There is something magical and fresh about the skin of a young girl. It’s elastic, supple, and it smiles even when she is worrying away a pimple or frowning over a fading black head. She is carving herself out. Shall I be the boisterous, bold, definitive, assertive one? Or shall I be the unassuming, sweet, baker of cupcakes, girl-next-door who will disagree but tactfully, who will never insist? Should I be coy? Timid? Virginal? But no, I will use the word sex in conversation so I will look experienced.
On our date, she gushes about how much tragedy and human suffering moves her. She even mentions the word pathos twice.
“Do you like drama then?” I query.
Would I be able to discuss Greek drama or a Shakespearean tragedy? That is more than I had hoped for. It would make getting out of home, going on a date worthwhile. It would even make this bad coffee and sickeningly sweet Krispy Kreme doughnut worthwhile.
“My God. I can’t tell you, I live for drama. I am judged by the drama that happens in my life. All. The. Time.”
She scrunches the napkin into a ball and bangs it on the table for emphasis.
I will my lips to curl.
She, naturally, reads it as a signal of my fascination with her story-telling skills.
“You know, like this other day, I was reading 50 Shades. I am not into kinky sex, okay? Don’t get ideas. I thought how much will she endure, you know? Like endure? I won’t stand for a man who can’t respect me, you know? I will never do anything to please a man. No way.”
I have stopped listening to her. The word sex does that to me. I imagine what it would feel like to fuck her silly on my dirty bed with its books and heaps of clothes and that musty bed spread that was four indigo elephants walking round in a ring but is now the inspiration to Murakami’s Elephant Vanishes. I think of how hot and tight and wet she will be. She wants me to think that she isn’t a virgin but I know she is one. I try to focus on her face, her moving lips, and I decide I don’t like her face too much. I am strangely repulsed by her wet, moving mouth, and those glasses she wears, no doubt, to also appear intellectual.
“Hey. Where are you? I lost you. Don’t tell me I scared you with my feminist thoughts? See? Again I am doing so much drama. Don’t worry, I was kidding, you know?”
It’s my turn to play act. Here pussy, this one’s for you, I say, and mime removing sweat beads from my forehead.
She giggles at first and then laughs out loud. She is not too bad when she laughs I think. But I am disgusted by how predictable she is. Clearly, I have watched all the movies that have formed her.
“Anyways, I like reading very much. I hate people who don’t read, you know. Do you read? My favourite novel is Two States. You know, I had decided I would never date a North Indian boy. My mother, no, is very conservative. She said love marriage is okay. But find a boy from our caste, at least our state. But that book changed everything for me. It’s so real, you know. Did you know it’s his true story. How sweet, no? He’s also so cute. He knows so well how a girl thinks. That’s genius, ya. Do you read?”
I grit out my response.
“Wow. Really? So cool. I love people who read. What you like to read? If you say Chetan Bhagat that’s just too much coincidence.”
“I can’t name a favourite.” I lie.
“I know! So hard to pick a favourite. I can never pick my favourite book. Or genre. I love fantasy. Literature like Chetan Bhagat. Amish, ya, he’s both fantasy and literature, no? Shiva story. Man. Epic.”
She pronounces genre as johner. I resist the urge to correct her.
“It’s like songs, ya. Who can pick up favourite songs. I am crazy about music. My taste in music is very eclectic, you know.”
She says eclectic with importance. It’s a word she has decided to be. I can’t resist. “Really? I don’t believe you.”
I hate myself. I am being insensitive and close-minded, I know. But in the ten minutes I have sat with her I have travelled from one end of her brain to the other at least thrice. And you can only do so many cartwheels in another person’s brain. I can’t fuck her. But maybe I can. Put a towel on her face and do it. How the fuck does it matter.
“It’s true. But books, tell me, what do you read?”
“Is it Classic? See, I don’t like Classics, ya. There’s nothing in those books. That English also is so outdated, you know. Who talks like that. I can’t even read the first line. So much they go describing things. Why doesn’t anything happen? No? Don’t you agree with me?”
“Maybe. I love Lolita though. I can read that book many times.”
“Is it about a girl?”
“Is it a love story?”
“Wow. I didn’t know. Tell me the story. I am so fascinated now.”
“It’s about a very young girl who has an affair with a much older man. That’s all.”
“So? What’s the big deal in that. I always like older men, you know. My first crush was on an older man. I know all about Lolita.”
I should fuck her. And leave her. Do myself and the world a kindness.
“You know something?” she says, “I am also a writer. My friends on Facebook say that I am a very good writer. I think it’s because I am moved by pathos, you know. Anything, give me any situation and I can think of a dozen tragic, dramatic ways for it to end. I am working on my novel now.”
“How interesting. What’s it about?”
“See? There’s this beautiful, drop dead gorgeous, 18-year-old girl living in America, okay? One day she meets with an accident on the way as she is driving home in the snow. It’s about this cause I feel very strongly about. So anyways, what happens is…”
“Let me guess. She is rescued by a vampire.”
“O. My. God. You are a mind-reader. How did you know? How the fuck – sorry I don’t like to swear, so bad it is – did you know! I swear, you are just AMAZING. You even like to read! Tell me, what do you feel about rape? Don’t mind me. I already told you I am a feminist, right?”
The talk of rape so casually and unexpectedly in conversation is sobering. The sort of thought I was trying to escape from when I convinced her to meet me for doughnut, coffee, and hopefully a few feels. But I sense that this is a test of some sort. My answer will decide whether she will spread out for me eventually or not. She will. But I like playing it so they think it was their idea. Less heartburn all around then.
“Rape is a vile, contemptible, dastardly act.”
“My God. That is EXACTLY what I think. Yesterday my tweet said, wait I will show you.”
She flashes her iPhone at me. I imagine her flashing me; perky boobs encased in a frilly, lacy pink bra; two, tiny brown nipples staring at me in bewilderment. I must focus on something else. Something disgusting. Pink bra. Pink. Teddy bears. Pink. Hearts. Brownies. Chocolates. Pink. She’s a pink sort. I can tell.
1-2 Rape is terrible. How can a man act so horribly towards a woman!!! $!! $!!!!
2-2 Put ur penis in ur pant!!!
“See? My second tweet got 5 Retweets also.”
I barely have time to feel anything about her appalling punctuation before she’s back to her chatty self.
“5 Retweets! I don’t even know who 4 and 5 are. Imagine. Wow. I don’t believe this. I have never felt a better connection with anyone I have met, you know, so instantly. I will read that Lolita book for you. One Classic only, no? I can totally read one Classic for you. And you know what else I am going to do? I’ll bake you cupcakes with smiley face icing. I am damn good at baking, you know? For me, baking is an art. Do you watch Master Chef Australia?”
Her skin shines with happiness. I can hit that, I think. And why say no to cupcakes anyway?