Tall French in Greece, Part Whatever.

If I think about it from one point of view – that if Tall French didn’t show up, it would’ve been a week of me traveling Crete and Santorini alone, earbuds firmly buried into my ear canals during solo, anti-social dinners at old fashioned tavernas; taking necessary selfies at each place, beach, Cliffside resort; falling asleep reading my iPad since every single hotel had shitty wifi and therefore, no Netflix.

So from that point of view, it’s good she came. We split most things, car rentals and decent hotels and dinners where we ordered one main and twenty appetizers (though I had to coerce her to not be vegetarian for the week – any idea how hard it is to get a Muslim to eat pork? Well, I don’t know either, it was easy). We had lots of sex, lots of loud fucking that the neighbours must’ve heard but we just couldn’t stop, couldn’t hold back the ecstasy of it.

Let me talk about the sex more.

God, she has a porn star body. I hate that when I want to say a woman has a great body, I have to say she has a porn star body, but I suppose it makes sense because porn stars, out of any human beings on the planet, need to have perfect bodies made to grab and suck and fondle during sex. So that was her body. She’s not tight – there aren’t any rippling abdomen muscles and exposed veins – but she has definition on her stomach and wide hips and girly shoulders and these voluptuous breasts that hang just perfectly off of her clavicle. The perfect colour of a light-skinned Algerian or dark-skinned Parisian.

Everything was proportioned perfectly, in a comic book way: big tits, small waist, big ass, long legs. She’s how I used to draw women in my sketchbooks when I was a 14-year old teenager full or raging hormones, wishing I could put my mouth on a body like this.

She may very well have the best body that I’ve ever had sex with. She could be number one, but it’s one of those things where you can’t award 10/10 just out of principle, you know? 9.5/10. Half a mark off for curly hair (or something).

The way she had sex was to sit on top of me and grind, hard, in a back and forth motion (why did I say that, does anyone go side-to-side?). She would do that and I would match her movement, sometimes going the same way and sometimes the complete opposite, whatever my instincts nudged me to do. When she would bear down her hips, I would raise mine, and our fucking pelvic bones would be rubbing with so much friction that I swear I could smell smoke.

She would climax immediately, and then three more times, with more minutes passing between each successive orgasm. Often I would climax at the same time as her last orgasm, like some ridiculous Hollywood movie.

One time she stopped, mid-fuck, with tears in her eyes. She said she was scared. Third time this has happened to me. What is this? What sensation does a woman feel that makes her want to stop? The next time, we fucked through this wall, and she went from hard grinding to soft, fucking like we needed to be covert, silent. I sat up on the bed and she sat up on me, holding onto my neck and back so tightly that our bodies couldn’t move independently. We just sat there, undulating rhythmically. No in-and-out, no back-and-forth; just fucking to the small movements of our heart beats (really) with her speaking unintelligible French into my ear. It was like an artsy music video, fucking in the back of a Volkswagen in the rain, sweating, trying not to awake the people outside. Her eyes rolled back and she didn’t care about kissing anymore.

She came and cried at the same time. Cried.

We rolled over on the bed and she stared at me with her big, dark eyes with eyelash extensions and thick mascara. “I’ve never felt that before.”

“I didn’t really do anything,” I said. I hated being special. I never wanted to be the first anything to a woman.

I ruined her moment and breathed a sigh of relief that I did. I didn’t like the conversation and especially where it could end up. It was too real, too much. Too off my plan (what plan?). I just didn’t want it to be anything but two people fucking in a hotel on the Greek island of Crete.

She rolled over and went to sleep.

Tall French in Crete: Day 1

Tall French flew in this morning, but didn’t message me until early afternoon and only after I messaged her first.

“Are you alive? Did you make it?”

“Yes, just looking around the city,” she replied. Curious that she didn’t let me know she came in.

“Curious that you didn’t let me know you came in. Anyway, hungry. Wanna eat?”

“Eating now, meet later!”

She was up to something. I forgot about it and went about my day, walking the winding, cobblestone streets of Heraklion, Crete, in the mid-30 degree heat. Eventually we met up at an outdoor café off the main pedestrian drag near the water. We hugged – well, I hugged her and she remained stiff – and greeted each other with cursory conversation topics. How’s Paris? How’s Europe been? Boy, I sure miss Bangkok! It’s hotter here, though! No it’s not!

Then at some point she turned back into the defensive/offensive mess that she was months ago, before we kissed, before we had sex, when she was just a regular girl and I was just an ordinary boy and we didn’t know what each others’ genitals looked like.

Does that make sense that she was defensive and offensive? It’s exactly what she was like, and predictably so. She kept saying I’m too much of a planner, too organized. But when she realized I did absolutely no research about Crete, suddenly I was lazy, spoiled. I couldn’t argue because she was fighting both sides of the equation. This is how it went: she played defense so I went on the offense. Then she switched sides and I had no choice but to do so also.

We needed to go to the airport to rent a car.

“So let’s go to the bus station,” she said.

“I don’t know where it is; I took a taxi from the airport when I got in.”

“Why would you do that, it’s so easy to take a bus.”

“Because it was 10:30pm and I had bags. I’m not here for just a week like you.”

“Well it’s easy anyway and you’re just lazy and unadventurous.”

“What the fuck, it’s 11 euros. Who cares?”

“You’re just a fake cool guy.”

Jesus Christ, right? So we walked to the bus station. She only had a sense of where it was so I used Google Maps. I led us down this and that street while she would retort and tell me what her gut instinct said.

“Let’s just take a taxi,” I said, needing to piss badly.

“No, let’s take the bus. It’s so close.”

We were in the vicinity of the bus station when we saw a bus stop with an AIRPORT sign. A taxi pulled up to the curb to let someone out.

“Let’s take that taxi!” she said.

“No. We’re taking the bus.”

“But the taxi was your idea, I’m just doing what you want.”

“I didn’t walk all the way here just to jump in a taxi! Holy fucking shit!” I was extremely pissed at the logic. Maybe top 20 pissed moments of my 30’s.

On the bus, she wouldn’t let up. Kept saying that I should calm down about the taxi. You know when people tell you to calm down – especially when you’re already calm – you reply I’M CALM! and then they of course get to say, Then why are you yelling? It’s the oldest, shittiest trick in the book to maneuver your way to the power side of the argument (“I’m calm and you’re angry). It’s predictable and childish and dirty, and she pulled that shit out of her ass like I’m not a brilliant asshole who would see right through it.

“I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I can get through this trip,” I said. I wasn’t even trying to hide it anymore. “You’re too crazy. I haven’t been riled up like this in months. I get along with everybody, man.” Her comprehension of English was too low to understand what I was saying. But she knew I was pissed about something so sat back and gave me glorious silence for 10 minutes.

We sorted the car out and took the bus back to the city. She hadn’t seen the fortress that jutted out into the water, so we walked there. We climbed up the wall and watched the sun set. It was a spectacular scene, pulled right from a movie.

Then I realized what was going on. Like before, months ago, she was nervous, and this is how she handled nervousness and uncertainty: by being a straight-up bitch (she told me this). So as we sat next to each other on the wall of the fortress, our chins resting atop our tucked knees, I kissed her on the cheek, and then when she turned her head, on the lips.

“Fuck, you’re a fucking handful,” I said.

“I’m a what? A beautiful?” she asked in her thick French accent.

“Yeah, whatever.”

We’re okay again.

Return of Tall French

Tall French girl wants to meet me in Crete. She’s been back in Paris for the past few months, needed a vacation and asked what my plans were. Actually, she messaged with, “You picked Thor in Bulgaria over me in Paris?”

“Well Bulgaria was on my route to Greece; Paris is back that-a-way!”

It’s funny how she knows me well enough – that during the daylight hours, I’m mostly an antisocial introvert – to tippy-toe the question. “I won’t invade your space and I won’t stick to your ass. I can do my own thing most of the time.”

Ha ha. I feel kind of bad that she thinks she needs to ask in that manner. But she’s actually right for doing it this way. Though maybe a bit too far when she asked, while discussing a road trip around the island, “Will we rent two separate cars? Can we just share one?”

Am I that … obvious? I typically hide that side of myself, leaving people to think that I’m extremely social and always up for company. That I’d never turn down a good party or a stiff drink. And then I’d casually make my escape, usually passively, ie: ignoring messages, while I hit the gym or read in a park or watch Netflix on my bed.

Maybe because when we were in Phnom Penh, I kept disappearing on my motorbike during the day, ignoring all of the Frenchies’ messages and then reappearing in the evening, showered and clean and wearing a freshly pressed shirt and jeans at whatever lounge we were meeting up at. They eventually knew to not bother making plans with me during the day. I had my own shit to do.

Or, she’s just being a girl and being cautious to not scare the fucking shit out of me by coming on too strong. Good girl, that’s how you do it. I’m sure my aloofness is driving her insane. I’m sure she’s used to men begging her to join them on a Greek island for a week. I don’t know, I’d kind of just rather eat street food and read books and write stories.

I don’t mind either way. I’ve been around people for a week now so could use the break. Typically, for every one day I’m around people, I need 5 days alone. Though I’m always alternating between I wish I knew people in this city with Holy shit, I need to be the fuck alone. That’s like time passing while traveling as well: I’m always either killing time, or running out of it. So that’s the reason for my aloofness: I’m just sick of people right now. If this were 10 days ago, I’d be more enthusiastic.

I should be more enthusiastic.

After running around solo in these romantic European cities where I’d be eating at a sausage stand next to a candlelit patio full of couples, it’s a blessing to have someone to eat with in a seaside restaurant on Crete. Or on the cliffs of Santorini. It’s a damn good thing I have someone to drive the circumference of the island with, especially when that someone is a tall, French woman who loves adventure water sports and Korean men who ignore her.

Thor Says: Don’t Get Married

Thor had a tumultuous, colourful life. He used to be a police officer – and standing at 6’8” with forearms the size of my thighs, probably an effective one – then ran a scuba dive shop, then quit everything to move out here. Not here, but like me, to nowhere. Or everywhere. Whatever.

He’s 43 years old, so young enough to drink more than me (I can’t drink anymore, man) but old enough to give me hints about life to come. Some very frightening things.

Very Frightening Thing:
He’s been married twice. The first time was a Vegas shotgun marriage when he was 20 years old. A stupid, rash decision that lasted a good 6 years. Then he married another women for 9 years or something. Whatever, the point is, he said he’s done with marriage.

“You’re done because you don’t believe in it?” I asked. “Or because you need a variety of women?”

“Because I need a variety of women. Because I need the best woman I can possibly find, and whenever I find her, of course within years or months or weeks, I find someone better. It’s just neverending.”

“Oh shit, that’s exactly like me. I need the best woman possible; I can’t settle for less than I think I can get.”

“If you take a good, hard look at yourself and you truly, truly believe that that’s how you are, then you should never, ever get married. It won’t work for you and it won’t work for the girl. It’s just bad news all around,” he said, matter-of-factly, while swirling his spoon into his ice cream.

This is the first time I ever thought of that, if I was just meant to be single. I always thought I was meant to be married, to have a family. But there’s what I think I want and what I truly am capable or incapable of. That’s a frightening thought, that I’m meant to be alone. That my personality of always trying to top whoever I’m with will prevent me from being happy with a single woman.

That’s frightening as fuck. That’s a nightmare. That’s my life’s quest turned into something unachievable. That’s me dying with pangs of regret.

But how do you change this? How do you stifle ambition? Because that’s what it is, isn’t it? I’m ambitious, and not in some douchey, dickhead way where I think I deserve riches and a Porsche and a 22-year old wife. My ambitions are realistic, they’re just to beat myself by inches every year, that’s it.

What the fuck am I talking about? I was supposed to write the bio of Thor.

So he’s this monstrous, poster-child of America, but a gentle giant. That’s what I pegged him as. But he explained to me that it wasn’t until two years ago that he became happy, calm, chilled the fuck out and grateful to just participate in life. Before, for the first 41 years of his life, he was angry and violent, and that’s scary as fuck if you saw the size of his goddamn hands.

He went on a trip to Asia and – exactly like me – saw how people who had less than him were happier than him. That flipped the first switch in his head, in a long line of switches that are toggled when you go from North America to Thailand. Now he’s running around Sofia, Bulgaria, buying laptops for charities, making sandwiches for the homeless. His aim is to give back to the world, balance out the karma of the generous life he had in a rich, white suburb outside of Santa Barbara. He’s not a goodie two shoes, I mean, he fucks 20-year old Bulgarian waitresses at burger joints when he can, but he doesn’t lead them on. He doesn’t hurt them directly (they may hurt themselves, but he can’t stop that). He’s just this generous, happy guy who picks up the cheque and never wants to be married again.

 

Begrade to Sofia; Thor and Wispy Hippie Indian Performance Artists

I took the night train from Belgrade, Serbia to Sofia, Bulgaria. In my 6-person car, there was me, Milan from Slovakia, Hillary from Hong Kong, Bern from Barcelona, and Chris and his shy girlfriend from Germany. We boarded at 10pm and by midnight we were all drunk on the cheap red wine that I brought, and Milan’s homemade Serbian liquor, Rakia, made in someone’s bathtub. He had it in a plastic waterbottle with a squirt lid, which obviously had a past life as an Evian bottle.

By 1am, everyone was asleep except for me and Milan, and we drunkenly walked through our first-class sleeper car to the economy steerage cars on the end of the train. After hearing so many of his stories, I was curious to see gyspies. We would pass them and Milan would nudge and whisper, “There, that’s one. Look, there’s a family there,” and we would crack up at how unstealthy our entire operation was.

I woke up at 10am after rocky sleep, the sun glaring into my eyes and my mouth dry from drinking 60% homemade alcohol. We arrived at the station 4 hours late, exchanged Facebook contacts and separated.

Thor came to pick me up in a weird Mercedes with Keri driving and Sergei in the back seat.

I met Thor in Bangkok in April. A fucking massive giant standing at 6’8” with long blond hair – hence the nickname – he was friends with the Tall French girl, who was meeting him after Thai class for lunch at Cabbages & Condoms around the corner from school. I jumped in as did the French Couple, who I was just getting to know. We spent just a few hours talking, but got along quickly because we’re normal human beings without extreme personalities and that’s all long-term travelers really need to get along. He’s also from Southern California and loves Korean BBQ, so 50% of our conversation was based around where to get the best charred pork products.

The beauty of the Internet is that relationships no longer stall out when you can’t meet up in person. They’ll still grow while people are in different parts of the world. So with similar aspirations (none) and senses of humour, we kept in touch throughout the months which is why I’m now in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he calls his temporary home because a 10-day trip somehow turned into 2-months, oddly.

We drove to a few caves and waterfalls, ate a massive amount of killer, killer grub, and drank more rakia. A two-night weekend felt like a week and now his friends feel like mine and we have more photos taken with a selfie stick than we care to admit.

###

In Belgrade, I was packing up at the hostel — it was the first time I ever stayed at a hostel since I was just quickly passing through the city, though I rented out the entire room with the bunk bed and no washroom – I met a girl in the kitchen, a cute, wispy Indian girl emanating a hippie, fairy energy. She was making herself a salad and I remarked on how fresh it smelled, after eating nothing but meat and cheeses for a month. Before I even introduced myself, she was sticking a forkful of cucumbers and tomatoes with feta cheese into my mouth.

Katie was from American (I think) and then moved to Switzerland for work. She was a performance artist and something something. Big eyes, big hair, big teeth (like all cute Indian women). We had a quick 20-minute conversation while I was packing my bag and she was making her salad, before I had to catch my train. But in those 20 minutes, we held eye-contact for 18 of them. One of those nice, airy and bright moments that come and then flitter away forever. She was traveling west while I was on my way east, but we discovered that when I’m in Costa Rica this November visiting The Swiss, she may be in Nicaragua. So we traded Facebook contacts, planned to meet in a few months, and I thought, well, a beach in Nicaragua’s a good as place as any to have sex with a wispy, hippie Indian performance artist, I guess.

Why I (Probably) Travel

On a long, 8-hour train ride from Budapest to Belgrade, I was thinking about the reasons that I travel. For the past decade, I left Toronto for months out of the year to ostensibly find myself or immerse into a culture that wasn’t mine.

But honestly, that shit stopped maybe 5 years ago. That’s when I stopped going to new countries and instead repeating old ones. That’s when I wanted depth, not breadth. I wanted to dig deep into Bangkok, Hong Kong, Panama City, Bogota — wherever. I stopped doing that thing where I’d pass through a country for a night or two, just to get the stamp in my passport.

(That’s another thing: when you travel a little — a few times a year, maybe — the stamps and visas in your passport are trophies. You hold them dear to your heart. But when you travel frequently and often, they become a hassle, and you mentally swear at the customs agent that misses a spot and stamps on a new blank page and you’re appalled when countries still have visas that take up an entire fucking page. That’s one step closer to you having to go through the passport renewal process, which all pro travelers want to avoid.

Canada recently introduced a 10-year passport, but cut the pages down to 36. The vacationers celebrated, but the frequent travelers cursed the trimming of the pages. The 10 years is irrelevant, because those pages will be full in less than two.)

So since 5 years ago — well, until this European jaunt I’m doing now — I stopped having culture shock. But my life became richer for it, because I was meeting locals, hanging with them in their spots, picking up the language. I can’t hang with foreigners, with backpackers anymore (if I ever did).

Case in point: the backpacker in front of me now, right now, on this train, was filling in a piece of paper with the refill of a ballpoint pen. The motherfucking refill of a ballpoint pen. Can he seriously, literally not afford a pen? The second you break the chassis of a pen and that refill falls out, don’t you discard it because it’s trash? Sure, the refill still works without the body — but we’re not savages and we can afford a 50 cent, — in any country, I’m guessing — ballpoint fucking pen, can’t we?

Once in awhile, he’ll glance at me. That Hey I’m a solo traveler too, let’s talk and see if we’re going the same way look. I know it; I’ve done it. But, you see, I can’t do it, I can’t befriend him because I’m everything I own are in the bags I have in front of me — tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear — and this motherfucker can’t afford a pen. Can’t risk it.

###

So back to my point: I think I’m traveling now because at 36 years old, I’m so far away from the perception of who and what I thought I’d be at this age, that I might as well push that envelope all the fucking way. Throw that dial to 11. It’s not a disappointment that I’m not living in the suburb of a major city, designing during the day, writing books at night, with my wife and daughter and big brown dog.

It’s not a disappointment that I don’t have a neighborhood bar that I frequent every Thursday, that I just show up to and friends will be there, other fathers, to talk about husband and father duties, about how property tax went up that year and Little Jack’s hayfever is acting up again.

They’re not disappointments, but they are milestones that I thought that I would hit by this age (sorta kinda). I missed those marks, and I missed them by a narrow margin (i.e.: was still living in Toronto; was still dating to find the one to marry). So instead of my life being in a shape where I “narrowly missed those milestones but I’m almost thereeeeeee,” I had to go and miss those milestones by the widest possible margin, in the complete opposite direction, 180 full degrees, so I could keep my brain from thinking that I wanted any of those things in the first place.

So before I was “36 years old and so far away from who and what I thought I’d be at this age,” to now being, “36 years old and so far away from who and what I thought I’d be at this age!!!!!!!” and that’s a goddamn world of a difference.

History of Swiss Guy

The Swiss guy I traveled with for 3 nights — and in travel time, that’s a long time. In travel time, we’re now best friends, and we know each other more than friends back home, people who I only see for 4 hours a week at the bar — he’s had an interesting life.

His father grew up in Communist Czechoslovakia, when the Russians were in control. At some point in college, he was detained, questioned and beat by the authorities. It had something to do with records or radio — the contents of which were contraband — and somebody told on him. Fingered him out. He eventually escaped to Switzerland, married my friend’s mother, gave birth to my friend.

“He would still walk looking over his shoulder,” said Swiss. “I told him, ‘You need to get help. You can’t live like this.’ But it was too late for him. He’ll spend the rest of his life sitting in restaurants facing the door so he can see who’s coming in.”

Jesus fucking Christ.

Swiss guy grew up in the valley of Switzerland. His high school girlfriend was from a wealthy family (with political ties) so she owned her own condo that he moved into. At 16-years old, he moved out with his girlfriend. Shit. He lived like a normal kid — poor, hungry, happy but yearning for more. So he discovered stocks and trading, and very quickly did well for himself, buying cars and motorcycles in cash.

Then came mandatory army enrollment. I forgot how long. I asked if it was fun, if it was like summer camp: learning hard survival skills; meeting new friends; making out with girls behind the toilets. “No, it was a stupid waste of time and the opportunity cost was too high. I couldn’t trade anymore, I couldn’t make money. Switzerland shouldn’t even have an army.”

After the army, he went to college — which is free in Switzerland if you graduate high school. Basically, someone has to let you enroll in their school if you have a diploma in hand. I asked how they could do that, accommodate so many students, but it’s not like North America where high school’s an easy pass. In Switzerland, a shitload of people opt out of high school and instead go into apprenticeships like plumbing or welding.

Anyway, so he went to college and studied finance. This is why my head spins and my ears perk up when we talk about economics. He’s not only full of wisdom on the topic, but breaks it down into bite-sized chunks that my brain can digest (and remember, I’m smarter than all of you).

He made great money afterwards, working for a private bank. Again, he built up his wealth and walked into a car dealership and bought a car — Suzuki Impreza, one of the best street racers — in cash.

Also, in Switzerland, you don’t just learn the rules of the road, take a test and get your license. You take courses in driving physics that teach you how to negotiate curvy mountain roads at 200km/h; how to drive 300km/h on the autobahn without losing control of the car. When I wasn’t looking, he got that electric blue VW golf up to around 220km/h — the fastest I’ve ever, ever been in a car — without me even noticing. So these Swiss people, they know how to fucking drive, man, because they’re all taught the same physics an F1 driver knows.

Something happened, though. He lost half his money. Maybe it was the 2008 crash? It doesn’t feel like it was. I’m not sure if he mentioned the details, but I feel it was something more personal: his mother died or his girlfriend ran or he lost it all gambling. Anyway, now it’s a few years ago and he has less money but more heart.

He started traveling, and traveling even more basically than I’ve ever done. The back of his VW held a tent and a barbeque, so he could pull over and create an impromptu campsite where ever he was. That’s some real, legitimate nomad shit.

He also jumped onto opportunities when he saw them. He saw a glitch in the market for VW cars. They were selling for double the price in Switzerland than in the US. So he procured a dealership license, imported cars and sold them on Craigslist. The only sales line he had was, “I’m selling the same car as that dealership, but for 20% less.” Some people bought; some people walked. He made great money doing this until the market became saturated. The barrier to entry was just too low.

So now he works primarily at a hostel in Costa Rica, checking in guests and cooking for the staff. Then he travels everywhere for half the year — when Costa Rica’s in rainy season — and lives off the dividend income that his stocks make. He makes less than he ever did since he was a teenager, but at this age you find out it’s not about that shit anyway, and you’re in trouble if you think it is.

Budapest: Tinder Rejection

I met a girl on Tinder. A 21-year old Hungarian local, very much into basketball. “Ball Is Life,” it says somewhere on her profile. I’m just a casual Tinder user and don’t really use it to hook up, but I like to see what type of women I match with, or to be more specific, right-swipe me back.

I’m always wondering, what do I look like to these Hungarians? Do they find Asian men repulsive? Desirable? Most of the time, it doesn’t matter. The world is small, everyone watches American TV, everyone knows what an Asian guy looks like. Fuck, that goddamn thing in my brain that thinks I’m some unqiue snowflake. Snowflake syndrome, man.

Also, it’s impossible for me to judge. Going on empirical evidence, I’d say every woman I’ve met in Europe likes Asian men. But you see the fault in this result: I’ll never meet a woman who doesn’t like Asian men, because they wouldn’t meet me in the first place.

Asian women, however, are desired by all. How many times have I heard that said on this trip, and so casually from white men? I like Asian girls. I tend to go for the Asians.

Anyway.

Tinder girl was 21. Young, I know. Have I gone that young before? I think I have. Good Girl Local Girl in Bangkok was 23 when we started to date (what do I do about her? I can’t just … disappear on her). She’s cute, but not as stunning as I’ve found Hungarian women to be (but they were hookers). Dark shadows under her eyes, a little sickly-pale, muscular arms from basketball. She looked slim enough, stood at 5’8″ (she asked for my height). Not my first choice, but sometimes you have to say Yes in life to get a story and a good meal out of it.

We didn’t chat with flirty overtones; I asked about Budapest and where to eat and what to eat. Harmless, impotent questions. Then she added me to Facebook, laughed at my updates, remarked on photographs on my travels, and basically found out that I’m not a lunatic who preys on young women.

I said, Meet me for dinner. “Bring me to a local joint that tourist don’t go to.”

“I thought you were going to take me out to dinner.” Well, there’s the flirty overtones.

“I’ll take you out, but you have to lead us there.”

“Let’s meet at 7pm”

7pm which was perfect: I could torment myself with the article I’ve been trying to write for another 5 hours. But at 6:30pm she asked to skip dinner and meet at 8pm instead; she was having dinner with an old friend.

Sure, that’s fine.

8pm came and went, neither of us messaging each other. I was still deep into my work, lost in paragraphs, trying to sort out the rhythm of the sentences. It was hard writing, man. Sometimes it comes out, sometimes it doesn’t.

At 8:30pm I asked, We still meeting?

“Yes, how is 10:30pm?”

Yup, that’s good.

I found Europeans to be like this, very late, very flaky (except for my Swiss friend — he was always on time, and shocked that I was always on time. Actually, we would both meet at the agreed upon meeting place a few minutes early, expecting to wait for the other and pleased to see we were both early). I had to relax my sense of tardiness in these cities.

At 9:30pm I asked, “Oh, let’s go to 360. My friend here told me to check it out.”

“Uhm I might know people there. I rather wouldn’t go there if it’s okay.”

“Haha, ok, fine. I get it.” I got it.

At 10pm I showered, shaved everything, tried out a few outfits, did my hair and left. We were meeting at Oktagon station in front of the Burger King, and it was a 20 minute walk away. I planned to find a tall can of beer for the walk, to help relax and stave off the 30 Celsius Budapest night.

At 10:10pm she messaged: “Sorry, but can we put it to another day?”

“Seriously?” I replied. “I’m walking there now.”

“Yes, I’m sorry. I’m not feeling well at all.”

“This is so last second. I didn’t make any other plans for tonight.” I was about to talk her into it, but then figured I don’t want someone there who doesn’t want to be there. That’s just shitty for all parties involved. “Well shit, if you have to bail, then bail.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry. I just came to meet my friend but I’m not okay at all. I have a sickness and it comes randomly sometimes.” The dark circles under her eyes? The sickly look? Maybe she really is sick, maybe she has some incurable disease and was hemorrhaging blood at that moment and just really couldn’t go meet a stranger off Tinder at the Burger King outside Oktagon station.

But fuck that, she wasted my second last night.

“Sorry to hear.”

The Psychopathic Woman Who Could’ve Murdered Me

I dated a psychopath earlier this year. Never wrote about her here because I was saving the story for a better place. (I save the good ones: Hawaii; the one whose brain broke; this psychopath.) And now I’ve been assigned to write something for a magazine and this fits perfectly.

But I’m having these moral qualms now.

Before, while I was dating her, in the middle of the storm, I kept thinking, “I can’t wait to tell everyone how fucked up this fucking chick is. Jesus fuck, I need to broadcast this story wide and far, across the oceans, through the mountains.”

But now, months later, I’m thinking if it’ll hurt her. If she’ll somehow stumble upon this story in a regional Toronto magazine — and there’s a good chance since Facebook exists and a better chance since I’m going to link to it. So after a few months I’m beginning to humanize her once more and think, “Maybe she wasn’t that bad. Maybe it was my fault, maybe I was…”

No, fuck that, she’s crazy as fuck —

— and let’s get something straight: I don’t typically call women crazy, psychotic. It’s just too easy. It’s the lazy word that uninventive, uncreative men use against women. It’s the same when a blithe, idiotic woman says about a guy, He has a small penis and the sex was bad. It’s so fucking ho-hum and cliche and I roll my eyes and respect the woman telling the story even less. So I’m not calling this girl crazy because I didn’t get my way or because she disagreed with me. I’m calling her crazy because she’s a fucking lunatic.

Just a small nibble: we were out with her friend and her age came up. I’m pretty sure she told me she was 33 years old. But on this night, she announced that she was 28. Then she said she was born in 1984. Her friend said, “But that would make you 30.” And I said, “Wait, your younger sister just turned 30, I saw it on Facebook.” She sat there smiling. Not breathing, not blinking, not even moving her eyeballs. She sat there staring into space like a fucking psychopath with a fucking psychopathic grin on her face, caught in her pathetic lie and remaining as still as possible hoping that we’d forget about it and move on with the conversation.

And we did, because who cares.

Another time she was talking to my friend who just came back from Myanmar and was raving about the hot-air balloon ride over the temples during sunrise.

“Oh, I helped build that company!” She said. I rolled my eyes.

“Which one?” He asked

“What?”

“Which company? There are three hot-air balloon companies.” My friend was an entrepreneur, and he always digs into the details of companies he finds interesting.

“Well,” she thought. “Which one did you go on?”

“Myanmar Express.” He answered.

“You chose well.”

Ha ha ha ha. What the fuck. Nice move. They discussed it more and my friend was clearly confounded as she kept insisting it was a government operation, and he kept saying they were a for-profit Australian company. She ended the argument with, “Well, we’ll just agree to disagree.” You can’t agree to disagree with facts, shit. You’re not discussing what you think the colour purple tastes like.

###

The last day that I saw her, we met up for Korean BBQ close to both our homes. I was there first and she showed up — drunk. At that time I didn’t know what was wrong with her. I thought she was just happy? Peppy? But nope, clearly she was drunk. My brain just couldn’t register that anyone would show up smashed to a 7pm dinner.

She walked into a fucking wall.

She was on the phone during dinner and I didn’t mind. I preferred it. But she kept saying, “I’m soooooo sorry I’m on the phone, it’s my best friend, he’s gay and I’m the only one that can help him. I’m the only one he has.” You see what she did there? There’s like, 6 moves all in that one line.

1: She knows being on the phone during dinner is rude
2: She knows she is being rude
3: She’s apologizing for it
4: She has best friends; people think of her as a best friend
5: She is, in fact, this guy’s only friend, perhaps
6: She’s good at solving people’s problems

Right?

The issue was something so tiny and insignificant, when she told me what it was (I didn’t ask because I don’t take the bait). Though right now thinking back to that meal, I’m doubting that she was on the phone at all. I remember the conversation wasn’t a smooth one. Like at some point she answered his part of the dialogue, because remember, she was shitfaced. I’m pretty fucking sure she was talking to nobody.

Anyway, we were at my place and there was a point where we were sitting on the couch and I looked at her and thought, “If she stabs me in the throat right now, with that fork on the table, I won’t be surprised.” And then I became scared, because she could literally do just that, and then tell everyone it was self-defense and everyone would believe her because she’s this good girl who buttons her shirt to the very top and has an English accent, and I’m a dark Asian guy running around the world with no home.

She wanted to have sex and so I did out of fear. She fake-orgasmed while in doggystyle position, and I was like, “Come on, really? In this position? You don’t have to…” but she said “I’m coming, you’re making me come,” and then she kicked out her right leg like she was kicking out a cramp, tightened up her body, grunted, then fell to the bed and said, “You made me come.”

I went to bed in fetal position. I woke up the next morning and there were clear signs that she was up and about, rummaging through my things.

“You’re the first Asian guy I ever kissed!” said the drunk and hyper Chinese girl from London.

Met a girl from Tinder last night, an Italian woman 10 years younger than me but looks 10 years older (poor white people).

We went for a quick drink at 7:30pm because I had to meet friends-of-friends at 9pm at an open-air bar a 20 minute walk away. So I met her around Opera Station —

— The area around Opera Station is teeming with hookers. It’s not surprising since it’s a main thoroughfare in Budapest. But what’s surprising is the way they approach me. They’ll ask for directions to a street or a landmark, but it’s always something that’s right there, that’s right behind them. One asked me where the Opera house was (right behind her); another one asked where a certain street was (I Googlemapped it after and it was beside us). Whenever anyone asks me anything, I’m suspicious and become hyper-aware. But they don’t dress like hookers — in Berlin, holy fuck, now those were hookers — and ask impotent questions. For both, I answered, “Sorry, I’m not from around here,” and they’d say, “Oh.” That’s it. No follow up, no nothing. I’d just walk away and they would let me. They need to work on their salesmanship —

So I met the Italian around Opera Station, outside of a bar called 360 that multiple people have told me about (best views from the rooftop patio). I was standing in line and she came up to me. There were strangers around, so we exchanged pleasantries like we knew each other. I love that people meeting on (Tinder just automatically know to do this, to be subtle and now yell, “Good to meet you! You look cuter than in your pics!”)

I didn’t have much time so instead of waiting in the line we walked around the corner to a Ruin Bar, which is where you drink in Budapest: bars that are in ruined buildings. They all look mighty hipster, but they’re authentically ruined buildings with crumbling walls and patio furniture. Fucking amazing.

We chatted for an hour, she drank — I forgot the name, but it’s white wine mixed with soda, a local refreshment to battle the 35C heat here. I had a Mojito. Really cool chick, she gave me the low-down on Budapest and traveling in Europe in general, some hints about Croatia and Greece. No sexual overtones (undertones?). It’s like we met just to have company for an hour before I had to go meet my friends and she had to go meet hers.

She paid the bill. I mean, it was only like, $7, but still. Spectacular!

###

At 9pm I was at the open-air bar, chatting with my friend’s friend who I probably met in a drunken stupor at a wedding in Phuket two years ago. We got along quickly, easily, talking mostly about dodging taxes and hiding assets — highly interesting conversation for two business owners living where-the-fuck-ever.

After a few beers, we went to the most popular ruin bar in Budapest — whose name I’ve forgotten. His friend came along, this giant, menacing, bald Hungarian who I’d imagine Keyser Soze to look like. (He left earlier in the night, drunk, because he couldn’t understand all the English happening. As he left, he kept doing the Nazi Heil Hitler gesture, which was, well, strange.)

The energy in the place was fantastic. Apparently it was a cinema built in the 1920’s, and the foundation of the old screen still hung up in the open-air courtyard. Everything was crumbling bricks and steel I-beams and a shitload of tourists.

We weren’t in there for 10 minutes when a small Asian girl came up to us, drunk, hyper, and said somethingsomethingsomething… Do you want to meet my friends?

Absolutely!

We followed her through the crowd and she said, Here they are, here are my friends, and presented us with a dozen young white backpacker typesThey were shocked, we were shocked. No one even bothered to shake hands or ask for names.

She was only friends with one of the guys, who she came with from London. Cool guy, a 28-year old osteopath (?). He used to date the drunk hyper Asian girl but said, It’s cool, you can get in there if you want.

So I got in there.

I grabbed her and brought her to the bar where there were two old Hungarian men sitting, drinking. One said something, and I would normally walk away from trouble, but it was so off-putting that I became confrontational, saying, “The fuck did you say?” and just asking for trouble. It’s all blurry. His friend changed the subject, asked if me and the girl were dating.

“It’s our honeymoon,” I said. Then I bent over and kissed her. She was shocked, then got over it and kissed me back.

“You’re the first Asian guy I ever kissed!” Said the drunk and hyper Chinese girl from London.

Ugh, really? Ugh.

I blacked out. Woke up this morning to find my clothes in the kitchen and my jeans soaking wet and hanging on the railing outside to dry. I don’t know what happened to the Chinese girl or the Osteopath or my friend-of-a-friend or Keyser Soze or the old Hungarian men.