You know, I am angry, really really angry. I told the following story to a friend of mine and he suggested it was good enough that should blog it. So here goes. I have to warn you, it involves me getting kinda angry for no particularly good reason.
Before I begin -- and maybe just as a way to build up your anticipation of future posts -- I make the casual yet perhaps meaningful observation that most of my halfway decent stories these days seem to involved conversations between myself and women I've just met. Not all of them. There are some quirky men out there, too, like my friend Hari, or the dude with the airline safety fixation. But I'll probably have to make an extra effort to keep the gender ratio on the reasonable side.
While I was in France I met a woman who works for a big advertising agency called, let's just say, Leon Furness. And let's just say her name is Arlene, and let's just say she was there with a colleague named Cindy. (I should clarify that this is not
the same non-Arlene who appears in the photograph in the previous post.)
Not sure what it was about Arlene, but I found she had a certain style. Later I realized I only thought this because long ago I saw her standing on the banks of the Nile, rocking her newborne child in a wicker basket. I was strangely drawn to her pensive beauty, so I made my way over to the riverbank. Things didn't go far between us, because I was a crocodile at the time. As I approached her, she spotted me and panicked, but not before I ate her baby. I didn't understand what the big deal was at the time. I was just a hungry crocodile, after all, and I didn't know any better, but needless to say she threw a total fit, screaming and screaming and crying from the embankment, "My baby, my baby!" as I chewed the little thing to bits and swallowed it whole, leaving the bloody remainders of the reedy basket to float slowly down the Delta.
We were both scarred by the experience. Through many lives, her face stuck with me. Meanwhile, she remained sore about the dead baby.
Fast forward 5,000 years and I try chatting her up. It's not like I was coming on strong or making a pass at her or anything like that. I just asked her to tell me something about herself, such as what kind of music she listens to. She told me David Bowie.
"Me too. Do you know the song 'Lady Stardust'?" I asked. I told her the version of "Lady Stardust" on the "Bowie at the Beeb" compilation is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world.
She said yes, she knew that song, and it goes like this: "Ground control to Major Tom...."
"No, it doesn't," I said. "That's "Space Oddity." 'Lady Stardust' begins, 'People stared at the make-up on his face...'"
Well, the conversation didn't go far. She confessed to being a bit drunk. She probably recognized me as the croc that ate her baby at this point, because she spun around suddenly and said, "Where did everybody go!" and ran off to find the other people in the group.
Well, that was that. I would have chalked it up to her being a little tipsy - or perhaps to me being a bit too blunt when it comes to her ignorance of David Bowie songs - but in any case, I felt this strange passive-aggressive energy building up between us throughout over the next several days. Cindy, her colleague, would see me and be all kiss-kiss, while Arlene just sort of looked in the other direction.
So at the festival's closing party, I saw Cindy and Arlene and walked up to them with a handful of cherries. Cindy was all kiss-kiss, while Arlene was awkward and silently belligerant.
Without invitation, Cindy grabbed one of the cherries and said, "That's a very good idea - where can I get some?"
"Over there by the ice," I said, and Cindy ran off looking for cherries, leaving me standing with Arlene.
Naturally, I offer Arelene a cherry. She declined.
I said, "So you like David Bowie."
She said, "Did you see the TV commercials tonight?"
"Yes, I did," I said. "I said, 'So you like David Bowie.'"
She nodded. "Where did Cindy go?"
(At this point in telling the story, my friend interrupted and said, "Heheh. This is why people hate you." I think he meant that in the best possible way.)
I obviously took the hint that this person didn't want to talk to me, but I didn't understand why. So I got angry. I GOT REALLY ANGRY.
I didn't show it and I didn't say anything, at least not immediately. I just continued to mingle. And I plotted. During the course of mingling and plotting, lo and behold, what do I happened upon but a water pistol.
I don't know whose it was or why it was there, but somebody had obviously set it down and nobody was claiming it, so I pocketed the water pistol. It was almost like it was there for me to find, saying, "Take me, and shoot that nasty girl in the face with me."
I was carrying that thing with me for at least an hour before Arlene made an appearance again. And when she finally did, I shot her in the face.
It was anticlimactic. I guess I was hoping she'd lose her composure, but she just got pissy and walked away. Imagine that.
We bumped into one another again, and she made a face and walked away. Finally there was one last exchange where I went up to her and asked - well, demanded to know, more like it - if I'd said something to offend her.
She said, "I don't like your jokes. You got water in my eye."
"I didn't like your jokes long before that," I said. "So I'm trying to make peace." I placed the water pistol down on the table.
She smiled and sort of patted me. I found it a bit condescending.
I said, "One of us is really unpleasant. Probably both of us." And I think we both walked away simultaneously at that point.
Well, sorry to disappoint you, but that's the end of the story. I suspect it'll be another 5,000 years before I see her again.
UPDATE: You know, as I re-read the post, I realize I perhaps
haven't come entirely clean. During our first conversation, Arlene confessed to having had a little bit to drink - as though this were an impediment to having a proper discussion (so had I, but for me that's a completely normal way of facilitating sociability). In any case we shall never know the true tenor of our initial interaction, but in hindsight, I do wonder if it might not have gone a little more like this:
"Do you know the song 'Lady Stardust'?"
"Oh yeah? How's it go?"
"'Ground control to Major Tom...'"
"No, it doesn't, you fool, that's 'Space Oddity.'"