January 2002, meeting M
The first time I saw him, he was talking to a group of people. I found myself staring at his legs. Beautiful muscular legs covered by the dusting of dark blonde hair encased in dark walking shorts that did not disguise his bubble butt. His upper body was similarly rounded with a hint of beer belly about to erupt in a few years time. He has a head shaped like an egg-a similarity heightened by his receding hairline and hair shaved close to the scalp. His Cockney accent was lilting. Sentences ending in an upward sweep making you think each one is a question.
He suddenly looked my direction and caught my eye. His other body parts receded into background when I looked in his eyes. It is of indeterminate color that always seems to be smiling. He strode towards my direction, all the while looking at me with those mischievous pair as if we were sharing a joke even before he introduced himself. He had a crooked smile. I wanted to bite his lips.
"M," he said extending a hand.
"Kiel," I said, clasping his hand, trying hard not to stare. His handshake was firm. Yet his eyes maintained that mischievous glint that I started to wonder if there is any external manifestation of the unbridled lust I was feeling.
February 2002, the call way after the morning after
"You shouldn't expect anything from me," I detect his imploring tone despite the choppy connection of my mobile phone. I can almost see him frown. "I’m basically a selfish bastard."
Two weeks after M’s visit, this is the first time he calls. Separated by thousands of miles, perhaps just as well. I was afraid I was going to jump to the first bus to where he is in Eastern Cape at the slightest hint of invitation. Apparently, that is not forthcoming. Since he drove away from my house, I was listing down all the things I wanted to say when we finally get to talk. Now all I am left with is uneasy silence and an increasingly loud thumping on my chest.
"That's just it. I'm not expecting anything," my voice sounded unsure even to my own ears. "Let's just talk about it when we see each other in Cape Town in a couple of weeks."
February 2002, text messages after the call way after the morning after
"Thinking of you -," the short message in my cellphone read. It was from Brian. It was 10 P.M. - three days after his phone call.
"No shit," I muttered under my breath, thinking of that vague brush off in our phone conversation a couple of days ago. Where does he get off sending me a message like this?
I decided to play it cool- as all my friends seemed to insist, so I wrote back teasingly, "the sort of thoughts that give you wet dreams or nightmares? too bad you're a -selfish bastard- "
"Well thanks. I've been thinking about you too but I don't know if that's something you want to know," I retorted. I imagine I can hear all my friends' indignation at the way I'm handling this. As I watched the miniature envelope travel from one phone through the other, I wanted to cancel. But heck, he asked for it.
"I'm confused, excited, interested and unsure in us." Finally, some truth. My heart resumed it's almost forgotten thumping.
With renewed confidence, I sent a message back that read, "Unsure is good. It's definitely an improvement from the don't-expect-anything line. Remember, I maybe feeling the same thing."
In two minutes, my cellphone rang.
"I'm sorry if I'm such a shit," he apologized not even bothering with the usual pleasantries.
"Why do you say that? Did I say that?" I asked, genuinely puzzled. I started walking out of my bedroom, out of the house and lit a cigarette.
"No, but I thought you may be thinking it." Brian explained. I wish I could see him try to get these words out. Why is he apologizing?
"I said -selfish bastard- but those are your words, not mine." I wonder where the guilt feeling is coming from. I suddenly felt afraid that he might feel sorry for me. Shit. That's the last thing I need right now.
"You'll have to understand. This is unfamiliar territory for me, eh? And there's all this uncertainty on how long you'll be staying in the country. Or how long I will." The thumping in my chest suddenly increased a notch higher.
"Hey M, one step at a time, OK?" I took a drag off my cigarette and blew the smoke out lengthily, thinking of words to say. I'll be damned if I let myself sound like a bimbo again. "I'm just wary of putting limits to anything before knowing what it is all about. The thing is, if I don't expect anything I don't have any options. And for me that sounds like a defeatist self-fulfilling prophecy."
"You're right. No options closed at this time. "Then there was the silence that lasted for a long time.
"Oh M, what am I going to do with you?"
"Right now I can think of something that I want to do with you so badly." His words taking on the familiar mischievous, naughty lilt.
"Oh. Right. That is precisely how it all started." How did we get here? I was asking him and myself silently. I know that our affair is not turning out to be a mess of Miss Saigon proportions. Then again, real life never had to have the absurdity of a musical to be tragic. And for those involved, utterly compelling.