Thursday, June 28, 2007

Low Cluster

Paula was late. But that was ok, yeah? I mean – Paula was always late. Late was just what Paula did. Late was Paula’s personal little black dress that shimmed resiliently through every season. Late, from Paula, was exactly what you’d expect. I ordered in a bottle with two glasses and snared a table. She didn’t keep me hanging too long. Only a third of the way down my first drink when she flitted in and I was just like: Oh. My. God. Paula was dressed like Peaches Geldof. Paula, you must remember, is thirty one years old.
She spies me and coo-ee’s across with a finger wave before tottering over and I stand so we can air kiss “mwah” around either cheek. As we sit back down she’s saying it’s outrageous to see me again and I’m like, oh yeah. Totally. Double taking at the Merlot, she gasps Ooo..drinkies! But then lets it slip that she can’t stay for long. There’s a rave on at some Christ-awful sounding hovel in New Cross. Paula’s eyes suddenly burst alive in boggles. I should come, she tells me. Oh yeah. It would be a riot. Like, completely riot.
I’m not sure. You know. It’s a long way. It’s perhaps not my thing. I have work tomorrow. The office.
Paula is all, like, well, just kind of fuck the office. Fez is going. Fez, she confides, has scored these great pills and enough toot to wake up the House of Lords.
Oh fab. I mean, that’s so selling it to me. I’ve met Fez twice before, you see. The first time, he was, like, totally bongoed and tried to stroke my ass. The second, he was actually Planet Bongoed, completely failed to remember having met me before, and then tried to stroke my ass again.
I shake my head and sip my wine. Don’t you think we’re a bit old for that scene? I ask. It’ll be packed with kids. You won’t be able to hear yourself think.
Paula coaxes that I should live a little. It’s going to be like totally a cool crowd. Let go and just give it up, yeah?
I nod and we continue to drink. Paula manages three glasses to my two. I talk about my boss. She tells me I so need a man and then shrieks that oh my God I just have to meet Fez’s friend, Tonto. He’d be, like, just perfect for me.
I tell her anyone called Tonto wouldn’t even get the time of day.
She shakes her head. He’s totally buff. Buffed right off this planet. Apparently, I’m missing out.
I mention my re-mortgage. Paula smiles and thinks about something else.
Later, on the pavement outside, she moves to make the Tube. I say again that I can’t come. My work. I’ve got meetings. I need to go home. She looks at me and for, like, just a micro-second, I see her like I used to see her, when we were teenagers bumming cigarettes off the older boys for French kisses, the Jordon Knight fantasies topped with uncertain hairstyles and an inexplicable, raging sulk against the boredom of our surrounding world.
Paula kisses me on the cheek and tells me that we’ll have to meet up soon.
The street smells like the night used to long ago - like possibility, like wonder. Before hailing a cab, I take the time to watch her walk away.

Mark Colbourne

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