The Food of Love
The first time we met, I didn’t like him at all. He was so full of himself, so arrogant. Everyone gathered around him, like the man was some sort of celebrity. He could always command an audience. He still can, but I don’t fall for his stage tricks. I never did. He has to work a lot harder to impress me, but the strange thing is that nowadays I like him a lot better. I suppose I love him really, but you don’t use words like love with Russell; he’d run a mile. So, let’s get back to that first meeting.
He postured, pontificating; there’s no other word for it. Standing in the centre of the room, surrounded by a crowd of admirers, (mainly women) expounding his theories on current musical trends. You’ll excuse me if I don’t go into detail, but most of it sailed straight over my head. I like music, (who doesn’t?), but I don’t know anything about it. I just know what I like and Russell has never shared my taste. If we split up, and I think we’re about to, there will be no arguments about the division of the CD collection. That was how we got talking – music. He’d finished his ‘speech’ and I was about to put on some more music.
I felt his presence before he spoke to me. “You’re not going to subject us all to John Denver, surely?” He took the disc from my hand. “Honey, this is party not a funeral. ‘Annie’s Song’ – Jeez, give us a break.”
“I like it.” I turned to depart but stopped on feeling his hand on my shoulder.
“Really? Why? What makes this schmaltzy music special for you?”
I prepared for confrontation, he'd touched me, invaded my space. The moment I saw his face I words failed me.
He repeated the question. "So. . . What makes this schmaltzy music special for you?”
Realising that he did really want to know the answer. “Lyrics,” I mumbled.
“They’re. . . cheesy.” He paused just long enough for me to know he’d intended to use a stronger word.
“Well I like them.” I turned away again and was surprised to find his hand on my shoulder once more. “What? Do you want to continue to lecture me on my musical taste or can I go and get a drink?”
He laughed. “They’re not mutually exclusive, Doll. I can lecture you while you get a drink.”
“Wouldn’t you be better off talking to someone who wants to listen?” I moved off through the crowd, towards the drinks table. He followed.
“Ooh, draw your claws in, Kitten.” He was still laughing and I was getting madder by the second.
The red mist descended. I rounded on him. “My name isn’t Kitten, or Doll, or Honey. You are seriously annoying me now with your arrogant sexist crap, so can you go away and leave me in peace?”
Chastised, he left, but I found no peace. I was agitated and more than a little pissed-off. I emptied a champagne glass and took up another. It’s not a lot of fun being stranded at an event you didn’t even want to attend. Add to that the ‘joy’ of a complete stranger making fun of you and you have the recipe for a lousy evening. I took my drink into the garden and stood watching the moonlight play on the fishpond as I lit a cigarette.
I phoned Andy.” When are you gonna be here? I don’t know anyone, and there’s a creep bothering me.” It wasn’t quite true. The ‘creep’ seemed to have taken the hint.
“Er, I’m kinda caught up here, love. I’m not gonna make it after all. I’ll call you tomorrow, right?”
“Don’t bother. This is the last time, Andy. I’ve had enough.” I ended the call.
“Strong words shouldn’t be used unless you mean them.” The ‘creep’ was beside me, topping up my glass with champagne from the bottle in his hand. I raised no objection. I wanted to drink.
“I thought I told you to leave me alone?” I said as I raised the glass to my lips.
“You did, but you didn’t mean it.” He took the cigarette from my hand and put it to his lips. “You don’t mind, do you? I’ve given up, but I get the urge every once in a while.”
I tried to protest; I didn’t succeed. The rest, as they say, is history. Andy was history, John Denver was history and, within half an hour, the party was history and I was in Russell’s flat with the worst cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted, and a background of some positively evil ‘Dubstep’ tracks. Don’t ask – I couldn’t begin to describe it. I hated it, but in some ways, it was hypnotic. Well, that was my excuse.
Anyway, that was then and times have changed. I still can’t explain how music brought us together, but I know what’s going to drive us apart now, three years down the line. The problem is he wants to have children. So do I, but not his children. There, I’ve said it and it doesn’t sound so bad.
Last weekend, Saturday to be precise. He was recording. The room was a crammed with his equipment – decks, a synthesiser, two laptops, various microphones and a host of vinyl records and CDs. I was sitting in the armchair in the corner, keeping out of the way, and keeping quiet. Russell was in a world of his own as he mixed his set in preparation for the evening’s gig. After a while, I realised he’d stopped and turned everything off. I looked up. He had this strange expression on his face. I couldn’t fathom it.
“It’s time, babe. I’ve decided.” Now he looked excited. “We should have a baby.” That was it – no preamble, no proposal and, worse still no words of love or commitment.
“You’ve decided?” I put my book down. “Do I even get a say in this?”
The beginning of the end. We had a long ‘discussion’. (That’s his word; I’d have said ‘row’.) Maybe I was wrong, who knows? I wanted him to convince me – but certain words were missing from his arguments in favour of parenthood; words I needed to hear. I didn’t get to hear his ‘set’. He went to the gig alone.
Tuesday afternoon and we haven’t really spoken much since. I’m waiting for him to tell me to leave because I’ve outlasted my usefulness. I can’t agree to have a child with a man who’s never said he loves me and I don’t suppose he’ll want me to stay around while his biological clock keeps ticking away. It’s not like he’ll have any trouble finding someone to oblige, if he hasn’t already; he’s been out all morning. Maybe I should start packing.
Sitting at the kitchen table, as evening falls, I hear him moving about in the living room. He’s shuffling through the CDs. Now I’m to be punished with death by drum and bass. It’s time. I pick up the suitcase and open the sliding door. He looks at me and points the remote at the hi-fi. As I cross the room, heading for the way out, the music starts, and then he’s in front of me.
“Don’t leave, Doll. I can’t live without you.” He moves to kiss me but I have to pause, I can’t kiss him with a smile this wide. I'm listening to John Denver singing Annie’s Song, in a drum and bass remix. I drop my smile and think as we kiss, I’m thinking how surprising it is that some things sound awful in theory. So why do they work?