Monday, February 12, 2007

My Dinner with Anders

It is a mystery to me how my body chooses to play its emotional chords. In a stunning turn of mood, I have been prone lately to bouts of irrational happiness, such as when I was watching The Deer Hunter yesterday at Dagmar in Vesterbro in a living room-sized theatre for 85kr. I was sharing a big bucket of popcorn with three other people, arriving at some kind of rhythm between reaching for the kernels and eating them from a stuffed fist. I sipped from a cup of black, black coffee and got to the sugar-dense bottom just as the lights dimmed and the movie started, shown in an exquisite print, throwing gorgeous, saturated colors on the screen. I love green street lights and red headbands. The muffled soundtrack made me strain to hear and kept me rapt for every click of the gun.

And the pastries, my God, the pastries. Chocolate croissants with Elizabeth on a bench in Strøget, fresh Kringles at Illum, 9kr. almond and toasted sesame Tebirkes at Sankt Peters Bageren. And 20kr. mystery hot dogs! The kind consumed while walking intoxicated in heels in bitter cold in heels in bitter cold on cold cobblestone streets in heels with clumsy frozen hands like blocks! And my delicious flødeboller, a chocolate covered dome filled with whipped marshmallow and sprinkled with coconut, that I ate while walking in Christianshavn and looking at the yachts in the canal. The marshmallow that got all over my face and the fortuitous turn down a street that led us to the architecture museum and an exhibit on sustainable urban planning for China. Justin said that everything looked like the future, to which I actually responded, "The future is now."

A happiness like when I read Heidegger on a seat with a butt mold, staring at hip black and white wallpaper and a mirror so close to my face that it exhaled my own breath steam back onto me. Or when I went to the orientation for this weekend's Odense/Ejsberg trip and my guide brought his little son along and sat him in a desk in the corner. Happiness like watching him watch his dad talk to big students. Happiness like his little hands holding onto the top handle of his backpack.

On Friday night I had the most awkward of awkward conversations. I ran to the train station only to find that I'd missed my train and would have to wait 20 minutes for the next one. I had my headphones on and was huddling with my music inside the station. I saw a dashing young man run up the escalator to the platform and sulk over to a spot inside near where I was standing. I looked at his face and recognized him as Anders, my rommate's boyfriend. Anders and I had talked before, though only under brief, introductory circumstances. The rest of the time, whenever he's over, which is all the time, I hide in my room until he and Elizabeth decide to close their door. I'm naturally shy, but manly men (or in his case, manly boys) really seem to bring out this quality in me. I thought I'd go over and say hello, but he seemed worried and was pacing by himself. I pretended I was off in my own little iPod world, pulled my hood down over the majority of my face, turned my head up so that my nose was pointed in the air, and did little dancey moves like I was having so much fun and didn't care if anyone saw. I played games with myself and walked in complex patterns over the station's dull tile. The whole time he just stood there. I figured if he at least recognized me, he would come over. But we just kept pacing, perpendicular to each other.

A train came and went and Anders ran out to meet it, returning alone. This time he caught my face and walked over to stand in front of me. I looked up and feigned surprise, mouthed an "Oh! It's you!" and pulled my headphones off. He smiled at me and asked if I was waiting for Elizabeth. I said I wasn't, that I was waiting to head downtown to meet some friends. I must have looked so nervous looking around and wrapping my headphones cord around and around my hand. He asked me how I liked Copenhagen and I said I liked it just fine, though I wish I had more time and energy to see everything. And then, because I was so flustered, I just started saying things that were blatantly untrue. I stuttered my way through a dissertation's-worth of words about the weather and how I'm not used to the cold, painting Washington, D.C. a balmy paradise, the whole while mentally stabbing myself in the belly button for sounding so obnoxiously daft. He was so tall and so angular and so pink from the cold that I couldn't look him in the eye. Eventually my train came in the middle of one of his sentences and I said, "Well, that's my train! See you later!" and ran away before he could finish.

I was determined to straighten this situation out. I thought I'd make more of an effort to be present in the apartment. Yesterday I did my chores out in the open when they were having dinner and had the door propped. Anders walked out of the room and said hello to me before entering the bathroom. When he emerged, he came back out and I smiled at him and then couldn't think of anything to say, so I just held the toothy asshole grin. He lingered expectantly for a brief moment in case I said something, but when I didn't, he looked confused and moved and then moved back and moved and left. I whispered, "Stupid, stupid!" to myself like in the movies.

I am determined to straighten this situation out. I am going to cook an amazing dinner for Elizabeth and Anders, the happy couple, and let them know it's okay to sit on each other's laps in front of me because I know what that's like and I know that they want to. (Answering my inquiry into their relationship story, Elizabeth said, "Only four months," adding, "It's very new.") I am going to say funny things that make wine come out of their noses and make them love me and scream things like, "Let's keep her!" I want them to want to pet me after every thoughtful and true thing I say.

Today I came home between classes to put away new groceries. Elizabeth was repairing the tile and had a drill and some special glue out on the counter. She ran in and asked me an urgent question: "What's the word when, like, you want to vote or something, but you can't do it, so you sign a paper so that somebody else can vote for you?" I thought for a moment and said, "...Proxy?" "How do you spell that?" "P-R-O-K, I mean X-Y." What a dumm I am. We were chatting about our days and she was gushing about her upcoming graduate scholarship interview with the University of Wisconsin-Madison when the phone rang. She said some things in Danish and hung up the phone. "Anders had a job interview today. He said he had a few hours before he needs to go back and asked if he could come over. Is that a good sign? Does it mean it went well? For me, when something goes badly, that's when I want to come over...what if it's bad?" I said that it's different with boys and that he probably just wanted to smooch her.

The buzzer rang and Elizabeth let him in. He was so tall and so angular and so pink from the cold. I was still mixing marmelade into my yoghurt, so I couldn't very well leave. Instead, I tried to converse, trying only a little to be funny and trying very hard to be a cool, confident member of the apartment. "How'd the interview go?" (Question accomplished, sense made.) He answered that it went very well and showed off his new official ID from Dansk Statistiks. Elizabeth and I ooh'd and ahh'd with wonder and jealousy. I told Elizabeth that Wisconsin would give her an ID, too, and she laughed. I sensed a shift in the room. Wisconsin meant she would leave in August for two years of study. Not in Denmark. Standing, she leaned back onto the counter where Anders was sitting, tall, angular and less pink. Still looking at me she reached behind her and held his hand in her hand, at which he stared. Only four months, very new. She said, "Yes, that's true." I'll make them dinner sometime soon.

No comments: