Saturday, 6 April 2013

53. While this question is rhetorical, the answer is no

"You know what you need?" says Amanda, pointing a carrot baton laden with houmous at me.

With most people, one can guess the general direction they are going to take when they say something like this. With Amanda, it could be anything. I get drunk? Eat more of the houmous? Buy clothes? Have more sex? Self esteem? Drugs? A trip to Hawaii? A night in playing Grand Theft Auto and drinking Malibu and cherryade? Another tattoo? Whatever it is, it's not going to be anything I've thought of, so I might as well just say no.

Also, while this question is rhetorical, the answer is no anyway. I really have no idea what I need out of life. I don't know what I want, either. I know what I don't want, I'm fairly good at that, but what I do want - actively want, as opposed to "can live with" - remains a mystery.

"No," I say.

"To sell your used knickers on eBay," says Amanda. "Alex has made hundreds. Clear your credit card debt in no time."

The news that Amanda's new girlfriend is selling her pants on the internet does not do anything to get rid of my bad feeling about her. If anything, it makes my bad feeling considerably more pronounced.

"What you do is, you buy a packet of three from somewhere like Primark for a pound or two, and then you can sell them for anything up to fifty quid a pair. Apparently it's a big thing. You can't actually say in the advert but there are phrases you can put in - "

"Who buys her knickers?" I say.

Amanda eats the carrot stick and licks her fingers.

She says: "I don't know. People who have a fetish about getting transwomen to send them knickers in the post."

"Are you cool with that?"

She doesn't answer. She's not cool with it. But the problem with living a lifestyle like Amanda's is that it's never cool to not be cool with whatever weirdness your friends and acquaintances are getting up to, because the whole point is they are all trying to outdo each other and it doesn't do to look shocked. By anything. An air of having seen it all before is the most essential accessory you can have.

Amanda can't back down from something like this. The moment she says she's not happy about it, she loses at the popular game More Bohemian Than You. And she has a great deal invested in winning. 

Amanda is not a natural wild child. She has spent an enormous amount of time, money and energy on creating herself. At this stage her pose has been going so long it nearly is natural to her, but there are still moments when I see the original Amanda, the first one, the Amanda I met all those years ago, peek out. 

In my experience, this situation could well lead to Amanda selling her pants on the internet herself just to prove the point that she's not a prude and Original Amanda is dead. 

"Course I am," she says, eventually.

"Amanda, this is me," I say.

"I just - " Amanda pours another glass of wine. "I really like her. But she's so -" She doesn't finish.

"I'm not cool with it," she says, finally. "But she's so big on freedom that she'd break up with me if I said something. I mean, I'm not asking her to stop exactly, I just want to - talk about it."

Ah yes, I know this version of "freedom", I've heard this before. This blanket refusal to consider anyone's feelings but your own. Selfishness masquerading as emotional maturity; meaning that if you try and explain you think this attitude is selfish, they'll feel able to retaliate by accusing you of being immature and trying to control them.

Amanda runs a finger round the inside of her wine glass and looks at me. Her eyeliner is magenta, accentuating the deep blue of her eyes. She looks sad. The sun slanting through the window catches the first fine lines, forming across her forehead and under her eyes.

"Do you still want to be in a relationship?" she says.

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