I’m in love with Dicky. It came over me all of a sudden. We’ve only known each other a short while but it’s real deep. Whenever I think of him a whoosh hollows out the centre of me and I have to sit down. I feel like it’s my little secret, but you know, I think Boo knows. Boo is my boyfriend. He is one of those macho types. You know—still waters run deep? Sometimes I think stagnate.. Well, the truth is, underneath all that carefully positioned hard-assed armour is a baby pink throbbing little heart of gold. And some dam keen intuition as well, which he calls in-three-ition. Boo is dam near psychic though he never admits it and calls all mention of the invisible realms pansy crap.
I think Boo knows about Dicky ‘cause he’s been so nice to me of late. Trying, anyway. The trouble with Boo is that he’ll only go so far. He’s always holding something back. A little piece of rock wedged in there. So, whenever I get real soft and mergey-like and ready to go for it in a big way, he’ll suddenly get on the ‘phone or have to work on the car or something. I’ll just sit on the sofa and quietly congeal like a dead jellyfish, all hopes for the big romantic stuff dashed once again. Don’t get me wrong. He’s passionate. He’s just afraid of the soul spot. Control freak. You know the type. Afraid of losing it. Of course he’s never admit it. He likes to think he’s practical.
Not like Dicky. That Dicky’s a wild one. Wild and free. And he’s got me noticing where I’m not so free in my life. In fact, since I met Dicky I couldn’t car less about a lot of things. I can’t focus on the papers and just skip over major events like Nelson Mandela and stuff that I would formerly avidly read. Even local murders don’t interest me. I’ve completely lost my sense of time and things that seemed quite important no longer do. I don’t give two hoots what people think of me and I even look quite different. My features are smoothing out and my eyes look really shiny. I don’t fix my hair anymore and happily mismatch colours so I look like a collage or a combination of Christian Lacroix and a New Age traveller. Boo doesn’t notice these things.
When Boo comes over sharpish, like he can do out of the blue, I used to get quite tough myself. I can be quite a little hard nut if I choose. Now I just cry. I know that is disgraceful but I just can’t help it. I just think of Dicky. Dicky. Dicky.
Boo and I went away for the night. We went to a bed and breakfast in Shipton on Wychwood. We went to a nice restaurant. Boo was reeling me in with niceties, that’s how they lull you into falso security. It’s like the cobra hypnotising its prey. I chose a moment to bare my heart about a certain niggling concern and then he jumped on me like a ravaged dog. I fall for it every time. (Sometimes I think he’s got a real love/hate things towards women. His grandmother was really suffocating. She used to dress him up like Bonnie Prince Charlie and make him do a turn for the aunties. I think it scarred him rather deeply). So, I thought, here we go again. We’d been on the smooth slopes of small talk and suddenly he’s volcanoing all over me.
We flapped out of the restaurant like two bats out of hell. And then he says, after sitting two stony faces in the car, he agrees with me. When I say – not suprisingly, YOU AGREE WITH ME????, he comes out bitchy as anything and says, anything wrong with that?
It’s the old ‘I’m right you’re wrong regardless’ technique. Well, thank you very much. And another thing. I wasn’t going to go back in there and sit through a fancy dinner at the Lamb Inn and pretend to be civil to all those people snickering down their collars at our untoward behaviour. YOU TRY LIVING WITH A MANIAC!!!!, I had felt like yelling at the skinny blonde matron with the ‘I know your type’ sneer plastered all over her goony bird face. So we sat in the car in silence, fumigating. My eyes get teary. Then, wouldn’t you know it, Boo starts his apologising routine. This is his favourite part. He has demolished me and now he can rescue me. George and the dragon rolled into one.
Well, finally, surprise, surprise, I gave in, in time honoured tradition, even though I knew he just wanted his dinner. I was a little embarrassed to go back in. A little ember assed. But hell. Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. The poor pink cheeked chap who’d seated us earlier and who’d seen us fly through the door seem mortified he had somehow offended us—We said he hadn’t and he was nice as Howdy Doody throughout the whole meal with one of those ear to ear smiles.
I think Boo is misbehaving ‘cause he knows about Dicky. Knows in his bones. You see, Boo really does love me, but it’s me who does the loving. In other words, his love is a noun and mine is a verb. The next morning Boo woke up all chirpy. He stood by the door stark bollocks naked and asked if I was ready to go down to breakfast. There he stood in his not inconsiderable glory and it was quite a lark to imagine the look on the stuffy manager’s face. The funniest thing was Boo trying to make this joke. I mean he thought it was really, really funny. Underneath that nasty old Doberman barks a chirpy cocker spaniel. A little Cock Robin. When he said, should I go down like this? I knew he knew about Dicky. He was trying to win me back. That’s why I had to laugh.
Well, let me tell you about Dicky. He’s a long tall drink of water like Boo. His skin is silky smooth and he’s got bright eyes and a mischievous grin. He’s not educated in book leaning but he’s got a lot of innate intelligence. A gentle heart. A diamond in the rough. Trouble, I’ll bet you’re saying. And you’re right. He is a bit unstable. A bit not-centred, as it’s put these days. This is partly because he’s quite young and partly because he’s caught in a male tussle. One of those Oedipal things. You know. With his uncle. Not his father. Same difference. Younger male challenges older male to assert his position. You know what they get up to. Just can’t help themselves.
It happened on holiday. Without Boo. He never comes. Doesn’t like to break routine. There I was, peacefully enjoying myself. The beach was lovely. The mountains rising up ancient , linking Jordan, the Sinai, Saudi Arabia and Israel, oblivious to the disharmony of its inhabitants and concerned only with the echoing footfalls of King Solomon and shimmering their reds and greens. The water was cold and clear as a bell. There’d been a south storm the day before which had parted the Red Sea before my eyes, sweeping the waves sky high, the little children dancing wildly on the shore, waving their fragile little arms like seaweed fronds.
I had watched Dicky and his friends in the distance. There I was snorkelling happily, watching the shifting clouds of silver fish. A violet jelly fish translucent and hovering. An anemone covered anchor jutting out of the sandy floor. I was feeling just like Brooke Shields in the Blue Lagoon. Suddenly they’d come crashing through. Dicky and his friends. Circling like mercury. Like acrobats. Like Busby Berkeley water ballerinas. Show offs. The effrontery of youth. I was entranced. This went on day after day. They never said hello, but after all, they didn’t know me from Adam. I was content to watch. First on the sly and then unashamedly. I would just hang in the water while clown fish darted through coral and zebra fish wiggled beside fish of bright cerise, magenta, chartreuse—painted with flicker strokes from God’s elemental corner shop, while they practised.
There was a lot of gossip about them on the beach. I heard a lot about Dicky before I ever laid eyes on him. His aggressive behaviour was notorious and he was considered by some to be the bad seed of the bunch. Well, being with Boo for so long, none of this daunted me in the least. Intrigued me in fact. I looked forward to it. I heard him before I saw him that day. He just started singing out of the blue. Sweet as Gigli, no kidding. Those high notes whacked the back of my head and soared out my forehead flipping my pineal gland like a pinball machine. I felt pedestrian by comparison. But then I saw him staring at me and I just started shivering like nobody’s business.
He stopped singing and watched me. I pretended not to notice, madly scrutinising scuttling sand crabs way below and boxy fish that abruptly turn to stone. Suddenly there was a sharp tacking pinch on my back leg. I spun around and there he was, grinning. What a cheeky bugger. I laughed, choking on salt water flooding into my snorkel as I swam to shore.
The day before I left is when it happened. I never would have believed it. I’m not the type. There I was doing my mermaid routine when Dicky arrived. I thrilled involuntarily as he steamed right by me and smiled, leaving a trail of silver mushroom shaped bubbles rising through the water like tiny UFOs. He then sleeked right up the side of me, skin to skin, stood there in the water gawping at me in the face and then he leaned over and grabbed my wrist in his mouth. I kissed him. I hugged him and he turned on his back and pulled me through the water as I held on to his middle. My heart opened wider and wider until it just swallowed me up, top to tail. We continued like this for ages. Waving through the water, sleeking each other. I lost track of everything. I barely recorded it in the old cerebellum but it’s etched on my skin forever. The circling. The silk touch. Wet softness. Hardness. Bright eyes. Kisses. And then he was gone.
I waited all the next day but he never came. I never saw Dicky again. I didn’t care. Not really. I knew it would never work. The age difference for starters. And I do love Boo. But Dicky changed something in me. He did. Opened me up. Shifted some sand. I knew I wouldn’t stand for shallowness any more. You know, it’s just plain lazy, really, and I wasn’t going to have it. This is what’s got Boo all edgy. He’s not one for change.
I don’t drink much but Boo thought I should have some wine to settle me down. He said to me quite loudly, WHY DON’T YOU HAVE A DRINK??? The subtext being, for all within earshot, she’s the deranged one— if we sedate her, all will proceed smoothly. Well, one glass of wine followed another. I didn’t count. Before too long I was telling him all about Dicky!! I couldn’t help myself. ‘In vino veritas’ and all that. It all came flooding out. Everything. The heart-yelping intensity. The mad gibbon water whirling. The whole nine yards. I mean it wasn’t like I was unfaithful. Not really. But he was shocked right down to his piggies. He knew I wasn’t going to give up my life and go live with a dolphin. But he wasn’t 100% sure. No, not at all.
Since then he’s been real gentle. Last night he was so tender he took my breath away. It won’t last of course. As for me, I’m becoming more and more spontaneous. I’m paring down my life and getting sleeker by the moment. Just doing what feels right – right now. Just like Dicky.