Once the pleasant hum of solitude fades like the throb of a mower on a blue Sunday, and the house rings with silence, it is borne upon me that my very own friend (best friend by default) does not like me that much. I have not mentioned him before I think to save you the boredom of hearing about it. His name is Rufus Evelyn Shitsville (true; Evelyn after Evelyn Waugh) and he is my third or fourth cousin (it is hard to keep track).
Rufus is a ridiculous creature, too weird to live, too rare to die as they say down at the shipyards. He is a singular human being entirely without life-preservation instincts. Our friendship consists entirely of me asking him what he is doing in the week and him putting it off til the next week pleading poverty, sickness due to excess of drink, family dropping in from out of town or him dropping in on his family out of town — etc. etc. You see how it goes on. In fact I see him so rarely that when I run into him on the street I am surprised by how he looks, how light & beautiful & golden, he is so thin as to be almost transparent, it’s like the sunlight shines right through, and then all Shitsvilles metaphorically if not literally bathe in Champagne.
In the meantime you see I have built up a picture “in the mind” of a slim young man akin to a gross hairless cat. He is allergic to everything and eternally throwing up. Even knowing he is intolerant he will consume certain things thinking it will be ‘worth it’. He has a lovely, lost, bewildered expression that endears him to old, old ladies and even tram ticket inspectors, but really the wide & sparkling eyes comes from the insuperable urge to vomit. At any moment as we stand on the street he is so perilously close to vomiting I could say ‘sic’ and get him to vomit on command. If I sneeze too voluably he will throw up. If I poke him or even if I look at him sideways he will go to find a dark corner. It is always the same wherever we go, whatever we do, but I don’t mind, it is all part of his charm if you are a motherly girl such as I, although somewhere in the very deep, dark and distant parts of my mind (those parts usually submerged in an alcoholic fug) lurks the suspicion that the throwing-up is in fact a natural reaction to being with me; that it is ultimately me to whom he is most allergic. But how can that be. How, how.