Nadya takes a bath
Right on cue, I saw a small, black-clad man stalking in my direction. He was much shorter than I expected (“How tall are you?” I had asked him over the phone. “Just under six feet,” was his reply. Not a lie, but he couldn’t have been more than five feet eight), with short grey hair and a serious expression on his face. He was thin and somewhat frail-looking, even in his leather jacket and boots. The outfit didn’t seem to suit his appearance; it looked as though he was adhering to some past style that he had long outgrown, but felt compelled to stick to because of his career, reputation, and direct link to rock & roll. He didn’t see me.
“Hey!” I called. He glanced over to his right.
“HI!” His face lit up and we embraced. Instantly, some kind of calm and control overtook me, and all I could think about was having a cigarette. Not so bad. He didn’t emit a sleazy quality at all, actually. We went outside, where a young man named Ryan was driving us back to Joe’s house, since Joe couldn’t be bothered to get behind the wheel most of the time. It was a sunny day--quite the opposite of the suicidally-grey, nonstop rainy nightmare I’d left behind in Berlin--and here I was, with Joe, about to spend two weeks having a lunatic adventure of sorts. He told me I looked good, and I replied that he did, too.
And he did. His larger-than-life personality and immediate kindness made it even more so. He was much older (and older-looking) than I expected, and never before had I carried on anything romantically with someone who was two decades my senior, but as I had repeated to myself ad nauseum during the moments leading up to my arrival, he was a human being. He was a human being. A human being. And given his history and career, a cool human being. Nothing should faze him. He loved rock & roll. He’s done it all. I could be myself around him. Plus, I was intelligent, pretty, and a writer--qualities that would surely endear me to him.
We made the hour-long drive back to his house, and chatted the whole way about his upcoming projects, the United States, my flight, and things we passed along the way. I noticed immediately that his attention span was minimal; I would barely complete a sentence before he would blurt out something else. This could have been excitement, but I wasn’t sure. I also wasn’t sure how he had explained my sudden arrival into his life to the people who knew him (and who I would be meeting), but I assumed they were hardly rattled by anything that he did anymore. Importing a strange Canadian girl from Berlin for a couple of weeks? Yawns all around.
We got to his house, a large converted farmhouse in a rural area outside the city, and the interior was not what I had envisioned. There was modest furniture, books everywhere, and the decor (in his living room, anyway) consisted of many, many different types of skulls placed along the shelves, as well as small figurines of US presidents. There was no pretension or evident wealth on display, which actually put me at ease. We hauled my heavy suitcase up the stairs, into his room, and he told me which side of the bed (gorgeous, four-poster bed) I would be sleeping on, meaning that guest rooms and sofas were clearly out of the question. Then he drew me a bath, as I had fantasized about a good soak; I had no tub in my Berlin apartment, and longed to just recline in a hot, bubbly bath--something I had spoken of every single day before I arrived.
After my bath, wearing a clean sundress, I went down to the kitchen, and Joe followed me. Almost immediately he grabbed me, and I gave him a hug. Then we kissed, and--there’s no way around this one--he was a terrible kisser. Through my own well-honed technique, I tried to right his wrongs.
“You’re a good kisser,” he muttered. I knew this. I may be lousy at everything else, but I know how to lock lips and drive the men wild.