New Boy is so pretty. He really is. He has chiselled features, a pink-and-white complexion, a sweet smile. Oh, and straight hair that's a dream to run your fingers through. In fact, Dee took one look at him and said, "Never date a man prettier than you are".
That's not to say he's effeminate. Far from it. New Boy is very much a boy, as he proves consistently. He is younger than me, and looks younger than a lot of the men I've been with. But he acts older, wiser, more gentlemanly than a lot of the men I have been with also. And yet at times New Boy brings out all the nuturing instincts in me, because he will say something or do something that is so young that it twists my broody heart--which otherwise seems to be made of stone, these days.
I meet New Boy about a month ago, yes, at my usual watering hole. I am with Nitya and we meet one of my exes, Z. who introduces us to New Boy at my insistence. That night doesn't go so well, New Boy is rather shy around new people and while I keep up a steady stream of chatter, pretty soon I am left with nothing to say. I leave that night, thinking, "Oh he was cute, but so out of my league" and then think no more about it.
Then last Wednesday, I am in TC again, this time with Dee and Samir, an old friend of mine, when New Boy (although I am not aware he is going to be New Boy at the time) waltzes up and said hello. I barely remember him and he barely remembers me, but we have a conversation, jog our memories and at the end of the evening he asks for my number. (Score!)
What is weird is that New Boy calls me that night, very buzzed and we have a strange conversation. I don't even remember half of it, because I keep thinking how odd it was. But at the same time I am pleased, because he is so purty!
The next morning, emboldened by the previous night's conversation I sms him saying, "Hey there... hangover?" He calls, and this time we have a pretty sober conversation. And then he calls again. And again.
I am at a booklaunch later that week and New Boy and I have tentative plans for dinner. “Tentative” because I am sure it’s one of those things, where you say, “Oh we should meet up sometime,” and never get around to making concrete plans. But he surprises me by showing up at the hotel where the booklaunch is and then we go out for dinner. Later in the car, he reaches for my hand and I feel flutters in my stomach—flutters I haven’t felt in a while, in fact, flutters I haven’t felt since people skipped hand-holding altogether and moved in straight for the kiss.
We spend most of the weekend together, but now our “fling” is teetering in the grey area between a fling and dating. And I don’t know what to do. I reiterate, over and over again, both to myself and to him, “This is just a fling”. Labels will be my undoing, I fear, because as much as I resent bottling something up neatly and labelling it, I hate going with the flow anymore. “Relax and enjoy it,” says New Boy, smiling, and I look at him wondering, always wondering, what he’s thinking—am I just a game he’s playing, are we just hanging out because we’re sleeping together, is he only being nice to me because he wants some.
I’ll never be sure, I know, but so soon after having my heart broken, I’m not so sure I want to take the plunge and be open. I prefer it this way, with my shield up and my walls cemented around me. But he makes it so hard to follow my mantra of “don’t get too attached”, he’ll look at me and say “You’re incredible” or he’ll be listening avidly to a story about my past that my friends will tell him putting his hand over my mouth to shut me up when I protest weakly, “This story is so embarassing!”
Oh, New Boy, New Boy, please don’t feel bad if I run far away from you and go to a place where I’m still numb and unable to feel. Life's not good to a girl without armour.