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Archive for the ‘Gender: Male’ Category

I allow myself a little rudeness. You tell me about an event you’ve just seen and I look down at you – you’re small – and say, What? Then louder, WHAT? A writer, you inform me, and very good. I let my mouth open. A yawn? I think it is. Someone pushes past me. I swear at them, or at least mouth the words. Your wife praises the speaker she heard. She’s tall, hunches to hear us. I say, Uh instead of Pardon and roll my eyes. When we say goodbye, I am nice again. A real pleasure to meet you both.

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You hand me an envelope with a cheque I can’t accept. For such a public transaction, we show no awkwardness. Life, which can seem so effortless and repetitive, is really a marvellously complex sequence of exchanges with people you know and can reassure you, and those who are strangers and cannot. You are so interested in me, and the way I articulate my thoughts. I use flamboyant hand gestures, suck on my glass of juice, tell you my ideas on transformationn. We think life carries on elsewhere but where we are, right here, is the very centre of the universe.

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The Greek restaurant out of London – it is here I must speak to a stranger. This room is full of excited girls with curled hair and brave, stiff dresses. They side step on the dancefloor, clap clap, eyes wild and frightened. I ask you about the bill and you look to me hatefully, angry for my asking. You have thick fingers, a small nose and a hollow mouth that won’t look at the customers who are shrieking at the Michael Jackson impersonator behind us. You are gloomy but, at their lot, some must despair for others to celebrate with gratefulness.

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I ask you a detailed question and your answer is simply No. I laugh hard and try again. This time it’s Yes. You have a gap between your teeth, a belly that rests on the counter. I type in my pin code and you make enquiries about my afternoon. You speak in haiku so I respond in kind. Train northbound waiting, delayed inevitably – by wind or else rain. We try again. I squeeze in a long word where a short would do. I take my ticket. It is finally Friday and I am thinking of words or else sleep.

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I’m walking in circles and you ask me if I find it hard to make a decision. I tell you I will answer you later. I have seen every shoulder bag on this street, I’ve asked a stranger where she purchased hers. You wait by the door, ready to snatch at shoplifters or to grab conversation. From my eyelashes, a drop of rain hesitates then falls. The tear of water slips down my face and I say, I never can find the answers. Sunshine on a grey day can be so strange and sad. I don’t manage today so well.

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Umbrellas become weapons as we fight to the tube station. You elbow me as you pass and I square up, ready to fight. You say, What? I say, What? and we stare and we pause and you flick water in my eyes. I take each of my gloves, roll them together into a ball and aim at your nose. You see my arm draw back, raise an eyebrow and kick me in the knees. Today was going to be a fine day, a light day. As I lay on the ground; many people avoid me, many people try to help.

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This is not a city for you. You stare straight ahead as I ask you about the journey. Will it be long or short? Will I reach the tube station in time? And, what is it about north-west London that makes me feel so incensed? The vortex of suburban life, the space filled with brick housing, neat gardens, guarded expressions, girls in mittens and baby Uggs. Your face is blank, closed and checked, directionless. You’re looking into the air, the windscreen marking no boundary for your eyes. You stop the bus, start again, press a single button, drive once more.

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