Wednesday, 17 September 2014

How To Read People: A Manual

Start with facing them and trying to look them in the eye.
Of course, this will get you as far as knowing four letters in the alphabet will help you write a full novel. But don't be deterred. Learning to read people is an art. Mostly accidental genius.

Watch closely where they place their hands.
Are they on their hips? Both left and right?
In that case, it's no use learning how to read them- they are probably mid sentence declaring that they're Superman searching for Kryptonite. But those kind should only be a few (if you're lucky).

Body language goes a long way in reading people and understanding what they really mean. 
Some giveaways like hugs and kisses generally imply love and affection. Of course, it's never as simple. This could be past love or love in the future tense- 
Let me kiss your cheek because I once loved you. 
I'm now going to hug you, out of social propriety and the hope that one day when you lose weight and if I'm still single we could be together.



People are best read out of their natural habitat. 
Take them somewhere new and unfamiliar, tell them something they never expected to hear and take away their phones. Then step back and watch. 
You'll be able to read them in tiny increments. Like how their eyes and thumbs, so used to scrolling, will be equally wild and ravenous. Searching feverishly for something to rest on.


One place where you will never make any headway, is when you see people with each other. 
Steer clear of their interactions, especially those involving actual words and laughs. 
Look out instead, for sighs, lingering glances, bitten lips and sentences left half unsaid.


But the only way to actually do it, is to read them like Braille.
The only time anything will ever make sense is when skin will met skin.

                                                     
                                                (This gorgeous artwork from here)




Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Opposite Of A Kiss

The opposite of a kiss,
Is a sigh.
Heavy, burdened, hopeful
And itching for a way out.

The opposite of a kiss
Is an undoing of lips,
Of fingers slipping out of a grip.
It is lonely hands,
Clutching fistfuls of empty air
And inter-locking fingers with Loss.

                                 

The opposite of a kiss,
Is too much love.
Tainted, sullied and broken,
By majestic betrayal
Bleeding all over the carpet,
But still daring to stand.


The opposite of a kiss holding on,
Is an embrace letting go.
People walking away,
Alone and tattooed
With imprints of hugs from a year ago.
A sci-fi movie with a plot gone wrong.

                   


The opposite of a kiss,
Is a rabid crush.
A stomach full of butterflies,
With wings made of feathers.
The flapping of which,
Alternatively tickled
And nauseated you.

The opposite of a kiss
Is heady longing dipped in hope,
That when you finally reach
Her soft lips,
There will be remembering
And forgetting
Feathered butterflies
Sighs
Fistfuls of empty air
And too much love
All tangled between tongues
That instinctively knew-
Actual speaking
Always ruined everything.

               
                                 
                                (From the top:  Henri de Toulouse Lautrec's "In Bed: The Kiss"                                 
                                                                 Gustav Klimt's masterpiece "The Kiss"                                 
                                         my personal favourite: Rene Magritte's  "The Lovers")


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Monologues Are a One Way Street - 2



(I wrote the sequel to the story last week, here. Because sometimes endings are easier to get to, than the start)

-----


I'm not entirely sure when she found out or how. I was obsessed with knowing though.
As if the mechanics of her discovery would help me roll back what was an unravelled ball of wool now.

To her I lied straight off the bat.

Even before I knew how much she'd found out or through whom, I flew into a valiant, indignant denial and complete refusal of the whole thing. 
If I remember correctly now, I sent her a raging email giving her a detailed version of what I wanted her to believe happened.


It wasn't the first time I'd been found out.

By her, or the other women I now refer to as my exes. 
The drill each time was fairly simple: lie and get really, really angry when they questioned or cried. Your outrage, indignation and anger will make them second guess what they knew. 
If you pulled this off well enough, she'd be willing to believe the half version of truth you were giving her. 
That’s the thing about sadness, when your world is coming undone you’re willing to believe even a ludicrous tale if that means regaining some semblance of control and happiness. I do believe that’s how people invented magic. 

Of course, all of this depended on how much she knew and through whom- I considered this the heat switch which tempered the intensity of my answers.

Some nights, many, many years later I will wonder how things would've turned out had I just come clean. Had I sat her down and explained to her, carefully, that even what she knew and found out was a tiny detail in all that had actually happened. Maybe the truth really would have set us free. But thinking of that now was too exhausting and required me to follow a script I'd never really written.



I'm not sure when the women started to overlap.

I was certain though that each time there was a reason to not call it “cheating”. One time, my girlfriend (at the time) and I were almost breaking up. The other time I did everything but sleep with the other girl. Hooking up with an ex-girlfriend while seeing someone new doesn't count. Neither does flirting and going out for a hot-dog at 2am with someone new while you text your girlfriend goodnight and tell her how madly you’re in love with her .



I could tell you all the stories before this one, or just how this specific one came to light. They blur and almost read the same anyway, so for now let's stick to what had just been found out.


It was mostly around her demanding how I could do “this”.

Unsure what or how many stories comprised of “this” -I feigned ignorance, racked my memory for links of how she could have known while reminding her that baselessly accusing me made her a small, and if I recall my genius words at that heated moment, “ narrow minded, cheap, disgusting person”.

What was laughable was that the affair had ended many, many months ago and she only just found out. It wasn't even my latest or most recent 'indulgence'. 
Forget karma, for me timing was the real bitch.
The girl, my fiancée was so torn up about, was now happily married and living in a different city.

This was something I'd gotten away with and we'd been through so much after that. 
So much better, and so much worse, and yet.
And yet.



You want to know how it started?

Exactly like the ones before this did. That's what gets to me-- people still cheat in those same four or five ways, and yet each time they're found out there’s always horror, sadness and shock. You’d think we’d have emotionally evolved beyond that.



I met her at work. We were friends, until the day we weren't. I wasn't in love with her or madly attracted to her. I just needed new ‘attention’ and lets admit it, action.
There were no sudden moves. I needed to be completely sure. So we just hung out, flirted, while I waited for this girl to trust me.


Now before you assume that I'm some cold hearted predator, know that my moves are nothing more than a series of simple steps that have been perfected over the years and by now are just a stimulus response. I'm not consciously devoid of feeling, but I know when I'm hunting and I know just what to do. It’s primal. It’s who I become between one girls bed and anothers.

I'd tell my fiancée I had to spend time with my parents while I was over at my new friends place. We didn't do much the girl from my office and I, the first few times. I would stay up talking to her, at her apartment where she lived alone, sometimes till 2 am and then leave suddenly telling her it was late. This routine had always worked for me, because the girl knows you’re not waiting to be alone/ drunk with her. That you really care. In any case, unlike other men who make a move the minute they get a chance, this way you steer clear of rejection and jumping to mistaken conclusions.

What followed was what always does. Days of hanging out, getting to know my office colleague, in more ways than one. Fantastic sex. Isn't it always? Telling her how amazing she was, and watching her slowly fall in love with me.

I was still a great boyfriend to my fiancée. I never let her find out. I loved her. To ensure that it wasn't really “cheating” , I didn't even act out of guilt. If someone had told her then that I was cheating, she’d have laugh at them. 
One day while driving to somewhere (now it seems that all we ever did was drive from one place to another), I cupped her face between my hands, looked into her eyes and told her to never, ever worry about another woman because if I ever cheated on her she would never find out. 
She laughed and told me that this was the strangest reassurance she’d gotten. But I’d meant it and what else could be a greater testimony of my love?

The other girl eventually wanted me to “take things forward”. I never understood this about women. I wanted to tell her, that “things” had ended in my head long ago. So I weaned myself off her- calculated, simple steps also practiced over the years.

And now here we were, so many months later.

My fiancee wanting to know how I could do “this”.
A broken heart is always followed by questions. More than from pain and sadness, I want to protect people from their own questions. 
I wanted to tell her that I could never answer her questions honestly, not even to myself. Especially not while I was sober and still surrounded by shiny, sparkling, different women. I wanted to hold her and tell her that my answers would never help her leave. That the way out, was simply straight out

Why did you hurt me?

Did my love not stop you? Did you even love me?

Did you think of me, even once?

Why?

God! I was so stupid

But, weren't we happy then? Everything was fine. Listen, this was that time around my birthday, we were happy. Don’t you remember?

Wait. was this the time I was really ill and in bed for two weeks?

Did it mean nothing? The 7 years together?

Oh god, I was so stupid.

How many others were there? There must’ve been more.

Did you come back to me after spending the night at her apartment?

Why?

What do you even mean it wasn’t about me?

Do you have any idea how hurt I am?

What do you mean you love me? Do you even know how that works?


Many years later I will wonder how it would have turned out had I told come clean.

Told her I loved her. Perhaps only in my small, selfish, mangled way but shouldn't it still count? 
I wanted to convince her that despite the many, many other women it was her I wanted to marry. 
I wanted to honestly tell her that no one had ever loved me as much as she had and if she left, despite our problems, my life would never be the same again. 
I wanted to repeat the words “I love you” to her the exact number of times it would take to erase everything else I could have said and should have said and done.

But I will think about these things years later, right now I don't know what telling someone the truth looks like. That it looks small, scared and clean. The truth is like a freshly laundered, new-born baby;  so tiny, raw- pink and chafing so viciously at the flesh from the scrubbing that no one can stand to really look at it without making it put a small sweater or even a sock on. So I said nothing at all.

Except to myself: Different is good. Different is new. Different is all I’ve ever had.


                                   (Secret messages on a wall in Greenwich, New York)


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Monologues Are A One Way Street- Part 1


I'm not sure when or how I got here. Except, that I did. Didn't your lonely ever need a person to fill it up with?
Her perfume floated up and permeated every corner of  the cramped space. I wasn't sure if I liked it, hated it or was just thankful that it was a foreign smell. 

Different is new. Different is good.

I kissed her neck and felt her squirm. Except she wasn't squirming the way I was used to. It was incomplete, new and different and GOD it was exactly what I needed at this moment.
A foreign body with impulses and reactions I wasn't privy to. 
Different is new. Different is good. Different is release.

I could feel beads of sweat as her arm lay under mine.Heavy with hope. My arm held back, caving low with desire and dependence.

Don't get me wrong, I was definitely turned on. I'm a 30 year old guy and this chick was hot, drunk and clearly easy.

I grazed my stubble against her jawline, tracing it softly. She let out a moan.
One I was too tired to analyse as genuine or rehearsed so I let it pass. She'd wanted this. All night. She whispered.

She didn't have to. I knew it the second she let me buy her a drink.
I did too. Which is why I played my cards right. 
Don't ever act like a pawing, desperate guy- they're milling around every club in this city anyway. Let her believe you're not interested at all. Walk away. Never ever make a move the first time you go out with her.

I pushed her jeans lower with my hand and she rose up slightly to meet me. She kissed my face. It felt good. There's a reason why people are drawn to new experiences. They're such a rush. Different is new. Different is good. Different means it is not what you left behind.

I kissed her back roughly, passionately so she knew I meant business and that she was mine for tonight. By the time we'd be done she'd want to stay forever. Perhaps subconsciously I always counted on that. Getting them to want to stay, so the vacuum automatically filled itself. Different is new. Different is good. Different fills black holes inside you.

I buried myself in her deeper. My hands splayed across her bare chest. With every parting of her expectant lips I knew I wanted to forget: All that didn't work out. All that never could have.

I wanted to forget a smell, a look, a movement. One that seemed etched not only in my mind, but in every reaction of my body.

I reached out to hold a hand knowing how connected interlocked fingers made her feel. But these hands were digging their nails into my back with raw passion. So, fine that's how I responded, with furious, indifferent lust. Willing my mind to forget that which had forgotten me so easily.

I bit her shoulder and found acceptance and what felt like love in her body.
Her sweat and smell seemed more familiar, and I buried my face in the side of her neck every time I had a flashback. Repeating to myself: Different is new. Different is good. Different means you're free.

This would spur her on, distracting me with mechanized precision. My mind was my enemy but my body was my tool, it bended and craved for pleasure. No matter which club or after-party apartment it found this in.

We lay back. Exhausted. She drew her slightly shaking body close to mine and it took all my strength to not hold her and cry or get up and leave. So I lay there telling her how beautiful she was and how happy she made me feel .

Lies guys like me have made so ironic that they're believable. And that's what she did in our post-sex haze, she believed me. About our connection.

And I thought of another severed one.

So I interlocked my fingers with her.

I let her invade the familiar, let her ravage every physical memory so that soon older imprints on my memory and faint traces of finger prints and lingering perfume on parts of my body would evaporate. Like beads of sweat in the cool blast of artificial, central air conditioning.