It's Friday night and I'm out with Jena, Susie and Michelle. We have had a lot of vodka. We are in a huge and very crowded club, decorated with animal print everywhere, I forget what it's called. The DJ is playing a remixed Katy Perry track. I've left the three of them grinding on the dance floor and gone to get a drink.
Three men are standing beside me at the bar. Two of them are standard dead-eyed club-issue trolls, pumped up at the gym, gelled hair, their different aftershaves clashing so badly with each other it makes me feel sick. They both look me up and down in a practised way without even bothering to hide it - like a farmer assessing a cow - and then flick their eyes away and dismiss me; clearly I don't look like I give much milk, or something. They move on to mentally rating a group of girls nearby.
The third guy is fat. Not just a little overweight but very obese, with fat rolls bulging under his T-shirt and an enormous stomach, slabs of thighs stretching his jeans. While his friends are scanning the room, he stands back, his shoulders slumped and eyes dropped. He's actually not bad looking - better than the other two - he has pretty eyes and thick dark hair, but standing at this bar in this club he's like a hippo in a pool full of slim water-snakes and he knows it. I guess at an evening out spent following these two dicks in the Hollister t-shirts around watching them watching girls. I guess he didn't want to come here.
I lean over to the barman and ask for a Corona, and while I'm waiting for it I suddenly realise the fat guy is stealing looks at me in the mirror behind the bar. I catch his eye twice. Both times he drops his fast. He doesn't think he's allowed to look at me. He doesn't think I would like it.
I feel a surge of fellow feeling - I never feel like I'm allowed to fancy people either, for different reasons - and I'm surprised by a sudden and amazingly strong urge to take him home. Simply because, because no-one expects me to, least of all him, and I like confounding people's expectations; because his stupid smug friends will feel really insulted if he pulls before them and I think they deserve to get a smackdown; because he looks lonely and unhappy and pissed off and I want to see what he looks like when he smiles; because he has nice eyes and it's Saturday night and I damn well feel like it. Because it amuses me to do so. So the next time he looks at me I smile at him.
His face stiffens and he goes red. He doesn't smile back and I curse myself as I realise he is probably used to being patronised, that probably a lot of girls smile at him, because throwing a crumb of attention to the fat guy is an easy way to give yourself a little ego stroke about what a nice person you are while also secretly getting off on feeling powerful, and he is clearly smart enough to know this and he hates it and he is not grateful and he wants them but he also wants to tell them to fuck off. This sense of his perceptiveness attracts me even more and now I really want to get to know him, but before I can frame what to say he shoulders his way off through the crowd. I contemplate going after him but if he is that sensitive then I don't think he's going to be able to understand that I'm not taking the piss, so I resign myself to the fact that we've misunderstood each other and he'll go home tonight on his own and if he thinks about me at all he'll probably resent me.
I pull my mobile out of my bag and check the time. It's 12.30am. I'm tired. All the others are falling-over drunk, and the generic chart dance and RnB is pissing me off. I decide to go home. I text Jena to say I can't find them - I know where they are, but they'll all try and persuade me to stay and I don't want to - collect my coat and walk out into the cold. It's mayhem outside. The street is busier than at midday, and everyone is off their faces. A bald man is waddling up the middle of the road with his dick hanging out, leaving a zigzag trail of wee like a big inebriated snail. Two girls in bandage dresses and four inch heels are screaming fucks and pulling each other's blonde hair extensions. Another girl is sitting on the pavement crying.
Back at the flat it is warm and quiet. Rammstein jumps off the sofa and chirrups hello. He's just woken up and he bends himself into a hoop to stretch his back. I pick him up and stroke him and he cuddles into me and starts to purr. I press my face into his soft ginger fur.