John is waiting for O to arrive. He is waiting for her in front of the school. Her suggestion. This is the second time they go on a date.
If she asks what he wants to do, he knows what he’ll say.
He wants to kiss her all over, he wants to lick her down there, about as slowly as he can, really taste her, savor it. He wants to see if there’s anything that will defrost her. The walls this lady keeps around herself are thicker than the ones that kept Constantinople from falling into muslim hands all those centuries.
What’s the cement between those bricks? Trust issues perhaps. Or maybe she’s just not that attracted to John. He’s not exactly going through his most attractive period.
He tries to picture her. He’s been asking her out for weeks now. His distant, almost cold-blooded black haired Queen. The lady that loves her job, works harder than anyone he knows right now.
Come to think of it, John’s always had hard-working, diligent girlfriends. There was not one lazy one among them. John wonders if that could mean something.
He spots O walking down the narrow tree lined path towards the school. It’s dark, but her silhouette is easy to recognize.
She’s wearing an expensive looking grey coat. Goes half way down her firm, round thighs. A tight body in tight jeans in tight boots.
‘You look good’, he says, and they exchange the two kisses, not three, that are customary for Slovakia.
She does not ask what John wants to do.
That wouldn’t be her. It’s part of the reason why John practically bent over backwards to be here. Because she’s not a needy pushover.
O wants to go to her favorite bar, about a mile from her apartment.
Her apartment is off limits.
This time there’s a big wooden table between them. Like an ocean of wood, separating them. John wishes they could have gone some place that has a couch. Her classroom has a couch. They could have gone there.
They make a lot of eye-contact, but as the conversation progresses , she starts to avoid his gaze. She orders vodka and orange juice and she orders red wine for him. Her gestures are regal, but respectful towards the staff. She was a waitress and a baby-sitter before she went into teaching. She doesn’t look down on people.
They talk about the school and a little bit about their past.
John has the words of a German World War II general in his head: ‘If an offensive stalls it never picks up again.’
His previous relationships were instant hits. Meeting someone new, talking for a couple of hours, jumping each others’ bones as if there was no tomorrow.
Things have changed. John’s bruised. He’s not the same guy he was ten years ago. Back then he thought tomorrow would inevitably be even better than today. These days John is relieved when he goes through a day without feeling run over by a truck.
He tells her how attracted he his, against all the rules of seduction.
The walls go up a couple inches. His words are killing any attraction there was.
She says she’s shocked. She’s not used to this.
She goes to the toilet and when she comes back, John’s overcome with a desire he’s only experienced three or maximum four times before. There cannot be anything more beautiful than O walking towards him now.
How can this not be affecting her at all?
Don’t women feel the desire they arouse in a man?
She talks about her time in England. How she liked the services there, how kind the people were. John burries his eyes in the scar on her throat. It’s the first spot he’d love to kiss. If this girl has any ache he wants to kiss it away. But perhaps she doesn’t have any ache for him to kiss away.
She describes the kind of guy she tends to be attracted to, and all he can hear is a ‘dark’ type. Visually, not metaphorically.
John would like to reach for her hand, but can’t, the damn table is like the no man’s land between two lines of trenches.
He thinks to himself: So you’ve met your match. You knew it the instant you first saw her, but you tried to go into denial. There’s no denial. No fire exit.You’ve been gutted. And inside you’re squealing like a stuck pig. No erase button. No rewind. You’ve been breached. Her little hormonal stormtroopers are tearing your core apart. Your keep is foundering. Soon you will have nothing left. Ecce homo.
O tilts her head to the side and runs her fingers through her hair. The hair. John has no defence against the long black hair. She lets it hang to one side, the lush, thick hair. Like a wave of thieves robbing you of everything you’ve got to give. John’s starting to wonder what kind of crater she’ll leave inside him if she goes.
‘Don’t you love her madly as she’s walking out the door’, sings Jim Morrison in John’s head. He’ already painfully anticipating the moment she’ll get up and walk home.
Is there anything he could say or do to stop her? What do all those pick-up artists have to say about a situation like this? John’s mind goes blank.
He’s doing almost everything wrong.
Has he just told her he’s been suicidal for months? Have you? You have, haven’t you? You oversharing idiot.
Why can’t he keep things light and flirtatious?
‘This is very scary’, says O. ‘I don’t think I can ever fully know you’
Which makes John feel like some shape-shifting lunatic
O says she doesn’t need this in her life.
‘Don’t you think it shouldn’t be this complicated? Shouldn’t it be easier? I mean, meeting someone and falling in love should be easier, don’t you think? Without all these complications.’
Theoretically she is right of course.
But when do life’s gifts ever arrive in a nicely wrapped giftbox?
Didn’t the Rolling Stones sing: ‘You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need’?
John thinks: Why should it always be me who makes the effort? Why can’t you simply decide, ok, fine, you are going to be my man. Let’s simply make it work. Because we do have that potential. It’s clear. I’ve never looked at a woman the way I look at you. You see it, you do, but then you shake it off. You don’t want it to be true.
‘I will admit this is giving me an ego boost. I would need to hear this every day.’
John could jump in her and dissolve there.
Seduction mistake number 532. The more you desire her, the more you crave her, the less attracted she will feel.
She dissapears to the toilet and John puts Belgian chocolate on her side of the table.
O comes back and ask if it’s for her. John says: ‘I know you don’t like sweets so much.’
‘This I’ll try’, O says.
John looks at her, as though some famous painting has come alive. You are so God damned beautiful. When I see you walk I can’t keep me eyes of your hips.
O is wearing a slightly oversized sweater. A very girly one. The kind you could wear above your undies to spend the whole day in bed. Maybe that is in fact what O wears when she is home alone. Just the sweater.
O knows she’s pretty of course, but she’s doesn’t know just how beautiful she really is.
John tells her it would be good if she could see herself through his eyes for a while.
This time they talk for 5 hours straight.
They don’t smash their 8,5 hour record. The amazing thing is that to John it seems to take only an hour tops. So time shrinks at a 5:1 exchange rate. O time is 5 times faster than regular time.
John can smell her prefume very clearly now, it’s getting to him, penetrating him, hitting him in every nerve.
O refuses to tells John the name of the perfume.
‘I like it when I have a meeting with our secretary and then when other people come they immediately know I’ve been in there.’
John looks at her round face and thinks: With you I’m in heaven and hell both at the same time. It’s heaven to be with you, and it’s hell to feel the pain of missing you that will hit me the moment we part, and won’t leave me till we meet again. If we ever meet again. The odds are not in my favor and I feel it the way a flayed man hurts.
Then the guillotine to the meeting strikes and O says:
‘I think we should go.’
John has already paid the bill when he went to the toilet so they can just pick up their things and leave.
He stays near her, she doesn’t say anything, so he walks her home. Their sides bump into each other as they walk. When they walk along side each other John experiences a oneness with her that’s more obvious than when they are sitting. He has the feeling that simply walking next to each tells O more than any conversation could.
When they reach her apartment building, she turns. John knows what that means. He’s not being invited up. He tries to kiss her, but she pulls away very firmly. He can put his forehead against hers, but that’s it.
In the tram back home he slumps right into the deepest depression in years. He can’t believe how much it hurts. He wasn’t prepared for this at all. The only thing that was worse was losing his father, but that’s no comparison.
What he doesn’t understand is that she complains that guys don’t try to get closer to her, but at the same time she’s not making much of an effort to get closer to him either. She can hide behind the fact that he’s married, of course. Isn’t that convenient?
Earlier that night she asked him, in his opinion as a therapist, why does she only attract guys who are already in a relationship?
He told her that she is too much of a risk to guys. A guy who’s already in a relationship has something to fall back on when she refuses him. He can go home and lick his wounds, let the blood be washed away on the homefront. A single guy who risks trying to get you, has to handle the potential pain all by his lonesome.
It’s odd how she doesn’t fully recognize just how attractive she is. Confident womanhood is oozing from her every pore.
We could catch it in buckets and sell it.
When John comes home, he feels something is off.
Z is not home.
Don’t you love her madly as she’s walking out the door?
John’s therapist has this theory: ‘You lose some of your sexual attraction towards Z because she’s available. O is distant and a challenge, and a challenge arouses you.’
O’s not stupid so she knows she’ll end up in the same situation of Z if she commits. John knows he’s after something he can’t have, because as an only child he’s used to get what he wants anyway, no matter how long he has to ask for it. It was the same in school, he somehow always got an exceptional treatment, because as an only child you are used to talking to adults, and a verbally gifted child confuses children. Especially if that child’s mother is the school’s popular cleaning lady who worships her son.
John realizes all this, but he can’t stop the behavior.
At around 2 am, Z returns, she’d had a panick attack. She hadn’t believed John’s cover story. ‘Am meeting Vicente today to talk about starting a business together’. She’d actually seen him take a tram in the direction of O’s part of the town.
John got annoyed and kept claming he’d been with Vicente. Z had spent the evening with a divorced Slovak lady, Ivana, who’d been through all of it herself. In her marriage to John’s very similar Dutch friend.
‘He’s just looking for drama.’, she’d said.
After a long argument ‘you were with her. No, I was with Vicente’ John and Z had rough sex.
‘Now just tell me the truth. You were with her, weren’t you? I know it anyway, so just tell me.’
‘Well,if you know anyway’, said John with all his intestines twisting and turning in protest.
‘Did you have sex?’
‘No, she didn’t want to.’
‘Are you telling me everything?’
‘I know you aren’t, so just tell me, did you have sex?’
‘No, we did not. We just talked.’
‘And you told her how you love her, how special and unique she is and wrote her poems on napkins.’
‘I did not write her poems on napkins’
‘What do you have with her? She’s so fake. She’s manipulating you. She must love all this attention so much. And I’m the stupid woman who you can run to when she blows you off.’
‘She didn’t do anything to provoke this. It’s just biochemical. I don’t know how she can have such an effect on me. Am not doing this on purpose.’
‘Of course she provoked this. You would nevee try anything if she didn’t give you some signs.’
‘I don’t think she meant to.’
‘Of course she did, she wants all guys to want her. You ignored her at first and she couldn’t stand that. She’s used to it that all guys want her.’
This went on for hours, untill they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
Their last words:
‘You have married a total nutcase. I didn’t do this on purpose.’
‘I know. I just can’t wait untill this woman is finally out of our lives.’