“I miss my monkey.”
Clearly all the Puka Puka’s had gone to my head because I’m sure I had just heard Harry #2 say that he missed HIS monkey. I refrained from blurting the first thing that entered my mind (WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK) and tried to contain the incredulous emotions from my face.
I was not subtle it seemed. I do struggle to contain my utter bafflement, disdain, ‘WTF’ expressions from my countenance even though I will do my best not to actively voice just how confounded a person can make me. Harry #2 caught my expression immediately though and promptly whipped out his phone and brandished a rather recent picture of a small grey monkey on his shoulder… equipped with a little diaper as well.
Well, fuck. “I had to give him up,” Harry #2 explained. “I miss him. I could not travel and leave him behind, it would be cruel.”
Wasn’t it cruel to have him in the first place? I’m sure the poor creature would prefer not to be contained to a small house by a lead and a fucking diaper. I didn’t say anything, I knew it was quite customary over here for people to have wild and exotic animals as pets. Besides, I was very attracted to Harry #2 and up till that moment he had seemed possibly like the most normal person I had ever dated.
I was struggling to find any fault. He was an IT technician… I think. It was something technical, something difficult to remember… like whatever Chandler’s job was in ‘Friends’. Anyway, he was also very intelligent and well-read with a great sense of humour. Sitting at the cocktail lounge I had chosen for us to meet, I felt decidedly sophisticated and mature. He was dressed superbly in a crisp white business shirt and formal trousers, he smelled Godly (there is just something about a man who smells like you could ravish him on the spot), and his shoes were freshly polished. He looked dark and weirdly handsome and rugged, unshaven (which is normal considering where I live now) and very tall. He bordered on skinny which I did not mind. Despite what my previous blog posts have expounded on, I do not particularly care about height or body type or any of that, but somehow my most intense experiences have revolved around men who frequented the gym. Ok well not that many- just two or three.
I was attracted more to his personality than anything else. I said weirdly handsome before because I don’t think he fit into the conventional standards of handsome. I found him pleasing but he did look a bit odd at times. Nevertheless, as we sat together in the cosy bar sipping cocktails and talking books and philosophy and life, I felt supremely sophisticated and the classy lady.
Until my cover was blown.
“It’s good to see you again, Miss Ashleigh,” the young bartender said amicably as he brought me my regular cocktail (a blasted thing called a Potted Parrot adorned with a garish bird to boot). He looked at the man sitting next to me. “I am sad to see that it did not work out with the other guy.”
This particular establishment had become my go-to when I wanted to meet someone for the first time. I hadn’t met many men here though, I believe there was one other who introduced me to the place before Harry #2. Anyway, I liked it so much I kept coming back. Guess I would have to shake things up a little bit now…
Luckily, Harry #2 didn’t seem to catch on or he chose not to comment on it.
We spoke for what seemed like hours and I didn’t let the fact that he had evidently kept a monkey as a pet get to me too much. When our drinks dwindled away, I honestly didn’t want the evening to end. He invited me over, I accepted, and we shared a cab to the hotel apartments where he was staying.
Sex wasn’t supposed to happen, it wasn’t the goal of my evening, but it did and it was good and I do not regret it though at the time I acted like I did. After the deed was done I collected my clothes and bag, feeling ashamed of myself, and got in the next cab back to my apartment. Harry #2 wanted me to stay… he asked several times if I would, but I brushed it off casually, attempting to keep cool and calm and collected.
I suppose I am unused to one night stands that extend beyond the “one night” but Harry #2 asked to see me again and I complied. He brought dinner and drinks to my apartment and after eating and fucking I asked him to leave. Who was this person, asking sophisticated lovers to exit her bed?? Damned if I know.
Maybe the universe was building up to a terrifying climax that makes me cringe even to this day.
The next week I did spend the night at Harry #2’s hotel apartment. It was a week night and I had to arise an entire hour earlier than him (cursed profession, that of an educator), which didn’t seem to be a problem. Naked as the day I was born under the covers, I pulled them back to get out of bed as something caught my eye.
My heart stopped beating in my chest.
It was small, but there nonetheless, and if Harry #2 chose to throw himself out of bed and mess the covers, he would have seen it too.
A small, obvious spot of blood was on the white sheets, a clear indication that my uterus was laughing at me and boycotting any attempts at a normal relationship with a nice man.
I was horrified. And I got back into bed and pulled the covers tightly above me so that the offending spot was invisible.
I grew up in a family that just did not discuss these sort of things openly, anything to do with sex, monthly cycles and bodily fluids was hush hush and almost scandalous. I am more open about them now but it has taken some time to navigate around the feelings of discomfort each time they are mentioned.
So when this unspeakable ordeal occurred in the fancy hotel apartment on the first night we spent together, I wanted to die.
I lay there, mortified to my very core, until Harry #2 woke up for work and asked why I wasn’t up yet. “Oh, I er… decided not to go to work today,” I responded quickly. “Feeling a bit sick.” Lies, lies, lies!
How pathetic was I that I let a tiny drop of blood on a white sheet stop me from going to work? OK, well I hated my job at the time so it was an easy enough decision but c’mon… Well, I doubt Harry #2 ever found out about it because as soon as he left I stripped the bed and disposed of the evidence before housekeeping entered to finish the rest.
We saw each other on and off for about 2 months. I did like him but I figure there was no real connection between us, just some good sex and conversation. Harry #2 was very laid back throughout our brief courtship and maybe if I had adopted a similar approach we would have developed into something more serious. I struggled with the fact that we did not have a label, that there was no sense of commitment and it was implied that I was free to do whatever I wanted. It left me edgy and when I spoke to him about it, he asked me what I wanted.
“A relationship,” I told him directly.
“Then let’s have a relationship,” he replied as he packed his suitcase on the other side of the room for a two week business trip to Lebanon.
“It’s that simple?”
“Yes, why not?”
I shrugged, feeling uneasy. His phone went off from beside me on the bed and he asked me to pass it to him. As I did, I caught sight of the message on screen. I’m not a snoop, I have never found the need to search through another person’s phone before, but that message quickly eradicated any notion of a relationship with Harry #2.
Someone named Amy had written: “I really want to see you again.”
Instead of letting the issue fester and gnaw away at my thoughts, I asked him directly about it and received an indirect response.
“Sometimes it is possible to misinterpret what we read,” Harry #2 said when I asked him about Amy and whether he was going to see her again.
For some reason I wasn’t hurt. I shrugged it off and contemplated absentmindedly what I should do about the matter, but the thought came and went like a pesky fly that I had to keep swatting away. Eventually I did end the relationship with an obscure and cowardly Whatsapp message that read something along the lines of: “I don’t feel very relationshippy. Sorry.”
I never heard from Harry #2 again. I did however provide him with a very loquacious drunken Whatsapp essay after one too many bottles (yes, bottles) of Prosecco in which I regaled him of all the deep dark musings of my broke and twisted mind. How I wish I had kept that bit of prose but, perhaps wisely, I deleted the evidence off my phone and Harry #2 blocked my drunk ass on Whatsapp.