Friday, November 19


On Friday night I met up with this German girl, Anna, that I'd met the weekend before. We got together at the same bar we'd met at, called Central Perk, as in the cafe in the show "Friends." She asked me, "Do you want to meet at Central Perk," and I said, "I don't care," which meant, "I'd meet you anywhere," but sounds less scary or cheesy.

So we met up and talked politics, music, pop culture, etc. for an hour and then she said she had to go in another hour to meet her friend who'd just got out of the hospital. She frowned and got sheepish when she said it, but anyway what could I say? I was hoping she'd want to spend longer with me, but...

We went on talking and she said "Friends" is one of her all-time favorite shows. It sounded reasonable at the time, when this cute girl was saying it to my face, but now it sounds lame. Anyway, I told her about how when I lived in a house with five others in Berkeley, my housemates had a conversation about which character each of us was most like. I wasn't there, but they told me afterward they decided I was Phoebe. I'm not a devotee of the show, but I know the characters, and Phoebe is fucking brainless. I said, "But Phoebe's really stupid!" My housemate said, "That's not why, though. It's because nothing seems to get you down."

That came in handy Friday night. When Anna told me she'd be leaving me early, I was disappointed and I wasn't sure what I'd do afterward. I'd come all the way downtown, which takes over an hour, and then spent only two hours with her. When we said bye, I said we should get together again soon. She said, "Just call me," and she hugged me tight and kissed me on the cheek—different from the usual quick kiss, kiss, kiss on cheeks around here, as those aren't really kisses; it's more just like pressing your cheeks against your friends and making a noise with your mouth. So I had a hard time not reading something into that.

I wandered around a bit, trying to decide what to do, and after about ten minutes I went back to the bar and got a beer. Then a few minutes later, Anna came back with her friend who'd just gotten out of the hospital. The friend looked pretty down. There was another guy in tow, who she didn't introduce me to. So at least it seemed like Anna had told me the truth and wasn't blowing me off. But there was nowhere left to sit at Central Perk, so we said bye again and they left. I didn't want to tag along, partly because they'd probably be speaking in French and I didn't want to impose my monolinguism on them.

I read through a French music magazine and finished my beer, and then checked my iPod for the time. It was later than I'd thought: 11:30. So I decided to go by myself anyway to a club I'd told Anna about when we met up. This breakbeats dj, Freq Nasty, was spinning. I'd heard of him, but didn't know his stuff. But this club consistently gets better djs than anywhere in SF that I've ever been. And people seem to be more excited to be there. There's no where else to go around here, for the djs or the crowds, so I guess all the energy gets packed into this one place. So it seemed like it could be a good night out. I'd gone there by myself before and had fun.

I'd been at the club over an hour and was having fun dancing. There were some cute girls there who were really drunk, stumble-dancing, throwing their scarves around each other and pulling each other close and jokingly freaking, that kind of thing. I was having fun watching them. There were some exquisitely beautiful girls, tall, high-maintenance types. Out of my league.

I'd just gone to the bar for a beer when I looked over and noticed Anna had showed up. I was completely surprised. I went up and grabbed her arm and said hi. I think I interrupted a conversation she was having. She said her friend Andrea, the guy she was with earlier, wanted to come to the club, though he didn't know what kind of music it would be. She said since I'd showed her the flyer about it, she told him, "I know!"

The rest of the night was fun but not what I'd hoped. We hung out and smoked and drank. She said she'd forgotten that she can't dance unless she's drunk or high. I offered to buy her a drink and she said, "You'd have to buy me a lot," and I said OK. But she wasn't having it. She bought herself a lot of white wine. She danced a little, I danced a lot. It turned out she had a lot of acquaintances from graduate school there, but besides Andrea she only introduced me to one short, hilarious guy who was clowning around the whole time.

We joked around a bit, but it's always hard to talk at that place because it's so loud and crowded. But she did flirty stuff like hold on to my arm when we were talking or grab onto me and say, "Wait here for me," when she went to the bar. We got talking about Italian somehow and I said, "Do you speak Italian too?" I already knew she spoke German, of course, and flawless English, and at least passable French. And she'd told me about spending a month in Cuba and learning Spanish. She said she knew "Can I borrow a cigarette," and a few other phrases in Italian. "I only know scuzi," I said. "And spagetti and zucchini." She laughed and said, "Tell him scuzi," pointing at Andrea who was next to us. "Scusi," I said to him. "That's all the Italian I know." I'm not sure what he thought of that.

Around 2:30 Andrea took off and Anna stayed. She looked tired though. I tried to talk to her a bit, but it wasn't going anywhere. Some guy came over and started hitting on her and she kind of laughed it off and he left. "What did he want? A cigarette?" I asked her. "No..." she said. Then a little while later the guy came back and hit on her more. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but she was cracking up. I stopped dancing and was just standing there next to them, trying my best not to feel awkward. She said to the guy, "Come over here for a minute," and they left. I started dancing again to give myself something to do. Why wasn't I flirting with her more? Had I already fucked things up?

She came back a minute or two later and then kept checking her phone. "Waiting for an important phone call?" I asked her. "No, I'm checking the time," she said. "Is it past your bedtime?" I said. "No, my bedtime is three. Or, I'm leaving at three." Fifteen minutes or so later, three rolled around and she said she was going to go. I said, "I'll come with you." She headed toward the coat check, and I grabbed her arm. "I'm going to get my stuff and then I'll come meet you." I had stashed my coat on a shelf under the speaker. I'm too cheap to pay for the coat check.

At the coat check she waited in a short line and talked to some other guy. When she got her coat the two of them headed out and I walked along behind. I'd given her a cigarette, but she never got a light from me. When we got outside she dropped her cigarette on the ground. She picked it up, dropped it again, then finally got a hold of it and stood up. She seemed surprised to see me there. "Were you waiting for me?" she said, as if that was ridiculous. "Yeah," I told her.

She sat down heavy on a concrete planter outside. A bunch of other people were milling around, smoking, chatting. "Oh my god, I'm so drunk. And so stoned," she said. I only then noticed she did look really stoned. "Oh, so you found someone to get you high," I said. It was her friend who'd she'd been talking to at the coat check, a lanky Asian guy who also looked really stoned. Some other guy, with long coils of blond hair pulled back in a loose ponytail, came out of the club and walked up to us and talked only to Anna. Another friend from school, apparently. After a few minutes, the Asian guy said bye and Anna picked herself up. The blond guy was going the same way, she said. I guessed they both lived in the dorms. So I said bye and we did the cheek kiss, kiss, kiss and said bye. It was totally anticlimatic.

And now when I've called her a couple times, she doesn't seem to be answering. I think I fucked it up. I don't know what she was looking for. I feel confused and disappointed even though I wasn't sure I wanted anything to happen since I'm leaving soon. I'm so unsure of myself I don’t think I have a chance at one-night stands usually. I think it takes me a while to convince someone they even want to kiss me. Or maybe I’m just too American.

(A couple weeks ago when I was eating lunch with some people from work, we were talking about how some women at my work who are attractive aren't dating. One woman said she they were just being lame and not trying, not going out, but they weren't completely to blame because Geneva is so boring. I said maybe they just don't want to date. This Italian woman who knew I was American said, "What are you, American? What about one-night stands?")

Last night after finishing dinner with my housemates, I sat back for a minute and stopped trying to follow the conversation in French, which I can never follow anyway. My housemate Jean said, in French "Are you tired?" I got that much. "Yeah, too much work," I told him. Then he said something about amour but I didn't understand. He said, "Amour. Amour. J'aime, tu aimes..." starting to give me a grammar lesson. "Yeah, yeah. Amour. Love," I said, "OK, OK. Umm. Je aime quelqu'on qui... qui ne aime pas moi"—I love someone who does not love me.

It was sort of true, but not really. Mostly it sounded good and above all it was something I knew how to say in French. Jean said, "Ah, salope!"—bitch! We all laughed. He asked where she's from and when I said Germany, he said it's because I don't eat enough sausage and other German food. I'm glad he didn't try to get me to tell the whole story.


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