Θυμάρι

So long, and thanks for all the fish !

About A Boy – Nick Hornby

“..I don’t know. I never seem to get round to it”.

about_a_boy

about_a_boy

And that was the long and the short of it. He never seem to get round to it. Every day for the last eighteen years he had got up in the morning with the intention of sorting out his career problem once and for all; as the day wore on, however, his burning desire to seek a place for himself in the outside world somehow got diminished.

****** 

 ‘Shit, Marcus. I’d forgotten about it.’

‘You forgot? You forgot a suicide letter?’

****** 

Marcus was really angry. They hadn’t said anything about suicide on the video box, and yet this film had a bloke trying to kill himself about three thousand times.

  ******

 Filling days had never really been a problem for Will. He might not have been proud of his lifelong lack of achievement, but he was proud of his ability to stay afloat in the enormous ocean of time he had at his disposal; a less resourceful man, he felt, might have gone under and drowned.

  ******

Will walked into the kitchen and put the kettle on, if only to give himself something to do which wouldn’t result in a prison sentence, but he couldn’t let it drop.

  ******

But of all the things that made him different, he could see this was the most important. It was why he wore clothes that other kids laughed at—because they’d had this talk about fashion, and they’d agreed that fashion was stupid—and why he listened to music that was old-fashioned, or that no one else had ever heard of—because they’d had this talk about modern pop music, and they’d agreed it was just a way for record companies to make a lot of money. It was why he wasn’t allowed to play violent computer games, or eat hamburgers, or do this or that or the other. And he’d agreed with her about all of it, except he hadn’t agreed really; he’d just lost the arguments.

  ******

‘You see what I mean?’ He was getting really frustrated now. ‘I’m thinking for myself and you just… it just doesn’t work. You win anyway.’

‘Because you’re not backing it up. It’s not enough to tell me that you’re thinking for yourself. You’ve got to show me, too.’

‘How do I show you?’

‘Give me a good reason.’

He could give her a reason. It wouldn’t be the right reason, and he’d feel bad saying it, and he was pretty sure it would make her cry. But it was a good reason, a reason that would shut her up, and if that was how you had to win arguments, then he’d use it.

‘Because I need a father.’

It shut her up, and it made her cry. It did the job.

  ******

November the nineteenth. November the fucking nineteenth.

  ******


‘I think we need to talk about this properly, don’t you?’

‘What? What do we need to talk about properly?’

‘This whole thing.’

‘There isn’t a whole thing. There isn’t even a half thing!’

‘Are you free for a drink tomorrow night? Maybe it would be better to talk face to face. We’re not getting anywhere here.’

There was no point in fighting her. There wasn’t even any point in not fighting her. They made arrangements to meet for a drink, and it was a mark of Will’s frustration and confusion that he was able to look on the agreement of a time and a place as a resounding triumph.

******

The conversation had already been extended way beyond Will’s comfort point ..

******

He was expecting one of Fiona’s logic-free lectures ..

******

At midnight they sought each other out and kissed, a kiss that was somewhere between cheek and lip, the embarrassed ambiguity hopefully significant.

******

‘Why did you think Marcus would make you more interesting?’ she asked him after they had poured and stirred and blown and done everything else they could think of doing to a cup of coffee.

‘Was I more interesting?’

******

What happened was, she would be talking with humour and passion and a quirky, animated intelligence about Ali, or music, or her painting, and he would drift off into some kind of possibly sexual but certainly romantic reverie, and she would ask him whether he was listening, and he would feel embarrassed and protest too much in a way that suggested he hadn’t been paying attention because she was boring him stupid. It was something of a double paradox, really: you were enjoying someone’s conversation so much that a) you appeared to glaze over, and b) you wanted to stop her talking by covering her mouth with yours. It was no good and something had to be done about it, but he had no idea what: he had never been in this situation before.)

******

He didn’t mind having a female friend; his realization during his drink with Fiona that he had never had any kind of relationship with someone he hadn’t wanted to sleep with still unsettled him. The problem was that he did want to sleep with Rachel, very much, and he didn’t know whether he could bear to sit there on her sofa with his eyes dilating wildly for the next ten or twenty years, or however long female friends lasted (how would he know?), listening to her being unintentionally sexy on the subject of drawing mice. He didn’t know whether his pupils could bear it, more to the point. Wouldn’t they start hurting after a while? He was almost sure it wouldn’t do them much good, all that expanding and contracting, but he would only mention the pupil-pain to Rachel as a last resort; there was a remote possibility that she might want to sleep with him to save his eyesight, but he’d prefer to find another, more conventionally romantic route to her bed. 

******

So here was the first of the disturbing implications: if he ended up having sex when he had been unable to detect sex in the air, he was obviously a pretty hopeless sex detective. If, in the immediate aftermath of an apparently sex-free conversation, a beautiful woman started to lead you to the bedroom while unbuttoning her shirt, you were clearly missing something somewhere.

******

And they were away. It was easier than he could possibly have anticipated: all he had to do was listen and nod and ask pertinent questions. He had done it before, loads of times, with Angie and Suzie and Rachel, but that was for a reason. There was no ulterior motive here. He didn’t want to sleep with Fiona, but he did want her to feel better, and he hadn’t realized that in order to make her feel better he had to act in exactly the same way as if he did want to sleep with her. He didn’t want to think about what that meant.

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