The Man-Boy Who Was Saturday Night

For the past six weeks, on Tuesdays, on the weeks where I usually don’t have my kids on the upcoming weekend, I receive a text from Mr. Saturday Night, AKA “He who is not a great texter.”

“What’s your weekend shaping up like?”

I am trained through corporate life to answer in the moment. I don’t want to play games, I’m too old for that shit. You ask, I’ll answer. My phone is never more than 12 seconds away from my person, which is fucked up but is what it is.

“What have you got in mind?”

“How about I go down on that sweet pussy of yours for an hour, feed you dinner and then have you for dessert?”

I mean, YOU GUYS! Who am I to turn down an offer like that at the moment?

The first two times, he came over to my place. I made us dinner the first time, and the second time, he had me for a meal, then took me out for a meal, then had me for dessert as promised. Swoon.

But as I’ve already documented all the things that are not sitting well with me, I’ve had to continuously check my nature, which is to “catch feels” as the kids say these days.


We’d arranged to see each other Sunday for a change, but he knew I was free Friday night and I found myself waiting for one of his adorably lame texts about the weather or the sky. And just when I’d given up, I got, “Friday the 13th! (purple devil emoji).” I’d been holding back, I’d been wanting to message and didn’t. And he came through. There was a swoony satisfaction in that.

Sunday came around. I spent a delicious day, reading in my favourite chair, cooking myself a delicious late lunch. He ended up having to work, so our hangout moved from late afternoon to the evening. I was excited, because he lives above a bar I epitomized as the ultimate boho experience when I was a drama nerd of a teen, who went to protests and watched Woodstock every weekend, and wanted nothing more than to live above a store, windows open, curtains billowing, jazz playing.

I passed all the sweaty, gorgeous, half-naked hipsterites sitting out on terraces. An illegal house party was blasting beats in an alley. I became conscious of how I’d dressed like a 20-something, in a floral romper, the short shorts barely covering a lifetime of cellulite, but I decided I was very Lena Dunham and shrugged it off.

I took a breath. This is what I wanted 20 years ago, this boho life. My heart smiled at the idea. I pushed open the gate and made my way carefully up the metal fire escape. His kitchen door was open, and he stood there, staring at me with hungry eyes. I melted a bit and then looked around. Record screech.

It was like I sat in the Hot Tub Time Machine and went back to 1998. Which is roughly how long my handsome, charming lover and friend has lived there. There were interesting places to look everywhere. His room was giant enough to house a king-size, a couch, a chair and a huge desk that looked out onto the famous Bohemian street where he lives. There were books and records and chairs and kinda clothes and stuff everywhere. And the world’s most adorable pup. I stood against the desk, admiring photos, when he came up behind me, pulled my hair off my neck and held it hard, while the other hand slowly crept up my leg, along the curve of my ass and started exploring and his mouth kissed and bit the back of my neck until the air in the room should have triggered a fire alarm. Then he threw me down on his bed hard and reminded me that he knew exactly what he was doing.


But remember how we lived in those days? Remember the apartments that were charming at first, but filthy and crumbling on further inspection? Remember how living with roommates was?

I found an actual archeological video clip from 1998 to help you understand.

Except, my beautiful lover is not 20-something. He’s 50-something. And while I try not to judge anyone’s financial situation, I think what was irking me was how disastrous it was. Food that had been cooked and left to dry out in its pot on the stove. Roach traps in the bathroom. Dirty pile of clothes in the corner of his giant bedroom. And having to look roommates in the eye after having loud, body-rocking G-spot orgasms in the room next door, knowing full well that I’m NOT “the first girl that’s come around in a long time.”

And no toilet paper.

Yep. Unlike Carrie Bradshaw in the video above, I did not spend the night. And I was smart enough to look before I peed. “Uh, where do you keep your toilet paper?” He was supposed to go get sundries but had been called in to work, he explained, then apologized, scrounged, and procured me a cocktail napkin covered in images of coffee beans and latte cups. I rolled with it, like I was cool AF, but inside my brain was screaming, “Peter Pan! Run!”

He’d warned me ahead of time, because he’s not obtuse, that the place was a disaster zone. He was surprisingly vulnerable in his own space. We went to an old haunt for dinner (to really hammer the 1998 bit home) and as usual, the conversation was great. He asks many thoughtful questions, and our tangential conversations are full of giggles and belly laughs. We talked about how the apps are necessary, but that they miss some of the magic that comes with getting to know someone first. I talked about how consideration and politeness are really important to me and he said he felt the same. Then he took me back to his place for round 2, as he does after a meal now. And he never finishes himself until round 2. That’s how generous he is, or maybe it’s an age thing, but I don’t mind because the score is totally working in my favour for once!

So here’s the thing. We lay in his bed looking at all the awesome projects he’d produced. He’s so proud of his work, it’s inspiring. He shared so much of himself in that bed. And after we’d given each other what we were both there for, I nearly fell asleep next to him, still slightly wistful that he may never spoon me. I’ve never slept over at anyone’s since Theo left, nor have I let anyone sleep over. It’s how I will know when something is getting serious. Sleep equals trust equals feels. (Plus I open-mouth gargle snore.)

“I could almost fall asleep,” I murmured, lying on my tummy, head in my arms, the closest thing to snuggling myself without looking ridiculous. He was on his back, looking half asleep himself. I knew he had to work early the next day, so I was surprised when he said, “Well I’ll drive you home, of course.” There was something so lovely and chivalrous about that. And I was happy, because it meant we got to talk more before ending the night.

So we put our clothes on, had a quick chat with the roommates about landlord troubles, and eventually made our way to his super cool vintage station wagon, dog in tow, all the way across town to my humble abode. We kissed goodnight, and that is that.


I woke up the next morning with a clearer sense of what this is. I’ve done “Fixer upper” and also, he doesn’t want to be renovated; he’s curated a life he seems quite happy with. He wouldn’t want my help in changing that life and I just couldn’t resist wanting to “improve” it. It’s just that I don’t do authentic boho anymore. I’m aspiring for vintage meets Anthropologie, which might make me a douche, but so be it. I’m a grown-ass person, who has an Amazon subscription to toilet paper so that I NEVER RUN OUT!

He’s my lover, and a friend, though not a close friend, yet. But I enjoy his company immensely and for now I want to keep him in my orbit. I like how I feel when I’m with him, even the uncomfortable parts. It’s probably never going to be anything more, and I’m OK with that. I’ve decided not to change or hide who I am, though I’m consciously scaling back a bit. If I scare him off, so be it. I gotta be me. The girl who is going to bring you a book. The girl who will want to kiss and caress your whole body affectionately. I’m not going to hide my affectionate, touchy nature, just because he’s not affectionate. I lived like that and it was painful.

But I’m also not quite ready to reach out for his hand on the sidewalk, not just yet. Not ready to ask, “Can we spoon?” Because he seems to have some kind of code, and I would hate if I asked him to cross a line and somehow managed to make him fall in love with me when, logically speaking, this might never be anything except what we share together. Maybe not spooning and not holding hands is how he keeps a boundary between his dick and his heart. And perhaps I’d be wise to keep a boundary too.


I’m getting closer to lasering in on what I want in my next long-term relationship. I’m starting to form an idea in my mind of what kind of person could be my equal. And that’s a delicious thought. Mr. SN comes close in many ways, but we are from two different worlds, and based on his behaviour, we won’t ever be more than companions. Which is so delicious right now, I could bathe in it. And don’t I deserve a wee bit of fun after all I’ve been through?

 

Cecile and Valmont

cecilevalmont2

I’ve begun to think of Mr. Saturday Night as Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) to my Cecile Volanges (Uma Thurman) in Stephen Frears’s brilliant film Dangerous Liaisons. After our last encounter in the bedroom, I joked to some girlfriends that having sex with me is probably like fucking a 17-year-old, because dammit, I’M SO NEW!

Now let’s be clear, Valmont is an evil character, prioritizing his own game of power and desire over what’s even in his own best interest. He destroys nearly everyone in the story, just to try and win a game with the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close). But there are these moments of levity and hotness, when he seduces the young, virginal Celine, awakening the desire within, teaching her the ropes in the bedroom, that I find compelling in my current circumstance.

Mr. SN is an incredible lover. All that actor training means he reacts IN THE MOMENT. He is constantly reading signals and changing up strategies and moves accordingly. A lifelong bachelor, he has probably had dozens of lovers (I’m at six sexual partners at this point) and clearly knows the female body and how to give it pleasure. But what’s more, he revels in giving a woman pleasure, over and over again. He is rough in all the right ways, like he knows just what I need for sexual healing right now. “You’re a gift,” I told him last Saturday night, revelling in the beauty of what occurred between us. “YOU’RE a gift!” he replied and that’s all I needed to get to fireworks. BOOM!

So as I’m writing, I’m realizing what’s standing in the way of all of it IS ME. Me thinking, “What is a beautiful man like this doing with a big-nosed weirdo like me?” Me thinking, “Oh this is never going to work because…” I’m trying, desperately, to stay in the moment, stay grounded, but I can’t help but think, “Would my parents like him?” WTF?! I’m not looking to bring someone into all that again just yet! But traditional dating norms are so ingrained in my psyche, that I can’t shake the romantic fantasies of something that needs to be, to quote Outkast, “forever-eva?”


OK here are the things that bug me about this relationship. Let’s get them all down, shall we?

  1. Lovers, he’s had lots of them, and that’s intimidating for a girl like me. He talks about them A LOT. So I’m having to work through some feelings of insecurity there. We went to dinner in between sex courses and I caught him looking at our young female server with interest. And I couldn’t tell if this is part of a game that he’s playing with innocent little me. Like was he leering intentionally or absent-mindedly. But I DID NOT LIKE IT.
  2. He doesn’t hold hands. Or spoon. Or kiss the top of my forehead affectionately the way Ali does. I get that everyone is scared to catch feels in this brave new world, but sheesh! And I can see it, clearly, how we start out not speaking the love language of the other and how I change and bend to fit the person I’m with, rather than advocate for what’s going to work FOR ME! To his credit, he does ask me a dozen million times, “What do YOU want?” But it’s in a way that makes me nervous, because I’m not used to speaking those things out loud in a relationship. Is this even a relationship?
  3. He kinda tells the same stories over and over, and it kinda works for us, because I have memory problems and can’t retain a lot of the details he so easily spits out. He can recite poetry from memory, give detailed historical facts and dates, and I barely remember them because my brain is funny from 20 years of working on the internet. But while I don’t remember the finer points, I do remember that he’s told me this stuff before, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s all there is to him. If he’s nothing but these perfectly polished stories, worn into pretty beads from years of honing the telling of them.
  4. I’m stuck on the fact that we are not financially in the same place. He lives with roommates, “to help with the rent.” I live with roommates too, but I’ve birthed them. I don’t NEED someone to make as much as I do, but it definitely helps to take the awkward out of who pays for dinner and whether we can do more than meet in a bedroom. If there was a future here, I’d long for travel and trips to the theatre. I also have lived in an income inequity situation, where I made 70% to Theo’s 30%, and while I think that Mr. SN is a more evolved human when it comes to ideas around gender, I really think that most men do not like when their women make more than them.
  5. He ignores texts when it suits him. He has this particular affliction especially when I say something too forward, or send a selfie. He’s controlling in the bedroom, which suits me very well as someone who has to have her shit together in all other areas of her life, but I can’t help but wonder if this non-response is a subtle control technique too. It was really bugging me, but I decided this morning that I would not give a fuck, because at my age, one only has so many fucks to give and if I want to send a selfie, I damn well will. Deal with it. I would, however, really like a dude that texts to say he’s thinking of me. I want someone who sends links with, “Saw this and thought of you.” Between this and the no-PDA, Mr. SN does not have longevity with me, and I have to remember that before I fall for someone who is just going to make me angry over time for not being who I want them to be. Been there, done that.

Holy fark, you guys. Writing it all down so concisely really helps to slay the demons that are plaguing me. Right now I’m in a small beach town on a giant lake, and the ENTIRE COUNTY has the same name as Mr. SN. The museum is named after him, the county roads, the local bakery specialty. It’s not a good place to get thoughts of him out of my mind. There’s even a sign a block from here that has the same word that’s tattooed over his heart, along with http://www.exploreHISNAME.ca under it. It’s torture. I think (?) he knows this. So his silence over text is extra tough on my soft Cancerian heart.

But it’s my last day in my early-forties and the heat wave finally broke. I’ve got a solid bike ride with my kids planned today and a lot of doing nothing. I’m putting a reminder on my phone that says, “Men ain’t shit” (saw that here) to remind myself that I don’t need some dude taking up my valuable brain space. Show up for me in the way I need or fuck right off. That’s what being in my mid-forties is going to be about.

When reading about Viconte de Valmont now, having not seen the film in many years, it’s clear that he raped Cecile and that in the novel that is expressed as a way to seduce an inexperienced woman. I’m writing that point down because memory and the mind are funny and are often not to be trusted. My fantasizing about this older, experienced conquistador taking control of my body is flawed. You can imbue any relationship or experience with the lens of your choosing. I must be vigilant to ask, “Is that true?” of any idea I concoct around these relationships and my thoughts about them. Because it would be so easy to manufacture something that’s not there and then wake up a decade in, wondering how you got there. Wondering why this person is not the person you fell in love with. And I’m just not willing to fall into that trap again. I’m worth too much for that.

Bad scene

So I had an icky experience Friday night. And I kinda knew it was going to be icky but I did it anyway.

This is not full Cat Person territory, but it’s definitely on the spectrum. Before we go any further, let me make it clear that I am mad at myself, but don’t have full regret because this experience was indicative of something I need to work on with myself. There is some regret, however. Because this guy, he was all talk. I should have known by how he didn’t ask me any questions about myself that he just wanted sex. And now, three days later, I’m less mad, because people are allowed to just want sex. They’re just not allowed to keep “innocently” pressing you when you’ve expressed that you don’t.

Jared was a random white dude. Short, British-descent, bald and scruffy, super cute face. He teaches English and as soon as he started to tell me his story, I was red flagging all over the place. He was so much like Theo. Charming, sweet, oblivious to his privilege. But unlike Theo and Mr. SN, he didn’t make me laugh. I was enjoying mild flirting, but there were no belly laughs. Shared laughter is so key to who I am, and a HUGE turn on, and on this date, it was sorely lacking.

We had some snacks and drinks at a hip establishment downtown halfway between our places. He was pretty open and honest in conversation, but there were some red flags for me. For one, all his movie references were in what I call the “I never considered the need for female narrative” space: Taxi Driver, Godfather, Tarantino. No dude, we are no longer discussing Polanski’s art separate from the man. (Yes that literally came up.)
He said he’d had a midlife crisis and went back to school, only to discover that he hated his chosen career. I should have dashed then. Because, um, hello, didn’t I just live that five years ago? But instead, I decided to ignore ALL THE SIGNS, all my Jiminy Cricket inner voice, and go back to his place once invited.

I went home with him thinking we were going to hang out and listen to records. And yes, makeout. That’s what we’d agreed to. I made it clear I wasn’t there to have sex. Truth be told, I wanted to save my sexual energy for my date with Mr. Saturday Night the next day. Why was I even out with this guy? I’d texted friends saying I was only feeling 6/10 about this one, but it was clear from our conversation that he was super excited to meet. I did look damn good, I’ll admit. I’d worn a flirty dress and heels, only to have him show up in t-shirt, jeans and kicks, a.k.a. Theo’s uniform. Why didn’t I listen to the voice in my head?

As soon as we were in the cab, it was clear that all he wanted to do was sexy time. I am so uncomfortable with taxi makeouts, like the driver does NOT get paid enough to hang out there while you put your hand up my skirt. There were five bajillion times that I could have said, “You know what? I’m not feeling this,” and walked out or grabbed a cab. But I was like, “Nope! You need to have experiences! Bad ones and good ones.”
I’ve been super sexually lucky so far. All the men I’ve slept with, save for my borderline-date-rape one-night-stand, have been fairly generous lovers. But this dude; he was in such a hurry. All his talk about going down on me for half an hour was total bullshit. Also it was clear from his moves that he was a porn addict. The narrative, the performance was a porn one. This was about him, what he thought of himself as we went through the motions, how he felt bringing a woman like me back to his place — all of it feeding his narcissistic narrative. I know, I’ve lived it with Theo, although Theo (when not depressed) was a thoroughly thoughtful lover.

He wanted to talk the ENTIRE TIME. If that’s your thing, cool, no judgement. But I talk all day, every day. For me sex is a way to escape my brain chatter. He wanted to talk fantasies, but I kept thinking, “I’m not drunk enough to share that with you!” and also, “I just fantasize about a guy who wants to buy me dinner and can afford a life that matches and enhances mine and then actually makes me have an orgasm without expecting dick all from me.”

But no, he wanted me to talk about the idea of two girls at the same time. So fucking boring to me now, after a lifetime of that kind of talk with men. By the time I was down to bra and panties, I realized, “I don’t like this guy!” And then I remembered my friend Lara telling me about the guy she didn’t like who made her squirt and took her to a sex club. Jared was making a similar claim about making me squirt, so I tried to go with it.
He made a big show of it; put a towel down on his bed (he mentioned being OCD at some point), and then went to town with his fingers in a way that’s left me feeling a bit injured, frankly. He was good to ask me to tell him if pressure was too much and so on, but I was mostly just trying to go with it, tried to disengage from my brain and experience my body, but he was so impatient that we kept switching activities.

He was not nearly as sexually perceptive and explorative as he made himself out to be. He’s asked about my likes and dislikes in the restaurant and I surprised myself by being fairly clear. So why did I not continue to establish firm communication and boundaries? Why is coercion a thing?

I have no time for impatient boys. I will not get into details about the horribleness of the sex and how it ended, but let’s just say that it’s not going to work for me. Nope. NOPE!

This is not about shame or my religious upbringing. I’m mindful enough to know that my whole upset with myself is around not going with my gut. Disappointed that I ignored the little voice, the same voice that says, don’t buy some dress off the internet without trying it on! This felt like getting a dress from Instagram that arrives and looks just meh, and you knew it in your heart but clicked in the moment,  spent the $60 you really knew shouldn’t go to this and then waited three months for it to arrive from China. So you shrug, forgive yourself and move on.

There was a moment, after we’d negotiated some rules of engagement, after he’d tried to wear down my boundaries and succeeded, where everything we’d discussed went out the window, mostly because he’s a shitty lover with shitty aim. And his reaction to his stupid blunder was, “There’s no chance you might get pregnant, is there?” Dudes, this is on the list of things you should never put yourself in the position to have to ask. Especially right after you’ve splooged. That is really bad form.

I went to clean myself up and found myself making the face one makes when you’ve just been thoroughly disgusted by something you’ve eaten, but you’re trying to be polite to the chef. I tried to force a smile and went back to his bed to listen to music. But after a while I just wanted to get out of there. So I made an excuse about an early yoga class and said I should go. He looked a bit wounded, “You’re not feeling remorse are you?” Again, dudes, this is not a thing you should have to ask. Had he respected that this wasn’t on the menu as I’d stated from the beginning, “I don’t fuck on first dates,” then he wouldn’t be wondering that.

Yes, we were two consenting adults. Yes, I knew sex was a possibility (despite what I’d outlined) when I chose to go back to his apartment. Yes, I could have been more explicit in my no sex boundary. But I don’t own all of it.

Ok fuck, I want to move on so let’s process what we learned.
1. No wasting time on guys you feel 6/10 about before a date. I could have gone out with my girlfriends and been way happier.
2. If your rule is “I don’t fuck on the first date” don’t break that rule for a guy you are only 6/10 about at the end of the date.
3. Speak up!! If something doesn’t feel right, say it. If something’s not working for you, say it!

Fortunately, the weekend got sooooo much better after that experience. Of course Jared seems to think we are going out again. Had I not LEFT MY EARRINGS AT HIS PLACE, that would not be true, but damn those were expensive earrings! To be continued…

 

Can I just title this with drool emojis?

ZOMG! Mr. Saturday Night. Dinner on my deck. And then… fireworks!!!💥

What was I so afraid of? That… was… wow!!! I didn’t know that could happen!! 💦 😍

I mean, I knew THAT could happen, I’d read about it. But I mostly thought it was a myth. When a dude’s been making love to women for 40 odd years, I suppose he gets pretty good at it. Oh lord! * fans self to cool down *

Anyway, tired as all hell. G’night!!

Let’s have a wee look up yer kilt

When I said yes to meeting Gavin (Edinburgh, if you’re keeping track of Gap Year cities), I knew he was married. Because when I asked him what the story was, he was completely honest.

“The open relationship is relatively new and weird and works well for us, but I understand it’s not for everyone. I can be of assistance in three ways:

1. I’m old with kids. So I know how hard/fun it all is. I’m not a demanding fellow. I know what I want and I’m finally a good communicator.

2. Sex is best with someone you know. I can read in a park with you. I can nighttime date you and I can lunchtime ramen you. I love talking on the phone and I’d love to throw you down on the couch and make-out.

3. I don’t need a lot so you won’t get any pressure from me. We’re just a middle-aged married couple that has emotionally matured beyond expectation but can also remember being young and dum and into having fun. But I am happily married and don’t wanna blow anything up.”

You guys, this sounds ideal for where I’m at right now. Plus I LOVE talking on the phone. And being thrown down on a couch for make-outs. The only thing that’s bothering me (other than him being married), is that the dating app settings were set to metric, and I have no idea how tall someone is in centimetres. Gavin is a GIANT. Literally the tallest man I know. Taller than Lars of the Peaches, who is my tallest friend.

My house is a wee Hobbit house. My bedroom ceilings are only 6’2. I stupidly built my bathroom under the bulkhead and it’s only 5’7! This dude will not fit in my home.

But he’s married, so he will never need to fit in my home. He just needs to be able to make it to my bed without getting a concussion. And before you get all judge-y, his wife has a steady boyfriend, so this is not a modern way of excusing adultery. If all adults are consenting, then maybe it’s not for us to judge.

Gavin the Giant was supposed to come over Friday night, but I got a nasty head cold and needed to rest. With good reason.


Midweek, midday, on a walk with a female colleague, I butt-dialled Mr. Saturday Night while talking about how big Gavin the Giant’s dick might be. And I left a message.

“Sorry, I butt-dialled you by mistake.” I texted, hoping the butt-dialled message was garbled and incoherent.

“What did your butt want?” SWOON. I adore Mr. Saturday Night, who had tried to engage me several times with some basic “Happy Mother’s Day” (sweet), “Happy [insert public holiday here]” (WTF), and my personal favourite, “Full moon tonight…” He’s mostly a terrible texter, who reveals nothing too personal in writing, but I can’t help but get swoony.

“My booty wanted to know what it would take to get your buns to ask her out sometime.”

“What are you doing Saturday night?”

FUUUUUUUK

I was going to an outdoor concert. I’d bought tickets months ago, thinking, fuck it, I can’t find anyone to go with, it will just work out. And by that I mean, I’d sit on a blanket and run into someone I know. Except by this point, I had a small posse going, including Lars of the Peaches and his wife Zofia and another friend from my writing circles, Matryoshka, who knows Lars from way back to junior high. Matryoshka is a Russian doll of a woman, who looks all sweet on the outside and is full of layers of deep writer inside. She also has two of the cutest, sassiest girls ever.

“I would love to accompany you to THE OUTDOOR CONCERT OF THE YEAR…” Clearly the message my butt left did not come in clearly. Or if it did, this hombre is chill AF and way too sophisticated a dater for a small-fry like me to even be steppin’ to.

SO I PROCEED TO FREAK THE FUCK OUT FOR DAYS WITH NERVES, BECAUSE I’M A FUCKING GUPPY OF A DATER WHO HAS ZEROOOOOOOO CHILL. (We’ve already established this, n’est pas?)

I meet Mr. SN at the venue, which is a historical place that he knows A LOT about as a historian of our city. I am 15 minutes late, which I feel terrible about. Like so bad I’ve convinced myself I should give him head to make up for it. He’s cool and I look good and he immediately notices, but plays it ice cool like he does. He says, “You’re wearing your jewels,” or something like that, noting the crystals around my neck which I fucking baked in the full moon a few nights before, along with my intentions for a good life, because I am now a semi-witch who does this shit. He doesn’t bat a fucking beautiful eyelash, because he’s totally down with witches. SWOON.

OMG you guys, he’s so fucking hot, telling me about the 200-year-old history of the city we live in and the spot on which we stand. He walks me over to a cannon to give me its significance and at this point I’m basically an emoji with hearts for eyes because he’s saying smart shit and he fucking knows it and his confidence on his subject matter is so sexy. Also I am seriously hoping that on Date #4 he’s gonna invite me home after to show me his CANNON. We sit on the deck that supports the cannon and watch some kids playing soccer, while the French Canadian equivalent of Amy Winehouse takes the stage and I just want to sit in the sunshine in this beauty with him for a long time. He suggests we move closer to the stage.

When we get to the stage, I check my phone, because we ran into Matryoshka and her older kid and then she had texted to say she lost her daughter. Meanwhile, Lars messages to ask where I am and I look over and see him. And I know I should give Mr. SN a heads up that I have friends here, but I’m so grateful to see my best guy friend in the wild that I say, “I’ll be right back” and then next thing I know they are meeting. Lars knew to expect Mr. SN. In fact we had a funny text exchange the night before where I joked, “When did I become Lars circa 2009?”

I’m fully excited that Lars meets Mr. SN, because they are both totally my kind of dude who knows shit about this city and can talk dreamily about just about anything smart. It’s funny that intellect is something that attracts me, because my mother always goes on about how my dad was “college educated” but had no social skills or earning potential and I shouldn’t fall for that kind of thing. Sigh.

We smoke some ganja and maybe that wasn’t so smart. Because it’s not what I’ve brought, which is mostly CBD and just super effing relaxing without the head-buzz. It’s Lars’s shit which is kinda heady, and I don’t know how Mr. SN will react. So he kinda goes further into his not-touchy, cool-headed self, while I’m horny AF, but SO FARKING INSECURE that I’m stuck, not able to ask for what I want. And what I want is for this hot piece of walking art to hit on me a little bit, but no dice. Or if he feels like he is, he’s not speaking my language, which is more OPAQUE that a pair of 40+ denier tights. BE A LITTLE OBVIOUS, MAN! Sigh.


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Ali Ahmed, it’s that a person’s hotness can build up in your mind. Because how Ali sees me, every single time, even with no makeup and a saggy stomach from having two kids, is so incongruous with what I see in the mirror. I know I’m bigging up Mr. SN in my mind and that there’s the risk of it all being disappointing. But I want to find out for reals this time, you know? I don’t want to talk myself out of it due to fear. I know conceptually that it’s probably nothing, but maybe I’m totally wrong about that. Right now, Mr. SN is like a glass of wine that I don’t need to share with anyone else, but who makes me feel amazing when I’m indulging in its company.

If I sit with the Buddhist books I’m reading, I should basically enjoy that Mr. SN and I are both alive and that our aliveness is somehow speaking to each other. But as I have ZERO CHILL, I died a little when I saw the tattoo over his heart peek through his shirt. I wanted to kiss that hairless spot BADLY. But I couldn’t help but feel like our date had grown platonic, my friends being around not helping this situation. We snuck off to eat some paella in the grass together. He produced some hard-boiled eggs, which I’m actually not a fan of, but ate because a man brought them to me like a slaughtered beast, and then I burped egg the whole night after. SPEAK UP, MARIA!

I wanted him to hold my hand. But yet I never reached for his. I was waiting for some bullshit patriarchy version of romance. And he’s smart enough not to fall for that shiz, I think. Because he’s probably played all those roles, to varying effects. And he’s 50 and has even fewer fucks to give than me. But will it work for me? I have had difficulty accepting male energy and detachment in my marriage. Can I accept this now?


We parted ways at the end of the amazing concerts. There was a moment of perfect happiness mid-day, where he was lying back on my picnic blanket, and I leaned back to look up at the quintessentially sky blue sky while my favourite band played, and I was a bit buzzed, this gorgeous human specimen beside me. I looked over at him and smiled, “I’m really happy right now.” And everything about that moment was as true as the sunrise when my second child was born.

The crowd existed en masse and I really felt like he should grab my hand and guide me through the crowd. My ex would have done that. Ali would too. But nope. Maybe he’s a bigger feminist than me? Who knows? He walked with me to my bike, and I STUPIDLY PUT MY HELMET ON, because I was trying to play it cool when he asked me which route I take home, and I sputtered my actual route when what I really wanted to say was, “Which way are YOU going Billy?” Which is not his name but a Susan Jacks song I have on vinyl that my mom always played for me, but considering I’m writing this after three glasses of rose, you’ll have to permit me the indulgence of this bullshit. Our kiss goodnight felt lacklustre. Helmets make heads safe but make kisses too safe for my liking.


I went home and settled it with battery powered devices. I texted Ali the next day to give me a testosterone embrace, fully out of weakness. But I don’t feel bad about it at all. I chose it consciously. And it was perfectly what I needed on that day. I fired up the apps, disappointed at the ending of the date the night before, but not ready to tell Mr. SN what I can’t tolerate, which is someone playing it TOO COOL.

I made a date for Gavin the Giant to come over, but even though he’s all cool about the situation, I can’t shake my puritanical good girl need to understand if I can morally accept that I made that choice. But he’s so fun and flirty. Just SO WHITE and SO TALL and SO MARRIED. How will this go? Is him not needing anything what I need right now? And yet he needs something, and it seems to be flirting and sex. For me that comes at a cost. But what is my value? And what exactly is open for business? I’ve yet to figure that out dear reader. I’ve yet to shag anyone other than Ali. But maybe, just maybe, I’m going to go to a new town just yet. So far, I’m not very good at this Gap Year thing…

My hangups with sex

This entire post requires a trigger warning. Heck, life deserves a trigger warning. Like many women, I’ve had a few experiences with sexual harassment and assault.
I will stick to the two-three most noteworthy events for the purposes of today’s introspection. Don’t worry, faithful reader, there are some laughs to be had in here too.

When I was a few weeks from my 18th birthday, I narrowly avoided a rape because the dude’s friend came by the house we were making out in. This was a guy I thought I really liked, though looking back, all we had together was witty, flirty banter. We had nothing else in common really, except maybe dancing. Let’s call him Luigi.

Anyway, Luigi had taken me to the prom but there’s not even a photo of us together. At the end of prom, he made out with me on my parents’ driveway. I was wearing a white brocade sweetheart neckline, spaghetti strap dress from Le Chateau. It was as pure as me. My period was at the super tail end, back in the days where my flow was a joke, and I remember him feeling up my crotch over my tights, and me having anxiety about my pantyliner. We got pretty hot and heavy there in his white Grand Am. But then he said, “I would take you to the hotel after-party, but my friends won’t like it because you’re not Italian.” So I excused myself from the car and his fumbling fingers.

A week or so later, he called and I thought he was taking me on a date. Instead he showed up in sweaty gym clothes, said he’d just been to my favourite burger joint without me, and then took me to his parents’ house, where we began to make out in the basement.

When he took off my clothes, I told him I was a virgin and that I wasn’t planning on having sex. I was pretty religious back then, and I stupidly believed that preserving my chastity was an important path to getting married, a.k.a. The Ultimate Goal. He took that information as a challenge, and proceeded to rub his shaft against my clitoris and then came the “I’ll only put it in a little bit” dance.

I was NOT INTO IT. But I also had no idea as to what I was supposed to do. Growing up religious, I was pretty clueless about sex and sexuality. I knew very little about women’s rights. The TV was on and so, realizing he was just going to do what he wanted and not care about my desires or my pleasure, I turned to watch the Simpsons. He didn’t like that at all and put his baseball cap over my face. Then the friend, who looked like Emilio Estevez, showed up and for a moment I thought I was going to have to deal with both of them, but thank Gord, they just put me in the car and drove me home. Phew. It all fizzled out from there, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was still trying to date him after that incident. Ugh. Why do we do that as females, why do we try to date these monster men as though being his girlfriend would have legitimized the experience and somehow cleansed me of my sin of having a body?


Weeks later, I would meet my first long-term boyfriend and sexual partner in summer school. I was trying to up my marks for university. He was trying to stay in high school. Manny Rodrigo was my chance to practice everything I learned over years of reading Cosmo. He was my latin lover, and within 4-6 months of dating, I gave him my virginity for Christmas. With Jell-O. Because doesn’t everyone pop their cherry with a side of red Jell-O?

WTF was I thinking? Did I think the red Jell-O would hide the fact that I might bleed from having my hymen broken? Was I kinky, but didn’t know it? Was I performing? Probably. I’m guessing (without digging up my old journals) that I wanted it to be “special” and original. Even then I think I was subconsciously architecting my experiences to become laugh-out loud stories some day.

Manny was a player and a cheater. Back then, it wasn’t children keeping me home, but strict parents, who had me home by a curfew and a schedule. Plus I worked part-time and kinda did homework on occasion. (I was smart but had undiagnosed ADHD and only graduated by the skin of my teeth.) But I did not have enough time for him and he was constantly out. Still I never suspected cheating.

He was an unbelievable lover. He totally knew what he was doing and how to give a woman pleasure. I cannot dispute that I was addicted to having sex with him. And while I have so much resentment about him in general, I will reflect back and be grateful that the sex part of my first serious relationship was actually attentive and pleasurable. We had no idea then that orgasms release oxytocin and make you think you’re in love with the monster you’re sleeping with.

One night, we were at a rave and went into the unisex bathrooms, because I think Manny was touching up his clown makeup (!), when I noticed a woman out of the corner of my eye. We had dropped acid (the party drug of choice for broke teenagers in 1991) and I was just starting to “peak,” so this woman’s auburn head began to turn into a bull’s head. Steam was coming out her nose and for a moment I felt scared that she was going to hurt me. She angrily approached me and when the bull opened her mouth, what came out was, “WHO. THE. FUCK. ARE. YOU?!

“I’m Manny Rodrigo’s girlfriend. Who the fuck are you?!” I retorted, because I come from a tough neighbourhood and I knew how to talk to bull-faced bitches.

“How long have you been his girlfriend?”

“A year.”

“Well if you’re his girlfriend, then why did I have sex with him on Thursday?!”

I don’t remember much else. Sliding to the ground, maybe? I recall Manny coming out the stall in full clown makeup and the Bullish Bitch (who I no longer think is a capital-B Bitch) started slapping him and yelling at him. Next thing I know, some lovely angel of a black girl was next to me, saying she understood, let’s go get some air girlfriend, you don’t need this shit and before I knew it we were outside of a club in a sketchy neighbourhood and the big phallic tower of my city’s skyline was a throbbing penis against the night sky. And there was no re-entry, sorry. At midnight. When I still had SIX-EIGHT hours of getting the LSD out of my system. So I stared at the big dick in the sky until Manny came out to ask my forgiveness. Both of us effectively evicted from the club, we went to go sit in the alley, behind the booming base building.

I sat there, watching a broken pane of glass fracture and recompose, over and over, trying to understand what had just happened, trying to find meaning in what the window was trying to tell me. As Manny tried to explain what had happened (he cheated on my because he was sad about a friend dying, poor fragile boy), his face would transform from pure and beautiful to the Joker from Batman to demonic and evil, and back again. I looked up at the trees for help and they were iridescent and rasta colours and calming. He didn’t want me to leave him (he needed a drive back to Scarborough), so we drove home as the sun came up, the highway becoming a rubber road with shifting waves of concrete peaks and valleys. I spent two more years with him, having condomless sex (I was on the pill) with a very slutty bisexual man.


There’s so much more to the story of Maria and Manny, including an assault that happened to me while I was drunk and looking for him at a party, but I’m leaving it here to illustrate why the following story happened.

In 1997 I was in Acapulco, Mexico for spring break. We were sharing a door between rooms with four guys that we loved hanging out with. We all loved to drink and dance and I never correlated that whole culture of nightclubs as part of “date rape culture.” But now, when I see those same guys on Instagram, still partying with young girls 20-years later, I realize that so much of getting women drunk and high, letting them dance while wearing next to nothing, their guards down, completely free, it’s not about a celebration of music and dance and Bacchanalian merriment… it’s about detaching the female body from the female mind, bringing them to the point of separation where the subconscious male desire to objectify can take place with little resistance thanks to reduced judgement and motor skills.

I first saw Lorenzo on the elevator. He was built and cute, if a bit short, and was wearing a very bold silver lamé shirt that caught my attention. We flirted on the way to our rooms and I got excited at the thought that I might meet and hang with him later. At the club, I found him on the dance floor (my happy place), and was attracted to what a good dancer he was. We danced the night away and I got drunker and drunker.

We went outside for some air, which is a tactic dudes have to separate you from your friends (who will usually prevent you from going home with just any random dude). Then the negotiation started. “Let me take you back to the hotel.”

“But then you won’t want to be my boyfriend,” I whined. He didn’t want to be my boyfriend, because he already had a girlfriend, a fact I’d learn in the days to come. I’d never had a one-night stand, was I about to? Everything in my head was cotton candy and Marshmallow Fluff. “I can’t leave without telling my friends,” I slurred, that was our safety rule #1 to make sure none of us got murdered. And still somehow, for reasons that tequila shooters made unclear, I was in the back of a cab, in a time before cell phones, heading to the hotel.

I am embarrassed to recall being in a bathroom stall and the moment I chose to sit on his dick with no condom. All I remember is that I was almost blackout drunk. Almost. Sadly. And that I couldn’t stop thinking about how I just wanted to get it over with, this first fuck after Manny, this random dick to erase the magic cheating one. I hadn’t slept with a guy in three years, in my twenties, when I was hot AF, because religion and misogyny convinced me that I shouldn’t have sex with boys, especially boys I really liked and should make my boyfriend. You know, lest he be marriage material, because marriage was how you became a real girl, à la Pinocchio.

Somehow we got a security guard to let us into my room (I was never trusted with the keys). I don’t remember much of what happened next, just that it wasn’t thoughtful or considerate. It wasn’t love making or exploring, it was straight fucking and I was a sloppy regretful mess. I know I never said no, but I also know, without a doubt, that sober me would not have done that. I experience my apprehension to sex all the time now, where I won’t sleep with any of these guys I’m dating, because I don’t know how to ask for what I want.


It’s taken me roughly 1900 words of recalling some bad sexual experiences to get to that point: I don’t know how to ask for what I want. I have been lucky to have never experienced violent assault. I know the above stories are nothing compared to the many stories I’ve had the honour of holding for their survivors. As one of the founding members of a 1300-member secret Facebook group for feminists, I’ve read brave, honest and horrific stories of assaults. As a collective we have pondered and debated the “Cat Person” essay, the Aziz Ansari story, Ghomeshi, #metooMMIWG

Countless writers and scholars, more prolific and studied than your truly have tried to put into words the mess that is this world of oppression and violence we live in as women. A world that was not built for us and instead has been built to keep us as bodies for breeding. I was reading about how male chicks are often just pulverized to death, because they are useless as they can’t make eggs. It reminded me of Oryx and Crake, in which Margaret Atwood imagined a world where female chickens would just be bred nearly-headless with giant breasts and fat thighs and little else to support their structure. Chicky nubs. And in a similar vein, women today are often being viewed as headless, brainless breasts and thighs. An all-encompassing, highly replaceable hole to be filled and discarded.

I know this seems cynical, but it’s critical to understanding my apprehension and FEAR when it comes to having sex. We are raised to protect our “flowers” at all cost, knowing that owning a vagina is a liability, walking through Middle Earth fighting enemies who are coming for our one ring to rule them all. Feeling like the only solution is to walk our fannies into Mordor and burn them in the fires of Mount Doom to quell man’s desire and thirst for greed and death.

Can I learn to enjoy sex without emotional connection? I haven’t had that experience yet, and maybe I’m being too picky. Can I learn to enjoy the company of men, without the fear of being controlled or harmed? How do I find the ones I can trust with my body, my mind, my soul? How do I let it all go?

The opportunity to see a guru whose writing has helped me immensely has just (in this moment) presented itself, thanks to a goddess-witch. I’m hopeful I’ll find some answers there. Thanks Universe.

I see London, I see France

You saw that headline coming, didn’t you? I mean, Gap Year!

Two weeks ago, I swore I’d swear them all off. After turning down 27 when I realized I’d never be attracted to him, and then gracefully cutting my emotional tie to Ali, I thought about Mr. Saturday Night and Le Prof and I thought, “I’m done with the bullshit.”

Well, I didn’t totally get there on my own. My BFF, Boss Lady, and I reviewed the current cast of characters in my life, and she was blunt. “I don’t think any of these guys are the one to move ahead with.” She pointed out that I left the father of my children because I ran out of tolerance for his bullshit, so why was I going to take bullshit from this lot? Do I need to put up with a sextaholic and a dude who only texts about the weather? DO BETTER, MEN!

So I mentally shifted, had good food and hangouts with my pals, went dancing, laughed until I cried. And then of course, the men sensed it, because the universe likes to fuck with me, and well, I’m weak. Le Prof asked me for coffee on the first sunny Sunday of the year and given my “everyone gets two dates” rule, I said oui. We met on a cafe patio. I was casually late and he glanced at his watch and gave me a disapproving look. I ignored it, because fuck it. He was late on our last date. I was even. If that makes me petty, so be it.

I’ll admit that I’d been put off by his nightly requests to “play,” his seemingly insatiable appetite for sexting was wearing thin, and part of my nonchalant attitude was born there. (He claims he’s insatiable only for/because of me.) But in person, he was completely charmant again, instantly intelligent and funny, completely respectful. Knee to knee, we spoke at great length about grey issues around race, religion, politics, responsibility. He spoke to me mostly in French, and I tried to summarize my understanding. “The French lessons are free if you stick with me,” he quipped. I’m a pretty intelligent woman who can see through a lot, but when it comes to men, I am a dripping wet mess over an accent and a foreign language. If he is sexually driven by the visual, for me the turn on is mental and aural.


Am I a fucking sapiosexual? I don’t like that word, mostly because the guys in apps who say they are one are full of shit. (A sapiosexual is a person who finds intelligence attractive or arousing.) But I’m realizing that for me, everything sexual happens in those early conversations: the flirting, the witty banter, the ability to volley back some sexy sarcasm. I can’t imagine a life without this spice. It’s everything for me. The question is: Is it sustainable?

“This is my favourite week,” Le Prof sighed, reminding me that the Sunday prior, our entire city was hiding indoors due to a snowstorm. “In just a week it can go from winter to spring,” he enthused en français. What a great metaphor for life that we should all remember, I said, smiling at the discovery that I liked this man. Le Prof continued to French my ears with his sentences and when it was time to go, we French kissed on the sidewalk, and I didn’t care if the whole world was driving by the busy avenue watching us. My city was Paris in that moment, the pair of us a cliché Robert Doisneau black and white photograph.

robertdoisneau

I have since been completely forthright with Le Prof as we try to navigate two equally complicated schedules. I told him I don’t want to be asked to sext all the time when we haven’t even actually had sex yet. I told him I don’t have much time to date, but if he’s willing to get to know me and be patient, that eventually our schedules might line up to make room for this. He responded, “To be clear, I’m not looking for sex. I’m looking for extraordinary sex. Let me know when you have three hours, not 30 minutes.” Um, hot. We shall see…


A few days later, I dressed pretty, let my hair go free and big and wild (my ex preferred me to straighten it) and sat at a bar in a dark woody establishment, waiting for Mr. Saturday Night. It was finally the day of days, the date I’d invited him to weeks before, because the event was a mix of museum and theatre and if you’ve been reading, you might recall that he’s a hyphen of these elements.

When he arrived, I had a glass of red, because happy hour was ending and it had been a LOOOONG news cycle full of emotions. Being hyperbolic by nature, one can only imagine where my head was at. I have two states:

THE SKY IS FALLING! < – – – – – – – >  EVERYTHING IS AMAZING AND WONDERFUL!

But as soon as I saw him, you can guess which camp I switched into. In fact, just thinking about laying eyes on him makes my stomach flip-flop. I get that he’s an actor and they are supposed to be beautiful, but wow, he just does it for me, and it’s not just the sparkle in his eye and his adorable mannerisms. He was wearing a black button down shirt with a black tie and a black blazer and dark jeans and I nearly fell off my barstool, but managed to keep it cool. I think.

NOTEWORTHY: Guys! I made it to Date 3!

“What’d I miss?” the Fantastic Mr. Foxy Saturday Night asked with a sly smile.

“Well, you have 10 minutes to decide if you are into buck-a-shuck oysters,” I informed him, secretly hoping he was, because oysters! To my delight he was totally game. We talked about our work weeks, his big project, his health and his daughter, and I will leave out the details but just say that he’s so damn easy to talk to.

We headed to our event across the street and immediately he recognized a beautiful woman in a smart suit standing out front. They embraced and caught up while I stood back a bit, observing the scene. I had a feeling this would happen, and I wanted to pay attention to how I reacted. She was a big deal in the theatre world and as we walked away he casually mentioned that they had been lovers. To my surprise, only the slightest pang of jealousy. The overwhelming feeling was a thrill and also the relief at having met someone who could just come out and tell me the truth. This is who he is, George Clooney, minus the Lake Como house, a 50-something eternal bachelor, a lover of women. If we make it to date 4 or 17, I’m sure there would be a lot of former lovers we’d run into. (I’m pretty certain we’d run into some current ones too.) The old me would have hated this, but since I am adopting a “Holly Golightly meets Rey the Jedi” mentality about dating (I belong to no one, no one belongs to me, I belong to no one, no one belongs to me), I allowed myself to just be a bit removed and enjoy the scene.

hollygolightly

He worked at the event space at one time and knew some of the staff, who were all happy to see him. I’ll bet he was lovely to every person he worked with, from the lowest rung to the highest, I can see this already, even in just a month or so of knowing him. He introduced me to his friend the bartender, and we got free drinks. As he walked through the atrium saying hello to people he recognized, I noticed the way I was being seen. Everyone who saw me with him looked at me like I was the flavour of the month, which again, is my perception, I have no actual proof of it. But I found it thrilling. I’ve never been anyone’s younger arm candy before, not that I can recall, and now in my 40s, it’s exciting to be seen this way. To be with Mr. Saturday Night is to be “one of many” and I wonder if my girl Amal felt this way when initally out with the Cloon-dogger.


We enjoyed the presentation, whispering in each other’s ears throughout. Man I wanted him to take my hand, but alas, no. I’m chalking it up to “he wants to pace it.” But compared to 27, who was adorably handsy in the movie theatre, and Le Prof, who texts throughout the day in an attempt to connect, Mr. SN is distant. But while frustrating, that’s more about me and my need for attention than anything. Watching/observing it, because it was an issue in my marriage too. It’s how I ended up with Theo; I found his distance was catnip for me, because it made him less attainable. The new Maria wants EQUAL ENTHUSIASM. Something to explore, for sure.

Mr. Saturday Night and I toured the galleries of ancient European empires afterwards and I was tempted to pull him into a dark corner and snog him with a coy, “When in Rome…” but I resisted. I need a better mantra going forward than, “Don’t let him sense how much you want him to kiss you!” We talked about a big exhibit he was curating and he mentioned a reception for it, then, after a beat, “You should come.” I told him I was going out of town and would miss it, but would love to see it at another opportunity. To be honest, it’s too soon to meet “his people,” especially in my “flavour of the month” capacity, and I was relieved to have an out.

We talked about our big breakups over wine and cheese, he mentioned that he’s got no sexual bucket list but that he’s into it, he just knows what he likes at his age. Interesting in contrast with Le Prof, who is in a mode of sexual exploration… I wonder which man has had more lovers? Then Mr. SN asked if I’d slept with anyone since my husband left and I told him that I’d had a “friends with benefits” situation, but that had ended recently. I told him I have no expectations right now, that it’s like I have a Eurail pass and I’m moving from town to town. I’m not ready to settle yet. He laughed and nodded in approval. “So in 20 years, you’ve slept with two men?”

I think I got a bit defensive at that. He wasn’t accusatory, he didn’t mean anything by it, just an observation, but my response was something to do with the fact that I had a lot of practice in those years and I’d learned a few things. But have I? Am I as good as I think I am? Suddenly I felt nervous.

Somehow we recovered from that moment and noticed that we were the last two non-employees still sitting there. He and his bike walked me to the subway in the rain. At the doors to the subway, there was a “So I’ll see you when I see you?” kind of awkwardness in him, and I was sure he liked me too. And then there was a kiss, a soft wet kiss in the rain that intensified and I so tried to keep my hands at my side but I couldn’t help but lift a hand to his beautiful face and stroke his bearded chin. So if this were a London kiss, it might be like Mr. Darcy kissing Bridget Jones. There are disappointingly few famous London kisses, which is something to consider. Is Mr. SN a Mr. Darcy? Can there be parallels to their cool as a cucumber ways being misconstrued as disinterest? Is he just an introvert? I don’t know, but two epic kisses in a week was nice.

bridgetjoneskiss
What’s next? I don’t know, but I’m rolling with it. I’m learning that I overbook myself all the time and for the first time ever, my pace is exhausting even ME! Why do I need to fill all the spaces with activities? I’m booked until June! So I made a point of going through my calendar and marked off a few dates that I should keep open just for dates. I marked off some quiet time too. I’m trying to get to a space of quitting, I think, of saying no to the pull of DOING ALL THE THINGS. I read this great piece in the NYT on this concept and I’m going to let it marinate. I need to learn when to step back and observe, as I did that night with Mr. Saturday Night, but in my own life. If I don’t make space, if I fill all the gaps, I will never make time to mindfully clear out the warehouse of my mind and soon it will be filled with debris and old lawn chairs again. Off for a really long walk in silence in the sunshine. À bientôt.