A Soiled Romance

“I can’t keep it in, can’t keep it in…I gotta let it out, gotta let it out” Cat Stevens jeers in my ear. Sometimes the shuffle on my ipod is frighteningly on point. I manage a half smile at this thought which is undoubtedly more of a grimace as the truth is I am desperately trying to clench my bumcheeks together to prevent dropping my guts all over Kensington High Street. Filching that baguette from the work canteen seemed like such a good idea at the time, but the old wheat intolerance has decided to (apologies) bite me in the ass at a most inconvenient time. A Starbucks shines on the horizon like a beacon and I try to make it across the road just as the traffic lights are changing. A man in a white van intentionally speeds up, gesticulates wildly at me, and forces me to jump backwards into a puddle, nearly losing control of my sphincter muscle and my dignity.

Just three days earlier, I was walking – nay striding – down West 4th Street, after having had two strong coffees with a male model friend I met the last time I was in New York. I never drink coffee, what with it being a natural laxative and my having inherited my mother’s constitution, but hey – I was in New York, and the slices of pizza I’d been having nightly had not had any effect so I knew the coffee wouldn’t. Everything is different there. I am different, better. On I strode… strided… glided through the city, until I came to an intersection where I, as I seem wont to do, stepped out into the path of a white van turning the corner. This time though the driver stopped to let me cross, I smiled, crossed, and he drove on. Or so I thought. The next moment said white van driver, was at my shoulder and in a thick New Joysey accent said, “You only get one chance to make a first impression…” reaching for his phone he continued, “Can I take you out for dinner some time?” Boom. Only in New York. Predictably, I faltered, made 110 excuses in 5 seconds, shook hands with him and waved as he shuffled off rejected, back to his van with the door swinging open, in the middle of Broadway surrounded by angry, honking New Yorkers. Clearly I am only better at some things in New York. Remember the Impulse advert from the 80’s, ‘When a man you’ve never met before suddenly gives you flowers…’? I used to believe that this was simply what happened in life, regularly. When I grew up I quickly discovered that it wasn’t and you were more likely to get Tango-ed in the street than be given flowers by a stranger, but nevertheless a small part of me had faith that it would happen one day, and then it practically did, and then I spectacularly blew it. I usually would have wallowed in my closed-heartedness but for once I didn’t, it proved there is still hope, I was elated.  Oh and, for the record, I didn’t shit myself.

Fortunately I don’t shit myself on Kenny High Street either, no thanks to Starbucks which is just closing as I arrive and won’t let me in. I eventually find my relief in the mega store which is Whole Foods, situated in the old Barkers Arcade. As much as I love Whole Foods and its very New York philosophy, I find myself idly wishing it was still Barkers, that classic department store where Biba made its name. The truth is I am torn between two of the greatest cities on earth. So, what should I do? My heart is telling me to make the move, and that is the one thing I have learnt to follow over the years. Sure, I foolishly let a potential husband from Hoboken slip through my fingers last week, but there must be another way? Answers on a Statue of Liberty postcard please…


5 thoughts on “A Soiled Romance

  1. I love it! Really LOVE IT! I was laughing with you, and I felt I was in your situation… Great jokes, great narration… and local characters maybe I know? A male model friend???
    I agree with you that those things (the guy that was asking you out) just happen in NYC. In Mexico never happens (at least not for me), but in NYC, that is true, its like magic.
    Love this story Jane, and love your last sentence about following your heart. Yes, you are torn between two great cities (I love London as well)… but if your heart is saying NYC… just follow it…


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