Watching a rust-coloured sunset from a deck on a stretch of beautiful and wild beach*. Paragon du jour sits next to next me, pink gin in hand. I clutch a fist-sized whiskey, trying not to babble, gazing at her ice-white blond hair, blue eyes, and the freckles on her button nose.
I’d already made several mock charges at her. The previous night’s attempt of flinging off my glasses and saying ‘kiss me, you fool!’ had left me blinded and blundering into the rhododendron bush. At least she laughed.
So now sitting on the deck, my brain was ransacking the unkempt bedsit of my mind for something cool to say, to do - anything. Something along the lines of ‘we could die tomorrow, so just in case, why not snog an average guy like me?’. Or failing that, just tearful pleading.
Then, tearing my eyes away from her and seeing the sunset, a flash of inspiration hit me, like a bitch slap from Cupid. I segued the conversation into mortality and the vivid bits in-between. I began a sensitive, heartfelt monologue heavily paraphrasing from this extract from Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky , passing it all off as my own.
'Because we don't know when we will die,
we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well.
Yet everything happens only a certain number of times,
and a very small number really.
How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon
of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of
your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it.
Perhaps four or five times more, perhaps not even that.
How many more times will you watch the full moon rise?
Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.'
There was a sigh. She swung out of her deckchair, climbed onto my lap and snogged me!
We spent a great, funny, affectionate year together after that, til she went back to London, and I swore off tear-stained airport goodbyes for life.
*Storm’s River Mouth, Tsitsikamma, for those of you who know it.