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I’m sleepless in Beirut.

The Pope was on his way to my place to keep me company while I worked on my outfit for that night’s party. It was the first time we were going to be one-on-one in a more intimate setting. I hoped it wouldn’t be awkward.

Worries for nothing; we got along extremely well. He was a real sweet kid.

What I loved most about him was his ability to perfectly time and tune his presence. One moment he is right there with you, present and intense, but as soon as that moment between you two is over, he steps back and allows for that pause, that drift, to take you to another place. He is the social butterfly whose skills we all envy.

That night, the party was wild. I had too much to drink, too much to keep it all in. I remember him getting a lot of attention; to the inbreds of the underground scene, he was a new face, he looked like he tasted of honey, he was magnet, la chaleur du Sud. I also remember shying away from getting too close to him because I didn’t want him thinking I was yet another girl to fall under his charm.

I did however fall for someone else, albeit briefly. He was my best friend’s childhood friend and even though I had met him before, that night, I was +ve, he was -ve and the electricity fired through our bodies. I teased him for ages until the alcohol teased the smugness out of me and we ended up too close, too warm and I succumbed to the kiss I was resisting. The more we kissed, the faster the room spun and I felt like I was being sucked into a black hole. Our lips danced like they did in Dirty Dancing, but nevertheless, the spinning of my head made me think of prom kiss scenes in American movies and the Dirty suddenly morphed into Slow and Soft and I, I, I…gasped for air in my head and finally pulled away.

Only to be sucked back in, until I was too sick and dizzy.

There was no way I could drive; I had to sober up first. The Pope and I joined my friends for manaqeesh. When we split from the group, it was 5am and I was much better. I drove us back home and told him that he was welcome to sleep in the other room. So he did.

The sun was coming up and I went to close the shutters in his room. He was sitting in his Calvin Kleins, pulling the covers over his honey skin. I was now in the awkward “Good night” situation. Shake his hand? Hug? Wave?

I opted for the motherly kiss on the forehead. How “Pope” of me!

Confusion followed, and his lips met mine. I leaned back, more puzzled than reluctant, “No”.

When I reached my bed, I heard my phone buzz.

“This bed is too big for me”.

I replied by laying down the terms of our friendship. My generous hospitality should not be confused for something else. I felt sorry for him, poor baby, drunk, cute and confused.

He left late in the afternoon. He had borrowed one of my bigger T-shirts for the party and it lay curled next to the bed. I picked it up and instinctively brought it to my nose. (Unbelievable, but I can smell it as I am writing this)

My veins filled with warm golden honey and my brain was pickled in sweet juice.

From very early on, I noticed a strong link between a guy’s smell and the direction our relationship would take. To test this, I would come up with ways to discretely smell the opposite sex I had only just met and see whether or not we would get along in the days to come. Result: the correlation was very strong!

So even though I never really allowed my imagination to travel too far with The Pope, convincing myself that our relationship was purely platonic, the intense effect his aroma solicited was an acute indication that we would be fireworks.


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