the autogeography of a no/body
Feb 14

Valentine's Day

I was walking through town when I saw him, propped up against a lamp post eating a sandwich. We kissed. We always kiss. With my back to the scene he was surveying I asked in conspiratorial tones “Are you watching those big, strong boys lifting boxes?”.

He laughed and passed another crust to the child in the pushchair next to him, “No, I'm thinking about stealing that coat. What are you up to?”.

“Going to a book signing,” I replied.

He nodded. “Have you seen the queue?”

I hadn't.

“What are you getting Matt for Valentine's Day?” he said.


“Will he get you something?”

“Doubt it,” I said.

“Suzie will have my balls in a vice if I don't get her [i]something[/i].”

“Lucky you.”

“Seriously, it would be a fatal error.” Niall's an electronics geek. “Do you ever give each other Valentines?”

“Occasionally, depends on the ebb and flow,” I said.

“How do you mean?” he said.

“Don't know really. Sometimes it seems appropriate and important but at other times it just seems irrelevant.”

“And you know exactly which one of those times it is?”

“Pretty much. I bought a bottle of Champagne in January, the proper stuff not Cava, it took us nearly a week to get 'round to drinking it. Matt's busy.”

Niall sighed. Suzie's very busy, working full-time with a fifty mile commute thrown in for good measure. They've been married four years and Reuben's nearly two. “I thought of getting her one of those robins from Choccy Woccy Doo Dah,” he said.

“Don't. They're horrible. Have you ever tasted the chocolate from Choccy Woccy Doo Dah? It's overly sweet and kinda gritty.”

He lolled back against the lamp post.

“And don't steal the coat either, I think it belongs to that workman,” I said, pointing to a man in overalls who was painting a shop frontage.

Niall frowned. “It's been there a while though.” It was hanging on a sign, as if it had been dropped and then hung up, waiting for its owner to realise their loss, retrace their steps and reclaim it.

“Do you need another coat?”

“Not really, no.”

“Well then. If you want to buy her chocolates how about cherries in brandy from Montezuma's?” We were standing right next to the shop and he turned his attention to the window display.

“But they don't look very, er, romantic.”

“It's not really a question of what something looks like Niall.”

“You don't know Suzie.”

“So she'd rather have a shitty tasting chocolate robin in a pretty box than the best brandy cherries in the whole world?” I said.

He stared at the floor and mumbled “You're lucky”.

“And also now late. I gotta go.” We kissed again and I wandered up the street, past the hanging coat. I noticed small flecks of dried, white paint on the fabric. I was probably right, in all likelihood the coat did belong to the painter; but I was also probably wrong, because this proved that it does matter what something looks like.


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