Well, I’ll Just Read A Book Instead.
After the heart test I had in the morning, the day grew increasingly hot. I grew increasingly tired and had an afternoon nap as the sun brazenly blasted Brunswick rd and the rest of the city. A solo fly buzzed around my bedroom as I lay on my unmade bed, curled up and hugging a pillow. My phone beeps and it is from my hansom friend Alkan, asking if i got his previous message about his birthday drinks that are happening tonight. I had gotten his previous message a few weeks ago, but had not considered going. I was a bit pissed off that he had not come to my book launch. I was pissed because he was one of the male friend whose band performances I shown up to enthusiastically, many many times over. It had hurt when he had not shown up. It made me feel like as a woman who was creative, my stuff did not seem to have as much perceived importance as the boy’s band stuff. It seemed liked a gaping gap in mutual respect. A book launch is not like a residency in a pub, it does not happen every saturday for a month.
The fact that Alkan had texted me a second time to make sure I was coming, soothed my ego a bit and made me change my mind about sitting around at home and obsessing aver Thursday night. It is decided, as I lay there, that I will go to this drinks thing at Alkan’s studio. I will first drink the left over wine in the fridge from thursday night, while getting ready and listening to punk music. This plan cheers me up as it means there is a justification for my afternoon nap that is not simply being chronically ill. I have an engagement to attend!
I start getting ready at 6pm. I take out the cheap white wine and pour some into a large wine glass filled with ice cubes. This i carry into my bedroom and sip from it before placing the cup on my desk. I decide to wear the strapless tarten dress that Celeste bought home for me from an opp shop one day. It is one of her many emotionally manipulative gifts that she got for me while living in the house. The gift giving thing always made me uncomfortable as she always did it after being weird. It was part of the pattern her behaviour took on. It was a terrible pattern. I told her many a time not to ever get me things, but she never listened.
She never listened to a lot of things.
But, the dress, I did love it. I had to use a safety pin to pin the inside of the bodice to the strap of my black bra, so it did not fall down and reveal too much. I looked at my selfe in the slightly scuffed mirrow I had balanced on a milk crate that held my shoes. The hem swished around just below my knees and I tied the bow at the back with some difficulty. .I gulped down more wine from the glass and the ice cubes clicked together as they swan drunkenly around. I was starting to feel rather good and I sang along to my music as I got my make up things together. I applied eye liner to my lower eyeline and mascara to my eyelashes.
I briefly checked social media and saw that my friend R was spending the vening watching 90’s movies. It occurred to me I did not have her number yet so I commented under her status that I wanted her number so I could drunk text her. She complied with joy. The wine glass was empty so I went to the kitchen to fill it again. I drank from it and placed it on my desk but out of the way of my elbows as it was getting apparent that I was more likely to knock it over in my tipsy state. I copied the number and saved it in my phone under her first and second name. I texted her the following.
”I will endevour to party for the both of us tonight.”
She responded with.
”Who is this?”
I thought she was being coy and so i texted her back.
It is your soul mate, duh.”
I texted that because the last time i was at her house, she had said that to me.
I put my phone down and gulp at my wine glass.
The phone rings and I answer it with a smile and a happy wriggle in my seat. I am sitting at my desk playing DJ for a party of one.
”Hello!” I exclaim, expecting to hear my friends voice on the other end.
”Hey there.” Says a masculine voice. A masculine voice I have never heard before. I think that it must be a male friend of my female friend. Silly R is having a little joke.
”Are you a friend of Rachel’s?” I say.
”What’s her last name?” The unfamiliar voice says.
My instincts kick in and I understand that there has been a mistake. There is no way I am telling this person my friend’s last name.
”This is a wrong number isnt it.” I say with a giggle.
”I think so, but I had to call back my suppossed soul mate.” They guy says. He sounds sort of rough.
”If this was a film, we would end up married!” I say. ”Do you look good in a suit?”
”Fuckin’ oath, I do.” He says.
”Good! Because I look excellent in dresses.” I say.
”Do you look good out of a dress?” He says.
Wow, this escalated rather fast. I think.
”I do.” I answer gamely. ”But, if you cannot wait untill our wedding ceramony is over, than you lack the sort of decoram and dignity, I require in my future husband.”
”I can wait till afterwards.” He says. ”Where are you?”
”I’m in Melbourne.” I say. ”Where are you?”
”An hour out of Newcastle.” He says.
”Ew.” I say with a laugh.
”Ew? It’s on the beach.”
”I hate the sun.” I say. ”I prefer cold and overcast, cloudy.”
Obviosly this imaginary wedding was getting further and further from becoming a reality.
”Do you like to read? I love to read.” I say, pausing to sip more wine from my wine glass.
”I like to drink.” He says.
We chat for a bit more and then I say goodbye.
I go to the bottle shop and buy some bottles of alcoholic sugar water. The girl who serves me has a bright blue head of hair. While on the tram into the city I get a text message from ”guy” He has sent a photo of himself with the word ” still marriage material?”
I look at the photo he is in a suit that is too big for him. He has sunglasses perched on the top of his head. The sort of sunglasses wanky cricket players wear. He has a hand making a sideways peace sign. He is standing next to a tall guy with a sort of leery smile on his face. The back ground of the photo looks like one of those boring industrial style type bars that play techno music. An inner city affair where accountants and buisnessmen and women go to wind down. My future fake husband looks a bit weaselly.
I text back ”ha ha. Maybe.” Of course I have no intention of meeting him. I am not surprised at his attention. I have a voice that sounds a lot hotter than I actually am. He wants a picture of me of course. So I send him a smart ass one that only shows my legs in black fishnets and with purple converse sneakers on my feet. I know it is not the part of me he wants to see most pressingly.
I decide on a photo of me that Leong took back in January. We were at a restaurant where there was a cocktail special and I had ordered a dark and stormy. It had come in a jar and Leong took a photo of me sucking up the drink through a straw. I am wearing a grey t shirt and my leather jacket. No make up and my glasses are on. I am looking at Leong with a sideways glance. and my eyes open wide in happiness.
I finish my wine and set out to my friends studio. I have never seen Alkan’s studio before. When I arrive I nearly walk past the chain link fence that opens into the space. I hear some one call my name and push open the fence and enter. The studio is crammed with all sorts of things’ art supplies and cardboard boxes and old furniture stacked up against the walls. There is a table and long bench seats where some people are sitting and talking. I sit next to the two dark haired girls and face two men. One is unfamiliar and one is. I try to keep a cap on my faciual expression so it does not convey my dissapointment. He has a beard and is in a band. You know the type. All he can talk about his himself and his band. All he can talk about is how easy everything is for him. I hate him. He does not ask me how I am or what I have been up to. He simply rolls a ciggerette and goes on and on about this masters program he thought would be easy to get into and how he was so surprised that it is not so easy. Alkan is wearing a bright blue flowing cloak as he steps up a step ladder and tries to hang a light to a ceiling beam. Alkan is tall with dark curly hair and amazing angular and photogenic face. He looks like the anti hero in a novel that is yet to be written. He is a pleasure to look at.Not in a way that makes me want to touch him. He looks good in a way a beautiful person in a film or painting, looks good.Not quite real. He is real though. He is not an imaginary friend.
A pretty paper cup is put in front of me with a paper straw. The light slips from its position and falls crashing to the floor. Alkan jumps from the step ladder and out of harms way with astonishing agility. There are fairy lights and some candles lit on the table for mood lighting. The girls I am sitting next to are sisters. The one next to me is the sister of Alkan’s girlfriend. The girl next to the sister is Katie. I explain my wrong number story and show the girls the photo.
They both look and then Katie says. ”I guess you need to decide how badly you want a beach weekend.”
”You mean just go and enjoy and then ditch him?” I laugh. ”He does not read!” My phone beeps as the girls are handing it back.
I read out loud what his response to my face photo is.
”I love you.”
”Oh dear,” I say as I text back a reply that says, ”I think that maybe lust.”
More people arrive to the party and get involved in the text drama. Steve , Ash and her boyfriend Linus all get in on it. As steve sits next to me my phone beeps again. The messgae says. ”Lucky I’ve got a long dick it can get to you in no time.”
Wow. I am unsure what to do with this information. A long dick? Is that even a good thing? It does not sound appealing. I hear the words long dick and it makes me think of long things like needles and rulers and overcooked noodles. I decide to pretend I did not read that message and try and swerve the conversation to somewhere better.
”What’s your fav book?” I text him. I show Ash and Linus and they laugh.
”maybe you should send him a dick pick. Just one from google.” Linus Suggests.
”I think your response is brilliant.” Ash says to me.
It is 10:34pm when I text him my book question. An hour later i get a message back. It is a photo of a hand with dirty fingernails, holding a bottle so that I can read the label. It is a bottle of Wild Turkey whisky. A text is sent after the photo image, that says simply, ”And Vagina.”
Again, my phone makes the rounds. I am laughing but have no idea how to respond to that or even if I want to. Steve takes my phone and says he can handle it from here. He shows me what he has texted before he sends it.
”Hey Guy. Jess has lost a bit of interest but ive taken up the cause. I also like Wild Turkey and Vagina. Wristy?”
I read it out loud and as everyone is laughing, I press send.
‘Guy’ is prompt in his response.
”Well, even though I’m drinking alone I’m not that bored…”
Well handled, Guy. I think and put my phone away.
Steve stays sitting next to me in his ninja outfit: black jeans and black long sleeved top. He rolls a cigerette with his long tapered fingers. ”You fall in love every other week.” He says. ”You should have your own show, it would be amazing.”
”Can you work a film camera?” I ask.
He laughs. ”I’m an ideas man, I have no idea how to make my ideas a reality. I just know you being you on camera would work splendidly.”
”Yeah we can show me get rejected by assholes who come to my house for dinner and do not even bring wine.” I say.
”What sort of dickhead does not bring wine to a girl’s house when said girl is making dinner?” Steve says.
‘A philosophy phd student.” I say.
”What are you doing on Sunday?” Steve asks.
”Not sure.” I say.
”I could come over and we could have brunch and I could buy your book.” Steve says.
I slap the table top in excitement. ”That would be wonderful.” I say.
I leave the party at about 1am and share a taxi with Ash and Linus. Before I leave, I go and say goodbye to Alkan. He is sitting on a chair talking to the beard band guy. I hug Alkan and he looks up at me sadly. ”I am sorry I did not come to your launch.” He says.
”That’s OK,” I say. ”I was just hurt because I have gone to see you perform and be brilliant so many times.”
”I know.” He says.