by Isobel Poltroon
I go out on Valentine’s Day to buy my cleaning lady a plastic bucket with a filter on top to squeeze out the mop. She’s worn out the old one, we’ve been together so long. The shop windows are a sickly mess of pink and red, somewhere between an abattoir and a little girl’s bedroom. The shops are full of men whose women set their price at a bunch of red flowers and a meal deal.
A girl hailing a taxi is validated by a red bouquet, a heart-shaped red balloon and a huge shiny red carrier bag. What’s inside it? Probably not what I’m carrying: Flash with Febreze, J-cloths and Parozone bleach which kills 100 per cent of toilet germs.
I love my cleaning lady. She’s a recovering alcoholic with fingernails as long as a Chinese emperor’s so she has great difficulty getting the childproof tops off the chemicals she sprays around the house. I know she’ll appreciate the bucket, which is red.
She’s a pluralist. Her theory of love is that you need four admirers to get enough attention.
I have just the one. And his identity is secret. Even from me.
But he’s out there. I know he is. And he’s found a way to communicate with me which no one else can detect. Emails and texts get discovered. Hard drives get scoured for evidence unless you run them over with a Centurion tank. But every day he sends me a new message via a search engine. I have a blog, and his words of love come up on the statistics information. Each morning I go to ‘Traffic sources’ and, with pounding heart, look under ‘Search keywords’.
He is frank about his wants. Izzy pissing sex. Military pissing. Pissing opaques. Pissing in the bag. Elegant pissing.
Wicked voyeur Izzy is clear enough. So are Deranged drawings, Drawing of hell, Rasta fall out of window, Worker legs amputated, Mickey Mouse rip off his face.
In calmer moments he comes to me for guidance. How to draw a camel. How to draw Adele. How to draw Mr Bean naked. How to stop a gazebo from blowing over.
He yearns for the impossible: Posh back of the neck tattoos.
He is philosophical: Man faces eternal troubles struggle.
He taunts me with the name of another girlfriend: Tina Van Slot. What’s she like? Cleavage cigarette. Or is that translation-bot-speak for heartburn?
I look her up on LinkedIn. She describes herself as ‘Hostess on board the Holland Hotel.’ She accepts my Facebook friend request.
My admirer can be a crashing bore: Temporary outdoor bandstand. How to make a disco box light.
At other times, he holds out hope for our shared future: Life in school uniform and bondage.
He describes himself to me: His beautiful nails. Emotionless wine bucket.
He can be obscure. Edge of a wood constable. Is that a reference to the great landscape painter or a warning that we’ll get caught dogging on Hampstead Heath?
He is a nature lover: Foundling tits on bus tube. And isn’t it just the case that every time you hear a shrill female cry of ‘Fuck off!’ on crowded transport, it leads to a nest of motherless fledglings.
Ours has been a delicate courtship. But now he’s stepping up the campaign.
Can a guy break your hymen with his finger.
I frame my response with care.