I called you the Lady of the question marks. 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.


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