Matt was late again, as usual. I didn’t know which I should be more angry at: my self-proclaimed best wingman being late for 30 minutes or that fact that I was too ignorant and forgiving to let him do that to me time after time. While scrolling up and down Facebook (it’s the only thing that I could think of doing if I wanted to avoid lightning up another cigarette), I heard a female voice calling:
I turned around and it was Klara, the Austrian girl that I’ve hanged out a few times with, together with Matt. She was in her usual form, and also her best form, Crampler bag, North Face jacket tied around her waist, tight tank top embracing her slim figure, orange-ish brown hair, followed by her rather less extroverted boyfriend. I greeted her with a big smile, a kind of smile you use for those around whom you don’t have to build any fences. And there was that guy, a backpacker, going behind them. Great, another backpacker. After things with Ben didn’t really lead to anything, “backpacker” is a word that holds less value now than it used to to me.
“We just picked our friend up at the airport,” said Klara, in a bright and intimate manner as always. Gosh, I like this woman.
“Wow, you Austrians can pick people up at the airport? We can only pick people up at the bars here,” I said without really thinking. When I realized the words had already slipped out of my mouth. That must be impolite to someone who’s not friend and just met you. With that thought, I carefully turn my eyes from my phone screen towards the backpacker to trace a slice of his reaction.
Luckily, he laughed. Then, deciding to abandon my friend, I joined them for some beer. There, I got to know the new guy better. He asked me about my age, my studying. I just didn’t really want to give out too much personal information since he’s a new guy that I would probably never meet again in my life after this round of beer so I gave him some generic answers. He did accuse me for making fun of a foreigner, not taking his questions seriously and lying, which I kind of did, but for harmless purposes only.
Just like any other night, we ended up drinking and smoking a lot, going from bars after bars and then heading back home at around 3. I was too tired to feel anything about that night except for one word: fun. It was fun, yes, but not too particularly. Little did I know that the backpacker, together with Klara, would show up at my door the next day, which would lead to something that I would have to spend nights thinking of.
He was there, with the Austrian couple, in his very same pants and shirt from the day before, messy hair as usual. We hanged out a little at my place and then all decided to get some booze from a convenient store nearby and go karaoke. In there, he told me more about his job, how he spent a week with rich people in a luxurious resort (I think) to do an article regarding fancy lifestyle (it was when one friend of mine chose that Lorde song to sing). I then jokingly replied: “Now you’re telling me about journalism?”
After we all finished a couple of songs, he decided it was his turn to sing something. Kenny Roger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” is what he picked and he said he needed somebody to do the duet. I just happened to be there, and since nobody seemed willing to do it, I did it. Don’t get me wrong but I didn’t really know that song or like the idea of doing a female part in such cheesy masterpiece. No sooner had I got a hold of the microphone that he started to deliver those first few notes.
His voice is not really that kind of majestically amusing. It’s not the smoky husky grainy nor low emotional type that I’m usually into listening either. It’s just, I don’t know, a little child-like and monotone. Anyway, karaoke isn’t about vocal is it? The thing is when I was just about to started my part, I accidentally looked into his eyes. And I bought into it, immediately. I bought into that Kenny Rogers pleading his lover for another night look. I bought into that half of a smile and that drunken look that he always has even when he’s sober. Damn, I knew it was coming.
The best policy to hide your awkwardness and blush is going along with whatever it is that makes you this way. With that thought in mind, I took all the courage I had to complete the song and pretend to pretend to act that I’m that desperate lover offering his interest to just forget about the world for a while and stay.
You can guess how the rest of the night went. I retreated to my hiding mode with the fear of others recognizing something. I tried to be funny and throw in some cruel jokes here and there, made the best use of the vodka and avoid making any further contact with him whatsoever. When Klara played Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel No. 2, something suddenly surged in me, overthrowing my ability to function rationally, and then I realized I had been lonely for too long.
The last time intimacy kicked in with someone I really had feeling for was like a year ago, when Chelsea Hotel became my messiah, literally telling me the story of how I decided to give it all to the stranger I happened to fall for, in its words written decades ago. It was such huge desperation of myself to still let that thought wander in my mind for every once in a while, I know. But what else could I do? I grabbed the mic and let the heart pour out. And that’s when I realized the Austrian guy had been staring at me.
I have no idea what was in his mind. Maybe he was thinking “that guy is too emotional” or “that was too cheesy, too much for a fun karaoke night”. He looked liked he was about to either laugh at something so sympathetic or give praise on a little child just achieving his first medal. I found that too confusing. And I know I was taking little things too seriously again. I turned away and finished the song with Klara, who was literally dying on the next to bench across me. It’s like she was feeling the same thing as I am.
“Why do you say those mean things to me? You like it don’t you?” I remember that question popped up somewhere in the middle of our post singing session. But I don’t remember how I responded to that question given by him. Yes, I did like it, but not for self pleasure. I just liked it since it’s the only way I know how show how much affection I have for people and at the same time trying to hide it. But I hated it too, especially when it went too far and touched your ego.
It was 3 days since he was gone already and I still kept that cheesy song playing on repeat. I don’t know what’s happening this time. It’s not as deep as what I shared with Ben or Bobby. There’s no significant signs of him showing any interests either. But I don’t know. I just really miss him. I miss his clumsy manner, his face that looks like he is high, his halfway smile and messy long hair. I miss his maturity when he put up with my annoyance and harsh lines and went along with it. He told me when he finished the 1-week vacation plus working thing with the rich kids, being treated with extreme level of kindness and hospitality, he realized that those people that he’d thought he’d never be friends with had some certain impacts on him that he needed to find someone to pour his heart out just get it out of his system. I guess that’s what I should be doing right now: get it out of my system. It’s just another sunburn that’s going to heal soon.