of your favorites. We got to more than kissing. But you wanted to leave after a while. I threw my last clinging to any pick-up artist methodology out the window and begged you to stay till dawn. Which you did. I slept, you stared in the dark, in that very small dormitory bed. I was sleeping like a log. I had gotten up at 4 am that day. I had to travel half the country to teach you.

I did have to fight for you. I’ve travelled to several countries, and several very remote places to be with you, sometimes only for two or three nights. Since we are together we’ve spent way more time apart than together. A 4:1 ratio would be putting it optimistically.

There were times I lived with women day in day out, and I cheated them with other women living two or three blocks away. There’s 1200 kilometers between us and except for a brief stretch in the beginning I don’t cheat on you. Not once. And the times I had the intention to do so, I’ve told you in advance, every time. Purely hormone driven intentions. But my faithfulness to you is not what defines our relationship, certainly not to me. In my eyes it doesn’t say anything about my love for you whether I sleep with ten or twenty girls in the moments we are apart. The fact that it would hurt you, less than what you might think, does stop me, but if I wanted to do it, I would. But I don’t.

I’m too tired to do it. After years of lying I’ve become very fond of honesty, transparancy and above all of causing no harm. I can get a girl to have sex with. What I can’t get is a girl who will be ok with having sex and knowing that she’s just a poor substitute for you. And having got attached to honesty and very respectful of the law of karma, the only religious concept I believe in, I won’t pretend I’m single.

I don’t need to prove I love you. That’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this to get closure, maybe as a final parting letter to the child in me. You know I love you. But what is love? Passionate possessiveness? That’s what love is in most cases. I love you as long as you give me what I need and if you don’t my ‘love’ will instantly turn to hatred. There’s a certain amount of letting go in real love. I’m comitted to see you grow. I don’t ask what I can get out of you, I ask what I can mean to you. The more I let you go, the more attached you seem to grow, the less I ask of you, the more you give me. It took me a course of crashing and burning to embrace that attitude. With you it comes naturally. There’s a wisdom inside you, I have to drain tons of books for. You simply have it.

Bi-polar opposites attract. I love you for what I am not.”

You are down to earth. In touch with your surroundings, in symbiosis with the here and now. I am way up in the air or way down in the dirt, I am anything but in touch with your surroundings, and the here and now is very rarely where I want to be. If I’m an erratic hotair balloon, you are my anchor. If I am the arrow, you are the bow. If I am the wind-hungry sail, you are the boat. You love life, I dread it. You fear death, I fear life.

I am restless, dissatisfied, egotistic (which luckily isn’t quite the same as being selfish) and nervous, even jumpy, always longing for more, more, more, you are cool, calm, collected and at one with life as it is, enjoying what is, not demanding what isn’t.

You give me peace. You are my zen master. No wonder we put ‘Everything Zen’ by Bush on repeat. You like slow music, and slow music is torture to me. I need music that conveys a sense of moving forward, always forward. And you look at my attitude and think with a furrowed brow: forward to where? Over the edge of the cliff? Yes, I would prefer plunging over a cliff at high velocity over standing still. I dread nothing more than standing still. You teach me, or try to teach me, that there is nowhere to move to. That we have already arrived. That we are here in the now. The now is all there is. You’ll never know how wise you are. And that is why you are wise.

If life has become a waiting room for me, a waiting room I want to make as cosy as possible till death finally releases me of a world I have for the most part of my life experienced as boring and annoying, you are the one thing that makes me sort of regret that life will end one day. Because death will seperate me from you, because I’ll never live long enough to enjoy all your beauty.

Though you doubt even that, being very religious. You have faith, where I have despair. You have trust and patience, where I have anger and frustration. You have a lot to offer me. And you do every day. You like challenges. I am a challenge. Some unpredictable ego bomb you wish to dismantle and turn into something better. If I’m only half the narcissist I used to be it’s largely due to you and your insights. If this alphabet has an end, it’s your doing, not mine.

While there is harmony in your family, with certain rules and lots of traditions, my family life was always sort of chaotic, libertine, deregulated, loving, very loving, but with manic-depression hanging over it, the bitter taste of frustrated ambitions. You are cheerful and grateful, where I’m sceptical and weary. I shower you with affection for breaking through my self-torturing patterns. And I love you for letting me make you happy and giving me the feeling I am a man. And it’s fairly easy to make you happy. It’s really easy to be with you. I don’t think you know how easy it is to be with you.

I’ve grown completely tired of the subject women. I can’t stand to hear about one more tactic to seduce a girl. I only hope I’ll remember enough of them when our sons will be in need of them. You’ll be there to tell them that they don’t need any of those tactics. But they will. Love doesn’t magically happen. I wouldn’t be with you today if I’d never given the strategies to get a woman a very serious thought. It’s a game I’ve outgrown. It was fun while it lasted. The only chance of me every returning to it is when I suddenly find myself a billionaire with absolutely nothing better to do.

You have me, all of me. I won’t promise you much more than that. I give us a very good chance. And you will frown and ask: just a very good chance? I know you are convinced we’ll even be together over the edges of life. I know. That’s fine with me. To the edges of life is more likely in my unreligious mind.

You know, I never planned to get enough ‘material’ to write an alphabet like this. Today, with you, I’m more like I was when I met my first girlfriend. I never planned to jump from one woman to the next. I never thought I’d have threesomes. I didn’t think I could do it. And if I did it was mainly to get back to the feelings I had for my first girlfriend. And now with you, and with more experience, I can. There is no more role-playing, no more game. My first question is no longer: how can I get the next girl? How can I inflate my ego? My first question has become: how can I contribute in a postive way to society? And how to avoid doing things to feed my ego and to do things just because they are worthwhile? You, my opposite in so many ways, much wiser than me, and far more unburdened by the demands of ego, are the only person I have ever met who can guide me through a mature life. One of those bilion glimpses in the universe. Only with you by my side does my hungry glimpse stand a chance at shining brightly, without burning a hole in the canvas.

THE END