“I have a present for you,” he said, the night before my flight home. “Close your eyes.”
For a long couple of seconds, there was nothing. Then his hands were taking my face, and he kissed me.
We’d both been out for almost the entire day, so our lips made the kiss rough. It was also tense, as if we’d both been afraid. He later confessed that he’d thought I might slap him for it, and I had been nervous since I’d closed my eyes. I knew he was dramatic, and I’d been trying to figure out if he was going to kiss me, and if I wanted him to do it or not. Then it had happened anyway, before I’d had time to work out my thoughts. Despite the awkwardness of its execution, this was the sweetest way anyone had kissed me, and I knew I would miss him. I decided that it wasn’t important to analyze how into the kiss I actually was, and realized that I’d probably gotten myself into this in the first place. I kissed him back.
I should take a timeout to admit that I’m an asshole. I’ll probably only accept this accusation from myself, mainly because I’m the only person with enough understanding of myself to make such a claim and know why I’m making it. I’m not Always an asshole, but sometimes I slip into it without being aware. Especially when I’m in researcher mode. After spending the majority of my later childhood either ignored or in chosen silence, I’ve developed an increasing fascination with human psychology, especially social psychology. During my more obnoxious times, I used to amuse myself by saying things that would make people or groups feel awkward and uncomfortable. Although like Emerson, I still think that comfort is overrated, I’ve since reigned back on purposefully making people feel ill at ease. However, from time to time I still find it interesting to do things, and see how people will react.
“That’s not very descriptive,” my friend told me, in a conversation about Future Farming. He’d asked me if I’d ever Future Farmed anyone, and I’d told him that while I hadn’t, I sometimes made myself open to it by Doing Something.
“I know that it isn’t descriptive; because I can’t describe it,” I told him. “I just Do Something, or I Don’t Flirt with people. If I make myself open and inviting to people I find attractive while simultaneously not expecting anything to come from it and maintaining a convincing innocence even with myself, then sometimes things happen. So it’s more like you’re seeing if anything will happen out of detached curiosity, but expecting nothing to come of it. It’s like an experimental pastime, where you can’t have bad results.” Theoretically.
The problem is that the results have been getting more complicated recently, and this scenario was one example. I knew he had a girlfriend, which is why I didn’t feel ethically bad for him about it, especially because we’d ended up becoming pretty decent friends over the process. I didn’t feel bad for the girlfriend, either, because they’d worked out some sort of pass system. I’m all about pass systems. My best friend has been in one this school year, and after four months of various men trying to convince me that “on ne mange pas le riz toujours” in order to tapper mon dos and get me to give up my fictional fiancé, I’ve decided that open relationships are the way to go.
“Can I make love to you?” he whispered.
“No,” I told him. I was actually so shocked. This guy. It was the second time I’d been completely taken aback by him in about ten minutes. No, he could not Make Love to me, for multiple reasons. First of all, I didn’t want to. Second of all, even if I had wanted to, what kind of stupid idea would it be for me to have sex with someone five hours before flying out of the country to maybe come back a year later? And how bold was he, expecting to have sex just like that, after a week of nothing? I wondered if allowing him to kiss me had made him stop being afraid of me, and regretted it a little. The most salient thing of all to me, however, was his word choice. “Make love”? If my experience from Cameroon and the rest of my family is any measure, African guys are charmers. They are also slightly dramatic. And they do not say completely what they mean. To my understanding, it’s impossible to make love to someone with whom you are not in love. We were not in love. This guy wanted to fuck. I wanted to laugh, almost, not in a mean way, because he was clearly putting work into making The Mood of the situation seem exciting and romantic. We were just hooking up as quietly as possible, so as not to arouse the suspicions of my cousin, who’d be back in the apartment soon.
Apparently, he was already in the apartment. We stopped, he slipped out of the room, and I barely had time to sit down before my cousin was in the bedroom, sitting on the opposite bed. He looked angry. I’m sure I looked scared, and that was mainly because I was no longer wearing pants. I gave silent prayers of thanks for my housecoat, which I was still wearing and had carefully arranged on my lap, and hoped he couldn’t see more of me than I wanted him to.
“Why aren’t you dressed?” he asked me.