Tuesday, September 27, 2005
When Andrew Met Susan
Winter in Shanghai chills you to the atom. You lose 70% of your neutrons – they freeze and fall to the floor – and the electrons in your extremities hibernate, impairing your motor functions. You can’t write, eat, or dance naked, and sex is only possible after a very hot bath. And you can’t run a bath because it leaks into the apartment below and they shout at you in Chinese.
Dani had rearranged the living room so she could sleep there. She claimed it was warmer than her bedroom. For someone so creative her methods were rather crude: She shoved the dinner table to one side, pushed our wooden sofa-benches (so cold now, like marble) against the walls and dumped her mattress in the space she had cleared. There she slept for 3 months. She moved the TV and DVD player to within inches of the bed, bought a hot water bottle, and sprinkled the bed with woollen gloves and my hats – I think she was trying to achieve a critical mass of warm objects that would generate limitless amounts of heat.
Thus when she brought Susan home I was in her bed, wearing a hat, watching Jackie Chan.
“Andrew,” said Dani, and I felt the thrill I feel when a girl, any girl, says my name. “This is Susan.” Jackie Chan was fighting a large man in a room containing a ladder – there’s always a ladder scene in his movies, but it’s always worth watching. I turned my head, bravely exposing my neck to the cold. I saw Susan.
Dani had met her in some weird place – perhaps Greek Yoga class, or the three-minute holistic sauna at the gym – I didn’t pay much attention at the time because I didn’t realise Susan was beautiful. Susan was having some problems and needed a place to stay until she got herself sorted. I had said she could stay with us ‘for a bit.’
When I saw her, my first words were, “Susan, you can stay here for as long as you want.” People like me can understand chemistry, but only people like Susan can create it.