I’m sleepless in Beirut.
The skies have finally opened and the bawls of heaven have washed away the dirty paperbrown laundry hanging over Beirut. It never rains here, never drizzles, never pitter patters, only pours. And when the buckets suddenly start tipping over my desert, the hibernating whims and desires come out to flirt and play with the raindrops.
It is a lush autumn garden. Scarlet and sensual, ripe and covetable, almost sinful, almost like a trip back in time to that chapter where Eve in a fig leaf showed Adam where the party was at – but instead of thanking her, he’s been bitching about it from that bite onwards.
It is a lush autumn garden, crimson and passionate, sweet and perfumed, almost heavenly, almost like a trip back in time to those days where behind every tree there was an Adam stripped of his fig leaf, almost like the picture of the kingdom I’ve imagined for myself, like the picture on a postcard from the land I used to reign, signed by me, happy to be lost in that forest, in that jungle, dancing to beats of every single tree trunk drumming its fingers in waiting.
The pieces are falling into place and the celestial bodies are moving towards some prophetic configuration: either harmonic or catastrophic, I cannot tell, but I’m counting on Venus.
The night after Kavinsky and I laid down, our terms and expectations, we crossed paths at “Reasons to be pretty”. We saw him before the play started, going up the stairs. I was sure he wasn’t alone, but the lights went out and there was no telling where he had disappeared to. I was sure I didn’t want to bump into him looking like the drenched pile of hair and fabric that I was, caught by the biblical storm the moment we left Deprague. I was sure that it was going to be awkward because only yesterday he had given his word, “You will not see me with anyone.”
After hours of sitting in wet boots and jeans watching actors shout, argue and create drama over a most benign slip of tongue, I spotted him giving a standing ovation to what must have been a walk down memory lane post-divorce.
In the foyer, while turning to head towards the ladies room, Kavinsky’s face appeared so close, so suddenly that I received a punch of adrenaline straight in the stomach and let my legs carry me away, away, further away soon as the third kiss on the cheek was complete.
He called me half an hour later to excuse himself, “I’m sorry, I felt uncomfortable, she is just a friend.”
For the entire week that followed, his name would pop up every now and then, inquiring about my whereabouts, inviting me over, always last minute. Clearly, it was getting too comfortable on his part...
Martini was part of the group that chose to sit next to Yamamoto and I at the party where I first met Joos. They were older and a little dusty, not hitting too hard, just a group of boys at heart with belts cutting them in two, slight bulges. The other two were doctors, a gyno and a plastic, and Martini “sold Chiclets”. He was the first to make conversation, but it felt more like the buttering of a set up between the surgeon and I. We didn’t hang around too long; clearly their age was a red card to be held up by Yamamoto. I was tipsy and every song was my favourite; the perfect guise to drag me away from the elders and into Joos’ spinning wheel.
While I was being twirled, I spotted My Boss, or at the time, my future Boss. I knew it was him because I had done my research following our anonymous exchange. He was cute and I loitered around so that I could, one day, point out to him that we were within inches, imperfect strangers.
Foux was there too with his buff and tight posse, and we would come ear to ear every hour to discuss the comings and goings of the melting pot.
“That’s My Boss, he has no idea who I am! He’s cute, non? And, oh look there, the guy in brown, that’s Brick, I met him in London.”
Before we could call it a night, the towering Gyno took me out for one last dance to some remix of an oldie. I was turned and twisted so much, that the cumulative sum of the evening would have had an abacus go haywire were it not for the lack of expensive drink in my blood. When I went back to the table to collect my things, the trio stood up to exchange numbers and cards. It felt slightly theatrical, the table nearby watching our phone-lit faces mouth numbers and correct spellings, but I was glad to step unto the stage for a change.
The following day, Martini sent me a wordy maladroit message and I dismissed it. I recalled him having been handsome, but I also recalled previous lessons of drunken phone number exchanges and decided on passing the course.
Months later, when we were carrying on Birthday Girl’s birthday celebration to Iris with Ohlalah, Yamamoto and Joos, I saw a familiar face across from me. I couldn’t pin point where I had seen him before - and there is nothing more annoying than blunt ends and tongue tips – so I picked my brains for a good fifteen minutes until I recognized the Surgeon. He seemed to be sitting alone, so I walked over to say hello.
But he wasn’t very talkative. I don’t think he even remembered me. Which turned out to be a blessing as half an hour later I saw him approach the table that we had all been, discreetly I hope, eyeing. There sat two very conspicuous ladies, who turned down every mongrel that couldn’t live up to their standard dollar, and it was clear that a dollar or two was needed to finance the treatment of inflamed lips, histamine-stricken boobs and pinched noses. How ironic, I thought, that the doctor find his patients during his darkest-hours.
Only when the skies opened up a week ago did Martini unexpectedly join the showers of sudden attention falling over me. The earth was all wet now and any extras could only whet it further.