Short story no. 202. April 3, 2006.
The whole thing had been a set-up. The relationship my girlfriend conducted
with me at that time, was cleverly designed to show her ex-girlfriend
that she was able to change. The theatre play was a success.
Her ex-girlfriend came back to get her. They got married and now live
in a cottage in Cornwall.
In my new attic I found a sheep, breathing heavily. It was warm under
the roof. I wasn’t surprised to find a sheep in my attic. Well,
maybe I was, but I remember dealing with it like any other problem in
my life until now: I thought of a practical solution.
I pushed the animal down the stairs. I didn’t know anything about
sheep. I named it Dolly. A sheep needs a name like that, I
thought. It was summer and it had a thick fleece. She needs to be
shaved, I concluded.
I went through some drawers and found an electric shaver, one especially
for women. I think Dolly appreciated that. I got creative, and I tried
to shave a logo that my friend graffiti sprayed on the public walls
of Porto in her fight against illegalness of abortions. It wasn’t
I decided to take Dolly to an ecological farm run by women, like in
the television series I sometimes watched. I thought this was the best
place for Dolly to stay. They asked me what happened to its fleece.
They agreed the logo wasn’t very recognisable.
In the new city in which I was living, I found one friend. She was great.
We went for beers in the local gay pub. She taught me how to play backgammon.
Sometimes we played backgammon on watercolours of backgammon boards,
which I had started to paint. She talked about the archaeological project
she was working for and the power strategies of each of her supervisors.
I told her about how to prepare watercolour paper before painting on
it and how I had fallen in love with my supervisor once.
We started to borrow each other’s books. Immediately after finishing
Frances Gapper’s Absent Kisses, I needed to reread it.
This displeased my friend. Always choosy about the novels I advised
her, she seemed eager to read this one. After rereading Gapper, I wanted
to keep the book close to me. I didn’t tell my friend, but started
to send scanned pages of the stories to her work email address. Each
week I sent her one story. Maybe she thought it was mean of me. She
never mentioned it.
In her enthusiasm for backgammon my friend came up with the idea to
organize backgammon evenings. I loved it. For me it was a perfect way
to show my works to an audience. One month later there was the First
International Backgammon Competition Evening to be held in the
local gay pub. A couple of friends celebrated the kick-off together
with us by moving the buttons on the water coloured paper boards. Years
later a famous Italian art critic and curator referred to our backgammon
evenings as peripheral art activities. I invited him and said that by
inviting him I wasn’t being very peripheral. He said he knew,
but came anyway. Actually, this story is for him.
After our first backgammon competition my friend and I decided to grow
old together. To accomplish this we agreed that we both needed to be
in a relationship with stable partners. I fell in love with an English
teacher. When she saw my paintings, I said: “I am sorry, but I
will not use you as a model, because I think it is unhealthy to use
other people for inspiration.” She understood. She said she didn’t
like playing charades herself. I taught her how to play backgammon.
I was glad she liked that.
The English teacher was perfect for me. Once in a while I was worried
for her, when she attracted people who thought she needed to be taken
care of. I called them the weirdo’s. Usually they didn’t
like me. Why didn’t she get rid of them? Was she reinforcing the
idea that she needed to be taken care of? Why? I think I was a weirdo
once, long before I met my English teacher.
My friend’s partner didn’t like backgammon. She did like
drinking beer and being the most loyal visitor to the competition evenings,
she often volunteered to be the referee.
This was one of my life stories. I hope you like the next one as well.