As we drank and listened to the jazz naturally my words (and hands) became wider, more expansive.
‘You’re leading me along, like a fox’ she said -- but didn’t stop me. And indeed her talk was sexual and her body language mirrored mine. So we had a good evening of it. She enjoyed my flattery and attentions, and it seemed to be going well to me, though several times she told me she was faithful to her husband. Now the mere fact she said this was a clear enough sign she knew what was in the offing. And when she went on to tell me that she let her husband think she was a virgin on their wedding night, my hopes rose.
Letting him think this was not a lie, she said, since he did not ask and she did not, thus, deny. But still it was a crack into which I felt I might drive a wedge.
Smart as she is, of course she knew this when she told me.
Later, the more I thought it over, the more I was inclined to wonder if I had not been played, and played with some expertise at that. If I was, it is no matter, for after all I was playing a role too, and if she was indeed playing me, I was content to be played.
Yes, she was good. ‘I’m going to go home, have a bath, and wait for my husband to come home in the morning.. and maybe fuck me.’ Now there’s a rare thing to hear – such verbal directness is rather rare in Chinese women. Yes, they will be emotionally direct, but even then their words are often couched in more delicate terms.
I played along with Clarissa’s provocativeness in, I guess, a pretty obvious way – ‘How about some pix?’
‘No way!’ she said, before telling me that they had taken pix, and a film, of their lovemaking. A sexy woman altogether! But even with this fire she tried to bank and ebb my ardor, telling me she was happy with this husband, and that they were good together in bed. I asked why she had married so young – she is around 24 – she said, sexy smiling, ‘To save the cost of going to hotels all the time!’
As the jazz wound down and the crowd thinned I noticed a hooker trying to close a fat Westerner on the table next to me. She was past her prime and I doubt he had ever been in it; and her play-acting, now loving, now cold, now happy, now hurt, was pretty risible.
But she saw me looking and flashed me a smile of complicity –‘Yeah, this fat slob ain’t much, is he?,’ her glance said. And I was briefly taken in, briefly felt a sympathy for her in her unhappy lot, before the clarity of the corollary meaning of her glance stuck me in all its obvious truth – she was trying to establish a tie with me in case it did not work out with fat guy, for then I might be her night’s fee.
When it was time to go, Clarissa at first wanted to go alone, but I said I would drop her home and then go on my way. ‘I know what you want’ she said, and of course she was right.
By chance her home is near Gloria’s, and, as we headed there in the cab, past the familiar buildings and territories of my relationship with Gloria’s, this restaurant, that coffee bar, I did feel a slight sense of melancholy at the upset I caused in her life and the messy, astonishing way our relationship ended (I shall write it up in due course.)
But of course I did not stay melancholy for long. Saying ‘Come here,’ to Clarissa, I drew her to me for a cuddle, which she allowed, gladly. Naturally I caressed her, and this too was okay. As also were one or two kisses, but not too much of that, for she pulled away. I eased her back and she lay in my lap. Then I erred, blowing in her ear. Earlier, in the bar I had caressed her earlobe and the effect was strong.. she arched, and said ‘Don’t.. that makes me…’ These words of course had the opposite effect, making me all the more keen to caress her there.
But now in the cab that soft puff of air in her ear was too much, and she pulled away, a scalded and no longer sexy cat; and indeed was quite irate, for when I put my arm to her again, it was ‘NO!’ and ‘DON’T’ in tones increasing peremptory and strident.
I let her cool awhile and tried again. She had not cooled. The opposite. So this riled me a bit – no one shouts at me, I thought, in my semi-drunk choler (for I can be a dyspeptic, arrogant fuck when the beer takes me a certain way and my pride is dented) – and so I became insouciant, detached (a mistake I was later to make with Tingting, though that mistake is now healed, forgotten, and she is back in my life).
My cool goodnight to Clarissa was met with, ‘Now I’ll see what you’re really like.’ In saying that, she was referring to conversation earlier in the evening.
In that conversation, she had told me she had avoided meeting me in person thus far, preferring to keep our acquaintance net based. Why? I asked. ‘Because if we met, I knew what you would want.’
Quite right. And I admitted it; ‘Yes, to be truthful, I do want that..’
‘You admit it?!’
‘Yes, but that’s not all I want.. I like you a lot and enjoy your company even if we don’t…’
She was doubtful.
‘Well, you will be able to tell … if nothing happens tonight and I never call you again,’ I said.
Hence her parting shot, hence that ‘We’ll see what you’re really like.’ She meant that if fuck was all I wanted, she would not expect to hear from me again, but that if my claim of liking her company was true, I would keep in touch.
I remember as I rode home in the cab thinking, What am I really like? I could not decide for sure. That night, I blocked her chat profile and was inclined to leave it so, for I felt she was playing me and wanted an admirer, preferably rich and definitely hands off; which was no role for me.