At a writer’s festival in the not so distant past I heard a British writer, Jill Dawson, speak. She was fun. I checked out her book in the bookshop afterwards. I turned to the first page – I put great faith in the first page – but within seconds I had frowned, put it back on the pile, and felt a nasty taste in my mouth. I was shocked, not by what I read; well, yes that too, but more so by my reaction to what I read. It was written in the first person and the narrator was a man. I wasn’t aware that I had this prejudice: this switching gender thing. Here was a woman, not writing from a man’s POV in the third person but AS a man in the first. This is rare. And I didn’t like it. And I didn’t like me not liking it. I thought I was a liberal minded kind of guy. I’d written a lot from a woman’s POV but never in the first person: as a woman. Maybe I should give it a go. I did. Here it is.
That Other Evaline
I went into that place to pass some time but I really know that I went into that place to see if a man will look at me in that kind of way. You know the way I mean. I know I’m pretty and people keep saying it so I know but when I look in the mirror I see someone completely different. That doesn’t bother me because I’ve heard my own voice out of a recording machine and I didn’t sound like me either but people say that’s you Evaline so I know it’s me at the same time that I don’t know but I do, that it’s my voice, my reflection. That’s how I’ve learnt to distrust what I see and hear. It isn’t rocket science. Anyway in I go and I’m aware that my hips are doing this kind of sway-y sexy thing that I don’t remember telling them to do but they are doing it all right and so I add a smile and a shoulder thing to boot. Then as I’m easing my arse onto a barstool like I’m turning a plump apple cheek over in a pan of sizzling butter I think, where did I learn to do this? But I’m not doing it for somebody! No. It’s just me walking and sitting. Yeah, right. I’m doing it for everybody, you stupid dipstick. Yet I’m just sitting here minding my own business but I’m aware that there are a lot of eyes on me, heads full of eyes, but I’m not doing anything, I’m not saying anything, I’m not given anyone the look. I say this to myself and at the same time I know it’s the truth. I also know it’s a lie but nobody knows that because nobody’s a mind-reader. It’s that other Evaline I have to mind.
I usually order a G&T because that’s what I like to drink but tonight I order a margarita. I like them too but they’re too expensive for me but at the same time as I say to myself let’s have a margarita that other Evaline is also saying to me you just hope some nice man will pay for it when it comes to that time when everything has to be added up and paid for, one way or another.
And speaking of nice, it isn’t long before I can feel a quake in the air around me and I’m aware there’s a man sitting next to me. I don’t look up in case they see something that isn’t there but I can feel him folding his arms on the bar and resting his head with his eyes to the side looking at me like a boy does when he wants something he’s not allowed from his mum. He says something and so I have to look and I have to smile, it’s what I’ve been taught, and I know then, as clear as I know I’m sitting on it; I know what’s going to happen this night. He has a nice face, what I can see of it. He looks like a nice man.
Now there’s a phrase, a nice man. I truly believe that they exist but something happens to nice men when they think that your look says something you don’t want it to say, when you know damn well they’re right but there’s that no-mind-reader evidence again and so I sit there and sip my drink with my arms held in tight so my tits bulge like water wings. I’m just sitting having a drink.
You can tell by the look in their eyes, they’re looking at your face as if that’s the cause of it all but it’s not, it’s what’s under my clothes and between my legs that they’re thinking about. What are they thinking about exactly? Funny isn’t it? It’s not what they see but what they can’t see that sends the blood racing into the dead-end lane making them touch their crotch or are they egging it along? So it’s all up to what they think is there. Then I suppose one vagina is very much like another. Yeah, but it’s always the baubles and the arrangement of the icing on top that makes the difference between a cake and a tart.