Special Cases.

“As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armour themselves against wonder. “

An excerpt from the novel, The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen.

A friend made a rather odd request of me today.

She asked that I write about her.

I found this odd as many people in my life have been really pissed off about things I’ve written about them. One friend in particular recently requesting that I not write about him at all. I’ve lost friends because of things I’ve written about. Things that were true, though they didn’t care to see it that way. I suppose ultimately people seldom asked to be written about and then see it as a betrayal when you do. I understand this. So I was surprised when she, this friend of mine, today asked me if I’d write about her in my blog this evening.

I asked her what she’d like me to write.

She suggested I write about our brunch.

We met this morning around 11am at my second-home, The Commons in Darlinghurst.

Right off the bat she commended me on yesterdays sweat, Court Cases & Coitis and suggested I start seriously thinking about my higher purpose as the wheels had been set in motion, and life was surely taking me somewhere new, fast– and that it best I have a strong, solid idea of where that be, so as not to end up somewhere else.

I appreciated the sentiment, and said that I was well aware of what ‘my higher purpose’ was and had actually been spending a lot of time lately alone, planning.

She too is a writer and we’ve met up frequently to discuss words since meeting last November at Vipassana in the Blue Mountains.

Naturally we discuss Vipassana every time we meet up as it had a profound effect on both of us for various reasons.

She’d just buried her dad. And I, as you now know, was trying to bury a relationship and engage in a brand new one, with myself.

One of my main incentives for choosing to venture to ‘Shush Camp’ (as my mother refers to it) was to observe my own behavior with regards to how judgmental I can be.

I’d read a blog a year or so ago about a woman who’d gone to Vipassana and attached all these elaborate stories to the people who were also taking the course at the time. Forbidden to speak or interact in anyway, including the maintaining of eye contact means that for nearly 12 days you’re surrounded by some 40 or so women with whom you actually know nothing about. You can sense things, imagine things, but ultimately whatever judgments you place on people you have little evidence to support your case, because you’ve never fucking spoken to them.

Now this friend of mine, this friend that has asked to be written about was someone whom I immediately thought was probably a model doing time for coke rehab.

She’s 6ft2, she’s fucking gorgeous and she was wearing a big diamond ring.

So that was the story I attached to her.

I’m not really sure what she thought my story was but she has said on more than one occasion that she knew I’d be funny as I was often getting in to trouble, I sighed a lot during the meditations and one particular occasion, C. Day Six I threw my head back and stared up at the ceiling in the meditation hall, completely fucking over the whole shabang.

We got to talking on the final day, as after the 2pm meditation participants are permitted to talk and share their experiences of their time at the retreat.

She was standing my the tea station when I decided to go up and speak to her and see if my story had been in any way close the truth.

Of course I didn’t ask her if I thought she had a coke problem I did however ask her if she was model.

I was surprised to learn she had such big, white teeth– another off-shot of never having spoken to someone you’ve seen everyday for nearly a fortnight– you don’t know what their mouth looks like, or the finer nuances of their face. What their voice sounds like and what sort of things they might care to talk about.

She asked me if I was a writer.

Not because I look like one, but because I was wearing a Sydney Writers Festival t-shirt… my last clean garment.

She explained to me that she’d been working on a novel for eight years and it was then that we decided to dine together and talk about words.

I was wrong about the coke habit.

In fact, of all the people I met I was most wrong about her.

I was pretty bang on with everyone else.

And I think I was most wrong about her because she was so gorgeous and because I was probably threatened in some way. Jealous of her limb length and straight long blonde hair that looked picture perfect while the rest of us slummed around in our PJs, make-up free, turning rather feral really.

She has since expressed to me a great many insecurities about one thing or another, as good girlfriends often do. I have been surprised at her insecurities as to me, she’s a pretty well rounded, amazingly beautiful human in every aspect of the term.

So today, over brunch, I asked her about her love life.

Somewhat elated she told me of a man she’d met recently and whom she had felt a rather chemical attraction to.

We discussed pheromones and bravery and I asked her if she’s asked him out yet, officially, on a date.

Now this is where things got interesting.

She said that she’d never have that sort of courage which made me laugh because to be honest, unless I’d have instigated most of my romantic daliances I doubt very much any of them would ever have happened.

She found this hard to believe.

I asked her how long it had been since she’d had sex.

I suggested that perhaps that was far too long ‘in between drinks’ and that should contact this man immediately and invite him out for dinner.

“I can’t do it.”

I lost count of the times she said this over the course of our two and a half hour brunch.

“I can’t do it.”

To which I said, sure you can, just make the call. Write the text. Whatever. Make a move. Bust a groove. Go get him.

“I can’t do it.”

I could tell by this stage that I was actually starting to make her feel quite nervous and uncomfortable, for which I apologised for and then asked what was really going on here. What the real fear was. Because it certainly wasn’t texting, she texts me all the time.

She explained that she had a rather overwhelming fear of rejection.

I suggested her fear was not of rejection but of buying the ticket, and taking the ride.

“You haven’t even be rejected yet and you’re already behaving as though you will be. How’s that working out for you?”

She laughed and then explained that it wasn’t really funny, that she felt the issue was deep-seeded and ancient, something from her past, something she couldn’t pin-point.

She asked me if I’d ever been rejected and I laughed out loud for a long, long time.

I said that I’d been rejected more than I’d ever been seduced but that I don’t really see it as rejection. I see it more as matter of poor timing. Someone’s got a girlfriend, someone’s got a wife, someone’s moving to Spain, someone likes brunettes… what are you going to do?? Safe-guard yourself entirely and never even try? That’s proposterous.

Her fear of rejection then turned in to a fear of phones, which I knew was a decoy. I explained that I used to be terrified of phones. So terrified in fact that I became a Life Line counselor to overcome my fear. Which worked. Worked a treat actually.

By this stage her face had turned a clammy red, her lips were quivering and she was crossing and uncrossing her long, gorgeous legs with a frequency that was beginning to trouble me.

“Mate, just write the text. Say, hey, it’s me, I’d like to take you out to dinner one night this week. Then push send.”

“I can’t do it.”

I said that that wasn’t technically true. That she had both fingers and a phone and was entirely capable of sending this man a text message.

She asked me what the worst case scenario was.

I said this was the worst case scenario.

A life of pornography and dildos. Great.

She said, “But what if he doesn’t reply?”

I said, “Then you’ll know. And then next time we meet up we can discuss some other guy you’ve met. Win win really.”

She asked me how I had that kind of courage.

I explained that I hadn’t always. I used to be terribly terrified of all matter of seductions. I used to think no one would ever like me. That I was hideous. Turned out that was bullshit and so I changed my game plan. I grew brave. I started taking risks. A lot of which back fired, but that the fear was just there to remind you that this is something you really want. That fear’s a good thing. Arguably the greatest leveler of all time.

She wrote the text message.

She asked me to read it.

I said it was perfect.

Then again, she said, “I can’t do it.

I stared at her for a long time, wondering if I’d pushed her too far or if she was just on the verge of being pushed far enough.

I asked her why she was anticipating the worst.

I explained to her that she was a gorgeous, rather intimidating human and that this guy, whom by all accounts sounded delightful and healthy and sweet, probably needed her to take the reigns.

Cut the man some slack, I said. Ask him out.

She deleted the text message.

I said, “That’s great mate. You just keep telling yourself that all the shit in your head is true and let me know where that gets you for the rest of your life.”

She asked if I minded if she phoned a friend.

I did but I said that I didn’t.

I minded because I was beginning to feel like she was indulging this fear now. Watering it. Letting it grow.

She explained the current conversation we’d been having to her friend that she phoned.

She explained that I’d suggested she ask him out for dinner.

She asked this friend, whom sees colours around people and situations, what colour she was seeing.

Her friend said green.

Good friend.

She hung up the phone.

She wrote another text message. It was briefer and a little less sexy then the last. I said as much. She rewrote it. Then pressed send.

She immediately turned her phone off and threw it in to her bag.

I told her that she was being ridiculous and that she should turn the phone back on in the event he replies. That was, after all, the point of the entire exercise.

“What if he doesn’t reply?” She asked me.

“He’ll reply. I’m getting the bill.”

As I went in to collect the bill I reflected on the fact that every single man that had entered that cafe– during the 2.5 hours we’d sat sitting at that same table– had checked her out. Every single fucking one.

Returning the table I relayed to her an anecdote my grandmother had shared with me just before she died. She’d expressed to me that she really pitied my generation because in her day a woman would wait for up to six months to receive a letter from a man who’d gone to war. These days, my grandmother explained, you lot get upset if you don’t get a response to a text message within five minutes. The mind begins to wander, and all matter of creative paranoias come in to play. He’s having an affair. He doesn’t want me. He’s not interested. I’m an idiot. She told me this was ridiculous. She told me to never allow myself to be so ridiculous. Suffice to say, I’ve taken her advice.

Upon paying the bill my friend seemed anxious and restless.

“I’m an idiot,” she said.

“No you’re not. You’re a girl who’s just asked a boy out on a date. That’s it.”

She suggested we go for a walk. I could tell that she didn’t want to be alone with her thoughts. She suggested we get pissed. I said I had to go to yoga, though I’d love to.

We walked and walked and walked.

I gave her a big hug and commended her on her great feat. I reminded her that she was beautiful and brave and that all the good stuff comes out of the scary stuff.

Then I walked home.

She sent me a text message shortly there after which read,
“I’m moving to Melbourne!”

I replied,

“Fuck that. You have to wait. That’s part of the bravery.”

She sent me another text an hour later.

Needless to say, he agreed to dinner.


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