Wednesday, October 22, 2008

While riding the bus on my way to work one day, I happened to look up in time to see a young woman - one could even say ‘girl’ in the colloquial sense - offering the bus driver a cookie upon boarding. I was rather delighted at seeing this as I enjoy random acts of kindness towards strangers. They’re reeeeeeally good…, she said temptingly to the driver, who required little temptation to indulge in an early morning sugar rush.

From the back, I could see that she was tallish in heels, a nice overcoat, and kicky scarf and had slightly tussled loose curls spilling to just below her shoulders. What a lovely girl, I thought, the perfect combination of classy (scarf) and bohemian (baked goods). I should note here that while the baking was in a Tupperware container rather than a vintage tin, I imagined that she was new to the latter temperament and still gave her some Boho points. It wasn’t until she turned around that I saw just how new she was.

The thing was, I knew this girl, or rather, we had met on a few different occasions at parties - raves, to you not in the know. The first time I saw her, she was wearing a long black cape over a fuzzy pink bras. Yes, Heaven had lost an angel. We were at a small outdoor party in some rural town and spent most of the night together, exchanging stories of our lives and telling the other how amazing we thought they were. The real truth was that I found her a bit repulsive. I mean this not in the callous sense, as there was nothing inherently wrong with her, but there was something about the package that made me uncomfortable. Perhaps it was the slightly nasal and lispy voice that would have been very appropriate in a porno film or her lips, which were almost too full for her face, like Julia Roberts without the nice eyes. Still, she was very nice and complimentary and in my then-current state, flattery is the surest way to garner my affections or at least my time.

This night would go on to repeat itself a month later at an all-night affair in a campground an hour and a half outside of Winnipeg. The meeting was again by fluke and my heightened senses caused me to remember her only with fondness, which was how we ended up making out in a field with my top off. Somewhere around that time, I stopped enjoying myself. Perhaps it was when a rogue car, driven by other partiers shone its headlights on us and jeered. I imagine that for the average, heterosexual male, this would be tinged with a certain amount of self-satisfaction, if accompanied at all by embarrassment. However, for me, all I could think was that if I was going to get caught on top of a girl, this would not be the one I would choose. The events of the rest of the night unfolded in much the same way: watching the northern lights dancing like a ballet, listening to music in my car, invoking poetic analogies (“Violins are like one night stands; cellos are forever”). All the right things with the wrong person, which is how one could characterize most of my rave experiences. I always had this fantasy of making an amazing new friend at one of these things. Perhaps everyone else there does as well and that’s why we’re all so nice to one another in 30 second soundbites. Anything more is too much of a commitment and I certainly didn’t want to commit to her. It sounds monstrous to be so dismissive of another person, but where were we but a zoo of unhappy animals acting on both base and altered instincts. Whatever the reasoning, this was not the person I should have been with.

I ran into her last year just as I was getting on a bus. Normally rave folk have no appeal to me outside their natural environment, but something in her dogtooth jacket combined with the fact that all my friends seemed to be leaving the city inspired me to exchange numbers. We made plans for lunch the next week at the food court near where I worked, but I had to cancel due to a forgotten rehearsal and never called her back to reschedule. The guilt was slightly gnawing for a while before I realized that I didn’t feel bad about bailing but rather what she must have thought of me for not calling her back. Clearly this wasn’t about her and never was.

I pretended to be grossly engaged in my half-read-and-due-in-two-days library book and didn’t look up until I heard the pop of a Tupperware container and then the sweet, nasal lisp of her offering the driver another cookie as she was getting off the bus.

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