Saturday, February 10


If I had any ounce of artistic flair or creative wit, I would have conjured up a story for why I was wearing a stopped wristwatch. As it is, I have neither.
I woke up today (although it could have been any day) with the word gauche stuck in my head; I am still not sure what the word means exactly and am disinclined to look it up. The word gauche could be a hangover from my dreams, the same way one may wake up with a song in their head or an acute state of arousal. I don’t know what it is, but it is the word gauche. The word is expelled from my throat and my tongue like I am spitting. I drink a pint of water (like my friend told me to) and piss and I take off my underwear and I run the shower and, while I drink, the water gets warm. Gauche. For some reason but perhaps because they are so similar, I think of the word gouache, which, as a medium, I believe I have used before. The words gauche and gouache. I showered with the words gauche and gouache. Sometimes when I get into the lift at work I look at my eyes and see small pieces of sleep there (so charmingly named) and I wonder why they were not cleaned away during my shower. Am I really so still asleep?
Yes, I am. I must be. In flashes, nightmares come back to me. I have dreamt of missed deadlines, being chased, my skin falling off, my hair falling out, of being alone. Something goes thud and I startle awake, lying in the darkness, waiting for it. It is nothing. (I also dream of pushing my penis into a small pink anus, but I must stick to the narrative here.) I wake many times. When I stare at the clock next to my bed it doesn’t make sense to me. The time is Dali, the time is runny eggs. I am going insane in the most boring way.
Gauche. Gouache.
If the choice is between gauche or a terrible pop song, then take the former because a dictionary can cure that kind of thing.
I spend an hour-and-a-half on the phone with K—, an old friend. Her voice seems deeper—
‘Your voice sounds deeper.’
‘It’s probably from all the crying.’
Never had much luck with men, I suspect.
‘Are you eating right now?’
‘You sound like an engaged necrophiliac.’
She tells me of her lovers and endings, punctuating the story every five minutes with—‘Are you sure you wanna hear this?’ I tell her I do. We were younger back then; it’s been ten years. The story goes on. We go from country to country. Not a single man in the story has a name; she cannot bear to say their names to me. She asks my advice—
‘Run away to South America,’ I say.
When we hang up – mutually, perfectly timed – it is eleven o’clock. Sixty-four hours until my family comes to visit for the first time in twenty-seven months.
I go out on Friday night and am tired. There is a good group of us who drink together nowadays. An old colleague approaches me and asks why her boyfriend masturbates. I tell her. She asks me where she should masturbate. I think of her sex and from the way she looks at me I can tell that she wants me to think about her sex. Where would her sex look best? ‘You should masturbate in the shower,’ I tell her. She says she will and I believe her. It is all quite silly but I must go home and I walk the way, half-believing I am going to be mugged. Eleven hours and not a single nightmare.
What has happened to the words gauche and gouache? There is no time to wonder. My family arrives. My niece puts Toy Story on the TV and my flat is alive with the sound of people and then I don’t feel so bad.

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