DateLine: somewhere roundabout May, April. A while ago.
I'm in a chocolate shop in Fremantle, Western Australia, wondering if this is the ideal place for me to be. Probably not.
The weight has stabilized (mostly, but not yet at the goal) and though the spirit is willing, the will, driven by taste-buds and the craving for sugar that only a previous dose of sugar invokes, is particularly weak. And driven (literally as well as figuratively) here by a lady who told me she doesn't believe overweight people when say tell her they don't understand why they are fat, because they really don't eat all that much. As I had told her yesterday. Well take this, bitch.
Hot mocha that looks like mud and something called an Afghan biscuit. It seems they like chocolate in Afghanistan. I was hoping for some resin of the poppy, but it's just a chocolate and Cornflakes (thanks Google) biscuit with chocoloate on top.
I'm not sure, either, that this is best place to write. I look like a tourist who is pretending he is a writer: MacAir, iPod, book held open, transcribing something into Evernote. Alone with my obsession, in my absorption, with my white mug perched on a matching white warmer (a porcelain chafing dish affair, effective but quite strange for someone not used to drinking expensive hot [warm] chocolate in expensive chocolate shops - really!) I look like I've never had a friend, and probably don't deserve one. But aware of this... Ostentatiously abandoned, you know the look?
This a born-again sea-farin', tourist town, with the usual olde-worlde, indie-trende market transition confusion. Thanks to this, there are a smattering ('Smatter? Nothing.) of good bookstores - several of them Elizabeth's second-handers - and one called New Edition, for, um, new books. I'll do a book signing there one day, if I ever get quadruple ear-piercings and a neck tattoo (now that will never go out of fashion). And write a book.
I'm listening to Snow Patrol (non-stop for the last five years it seems) and I'm reading W.G. Sebald's introduction to the latest Robert Walser translation, "The Tanners," which I was pleasantly surprised to find at New Edition. (And a first edition Patrick White from Elizabeth's is in the man-bag.)
Sip, nibble, read, tap toe, type. Repeat.
Sebald paraphrases Robert's brother Martin: "...he was the most unattached of all the solitary poets.
"For him, coming to an arrangement with a woman was an impossibility."
Sigh. Is it any wonder I want to transcribe this?
After watching his clumsy attempt to be friendly with the only waitress in the bar with anything close to a personality, and what seemed a complete failure to close and follow-through on a certainty (no salesman, our E@L), Bruce was frustrated and amazed yet again by the enormity of E@L's ineptitude.
He sat back on his bar-stool to analyse E@L's many issues and synthesize a diagnosis. Silence for a second. Then his eyes popped wide open: "I know what it is!" he said. "You're afraid of women!"
He performed one of his trademenark chuckles as if this tragic pronouncement was, in some universe, funny...
"Yoo-hoo-hoo. Are. Afrah-ah-aid. Of. Women!"
"It's not fear of commitment. You don't want to get involved at all, do you? You stop yourself getting past any point where commitment might be a possibility, not just now or soon, but at anytime in the future, ever! Even if commitment is not on the cards at all. And you do this by not even starting! You're afraid that if you ask them, they might say yes and drag you off to lock you in their trophy room. Marriage, kids, mortgage, and then divorce, poverty and a broken heart."
"What?" asked E@L, looking down and mumbling into his Fuller's Pale Ale, "are you raving about? Anyway, I was not trying to chat her up. And yes, I was trying to put her off! She's after someone for a relationship." E@L rubbed his thumb and fingers - money.
"Bullshit. She's not looking for a relationship, she just wants a fuck, to see what it's like. A fuck with you, that is."
"She wanted me to buy her dinner."
"Then buy it, for fucks sake. And then fuck her."
"No, this was on Tuesday, when I was here with Brian and Colin. [Brian from Seoul, Colin from Hanoi, both in town for a few days.] She wanted me to buy her dinner. She kept at it. It was funny I guess, but weird. She said she could eat it after work. She was going to finish at work at 1am. She wanted me to give her the money - this was 8pm. We were heading off. I swear. When I asked for the bill, she asked me if I was going to buy her dinner or not. I asked if she was serious, and she said, like: 'Yes! Of course I yam serious!'" [E@L does not do good impersonations.] Colin thought it was weird too."
"Oh," said Bruce. He reassessed. "Maybe you dodged a bullet there. Sounds like she's looking for a relationship with an ATM, but not just for a quick cash handout."
"You'll probably fuck her before I do anyway. Is there a waitress in this town you haven't fucked, or tried to fuck?"
Bruce's body shook as he chortled again. "Yeah-eh-eh, ri-hi-hight. Ah, but no. No, she hates me already."
Bruce explained that, before E@L had arrived, he had voiced a pleasantly worded reprimand to her about a vodka tonic that came in three glasses. He had asked for a double Absolut tonic in a tall glass with a small amount of ice. Three glasses, if you can hear commas.
"I don't think she took kindly to it. My name is mud."
How could anyone hate Bruce? It must be his accent.
New Books and ARCs, 12/2/16 - Whoa. It’s December, folks. How did that happen? (Yes, I know. Go to November and keep heading on through.) Here’s this week’s new books and ARCs. Anything...
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