WOMAN

©1982 by Michael Skywood Clifford

He had felt it before. Not that long ago. An electricity; a convulsion; a quake of fear; a beautiful nausea – an unbearable tension. A need to impress and a need not to at all. A need to be kind and gentle, yet a desire to kick out and show his wants, to retain his personality – to curb the witchcraft.

He had been alone for a week or two, getting on with things quite happily when she returned from holiday. Work became unbearable again. He felt dominated, dwarfed by her; going out of his way to avoid her. She made him feel so nervous, so incapable, so transparent and inferior somehow. Not at all he imagined how she would want him to feel. She would just want him to be friendly but that he found a strangling but necessary ordeal.

He didn’t want her for sex. Well he did, but it wasn’t just lust. In many ways he didn’t find her pretty at all but she was electric somehow. Yes, it was sexual, but only square one on the snakes and ladders board with a the future of a terrifying snake to slide down from square ninety nine. So he’d keep away, let it die. Her proximity, the thought of her made his breathing quicken; she knotted his mind with delightful anxiety.

What bothered him was that he didn’t want to worry about what she thought of him. He couldn’t afford to speculate it was too dangerous to dwell on such matters.

How much was she a games player? How much did she realise her female chemicals had activated his psyche? Women are never stupid in such matters.

Then later that day – and he had seen nothing of this woman that day – he went into a bookshop. He picked up a book called ‘The Affect of Intelligence’, or similar by Krishna Mirti. It said (wrongly quoted) ‘We all need stimulating things and they are all escape’. Then it said, ‘Relationships are the most important things in life’. Isn’t that contradictory, he wondered. Surely he is saying escape is what we are after then? But Evidently not. Krishna Mirti made it clear on the next page once again that escape was to be avoided.

Our hero left the bookshop most confused, relieved that Indian and metaphysical philosophy didn’t affect him as it used to. However some things he had read stayed with him all day. ‘We all create images of others and ourselves which are wrong and damaging to ourselves and others’. (Actually he agreed with this).

‘… And then we end up becoming isolated and neurotic’.

He didn’t like that. But the book also said ‘seeking relationships, and games with people, clubs, societies and the safety of similar thinking is escape’.

‘What a nutcase!’ thought our hero defensively. ‘You can’t win with him. He is no leader. That’s probably what he’s trying to say through being a leader.’

He met Mike later and told him about it. Mike said, ‘You don’t want to read all that pseudo bull-shit.’

‘You might be right,’ said our hero.

Anyway, who is our hero?

Our hero is the human race who have a compulsion to eat, drink, copulate, smoke, indulge, etc.

…to fast, to restrain, to atone, pay penance, to deify, etc.

Our hero is the middle mast sailing in the eddy between two currents.

Our hero likes to have the permanent pain of stark consciousness blotted out by drink or drugs or distraction, he needs a woman (self evident) – or not – and needs some bond however fragile.

Our hero wants:
To be loved
To feel alive
To be an executive
To own stocks and shares
To fulfill romantic images, stereotypes and roles that all fiction has passed onto him
To talk it out
To be everyone’s friend
To be THE FÜHRER

But our hero may have some trifling problems:
Self disgust
Doubt of self worth
Fear of people
A growing ego of colossal scale in proportion with his rejections
Falling into the armchair and enjoying being dumbed down
Loneliness

‘But I’m afraid I’m lonely,’ said our hero. ‘Meeting people, even superficially, even nice people, doesn’t kill that loneliness – in some ways it makes it worse. The more I go chasing people the lonelier I feel.”  Well not really. I’ve never actually tried it, but I sense that to be true. Going out to talks, films and shows, I’ve always felt quite stimulating.

“Can you stand to be with people and not become leader, stimulator, organiser?’ he asked me. ‘Can you be merely a quiet but a well considered member?’ I didn’t answer. This all smells of weakness. Whose weakness?

‘Is it surprising I don’t know what I want? One’s ideology can only be an extension of one’s personality

or obviously it will be an ill fitting glove.’

Where are my good manners?

Relationships need development like a melody

With this beautiful thought he left the room.

***

An hour later he sat next to the woman. It took him by surprise. Everyone sat around. He chatted to her. Funny silences. Then she got up, left the room, returned and sat next to him. Then she got up and left the room again, and someone else – another woman – almost took her seat. Our hero somehow managed to stop this happening. While she was talking to this other woman, the woman returned and he felt she was going to sit elsewhere – but she didn’t. She sat next to him.

The electricity was terrible. Body language; legs pointing this way and that. Then as she kept playing with her plaits, she kept touching him with her arm.

Electricity!

But it wasn’t as obvious as that and sadly our hero probably misconstrued it, and it meant nothing.

He always overestimated women’s evaluation of touching.

But he felt something – it must be true. No. Yes. No. Yes. Sadly our feelings are often wrong.

No, not totally. There’s something there.

***

Then later as they were driving along in his car towards Reading, she started talking about her husband. She couldn’t drive with his hand on her knee, she said, and our hero said, ‘I wouldn’t object if you were my passenger’. She laughed, embarrassed, but he was pleased with the comment and the inevitable rejection it invoked. It killed some of her power over him, as did all innuendo comments.

Then later she talked to him over a cup of coffee about what it was like to be female.
She said she had a violent relationship with a boy. She hadn’t exactly consented to making love on this occasion and had become pregnant. Bitterness, resentment, a refusal of marriage on her part, then off to abort. The lover sped after her in a stolen Rover with a crow bar to stop it, but he was unsuccessful. A mess; a pain; who and where is Heathcliffe? I presume he is yet to arrive.

Our hero spent five days in her company, driving her to and from a course. She was a captive in his car; she was inside him, inside his car. He couldn’t put his arms around her but he could softly immure her into his metal world.

One day they had a conversation about literature and visual art. He was staggered by it. That night he lay in bed and made up a picture in his mind and she was in them all. He considered her physical insubstantiability; a ghost with blonde ringlets. She was particularly light on touch, and sometimes light on sincerity. On heavier matters her sincerity wasn’t in question. She was a sad person, or she projected herself to our hero from such a stance. Perhaps it was personality marketing techniques – perhaps she was delivering what she thought he wanted. No, a sad person.

One day she told our hero she was leaving, she had got a better job. He was surprised and happy/sad about it. He liked her very much, respected her, he told himself. Then he had a few days off with the flu and she’d gone by the time he returned to work.

Three weeks later he left as well and returned back to the home counties.

ENDS

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