The cockroaches slept; I could not. I tried Chinese medicine, and bought a hot water bottle, but I didn’t have a decent night’s sleep until I bought a space heater. By then it was nearly spring. I wish I’d bought it three months earlier – Susan might have slept with me then. That’s how cold it was.
The first night Susan stayed over, I gave her my hot water bottle, at considerable cost to my own comfort. When I woke up, cold and confused, I went into the living room; Dani had gone to work. I had the flat to myself. Unless… I looked at the bathroom door; it was closed. I stared at it for a moment; it opened. A magnificent wave of steam rolled out, rising, falling, convecting, turning my drab, tired bathroom into a tiled Chinese dragon breathing fire and water – and there in the midst of the mist stood Susan. She was surprised to see me, and I was surprised to see she was wearing only a miniature towel.
Here’s a description of how a man feels if he sees Susan in a mini-towel (I adapted it from a textbook passage on the rapid eye movement sleep state):
- Pulse rates increase in an irresponsible way
- Lonely single men face their greatest risk of heart attack at this time
- Breathing becomes perverted
- A man may experience penile erections unless it is very cold
- The chin is slack
- The face, toes, and fingers may twitch
- The man’s large muscles are literally paralyzed. He cannot move his torso, arms, legs, or tongue. He will appear gormless and unnaturally English at this time
Later we sat and watched a movie together. I wanted to mention the towel in a delicate way, to praise her fashion sense and hotness, but to say it with charm. “Please go and put the towel on again,” I said, succeeding. She said, “How much is it worth?” “I’ll give you a hundred RMB to wear the towel.” “And that’s all?” “Yes.” “Okay.” “Why do I get the impression that if I give you a hundred RMB you will go and put that towel on?” “Because I will,” she said, and she meant it. “This is getting too weird; I’m not talking to you anymore.”
The next morning I woke up and found her wearing the towel, again. Really, it’s not right the way women tease men. She had taken a bath. “How do I empty the bath?” she said. “Well, you just… oh,” I said. There didn’t seem to be any mechanism for emptying the bath. The man who had recently demolished and rebuilt it appeared to have overlooked that one tiny detail. I went to the kitchen to get a knife. I gave it to her and told her to try to lever up the plug. She bent over to try. I watched and said supportive things. She told me to leave the bathroom because she wasn’t wearing anything under the towel. My face, toes, and fingers twitched.
I ignored her request, despite the way she held the knife, and said, “Do you want to use my hot water bottle again tonight?” I didn’t need it – Susan’s little towel provided me with the physical and emotional benefits of a full night’s sleep.