‘At my age Jesus Christ and Alexander the Great were already dead’. Mercifully she replied, ‘yes, but a guy like Caesar was at least ten years older than you and a total unknown. And Bukowski, you know, only got published at 50. You’ve got 15 years left to make, you know, your mark on the world.’
Pieter nodded in that ‘I’m guess you’re probably right’ way and took a sip from the white plastic cup. She had apologized four times for not having ‘real glasses’. He braced himself for something acidic, something that makes your face look instantly hungover, but the Boyar wine, was quite alright. Bulgarian red wine. She got it at 3, 25 euro a bottle in the Express supermarket across the old Roman Church. There used to be a second-hand book store there, where he used to go at least every week in his student days. The store flashed in front of his eyes and he had to shake off memories of hours and hours spent looking for cheap volumes promising…promising something. He forgot what.
The girl smiled at him, and had this expression saying: I did something wrong, didn’t I? Meaning the wine, meaning insulting a wine connaisseur. Which he wasn’t, but the girl certainly seemed to think so. ‘It’s fine’, he said, ‘it’s really just fine. Goes down smoothly.’ She looked at the bottle, as if it was exhibit A in a courtroom where her intellect was about to be disproved. ‘No, I mean, really, it’s fine. And it’s not even one of these commercial Californian brands, it’s nice. Could be a fine bordeaux in a blind tasting test.’ She leaned back against the wall behind her bed and said, with the sudden, jerking movements common to her age: ‘Ok, then, ok. I’m glad you like it. I’m a student, I can’t afford expensive wine.’
He stared into the white cup, asking himself why she was being so nervous, but ok, he was her landlord, and she was a student, fresh out of high school. First week in college.
He took an other sip, staring at his black shoes against the white ground. He was sitting in an awkward angle, and had to twist his neck a bit to face her, which he forced himself to do, because he knew how important eye contact was.
‘Good wine doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive’
‘I know that’
‘Look, personally, I don’t know anything about wine. Just what you pick up here and there, whether you want to or not. Like sports. I’m completely not in to sports. Never ever watch the sports channel. My eyes spray a thick fog when I hit the sports section in the newspaper, but still, somehow these names of famous soccer players get stuck in my mind. Like big chunks of yellowish fat in a drain after doing the dishes.’
‘Right. I have the same with these awful sort of movies. These dreadful teenage angst movies. Like Twilight or I don’t know, The fault in our stars, or If I stay, or Snowwhite and the the huntsman, I mean these God awful movies, but somehow you end up watching them, you end up talking about them and you even end up knowing trivia stuff about them you read on wikipedia.’
‘I know. That’s exactly what is like. Like this totally useless information just gets glued onto your brain. But why?’
‘Yes. And in the middle of the night. A week day. You find yourself watching this mellow romantic comedy that’s never funny, but you’re watching it. And sure, you’ve downloaded, I don’t know, the complete works of Tarkovsi or the debut movie of Polanski or I don’t know, every movie every made by this director God, this, what’s his name, something with man in it’
‘Yes, that’s the one.’
‘That’s one of the few I know’, he said and poured himself more Boyar booze.
At this instant he desperately wanted to fuck her. See that tight yellow yeans -who ever wears yellow yeans?- slide off her long legs, plunge between them and just lick away at her young cunt, but he knew he wouldn’t. Sex had stopped being an act of rebellion, an affirmation of life a while back. He couldn’t pin down the exact moment sex had turned into just another way to proof his life was going absolutely nowhere. He didn’t act on the impulse. It would pass.
Still thinking of how her clit would taste like, he pointed at bits and pieces of paper she had glued on her mirror with chewing gum. He could see it was chewing gum, because the rosy gum shone through the paper.
‘What’s that?’, he asked.
She jumped up, uncrossed her legs and almost leaped to the mirrow to take them down. ‘They don’t make permanent stains.’
He leaned forward and took her wrist.
‘It’s fine, it’s fine. I don’t mind chewing gum on the mirror. I mean, what’s written on the paper? Please stop seeing me as your landlord. As long as you don’t burn the place down, it’s fine.’
‘Ok, I get very sloppy with candles, but I’ll try.’
She got sort of comfortable again. Propped some pillows of ‘hello Kitty’ or something behind her back and recrossed her legs. Which made him wonder if a movement like that opened up her vagina.
‘So what are they?’, he asked.
‘My friend Tina writes these poems for me during boring classes.’
‘Wow’, he said.
The word ‘lesbian’ flashed through his head. He felt stupid for picturing her naked now.