DECEMBER UP THE HILL
I met a woman on Sunday. I was pushing myself up the hill from Icebergs when I saw a man and a blonde woman walking alongside pointing at me and asking something. I put the brakes of my wheelchair on and took my headphones off so I could hear what they were saying. The man was asking if I would like to be pushed up the hill? I laughed and told him it was nice of him but I considered it to be part of my day. We talked all the way up the hill and then stopped and continued talking on the corner of Bondi Rd. The conversation was running out and it was feeling uncomfortable when the man told me that he would go for the woman if he weren’t already in a relationship. My mind raced. Was that a hint for me? Did that mean I should ask the woman out? It’s all a new experience for me. I’d never asked a woman out before I broke my back and hit my head at work. It was always easy. They all asked me out. I never had to try. I never had to face the possibility of rejection. The man also told me that she wasn’t like most women and wasn’t looking for a man to support her. He told me she had her own money. Sunday smiled at me and asked for my phone number. I smiled and gave it to her and told her to leave me a message with her name otherwise I would forget who she was.
These days I am constantly misreading situations. I will have a woman flirt with me so will ask her out to be told no. I had a woman walk besides my wheelchair all the way from the corner of Penkivil St to the corner of Bondi Rd and Notts Ave. I would have called the talk flirting but obviously I am no longer aware. I have been made to see a psychologist recently. I was telling him about this. I told him I had never asked a woman out before; they had all approached me. He told me it’s a numbers game. He told me I might have to ask a dozen women out before one will say yes. What I didn’t tell him is that every woman who says no is considered a loss to me. Every woman who says no is a chip off my already fragile ego. I really can’t handle it. Maybe if I had been rejected as a boy I might have built up a resistance, tolerance, to it. Every time I am rejected I question my ability and the way I must be seen in my wheelchair. There’s been a long line of rejections that have made me feel this way. I can now see how some men remain virgins for life.
I saw a woman I used to know ages ago today. She used to go out with a friend of mine from New Zealand. She told me that I am too negative and that I am not attracting the positive. She might be right but she is probably wrong. I felt comfortable enough to share the negative that is happening in my life at the moment with her. I try really hard each day to be positive and meet a woman, the woman (where are you babe?) who will love me. Anyway she gave me a necklace with stones on it and told me it would heal me. She pointed to and named each of the stones and told me the healing properties each stone carries with it. She took it off her wrist where it was doubled over and put it around my neck. She stood behind me and started to tie it up. She choked me. As she was putting it on she told me it would be tight and that I would have to cut it off I didn’t like it. I don’t like it. When I got home I looked at myself in the mirror wearing it and laughed. I will cut it off tomorrow.
I rang another friend from New Zealand for some advice about Sunday. I rang and told him that I met a woman who gave me her phone number. I told him that I liked her and asked if I should call her that night. He reminded me of Swingers and I laughed. Three days is money. I thought about her all night and rang her the next day. She did not answer her phone. I didn’t leave a message and called her a slut after I had hung up (shit maybe I am too negative). I decided it was worthless and contemplated suicide for a few minutes. I reckoned that the Gap was probably the easiest way to do it: a few seconds exhilarating free fall and then a millisecond of pain. Yeah, that would be best, I said aloud to myself as I pushed my wheelchair to the fridge for a beer. I’d forgotten about beer, that’s worth living for. I told myself I should join a monastery as I twisted the top off the bottle, either that or I should chop my penis off and sell it on Ebay.
Sunday eventually text me on Monday (what’s happened, don’t people talk anymore?) and in her text apologised for not answering my call. I felt bad for calling her a slut. I told her I was going home to New Zealand for Christmas and that we should meet up for a drink when I returned and waited for a response. That’s what I don’t like about text messaging, waiting for a response. It’s almost like I can feel my brain ticking while I wait. The phone lay silent. I told myself to forget about her as I put my phone down. I wheeled my chair into my bedroom and started rolling a smoke. I was straightening the tobacco out in the paper when I heard my phone beep. I said, slut, aloud (alright I am too negative, so what?) and decided to finish rolling it before I saw what she had said. I licked it and liked what I saw. The hand-rolled cigarette was as good as a bought one. I pushed my wheelchair out into the lounge and picked up my mobile and put it on my lap (not too close to the balls, that’s one cancer I do worry about).
I got up over the ramp and slid the ranch door closed behind me. On the balcony I lit, drew and exhaled. The nicotine coursed through my veins. It was just what I needed. If she wasn’t too fussed about quick replies, why should I be? I put the phone down on the air-conditioning unit on my balcony and decided to finish my smoke before I cared. I couldn’t do it. I do care. After three drags I picked the phone up to see what she had said. She suggested that we go out for a health drink. Oh fuck; I said aloud to myself, I’m sitting smoking fags while she wants a spirulina smoothie. My hormones got the better of me so I replied telling her, that that would be great. I suggested we meet up at Gusto. She didn’t reply for a good ten minutes. I thought to myself that I’d blown it when she text me. She told me that she used to work there and wouldn’t feel comfortable going back. She asked if I would like to meet at Gertrude And Alice instead? I text back that that would be fine while wondering why she wouldn’t feel comfortable there? Maybe she pissed in somebodies porridge?
I didn’t want to be late so arrived there early. Sunday wasn’t there. I saw the owner J and said hello. One of the waiting staff asked if I would like to sit inside or outside? I told them I would prefer to sit outside. All the tables were occupied so I sat in my wheelchair and looked at the bookcase full of second-hand books. There weren’t any good ones but I had to occupy myself so I studied them all. Eventually a staffer told me that there was a free table so I went and positioned my chair. I faced looking down Hall St towards the ocean and ordered an orange juice. It arrived at my table in a bottle with a large glass filled with ice. I filled the glass and wished I’d brought vodka with me. I started to take sips of the juice. I’d stopped in at the Bondi Hotel to empty my catheter bag on the way there and hoped she wouldn’t be too long. It gets embarrassing to have a bulge on the side of your leg. I drained one glass of the juice and was filling another when I saw her coming up the road smiling at me. She wasn’t as pretty as I remembered her to be.
She walked up to me and lent down, touched my shoulder and kissed the right side of my cheek and waited for me to kiss hers. I put my arm around the back of her waist, kissed her and asked how she was? She said she was all right and apologised for being late. I told her that she wasn’t late and that it didn’t matter. She smiled. She had felt wet. I questioned wether she had just come back from swimming? She said no. Silence followed behind her as she stared at me. Sweaty bitch. She seemed manic in her every movement. I asked her if she wanted a drink? She said yes and got up and walked into the café. She was a good minute and a half before she came back out. She sat down. She was wearing a beautiful sleeveless halter neck top and a pair of bright pink Daisy Dukes. She didn’t have much breast but had good legs. She had a hint of a black moustache over her top lip. I had remembered her as being a beautiful blonde but now she was sitting in the morning sun I wasn’t too sure of either.
I started the conversation. She was from somewhere in Europe and had a thick accent. I made out that she was from Russia. I would tell where from but I’ve forgotten. I turned the volume up on my hearing aids. The talk was uncomfortable. It seemed laboured. I asked her what type of music she liked? She said anything but heavy metal. I love heavy metal. I asked her to be more specific. She said pop. I asked her if that meant Justin Bieber? She laughed and said no, no, she meant Indie pop. It was a bad start. She kept looking down and to the left. I looked down to my right and saw nothing down there. I wondered what she was looking for? Her drink arrived at the table. She had ordered a pot of chai (fuck) soy (Jesus) latte. She put the stainer over her cup and poured some in. I’ve never drunk what she ordered but it looked like something that would come out of an unclogged drain. Bits of the loose leaves filtered down into the cup though the stainer and floated on the top. I wondered if it tasted as bad as it looked. She took a large teaspoon of honey and stirred it in. She raised the cup to her mouth quickly and took a loud slurp before slamming the cup back down to the saucer. I watched the contents ripple like Jurassic Park. I asked her how long she had been in Australia? She said she had been here for four years. I asked if that meant that she was a resident or a citizen? She told me she was on a travel visa. I would not have to read her tealeaves. I knew why she had come on a date with me.
I’ve met a succession of women in Australia looking for visas. They must think I look dumb. Most of them have been from the former USSR. They all try really hard but I haven’t liked any of them. Sunday had come out on a date with me thinking I might be her ticket. I’m not rich but I am indifferent. Some women confuse the two. I had come on a date thinking I was going to fuck her. You can call me old or indifferent again but I’m over dating. I’m too old to beg. If the conversation’s good I might try. I can tell by looking at a woman’s body if it’s worth it. I hadn’t acted with any of them until now. I am blessed to have been with some incredible women. I know what it takes to be with a woman. I know what it takes to be with a woman but I still haven’t found her. I keep going on dates where I sit and wonder what the fuck they’re talking about? I have become lonely horny and desperate for love. I haven’t the courage to ask the woman I really want so I stay floating chin-deep in ordinary. I keep going on ordinary dates with ordinary women. It’s horrible sitting looking at a face that I don’t or won’t remember. I’ve sat in my wheelchair at tables watching women’s faces talking and not been able to hear a word and have been glad. I love women but women are mad. Does that make me mad too?
I’m deaf in one ear and have twenty-five percent hearing loss out of the other. I now wear hearing aids. I’m deaf in my left ear but I wear a hearing aid in it anyway. The one I wear in my right ear has a transceiver at the bottom of it that picks up the hearing from the one I wear in my deaf ear and morphs it with the hearing I have in my right. I can hear stereo in the mono. The café was loud where we sat. She seemed well known there. People kept walking past and touching her on the shoulder. She kept slurping and slamming. Throughout our date I kept (I thought I did) hearing her mentioning some man’s name. I had to ask her whom she was talking about? She said it was a man she knew. I asked if she was talking about a boyfriend? She said no. She told me nothing about herself but asked me a hundred questions to reveal myself. I thought it was worth a shot. I am horny and lonely. She kept talking telling me nothing. I’ve got to ask questions. That’s what I told myself. All the answers she gave me led me round and about. I’ve only had one woman since I was broken and she told me to be open, she told me to give women a chance. I kept asking her questions. She kept slurping and answering.
I hate myself so wonder what women see? Dating is horrible for me. It’s a ritual that I have never been initiated in. I’ve been lucky enough to have a life of sex and relationships without dating. I am old enough to know if a woman is the one. She was not the one. I knew it and I think she knew it too. She kept looking down to the left. I kept checking to see what she was looking at. There was nothing down there. The light of the sun had shown the holes in our attempt. I don’t know what she’d expected. I don’t know what I’d expected either. The weight of our expectations had strangled any chance we had at conversation. We were two lovers without love. Every time I floated an open-ended conversation towards her she shot it down with a one worded response. I didn’t mind because I couldn’t hear her answers anyway. I was getting sick of asking her questions. Silence fell between us as she stared at the brown sugar. I couldn’t think of anything more to say. I was bored and wanted the date to be over. She could tell and started asking me questions. I finished the rest of my orange juice in one swallow. The last of the ice burned my lips. She had started asking me another question. I did not answer her. She asked me what it was like in a wheelchair? I raised the glass to my lips to my lips and the ice burned me again. A drop of watered down orange juice dripped down on to the tip of my tongue. Eventually I got the courage to tell her that I had to go. She stood up and looked at me. I pushed my wheelchair up to the till and drew my wallet out. The person used a calculator to draw the bill. She had paid for her own drink.
As our date ended she told me she wanted to be friends on Facebook. I have no idea why I gave her my email address. She friend requested me so I accepted. When I read her profile it said she was in a relationship with a man called Richard. What the fuck? I think i know nothing. The older I get the less I know.
Andrew Stuart Buchanan