Bedbugs III: And then I’m done with this theme

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Caption: This isn’t what I was searching for on google-image, but I’m happy I found it.

I returned to my B&B to continue facing my problem of the day, a bedbug infestation from Serbia in Oxford.  Earlier that morning I had temporarily contained the situation by dumping my clothes and bags into a scalding bathtub.  Now my belongings floated languidly in tepid water.[And scene…]

I scooped them into Tesco bags and plodded to the nearest laundry mat.

Like every expedition to an exotic laundry mat, this venture entailed coins wasted in the broken machine, multiple trips to the mini-mart for more change, uncertain rinse cycles, ineffective dryer cycles, and damp clothes in the end.  Damp, but presumably bedbug free.

Situation resolved.

I came off my day-long adrenaline rush and was slammed with exhaust.  I made my way to the nearest pub and cozied up with a pint in the corner, too tired to be self-conscience that I was alone.

A scraggly man approached and began conversing.  So the crazies love me in England, as they do everywhere I’ve ever been.

Him: “What are you doing?” 

Me: “Just drinking my beer”

Him: “Nah—what are you doing with your LIFE!?”

Me; “Oh, I’m an archaeologist…I dig up old things.”

He leered oppressively close and said, “You should dig right here!  There’s gold beneath these floors.  I know it!”

I leaned conspicuously back and said, “Okay, maybe later.”

“Don’t tell anyone else, ‘specially not George!”

He staggered off to pee and I took the opportunity to escape further accost.  I slid into a chair at a table of post-football scrimmage looking gentlemen.

Me: “Hi.  Sorry to interrupt, but that crazy man is bothering me so do you mind if I sit here for a while.”

Of course they didn’t mind!  I’m a not-ugly, young female!

I got some local tips on where to eat and drink, and where not to eat and drink, like the Canada-themed bar.  It was called The Maple Leaf and served only Labatt.

They were attractive, entertaining, and not at all interested in me.  That was okay.  I just wanted a beer and protection from the crazy.  I didn’t need a boyfriend out of it.

Actually 4/5 of them were attractive, entertaining, and not interested in me.  One was pudgy, bald, and wearing a Bedazzeled Darth Vader tee-shirt.  And he did seem to be interested in me.

We had a few rounds and headed out.  Nice to meet yous and parting of ways.  As I turned to slip into oblivion the pudgy one halted me.

“Ah, Annelia.  Would you fancy getting a drink tomorrow?  I could show you that good pub we mentioned.  Er—not the Canada one, har, har.  The other one.”

I had no plans, I like good pubs, and was eager to spew as much English as possible during my only 3 days in an English speaking country that summer.  A drink would be fine.

“Okay, sure.”

The next day he emailed and proposed dinner first.  This was a dangerous escalation of our plans, but I accepted.

I learned during our group introduction that he was a chef.  He used to work in one of those flashy, high-stress restaurants dramatized in reality shows, but quit for the quiet life as a personal chef for well-to-dos in Oxford.

I love food, but more so, I love to be fed, so dating and/or marrying a chef has always been among my dreams.  In this fantasy the chef is obviously handsome and fit, but open-minded me decided to give chubsters a chance!  Charlotte found love with a sub-handsome man, so why not me?!

(Because Sex in the City is fiction and I’m too young and conceited to love the sub-handsome).

It was not necessarily a date anyway.  It was just dinner together because we both had to eat dinner anyway.

I waited for him outside of my B&B, perched on a picnic table, picking at my nails to kill time.

Something lumbered my way, a few blocks down the sidewalk.  Specks of sunlight reflected off a balmy cranium, approaching.

He halted before me, panting and perspiring.

“Ah, Annelia… Good.  Ah, I thought I was going to be late.”

A taxi pulled up.

“Ah, the taxi is here.”

He whisked open the door.  He was wearing a button down and fancy loafers with flowers on them.  This was a date.

I gulped.  I didn’t want to go on this date, but I really wanted to want to go on this date.  I entered the taxi, hoping my rational brain could suppress my autonomic aversion.

The restaurant was self-consciously Country French.  Weathered wide plank floors and knobby tables.  Thick, hand blown glasswear.  You could tell a lot of effort was put into creating this effortless effect.

We eased the air with first beers as we scrutinized the menu.  There was at least one ingredient I had never heard of per menu item, which is how I deem a restaurant fancy.  To play along with my chef-date I feigned consternation over the menu.  I scowled and scrutinized each option, although they all seemed edibley delicious.  I withheld disclosing that I am an indiscriminate eater—a lover of all food who is just as happy to eat cheese on toast as foie bla on panko seared endive.

I ordered rabbit with some ferns involved.  It sounded temperate-forest posh.

Over appetizers and second beers, we exchanged life synopses.  I described suburban Pittsburgh and the field of academic archaeology.  He shared about the culinary world and then over shared his divorce story, which was: he loved her, but she loved women.  He thought they could work that out, that he could charm her into looking past superficial genital organs.  She thought she could use him for impregnation, divorce, and then merrily raise the child with her girlfriend in West Suffolk.  She was correct.

“Wow… bummer,” I said.

It was an intimate, heavy revelation and I had nothing to return.

“I tried to convince her to stay with me.  I don’t even care if she has a girlfriend.  I just want to be with her and our son…”

“Wow, that… sucks.”

I had no personal anecdote to demonstrate commensurate hardship and validate my empathy.  My most tumultuous breakup was only dramatic because my imminent-ex knocked a Food Court salad out of my hands.  It was really upsetting because it was a great salad.  I can still picture the hard boiled egg bounding across the tile floor.

“I quit the restaurant.  I couldn’t work for months.  I finally moved here and started cooking for a rich couple.  I’m alright now, for now… if you know what I mean”

He was flushed and forthcoming.  Exhilarated to be unburdening this story, these feelings.

“Yeah… for sure.”

The conversation was not like a well-matched tennis game, in which he served the story and I hit one back.  It was in fact like my actual attempts at tennis, in which the opponent serves, I miss repeatedly, and wander off to find a popsicle.

“I tried to see her last month…”

I had to wander off for a popsicle.  I internally entertained/distracted myself by devising escape plans.  Illness?  Left a Bunsen burner on in the lab?  Sudden attraction to women?

Fortunately meals follow a prescribed, finite timeline.  We finished dessert, paid the bill, and I had my exit.

“Well, I was thinking we would walk along the canal and check out that pub now.”

It was my fantasy: to walk along the Oxford canal to a charming pub after a gourmet dinner with a British chef.  But of course, in the reality that I am dealt the leading man is chubby, bald, and hung up on his lesbian ex.  It’s always something.

“Ah I actually have to do work tonight.”

“Really?—”

“Yeah…I have a lot of data to go over before the lab tomorrow…And ah, I have bedbugs.”

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2 responses to “Bedbugs III: And then I’m done with this theme

  1. “Bedbugs III: And then Im done with this theme | It’s Always Something” seriously got me personally simply addicted with ur page! I personallydefinitely will wind up being back again more normally. Many thanks -Louie

  2. Pingback: Making friends while traveling: don’t | It's Always Something·

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