I sat down in front of my date and told him that I have lived a tragic life through the pain of others but have never encountered drama myself.
We met online over a paid dating app for ‘intellectuals’. It was embarrassing. I paid £40 a month for this and hadn’t had sex once.
I had dated men with boring names. David, Peter, Michael, Fred, Chester. Where were all the good names?
His name was Warren and his head was round. I liked a man with a round head. I also heard that a large forehead meant that he was clever, but perhaps I have been lied to.
Warren chose the restaurant. It was the French word for atmosphere, which I think is just atmosphere. I ordered a starter that was light on substance for fear of choking.
Why has your life been tragic, he said with a wry smile. And I mean it when I say wry. He nodded his head as he said it. I think that he thought he was in a Woody Allen film. He always looked like he had cameras trained on him.
I said my friend was killed when I was 18.
The meat on his face dropped and now Warren looked like a dead person. But he played ball.
And when was he killed.
How was she killed, sorry.
She was found in seven different plastic bags.
The police caught the killer mid disposal.
As in, he was throwing my friend away.
It felt to say that, that my friend was being thrown away but it was true.
And what was your friend’s name?
It is, isn’t it?
I took a bite of my starter which was several rocket leaves weighed down by salt flakes and pepper.
How did it happen?
She was drunk and needed a lift.
And she thumbed him down.
Yes. And she got in and he took her back to her place.
And then he drugged her.
Took her back to his place.
And the rest is too much to talk about.
He ordered another bottle of wine. The waitress came over and she showed the bottle of wine to Warren and he nodded and she poured out a little bit for him to try. Warren needed this time, I think, to recover from the story of my friend being butchered.
Which of course wasn’t true. I didn’t even have a friend called Amelia.
He raised his glass. To Amelia, he said.
I raised my glass too and half-heartedly said yes, to Amelia and clinked his glass in reply.
I’m looking forward to these scallops, he said. I’ve heard only good things.
I was surprised at Warren’s attempt to change my date in a direction he felt comfortable with. This is what men always did. They try to steer the date into smoother waters, waters they are comfortable with.
Your friends tell you good things about seafood?
Yes, I guess so.
As in you read a review?
Was it a good review?
He was sweating.
It was a good review.
Did it get 5 out of 5?
That’s very confident of you, I said.
Taking me to a 4 out of 5 restaurant.
I just heard about the scallops…
But what about me?
Please, he whispered. I believe that he pleaded here.
The main course arrived. He smiled at the food like it was a friend who had saved him from a particularly awkward encounter. I looked at my food like it was medium rare steak, which it was.
Why else is your life so tragic, he said. He was, at least, trying to return control of the ship to me.
I said my mother was murdered too. And that my sister was killed too. And that most important female figures in my life had been disposed of by men.
I didn’t go into details about these murders. He didn’t ask either.
I ate a piece of prosciutto ham and choked on it. I knew it would happen. I put my hand in my mouth and felt around for a stringy piece of fat and pinched it with my thumb and forefinger, pulling it out like a miniature rope.
He looked disgusted, which was fantastic.
So, he said. He grunted. He moved in his chair. So, what do you do for a living?
I couldn’t believe it. He had ignored the display of vulgarity. He had ignored the miniature rope of fat being pulled from my throat.
I told him that I was the manager of a waste disposal company which was not true either. I wanted to sound as boring as possible. I wanted to wear him down and melt him there and then at the table.
That sounds interesting, he said.
The rest of the meal passed without anything else of note occurring. He paid for the meal, of course. He tried to hold my hand when we got outside, but I refused to do so.
You’ve got small hands, I said.
I hit him where it hurt, it seemed. He looked at his hands.
Well, you know what they say.
I do know what they say.
Would you like to walk through Soho? Maybe get a drink?
I said I guess so. I put on the most spiteful face I could. We walked past a homeless man and I spat on him.
Warren took me for drinks and I told him more horror stories about myself. I told him things I liked about men and how he would never achieve any of those things I liked about men, that his mission tonight was impossible.
Warren smiled the entire time.
He came back to my place and I even opened the door for him. He entered my flat first. He took a seat on the sofa. He took the initiative. I wanted to vomit.
I was, however, quite prepared for a man like Warren. He had control of the ship. All men think this because they are men. But as he sat there with his round head and little hands, I thought many thoughts, thoughts that were, in my head, not words but actions, thoughts like I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.
Oliver Zarandi is a writer. His latest fiction has appeared in Vol 1 Brooklyn, Hobart and The Quietus. His latest essay, Swallowing, is forthcoming in The Fanzine. @zarandi / @funhousemag