Tuesday, 1 April 2008

With all the remembering what you are supposed not to be, Harry thinks, sometimes it is hard to remember what you are. By what you are supposed not to be he means insensitive, controlling, curmudgeonly, thoughtless.

But really, at times, what else is there to do but be the things you are supposed not to be?

Harry is thinking about this because the Brazilian girlfriend is slow dancing outside with another man, or boy, really, because the other man is only eighteen, and it is raining and everyone else has come inside, so that there are what feels like three hundred people in the room he is in, which is really just bricks stuck together with cement, sometimes not even finished at the edges, but jagged and sticklebacked, and only two people outside, one of whom is the Brazilian girlfriend, and the other of whom is the boy/man.

Someone could put their eye out with that, his mother would say if she was here, meaning the jagged bricks. His mother is not here, which Harry thought showed God lives yet amongst us.
And there is a cement floor, and windows with no glass in them. There are a lot of dogs though, somewhere. Harry can hear them barking.

Harry had been talking with two of the cousins about the red light district. The two cousins thoroughly recommended a visit. As he was talking with the two cousins, both of whom are short and drunk, Harry drank sweet cold red wine from the bottle and looked around, thinking that the party looked a lot like an MTV video clip, except missing some things (lights, cameras, make up, guest rapper), and except everyone is a little bit not good looking enough. Except of course for the Brazilian girlfriend, who is definitely good looking enough.

The wind blows and the rain falls harder. Harry looks over his shoulder, to where the boy and the Brazilian girlfriend are still dancing. The boy, whose name is Paulo, has his hand halfway up the Brazilian girlfriend's back. The Brazilian girlfriend is wearing a halter top, tight at the front and absent at the back, so Paulo's hand is on the Brazilian girlfriend's skin, which is brown and lean and, because of the rain, wet. Harry wonders, is it healthy, to think about things in this way.

Harry doesn’t mind the Brazilian girlfriend dancing with other men, because Harry doesn’t dance, because when the Brazilians hear - happy, swing hips, yeah! - Harry hears slow down, shuffle, lean against the wall. And because if Harry was a colour on a paint test card he would be called retirement home white, when the Brazilian girlfriend tries to pull him up to dance, he pinches a finger full of armskin and says 'Look! I’m too white! I’m the whitest man in the world!' and then the Brazilian girlfriend laughs and goes off to dance with other men. Which is fine, as long as they do their Brazilian dancing, their steps and their grinds and their bumps, but isn’t fine, Harry doesn’t think, when it is slow dancing masquerading as Brazilian dancing.

Harry knows Paulo and the Brazilian girlfriend are friends, neighbours, so he knows he could be overreacting. But still, slow dancing in the rain?

Harry is older than eighteen and is not Brazilian. Sometimes this makes a difference to things.

When it had started to rain Harry gave an internal cheer, not a big internal cheer but a small, girlish, internal cheer, because the loud music was beginning to make him feel tired. Everyone else shrieked and ran inside. Only when Harry went inside and looked around he couldn’t find the Brazilian girlfriend. When he looked outside again there she was, dancing with Paulo.

He looks outside now.

Still there, even though someone has turned the music down.

Harry often forgets he and the Brazilian girlfriend are going to be married. So he is surprised when people come up to him and say things like 'congratulations!' and 'woah!', until he gathers himself and says things like 'well, yes!' and 'so what can you do?'. With or without the exclamation marks, of course.

Harry wonders how long it will be before other people at the party notice the Brazilian girlfriend dancing with Paulo. Maybe they have already noticed and are thinking, well, what will Harry do now?

He needs to do something, Harry decides. So he goes outside and taps the Brazilian girlfriend on the arm. Very romantic, he says, but it’s raining. And he takes the Brazilian girlfriend’s hand, and leads her inside, where he takes advice from the grizzled ringman inside his head about the big upcoming fight.

They go into a quiet corner, and they look at each other. Sorry, he says, for he has never been very good at staying sure he is right. No, says the Brazilian girlfriend, I’m sorry.

Harry sees Paulo on the other side of the room. He is looking over at them. He looks nervous and sad. And sorry. So, it seems, everyone is sorry at the same time, and Harry wonders, does that mean everyone is sorry, or that no-one is sorry?

Someone turns the music up. Everybody cheers.

"Romance", taken from "The Psychological Benefits Of Exercise".

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