Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Red Brick - a short story by DK

As he walked up the narrow footpath leading to the red brick building where she lived, he felt a knot forming in the pit of his stomach. It’s been four years since he saw her face and he wasn’t sure what to expect. The fact she wasn’t expecting him didn’t make matters any easier and suddenly the palms of his hands became moist.

Would she invite him in or would she not even bother to open the door?

Last time they met things didn’t go very well. She was six months with child and she had just discovered that her abusive husband of 10 years was cheating on her with a woman young enough to be his daughter. She was devastated and lost and she turned to him for help. He wasted no time and did everything he could. He’d called a halfway house that specialises in helping abused pregnant women. They had been full and kept referring him to other places but he begged and pleaded for hours until they finally gave in and agreed to see her. He called her to tell her what she needed to do next. When her husband went to work she should pack only what’s necessary, leave no clues as to where she’d gone and meet him by the corner shop at the bottom of her street. He would wait for her and take her to the halfway house and make sure that she was safe.

When the day came, he stood there waiting for her. He waited for over an hour. She never showed up. He started to fear that maybe she’d been caught trying to escape. The fear in him grew the more he thought about it. He decided to go and check on her. Slowly, he walked up the narrow footpath leading up to the red brick building where she lived. He envisioned her on the floor, beaten, holding her swollen stomach, protecting it from her husbands’ punches. The fear in him turned to rage. He started running. Faster. He reached the house where she lived. The light was on. He rang the door bell.


He rang it again. This time he heard movement. The sound of a key turning. The door opened. He saw her face. She had been crying.

I’m sorry’ she said ‘I can’t do it.’
He looked at her, puzzled. ‘What do you mean?’
She shook her head.
‘I need to get you to a safe place. I’ve made all the arrangements for you and they are expecting you. But we have to leave now’ he said.
She looked at him once again with teary eyes. She shook her head.
‘I can’t do it’
He gazed at her. His eyes welling up.
‘Please’ he asked ‘think of the baby.’
Her hands were shaking. Tears streaming down her tired face as she continued to shake her head. ‘I love him’ she cried. ‘I’m sorry’

Before he had a chance to say anything else she’d closed the door and he heard the key turn in the lock. With the red brick building behind him he slowly started walking away. With a lump in his throat and tears in his eyes he couldn’t help but wonder what kind of hold her husband had over her. Then at the end of the day, the choice was hers. It always has been. But why then did she come to him and ask for his help?
He hated her for it. Every time something went wrong in her life she would turn to him and ask for help. She’d expect him to always be there. Never once wondering how he felt in the intricate web of heartache she’d snared him in.

‘Not any more’ he said to himself as he walked away ‘I can’t do this any more. Not again.’

That was four years ago now. After that last meeting he decided to disappear for a while. It was clear to him that he had nothing left to fight for and as such the world was his oyster. At 25 he had so many prospects for a good life. But he had no ambitions. He never learned how to develop one. He only ever focused on making sure she was ok. That was his ambition. That was what gave him the strength to carry on. His love for her and his constant worry for her well being.

His hand was shaking as he lifted it up to press her buzzer. He hesitated.
What if he opened the door? He was about to turn around but stopped himself.
It would be a chance he’d have to take. He’d travelled far to be here and he wasn’t about to turn around now. Not like this. Not yet. He had to see her. Even if it was the last time he ever did. He just needed to know that she was ok.


Mommy, mommy, there’s someone at the door’ he heard a child shout inside.
He hadn’t even thought about the child. He didn’t even know if it was a boy or a girl. Suddenly he felt ashamed. He wanted to run. He wished the ground would open up and swallow him whole.

Then he heard the key turn and the door opened, slowly.
He could hear his heart beat like a drum inside his chest. He was positive the whole world could hear it. His eyes wandered towards the opening and were met by her surprised gaze. She couldn’t believe her eyes. She was searching for the right words to say but none came out. He looked at her tenderly. She had grown old. Her long auburn hair was now conquered by strands of grey. He held his breath as his hand touched her face. He traced the lines with his finger as she closed her eyes and tears started flowing. She took his hand, looked him deep in the eyes and pulled him in to her embrace. He felt his heart explode and he broke down in tears. He held her tight in his arms, unwilling to ever let go.

‘Mommy, mommy, who’s that’ a child’s voice asked.

He felt her embrace loosen a little and he suddenly saw a beautiful little girl standing behind her. The girl looked at him suspiciously with large almond shaped eyes.

‘This’ she said ‘is your brother..

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Fog City - on a budget!

In the current financial situation, despite things looking up, good deals are hard to come by.I nearly cancelled my San Francisco trip because my finances wouldn’t allow but instead I saw it as an opportunity to experiment and see just how far $200 dollars would take me. I was given a round trip ticket for my 30th birthday and all I had to do was find a place to stay. Researching the web I answered an ad on Craig’s List and this was the result.

I arrived at SFO airport on a sunny Friday afternoon in September and my fabulous host Melissa picked me up on her lunch break and drove me to their charming apartment on 24th and Mission. After giving me a swift tour and realising I was jet lagged she told me to have a nap and she’d show me some of the town once she’d finished work. Needless to say I was out like a light for the rest of the night.

The next day Melissa and her boyfriend Eric sat me down and we talked through what was expected of me. Melissa was turning 30 on Wednesday and they wanted to have a few friends over for dinner but neither of them was confident enough to cook for a group of people. That’s where I came in. The menu was relatively simple but it involved cooking live lobsters, something Mel and Eric were reluctant to doing themselves. It was going to be a small and intimate gathering of around 10 people and I found the task at hand quite exciting. But I was curious as to why they’d placed an advert on Craig’s List offering room and board in exchange for a chef and party planner? The explanation was simple. They are both open and friendly people who happen to live on a budget themselves. Having just returned from a week at The Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert (something I wish I’d been able to experience) they had met so many cool and random people and had themselves received plenty of invitations to strangers homes. I couldn’t help but ask why they picked me and the answer was ‘We liked the look of you. You have kindness in your eyes!’ I wasn’t going to argue with that.

Suddenly the room went dark and looking outside I realised that it’s not always sunny in California. Grey thunder clouds gathered in the sky and with a BANG the sky opened up to let down what seemed like torrential rain. I gawped at the sight as lightning struck a couple of miles away. Melissa and Eric were just as shocked. They said it hadn’t rained like that in at least four years and gave me a sideways look as if to ask ‘Did you bring the UK weather with you?’I couldn’t help but feel somewhat guilty thinking of how it rained in London just as I took off.

My lovely hosts felt sorry for me coming all that way and not get any sun, the ONE thing I had been longing for for months, so they offered to take me on a guided tour of San Fran in the comfort of their pimped up 97 Chevrolet Convertible – but with the roof top up, obviously. Before we headed out they took me for brunch at Boogaloo’s on 22nd & Valencia (www.boogaloossf.com ). A very busy but quaint Latino inspired diner where people write their name on a waiting list outside and wait for a table to become free. It was a nice experience and the food was delicious and reasonably priced with my scrambled eggs and chorizo brunch with a Coke and coffee adding up to $8.

After the meal I was taken through the streets of San Francisco for a couple of hours. We drove through the famous slithering Lombard Street which was a thrill in its own right. It was very picturesque, as is most of San Francisco, and driving through it I particularly enjoyed seeing Alcatraz in the far distance. Next stop was the famous Castro district where the hit movie ‘Milk’ was filmed. It felt incredible to be at that particular spot where history had been made and everywhere you look there are little reminders of Harvey Milk, with even a plaza named after him. As we kept driving and talking and slowly reaching late afternoon the sun finally decided to come out, only for a couple of hours, but still it was just what I needed. Melissa stepped on the gas exclaiming; ‘No time to lose’ and drove me to Ocean Beach. It would have been a good effort had the beach itself not been completely covered in thick fog. Second attempt to actually see the ocean led us to Baker Beach where the fog wasn’t as dense but still thick enough to obstruct The Golden Gate Bridge from being seen.

Despite failing to live up to my expectations I wasn’t going to let the flaws of the first day ruin my holiday. The following day I was offered to come along on a road trip to Santa Cruz, about 50 miles south of San Francisco. But not before I attended a Sunday service in church. Melissa insisted I come along and check it out.

‘I’m not religious’ she said ‘but I was invited to one of Glide’s services and after attending for the first time I was hooked. They are like no other church I’ve ever seen before. They don’t discriminate against ethnic origin, background or sexual orientation. If anything, there’s a more spiritual feel to it and there is a real connection between the people attending. They don’t even have a cross. The reverend once said that the cross represents death and that this church celebrates life.’ I must admit that I was slightly curious. I always knew people were big on religion in America and while I was here I was prepared to give it a go and see what it was all about. Once we entered the Glide Memorial Methodist Church (www.glide.org ) in Downtown I realised what all the fuss was about. There were people from all walks of life here; homeless and middle class as well as wealthy. The main part of their Sunday celebrations was music and the Glide Ensemble did a great job providing soulful gospel entertainment. I learned that the church has been praised by the likes of Maya Angelou, Bill Clinton and Oprah for its outstanding contribution to society. I also learned that it provides services such as programmes for abused women, HIV testing, mental and primary health care as well as literacy programmes. There are also drug and alcohol recovery programmes, crisis intervention and free legal services for the homeless, to name just a few. The atmosphere amongst the congregation was intense but in a wonderful way. There was a real sense of belonging. Even for me, a complete stranger and outsider. At one point the reverend, Cecil Williams, told us to share the love with the person next to us. At this point everybody turned around and started hugging whoever stood next to them. It was a truly liberating experience. One I will have to repeat some day. Although my funds were limited, once the collection basket passed through our row I was more than happy to part with whatever change I had in my pockets. $10 seemed like a drop in the ocean in exchange for all the goodness that was being done here. I left feeling uplifted and enriched by this humbling experience.
We drove to pick up Eric and Melissas friend Emma before setting course for Santa Cruz. Although the weather stayed gray and wet the journey there and back was plenty to satisfy my vagabond hunger. We drove along coastal California and I was enjoying the sights of rocky formations and sandy beaches, surfers busy with tempestuous waves and every once in a while I spotted a sea lion in the stormy sea. We spent a few hours at Santa Cruz Boardwalk (www.beachboardwalk.com ), a small free admission amusement park with rides, food stalls and candy floss, before making the three hour trip back just as another torrential rain started to attack the windshield. The whole trip came to $18 and that included 3 rides and a food stop at McDonalds on the way.

Monday arrived and I was left to my own devices as my hosts had to work. To my delight the storms had passed and finally the sun was out. Equipped with a map, cigarettes and a bottle of water I set out to explore the city on my own. I opted for a stroll through the winding and hilly streets. They were pretty empty as most people were at work and I was enthusiastically absorbing the picturesque sights. I soon realised just how exhausting it was to walk up and down these waves of streets and once I reached Dolores Park I stopped to catch my breath. But instead the views from the park took my breath away. Entering it from the 20th Street on top of a hill I was confronted by a beautiful sight of San Francisco Downtown and Bay area. Suddenly, I felt like I wanted to stay here forever. There was something mesmerising about this place and I instantly fell in love. Knowing I had limited time I continued my walk down through 18th Street and up along Castro. I decided to give the public transport a go and took the Muni train to Taraval & Sunset where I changed onto a bus going all the way to Baker Beach. The ticket was $2 and was valid for almost 3 hours from the time of first travel. Good value for money, I thought. Once the train emerged from under ground, I was really surprised to see a gray and misty exterior. As we reached the Sunset district I realised that the weather hadn’t changed, the area was just immersed in fog. In some places so thick you could only see a few meters ahead. I’ve never experienced anything like it and there was a drastic contrast just a few blocks down where the sun was shining. I later learned that the western part of Sunset district was often immersed in fog during the summer months where it would only clear in late afternoons, revealing pleasant sunsets which gave the area its name.

I arrived at Baker Beach only to find it too was buried in the fog, once again hiding the Golden Gate Bridge from view. I knew I should have checked the online web cams before setting off, but then again the fog rolls in and out so quickly that it’s quite unreliable considering the hour long journey it takes to get there. Dolores Park kept calling me back so I decided to return there. At least that part was out of fogs reach and I could lap up some sun, guaranteeing a tan before I headed back to Britain. On the way home I stopped by a burrito place and had to try one of those. The cheap dinner came to $6 bringing my total spend for the stay to $44 and I’d already been there 4 days. Not bad considering how much I’d done and seen.

Although I decided to try and stay away from the tourist traps I couldn’t resist visiting one of the most famous landmarks of SF; Fisherman’s Wharf (www.fishermanswharf.org ). I made my way to the very edge of San Francisco and the AT&T Park by the Bay Bridge. There I met Eric on his lunch break for some pointers on what’s worth seeing and places worth visiting and I set off on foot towards the piers. It’s a great area where you could easily spend a lot of money on all sorts of trinkets and souvenirs but my money went on a well deserved In-N-Out Burger Meal that came in at $6.65 and was enough to keep me satisfied for a while. The wharf was teeming tourists and there was so much to see. I contemplated taking a trip out to Alcatraz but I was on my own and at the time it seemed like an overkill at $26 for the boat trip and an additional $7.95 for entry. So I opted for viewing it from the mainland. The highlight for me was Pier 39 and its large amount of sea lions. People flocked to see these magnificent creatures but many didn’t stay for too long as the smell was kind of putrid from all the faeces. Still, well worth a visit.

Later on that evening Melissa, Eric and I went for dinner in the Castro area. Their friend Summer joined us and we all went to a restaurant simply named Home (www.home-sf.com ). With traditional comfort food at affordable prices it was a true delight. The decor was modern but warm and the staff very professional and friendly. My two course meal of Roasted Bay Scallops to start with and Meatloaf and Mash for main with a glass of wine amounted to less than $20. I’d warmly recommend it to anyone. We finished the night on a bar crawl down Market street and by the time we returned I still had a crisp $100 bill in my wallet.

The following day was all about Melissa. It was her birthday and while she was at work Eric and I were planning her surprise – a puppy. We spent the morning checking out different dog adoption centres and there are a few in San Fran (www.sfspca.org ). We shortlisted a couple for Melissa to visit later and then we set off to buy all the groceries we needed for the evenings feast.
Melissa joined us after we’d picked up most of the ingredients and we all drove together to Sun Fat Seafood Shop (
www.sunfatseafood.com ) on Mission Street to get the live lobsters. Starting from $7.99/lb we decided on 8 large ones weighing in at 2.5lb each. The total came in at $159 but I thought there were 10 of us in total? I was told that they couldn’t afford a lobster each as it was a week before payday and they were running out of money. I decided to chip in and get an additional two lobsters reducing my remaining budget by $40. It was the least I could do for the incredible hospitality my amazing hosts had shown me. Either way I only had two more days in the city and judging by how little I’d spent it was obvious I was going to be alright.

Back at the apartment I started to cook the lobsters as the guests began to arrive. I had grown up in a seaside town and seafood was easy for me to prepare. I was introduced to Melissa and Eric’s friends, some of which I had already met and we all had an amazing night. It was a thrill to be part of such a great group of people. Impressed with my culinary skills I was told by some of them that I was more than welcome to come back anytime I liked. I could stay for free as long as I promised to feed them. Now that’s a deal I’d be a fool to turn down. The night was a huge success and my hosts were extremely grateful while I was just happy to be able to help.

The next day proved to be the hottest during my entire stay. One of my new found friends, Emma, asked if I wanted to go to the beach again. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my last day, hoping that today would be the day I would finally see The Golden Gate Bridge. And just as I hoped my wish came true. We arrived to an almost empty Baker Beach with no fog in sight and the bridge viewable in all its glory. I was in heaven. The sun was shining, I had great company and finally I got to do what I came here to do – take a great photograph of The Golden Gate Bridge for my collection (and top up my tan of course). Once she finished work Melissa came to pick us up and drove me across the bridge and back. She said I hadn’t had the full SF experience unless I’d been on it. I took the opportunity to take some great photos and take in some astonishing views from the other side.

On the way back we stopped by Fisherman’s Wharf one last time so I could pick up a few souvenirs and postcards now I had some money left. After that we headed for a ‘surprise’ as the sun was setting over the city. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a long and winding journey before we finally reached our destination; Twin Peaks (www.sftravel.com/twinpeakssanfrancisco.html )It is a hill top in the middle of the city that has got the most amazing views of San Francisco. I was told that in the daytime you can see incredibly far but on this night the views were even more spectacular. The city was lit up with all these fluorescent lights that made it look almost as if it was on fire. We sat down on the hillside overlooking this image that will forever stay etched in my mind. It was my last night. I felt like crying. I have heard many versions of people’s stories where they say that they left their hearts in San Francisco. There are even songs written about that particular phenomenon – but it wasn’t until this very moment I actually realised the meaning of that phrase.

I am thrilled that I never cancelled my trip and set myself out for this challenge. It has certainly taught me the price of true adventures;

A fabulous week of sightseeing in San Francisco = $190

An abundance of memories and friendships for life = PRICELESS!

Dan K.

Monday, 4 January 2010

He-Man's Happy New Year!

Part 2;

On that last night I had asked He-Man if he wanted to come with me and my friends to the notorious XXX-mas party at the SoHo House. He gladly accepted.

During the week I received more ‘cute’ texts and phone calls.
And I started to think about how I felt about the whole thing. I was looking at him and I couldn’t for the life of me understand what a guy looking like that wanted to do with a guy looking like me. And by that I mean body shape. He was incredibly muscular and extremely defined. His body was perfect on so many levels. Then I looked down at my scrawny little self and imagined the two next to eachother and I literally cringed. I know that sounds really bad but I just couldn’t get the image to sit right. After a few conversations with Emelie we came to the conclusion that I had so much more to contribute than just a smoking body and that he was probably looking past all that. That’s a logical conclusion, right?

The weekend came and leading up to Christmas I was a bit stressed out. I had so much stuff to do and sort out before flying to Berlin for 9 days. He-Man had known about my Berlin plans for a couple of months and although he was sad that I was going he seemed excited for me too.

Saturday was my only real day off and Emelie and I had spent most of it working on Johnny and Mikes present as well as last minute Christmas shopping. As you can imagine Oxford Street was a nightmare and we were running late to meet Tom and Neil for a last catch up drink before the holidays.

Earlier in the day He-Man had called to say he might be in Soho later that night and if I was there it would be nice to see each other.
To me it sounded like he was going to be out with friends anyway so I said I’d stop by when we were done with the boys.

It was getting late already and we were dragging all our shopping through the crowded streets, absolutely starving. Tom started to call impatiently asking where we were. He-Man texted asking if he should come in to town or not? I was confused. ‘I thought you were coming anyway?’ I said. ‘No, I just wanted to see you’ came the reply. It was almost half nine and we were over an hour and a half late to meet Tom and Neil. I was already stressed and didn’t know how long we would stay in town. It would take him over an hour to get in and I wanted to go home with all the shopping.
He sounded so disappointed in his reply I had to call and see what was the matter. He thought it would be fun and spontaneous – I thought it was stressful and unplanned. In the end he told me he was going out locally instead.

Emelie and I went for dinner and Tom joined to watch us eat. He was all dressed up and ready for a night out when Neil texted to say his car broke down and he was waiting for the RAC and didn’t think he would make it. We decided to call it a night and I invited them to the SoHo House party the next day instead to do the catch up properly.
Emelie suddenly thought I should invite He-Man over to ours now everything else fell apart and in that one chaotic instant it seemed like the right thing to do – be spontaneous and all.
I sent him a message saying that I was looking forward to seeing him tomorrow and I was sorry about the misunderstanding earlier. Adding that if he wanted to and hadn’t already gone out he was welcome to come over.

Inside Leicester Square tube station I started to realise the implications of the text I’d just sent. It was almost 10.30pm, it would be nearly midnight by the time he gets to mine. ‘Oh my God, he wants to spend the night!?’ was my first immediate thought. ‘Shit!’ came second. The house was a mess. With Emelie staying in the living room, all the Christmas stuff everywhere, dishes, clothes hanging out to dry.. I’d just had a massive Chinese meal, feeling grubby and disgusting after a days elbowing down Oxford Street. Not the best of times to be inviting someone you fancy round.

As we exited Brixton tube my phone instantly rang. It was He-Man, all excited and upbeat asking if he should bring anything when he comes over. I panicked!
I told him that I sent that text by mistake before I had thought everything through. I tried to explain to him all the reasons why he couldn’t come round and I was honest. I told him about the mess and shopping and clothes on dry and dishes but somehow no matter how true my excuses were they sounded incredibly false.

Disapprovingly he said he understood and that it was cool. I reassured him I was looking forward to seeing him the next day at the party and he said he couldn’t wait.

Oh my God, you didn’t just say all that’ Emelie looked at me, horrified. I was paralysed. That sounded SO bad. At least I could make up for it tomorrow, I thought.

I woke up the next day excited about the evening ahead and a little nervous about He-Man meeting my friends for the first time. I’d just gotten out of the shower and was about call him when I receive his text; ‘Dan, I have to be honest. This isn’t going to work. I really like you but you don’t seem to know what you want. We don’t seem to be on the same page. One day you’ll meet a man that steals your heart and I hope you’ll be happy. Me X’

SAY WHAAAAAAAAAAT????????’ Emelie yelled as I showed her the text. ‘But you’ve only been on a few dates!? WTF?’

Uh-uh. Oh no you don’t! That’s not how this game is played’ I thought to myself. I’d spent all that time fighting it and just as I was accepting it he’s ready to pull the plug. What a cheek!?
I got really upset. I didn’t know what to say to that. He wasn’t being fair and if my indecisiveness last night was to blame then I had to explain myself again. So I called him. Told him he was being unfair and that I really wanted him to come tonight.
It was weird. Instead of rebelling against it I actually really wanted him to come. And he did.

The group of us was at Rupert Street when He-Man arrived fashionably late again. Looking incredible. He’d been to the gym. He had a sun bed too. ‘Brownie points for effort’ I thought eyeing him up and down. He walked up to me and kissed and it felt as if the whole room was staring at us. Quite a nice feeling.
After introducing him to Tom, Neil and Isabelle I took him to the side to have a little chat about his dramatic text earlier. For the first time I started to believe that he really, wholeheartedly wanted to try and see where this was going.

We had an awesome night at SoHo House. My friends liked him and vice versa. They had a room with Christmas props where we ended up having a hilarious photo session. However the fun ended just before the stroke of midnight and we went our separate ways. We both had to wake up early but was meeting up the next day.

I invited him over for dinner at mine before I was leaving for Berlin. It was his birthday the day before New Years Eve and I wanted to give him a little Christmas/Birthday present. He’d loved Avatar so much we decided to go see it at the IMAX once I got back. So I made him an Avatar card and gave him the PS3 game as we talked about playing it. He was thrilled and pulled out a little bag himself. I wasn’t expecting anything at all so the surprise was obvious. He got me Lady GaGa’s Fame Monster album, knowing how much I loved it and didn’t have the actual physical album. He also got me Twilight on dvd. He couldn’t believe I’d still not seen it and wanted me to know why he loved it so much. He mentioned something about Edward saying to Bella how he couldn’t stay away from her and how much he needed her. He said if someone told him that, he’d just melt. It was also a follow-up plan for us to go see New Moon later.

He was thoughtful. And really sweet.
And this time it was just us.

I had outdone myself in the kitchen. My Thai Green curry, his favourite, was cooked to perfection and I was almost half expecting him to start purring. Maybe I put a little too much cream in it? Oh who’s counting calories anyway!?

We ended up in my room. Smoked a joint and listened to music.
It was nice to start to get to know him a bit better. With no interruption. But we still hadn’t had sex. Nor was sex ever mentioned. We made out a lot but that was as far as it went really. It was OK by me. After rushing into it last time I thought why not try a different approach? Plus, moving slowly is good. Getting to know each other and all.

He-Man drove home just after midnight after holding me for what seemed like forever as we were saying good bye.
He said he already missed me and couldn’t wait for me to get back.

I arrived in Berlin and had a great Christmas with Johnny, Mike, Emilio and Elliott. He-Man and I exchanged a few text messages and then spoke on the phone a few times. I called him on his birthday. He sent me sweet messages on Facebook and kept asking for time to hurry so I could come home and we’d go to SuperMartxe together on New Years Day.

Finally New Years Eve arrived and I flew back to London. I was excited about the next day. I texted him pretty late to wish Happy New Year but he never replied. I knew he was out so didn’t think much of it.

Then the next day I get a call from a friend telling me he saw He-Man with someone else last night. Adding that I wasn’t going to believe who he was with – a really good friend of mine!

I was gob smacked. I couldn’t believe the scenario that was described to me. I said it couldn’t have happened like that. It just didn’t seem right. My friend was here visiting from Dubai, with what was thought to be his boyfriend. How did HE, of all people out there end up with the guy I’M dating?

I texted He-Man a few times throughout the day expecting him to call me back. He never did. So I called and he finally answered in a sleepy voice. After the usual chit chat I eventually said ‘So I heard you met my friend from Dubai last night’ and the other side of the phone went all quiet. ‘Ummm… We need to talk’ came the reply.

I could feel the steam rise inside me.

NO WAY! No f*cking way!!!

Was this really happening? Was this for real? I couldn’t believe that the guy I was fighting off for so long, who was so persistent he finally turned me round was now doing a 360 on me. And ended up with one of my closest friends on top of everything. It was a joke, right!!?

I was speechless. He said he was sorry. He said he didn’t know it was my friend. As if that’s supposed to change anything?
I said good bye and hung up the phone. I didn’t know what else to say. I wasn’t sure how to react to this. On one hand I was glad that it happened now and not six months down the line. But on the other hand I felt cheated out of at least a shag, if not a meaningful relationship.

What baffles me the most is the fact that my friend and I look nothing alike. We are on two completely opposite spectrums of the scale. I can’t see how someone who’d go for me would go for him and vice versa. It just doesn’t make any sense. I’m Mediterranean, skinny and dark while my friend is tall, muscly and strawberry blond, as he likes to call it.

It dawned on me that my intuition was right. I mean, lets face it – muscle attracts muscle. Fact!

After I had some time to process the recent events I realised that I should have trusted my instinct. The little voice telling me that this didn’t quite add up. Further dissecting the situation it dawned on me that He-Man wasn’t really He-Man after all. He was a lost little boy who after his life fell apart resorted to buffing up in order to walk away with some dignity. On closer inspection I would have probably done the same. Unfortunately his confidence hadn’t quite caught up with his looks and he was split between what he used to want and what he could actually have.

I just got caught in the cross fire.

I’m not upset. Nor am I angry with my friend. In all fairness he didn’t know who I was dating at the time and he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I’m not even angry with He-Man anymore. He f*cked up and now he is dealing with the consequences. At the end of the day it’s his loss, not mine. I’m the one walking away with my head held high while he’s left wondering what might have been. At the end of the day he'll never know.

Right, I’m off to the gym.

Laters ;)


Sunday, 3 January 2010

He-Man and the Masters of his Universe

I guess in order to fully enter 2010 and get into the spirit of a new decade I have to shed some of 2009.

Despite promising to deliver a cracking ending to the year something went terribly wrong during the final week. In order to paint a clearer picture I have to rewind back to October when my beautiful friend Emelie decided to move to London. Wanting to introduce her to London life I took her on a night out with my friends. We ended up in Soho when Emelie spotted a handsome hunk on the arm of a cute girl. A mad haired, funky dressed, incredibly built He-Man of a man. She made her appreciation known and we thought nothing of it until we later on in the evening ended up in Lo Profile. The hunk was there and agreeing with Emelie’s taste in men I could barely keep my eyes off him.

In a drunken state I approached him, coyly ‘pretending’ to be there for my Swedish bombshell of a friend. I asked if he by any chance was straight, as a beautiful girl really fancied him. He couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing and cracked a huge smile shaking his head.
Yes!’ I thought. Or ‘Sorry Emelie, but looks like I’m gonna have to take over from here’ was more along the actual lines in my mind. To be honest, if it wasn’t for her I would never have had the courage to walk up to this beautifully shaped prime example. And with the added alcohol consumed my inhabitations were virtually non existent.

At the time, I wasn’t really thinking beyond the night itself. We were all dancing, enjoying ourselves and having a great time to D’Johnny’s pumping beats. It was a great night. During a couple of cigarette breaks I learned that he was South African, a Capricorn, worked for the NHS and sadly, recently came out of a 7 year relationship. He lived just outside of London but didn’t really know the city very well.
He seemed an incredibly nice guy but as far as flirting went I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret the signs. Usually, those kind of signs are easy to read but with him I felt dyslexic. After a few more drinks and another couple of smoke fuelled conversations later I decided to call it a night and headed home, still quite satisfied with how the night went.

I never really expected to hear from He-Man after that night so imagine my surprise when two weeks later I receive a text message. He explained once again about just coming out of a long term relationship and how he was new to the scene and was looking for new friends. I told him I completely understood and that I wasn’t expecting anything of him. We added each other on Facebook and left it at ‘Let’s meet up for a drink soon’ with me knowing fully well I was entering dangerous territory. The thought of being friends with this seemingly perfect man appeared unobtainable. How could I possibly be a good friend and secretly lust for this man? It seemed so impossible in fact, I was prepared to stall it. Whatever it was.

I wanted to get to know him but was afraid I’d like him a little too much if I did. After my last couple of romantic encounters (or disasters, if we should be more specific) I wasn’t prepared to let my guard down just yet. Letting He-Man in would have completely obliterated any of that power shield I’d built up around me. ‘Pfffzzzzzzzzzzum’ Shield down. Any advances bounce right off. ‘Pieeeew.’ ‘ Pieeeeew.’ It is improbable. And safe! (Only $99.99 at specific local retailers.)

But suddenly, instead of dying out the invitations to drinks became more frequent and flirty. And almost demanded an acceptance. I was running out of excuses and finally I gave in.
We decided to meet at Profile bar. It should be easy enough for him to find as that’s where we first met.
I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. In my mind I was questioning whether this was just two mates having a drink or if it was an actual date. I arrived at the bar early and had a chat with my friend Lexy who works there. He-Man arrived fashionably late. He looked good and flashed that Colgate smile again as he walked up to embrace me. ‘Hello’ he said and gave me a kiss on the lips.

From there on the evening progressed incredibly well. Talking was easy with him. We had a lot of things in common so we never ran out of topics for conversation. My jaw was hurting from laughing so much and along with the drinks the flirting started ever so subtly. But in my mind I was still questioning what was really going on here. He told me he needed friends. But he was flirting with me. Or was I making it all up in my head? The looks. The lip licking. His rested hand on my thigh was probably just a friendly gesture, right?? Even though it stayed there a little longer than it really should.
We realised how time had flown and with both of us having an early start the next day we walked to the tube station, still laughing. When it came to saying goodbye he just stopped, looked at me and said ‘See you soon’ before giving me a quick kiss on the cheek and headed down the escalator.

The whole tube ride home I went over the entire evening with a smile on my face. I had managed to control any urges I may have had and prevented making a fool of myself. It was a nice ‘date’. Only I had decided that it WASN’T a date. Then just as I got out of the tube my phone beeped. A message from He-Man; ‘On the train home. I had a great time with you. My jaw hurts from all the laughing. Mmmmh… I should of kissed you! X’

WHOOOOOA! Say what?
So, what? It WAS a date? Ummm… Ok. Damn. Err. Now what?

We decided to meet up a few days later. We were both fantasy movie fans and I had wanted to see Avatar ever since it was announced. After some detective work I managed to find one cinema that still had tickets left for the pre release in 3D.

We met in Angel after work and went for a drink before the movie. Once again we had a great time. Almost didn’t want to go into the cinema and not be able to talk but Avatar was about to start and we were both super excited about it. The movie was absolutely amazing but somewhere half way through (its almost 3hrs long) He-Man grabbed my hand and held on to it for a while. I froze at first. Didn’t quite know how to react. I turned to the side and looked at him as he leaned in and kissed me.

Ummm. Ok. Tastes nice.
Nice kiss, I thought.

We turned back and continued watching the movie. Smiling. My hand still in his. For the duration of the movie.

It was late by the time we got out of the cinema and the last tube had left the station. He-Man offered to drive me home. With him not knowing the streets of London well I had to navigate with his iPhone SatNav. He seemed shocked when I told him I don’t know how to drive. He decided he was going to teach me himself one day. It was a fun journey resulting in the kiss that he wished took place during our first ‘date’.

I came home and I was still smiling. I really had a great night. I thoroughly enjoyed his company. And more importantly I felt like I could really be myself around him. Especially after he’d discovered my blog and had read all my previous entries. Admittedly I wasn’t quite ready for that kind of exposure just yet but I guess when airing my dirty laundry in my blogs the way I do, I only have myself to blame. He didn’t seem to mind any of it though. Said it was endearing and that he loves the way I write. Then he said he couldn’t wait to read the blog about him, suggesting it would be one with a happy ending.

Life can be so ironic sometimes it’s not even funny. But all you can do is laugh..

The next few days should have been more of a warning to me than I wanted to realise. It started kind of sweet with some cute text messages about wanting more kisses. Then came the ‘miss you’ texts, which had we been on more than the two dates could have seemed OK, but in this instance felt a little uncomfortable. I decided to ignore it and put it down to him being in a reeeeally long relationship recently and probably blurred his boundaries somewhat.
Even Emelie got a little alarmed when I told her but I didn’t think much of it. That’s just in his nature I thought.

Next day, on my way to work my iPod got stuck on one song on repeat and I couldn’t get it to play anything else. That alone should have been a sign or more like the writing on the wall. It was Lady GaGa’s ‘Dirty Ice Cream’;

"It's too much a mess and a stress to figure out
And too much pressure on us, babe
Last night you took me to the mall
And then it started to get physical
But we’ve only been a one day, baby
Yeah, and it was fun til you start acting crazy
I don't really find it very cute or sexy
When you call or incessantly, t-t-text me
I can't live with you, yes it's true or live without
The kinda guy that I'm about
You kiss me like a rockstar and
You always wanna hold my hand
Don't be dirty ice cream, baby
We could fall in love but it's too
Early to be calling me like that
Stop calling just stop calling
It's not indecision, just my female intuition
Tellin me you can't be calling me like that
Stop calling please, stop calling"


I mean; C’MON!
How easy it is to be wise in reverse!

On that last night I had asked He-Man if he wanted to come with me and my friends to a Christmas party at the notorious SoHo House. He gladly accepted.

To be continued…