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My luck with women

February 24, 2005

She was Portuguese and worked in a bakery called Olivers. It served cakes, coffees, sandwiches and was run by what we school kids guessed was a retired military general. We all hung out there when school was out. “You can’t congregate here!” he shouted at the sprawl of uniforms that amassed each afternoon as a result of a cappuccino someone had ordered at two o’clock.

Congregate. I remember that word because it gave us a sense of purpose, as if we were rallying for the miners. Plenty of mini-purposes were no doubt being played out but on the whole we just dossed. Drawing up plans to find out where Dorrita, the Portuguese girl I was obsessed with, lived was as meaningful as my time got. To know her address I thought would also be the route to her heart. But of course it was not. In those days we thought following a girl home would in some way endear us to her. As if tomorrow she would tell her friends: “He’s a bit of a creep, maybe I should date him.”

Dorrita had black hair and wore a brown shirt under a yellow tabard. All the staff did at Olivers. Two of my friends, Robert and Ali had conveniently set up their own “detective agency”. They wore raincoats collars-up and whispered a lot but as far as I knew little actual detective work was involved. At best they monitored the movements of local petty-gang members to avoid getting nabbed for petty cash. I tried to enlist their help to “attract” Dorrita but when push came to shove Robert was not prepared to “stalk the poor girl.” Robert went on to join the British army even though he was Canadian and Ali would probably have become a bad-ass fraudster had he not burned to death in his flat near Piccadilly Circus, which was being paid for by housing benefit, ten years later.

I don’t know what became of Dorrita but I doubt that she joined the army or died in a fire. All I remember was that for a good year or so she was on my mind day and night. She was the epitome of feminine beauty but was as inaccessible to me as a movie star. Did I ever talk to her? I’m not sure, I don’t remember. Maybe I asked for her autograph at some point. Flowers were once delivered to her at Olivers but they were not from me. Perhaps I did talk to her once or twice. And if I failed to get on “hello” terms with her, I certainly got on nod-of-acknowledgement terms, and that was something.

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Peyvand Khorsandi




Book of the day

My Uncle, Napoleon
A Comic Novel
by Iraj Pezeshkad
translated by Dick Davis

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