In a previous post, I brought up the subject of my colleague "Victoria" (a pseudonym) and her strong feelings about 12/21/2012.
Our discussion that started casually while meandering around Hong Kong Park ended in a full-blown argument, that, no matter how much I tried to make light of, only ended up in aggravating her more and more... until I finally got the cold shoulder.
So, trying to fix the situation, I paid her a visit at her flat.
Yes, it was a big mistake.
No, it's not because she was still so angry at me that she drove me off (in retrospect, I wish she had lol).
What happened in a nutshell was this:
- Victoria, totally surprised (pleasantly, if I may add) let me in to her apartment.
- Like numerous flats here in Hong Kong, it was a very small one that she had.
- This necessitated the continuance of our conversation with us facing each other in very close quarters, meaning, we were obviously already violating each other's personal space and as we grew more animated in our argument over the meaning of Yeats' poem, began inching closer to that awkward "intimate distance" as described by Edward Hall, the anthropologist.
- Apparently, I wasn't the only one to notice it. In the middle of her polite harangue (if there is such a thing lol) about "The Great Beast of Babylon" (actually, what was mentioned in Yeats' poem was "rough beast" but Victoria kept referring to it as "Great Beast" so there it stands), she suddenly noticed that if only one of us leaned forward a bit more, we would already be in the same position that lovers assumed when they were aiming for a kiss.
- She recoiled, about the same time that I did. We looked at each other and spoke quickly, also at the same time.
Her eyes grew wide. "What! David Garcia! How dare you! There is no "we!" You and I, we are not a couple! How dare you presume that the two of us were..."
"No, no! Hold on! I did not presume anything! I was just about to apologize for..."
"Well and good that you should apologize! You were trying to take advantage of me!"
"You came here to my apartment on some pretense, knowing how I am a single lady who lives alone..."
"What?! No! Victoria, don't say that!"
"I had always assumed that you were a gentleman, David. At the office, you're always polite and easy to get along with, quiet for most of the time, intent on your work and never a bother."
"Were? What do you mean "were?" I still am! I mean, I'm still that person you just described! I'm still a gentleman!"
"No. You're a beast, David. A Great Beast slouching toward Bethlehem..."
My eyes literally bugged out at that, but it wasn't because I was going nuts, she was.
I decided to follow the long-revered wisdom of Sun Tzu and proceed with a strategic withdrawal, clumsily half-bowing and muttering a quick goodbye to my nemesis, Attila the Hun, lest a herd of marauding elephants trample my skinny ass to dust.
Only to be blocked at the door.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"Home." (translation: any place, as long as it's far away from you)
"We're still talking."
I had read long ago that to be on safe ground, you had to humour an insane person, rather than go on a head-on confrontation because you'll never win.
So, I did.
"Uh, it's getting late, Victoria. I don't want your neighbors to talk. You know how it is here in..."
She smiled. She actually smiled! Attila suddenly metamorphosed into benevolence personified!
"Thank you, David. I... that's really one of the things that occupy my mind. I do not want to be thought of by anyone as a being, you know, loose. A woman of ill-repute."
I heard my mind scream "Ill-repute? No, of course not. But ill, as in sick in the head, yes. Definitely yes! To think that you're an Account Executive, Victoria! Hah! If only our clients and co-workers knew!"
But of course I never said any of that aloud. Instead, I gave her my best, most gentlemanly smile and bowed, the way gallant men of old used to do (my collection of movies have clearly furthered my education a long way, thank goodness).
"Think nothing of it, Victoria. I hold you in very high regard, and, I believe, so does the world."
She blushed and saw me out of that cramped, tiny apartment.
Outside, walking home, breathing freely, and rejoicing about my miraculous escape, I could only think of two things:
- Victoria, my dear old prudish, wound-up tight, apocalypse groupie Queen Victoria, was not someone to be trifled with. Hence, no more walks in Hong Kong Park during lunch hour, no more snacking to kill my appetite. I was going to go out every lunch hour and eat! By myself!
- I am not the "rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem, waiting to be born." I was just another skinny-ass guy, creeping my way to the nearest bar to get drunk.
I had escaped from Queen Victoria a.k.a. Attila the Hun... and lived.
That surely called for some celebrating.