Psycho Hot Stuff
Another FlugTag of disasters while crossing love's great divide
18th September, 2003
Somebody has to take you to the flamenco bar. You'd never dream of going there otherwise.
Walk through the alleyway at night, through the door under the glowing neon sign and down
two sets of stairs smelling of cats and ancient nicotine. And then you're in. No burly criminals at the door,
no secret card schools or Cuban drug dens. Just Spanish dancers on the walls and late night gin-mixers from two liter plastic flasks.
Almost disappointing. Then you remind yourself that you aren't the Kray twins or Mac the Knife after all,
and order anything that comes with a slice of lemon.
She came with crowd attached. She was that kind. Keen, mobile expression, the intelligent side of flirtacious. She could keep five
conversations going, chat to all her friends at once. A true parliamentarian: working hard to maintain the balance of her popularity.
Meanwhile, I was telling people what was what. I can't now remember which what that was,
or if even it was even the what that I thought. But I knew it anyway, and was spelling it out, firmly.
With arm movements. This is something all men have to do from time to time. To suddenly credit themselves
World Expert on a matter of no consequence. It often dosn't matter if what you say makes objective sense anyway. Strength
of passion impresses people. So I guess it was my fine blazing eyes that drew her to me, rather than my unshakeable opinion
on the only correct way to listen music. Or eat fish. Or hop on one leg. Or whatever.
But now the great game of the sexes had commenced. I knew it well.
Is he Boring or Just Insane?
All women test men from their very first introduction. It's always different in form, but with one intent. To determine
very quickly if you are psychotic or, far worse, if she will be bored.
Anna decided to test me by getting all foreign and sophisticated.
Et, tu va bien?
Oui, j'ai la peche. C'etait une belle journee? She leaned back, considering me carefully. Time for a test...Spanish.
Tu parece un poco agradable...
Si! Soy el hombre sincero como... un pescadoro viejo! Invention knows no bounds when you're bound up in lager, saké and gin.
Und warum kommst du hierher? She had reached rock bottom, thank God. I don't think I could have stood a trip into Cantonese.
Naturlich interesse ich mich uber dich...
So far, so good. Normally, a woman gives you about twenty seconds to justify your existence. You have to be intelligent, witty, strong,
commanding, balanced, successful, entertaining, healthy, mysterious, provocative and sexy and above all not weird in about as much time as it takes to say,
"I'm an earth-bound space hero on a mission from planet love..."
This brief window of opportunity prompts some men to desperate lengths. I was at a party with Rolf and Sara, when a young man from Perth
was introduced to Sara. He was keen on making an impression, any impression of all. "I'm from Perth," he began, and then
without pausing for breath, "bet you haven't heard of Perth not much of a place still we like it most isolated city in the world
third windiest city in the world ha ha we like to call it the windy city ha ha watch this you'll like this..."
And he then stuck his ear lobes into his ears. Seeing Sara's look of increasing alarm he added in increasing hysteria: "I'm going to do it with my nose next!!"
To keep out the wind, no doubt.
The Security Check
Anyhow, it was nice to meet a woman who didn't just sit and expect to be entertained.
Then she asked: "So what do you do for a living?"
Most men fear this question above all else. One minute everything is fine, next you are asked, in effect, if you are successful,
important and rich. Almost none of us is, but we don't like to admit it. I certainly wasn't going to say that
I sat in front of a computer all day lost in abstraction. Might as well be a professional bed wetter.
"Why don't you guess? Here's some clues. I like to help people, there's a lot of physical action and some
danger, but with strong decisions we come through."
"... you work with computers."
Damn. "Hey," she said, "You're interesting. Most guys just tell me how much money they make and expect me to jump into
bed with them."
"Well, you won't catch me doing that."
"You're funny." Hurrah.
The Double Headed Fox
"So tell me about yourself".
This is a wider ground. You have more space to move in, more time to work with, but it's still problematic.
How can you be caring and yet dangerous, sensitive yet devilish, and retain your all-imporatant aura of
mystery? Can't be written off as nice but dull. Better off with a few provocative quips and a quick lunge.
A while ago, Danielle and her boyfriend Martin invited me to an open air salsa party. God knows what we imagined.
A giant Rio de Janiero mardi gras, complete with heaving crowds, colorful costumes and maracas. A spontaneous
explosion of love and rhythm that spilled out of every house and office, stopping the traffic, police joining
in, all ending up in a coordinated display like the Kids from Fame that would see us all dancing on the roofs
of taxi cabs. Fantastic.
What we got was a concrete square by Euston station. A band, six girls in latin dress sitting around looking cold,
and thirty English people standing with a beer in their hands, all contriving to do nothing, and still look embarrassed. Fixed, bowel-freezing self conciousness, the British gift to
world civilization. An inner guard that never lets up unless you manage to drown it in a beer binge and then
let rip, usually with a bottle in a stranger's face at two in the morning.
Martin a hot blooded Bulgarian, managed to fit in one dance before we fled. A party in the city.
Bankers. Everyone was a Harvard graduate. Everyone wore chinos and a striped shirt. Everyone had a hairstyle. Everyone
was an asset manager. Everyone was trying to chat up Wei Lin, the new girl with skin like a peach in bloom. She was bored.
She suddenly came over to me. I was dressed from the wrong side of the tracks, my hair was wild and rebellious (product of my arab
barber, five quid and no English spoken), my eyes were bright and devilish (I was staring into the disatnce, trying to figure out what an "asset manager" was).
"So what do you do?" I had passed test one on looks alone.
I was startled. Without thinking I blurt out, "Engineer".
"Oh." She backed away. ""Don't they need those for the Underground? Or something."
Never surrender your mystery. Next time I'll try Movie Director. Or Dolphin Trainer. Or wanted for three counts grand larceny
and breaking out of Pentonville. Anything for an edge.
Suddenly Anna spun round. Where's my bag? She had left it behind her seat. The Flamenco is
a dark little bar, perfect for thieves. Now the bag was gone. She was upset, had to go and make the phone calls. "But
look after Marie while I'm gone." She introduced her friend. "She's from Normandy. You can talk French to her!"
I sighed inwardly, as Marie looked at me, waiting. I had twenty seconds to make an impression...