Saturday, April 21, 2007

Staying With Tom

My good friend, Tom, agreed to let me stay over at his flat in London, on Tuesday night, so I could save the expense of traveling all the way back to Bracknell and back to London the next day. I brought along some DVDs to watch with him. Recently, Tom had asked if he could borrow some DVDs. I was hesitant, because I received a new DVD player as a gift, on Good Friday. That has led to me buying and watching more DVDs, now that I have something to play them on. Sometimes, Tom and I can go a long time without seeing each other. I was concerned that if I loaned him DVDs, I might not get them back for ages. Besides, I am happy to watch any of the films I own with him. I figured it was better for me to bring some when I visit and we can watch them together. That way, I can bring them back with me, when I go home. This time, I also remembered to bring the DVDs of a short film I am in, plus the "X-Forum" episode I appeared on.
When I reached the door to the building Tom's flat is in, I rang his buzzer. Once he realized it was me, he released the door lock, so I could enter the building. The hallway in Tom's building is usually dark when I come in. This time was no exception. After unlocking the outside door for me, remotely, Tom usually opens the door to his flat and leaves it ajar for me to enter. The light from inside his flat provides me with enough light to see where I am going. This time, Tom just unlocked his door, but didn't leave it ajar. Because of that, the hall was pitch black. When I was outside his flat, I literally couldn't see the door in front of my face. I used my hand to feel along the doorway. I could feel a door, but not any handle to open it with. Eventually, I could feel a flange of metal which is just above the lock. I exerted a pressure against the flange and the door opened. I walked into the flat and stopped. It looked different. It wasn't just that the decor had changed, even the physical layout of the flat was different. When I enter Tom's flat I have to turn left from the door to enter the lounge. Here, I just had to walk straight ahead. I slowly moved forward into the strange surroundings. Suddenly, a woman's voice called out, "hello?" I was in the wrong flat.
I yelled out, "sorry, I entered the wrong flat."
As I turned to go, a casually dressed woman appeared. She smiled and said, "that's okay." I felt embarrassed and tried to get out of there as quickly as I could. As I went back into the hall, I could see from the light spilling out of her flat that I'd inadvertently opened the door of the flat to the right of Tom's flat. How strange that her door was also unlocked.
Once I was safely inside Tom's, I told him, excitedly, "I just walked into some woman's flat!" Tom didn't seem like he could believe his ears, so I ended up repeating myself.
Tom being the way he is, he asked me, "was she naked?"
"What woman is going to leave her flat unlocked while she is naked?" I asked, rhetorically.
"I wondered why it was taking you so long to come in," Tom said. "Usually, you come in much quicker, when I buzz you in."
"Maybe you should invite her over for a drink, as a way of saying 'sorry,' " I suggested. Let Tom invite her. I wasn't ready to face her again, yet.
"That's a good idea," Tom replied. "You're lucky her boyfriend wasn't home, he's a cop. He might have shot you."
"On second thought, don't invite her," I said. Inviting a woman who has a boyfriend over for drinks is a fairly unproductive use of one's time. "Anyway, just because her boyfriend is a cop, doesn't mean he carries a gun." Most British cops don't carry guns.
I have been without a watch since my last one broke, early last year. Tom offered me an old, cheap, digital watch of his. I happily accepted. It's not one I would have bought, but a cheap watch was better than no watch. Besides, the price was right: free. Tom wanted to go to Tesco, primarily, it seemed, because he was out of beer. I offered to drive, but he said he would prefer walking there. As the days are getting longer, it was still light out. A walk might be enjoyable, but I was concerned that we might not get back in time for "Eastenders." Tom assured me we would. We set off into a warm, spring evening. Walking around the marina, I admired the boats we were passing. I asked Tom if he was seriously thinking about buying a boat. He'd mentioned something about it when we went to see "Curse of the Golden Flower," the week before. Tom seemed to be having second thoughts about getting a boat. I looked at the name of a largish sailboat, which was moored close to where we were walking. It was called, "the Black Pearl." "Hey, that's the Black Pearl!" I exclaimed. Tom didn't seem to see the significance of that fact. "That was the name of Captain Jack Sparrow's ship in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl,' " I explained. Tom confessed that he'd not yet seen "Pirates of the Caribbean." My pearls of wisdom were being wasted on Tom.
We continued on our way to Tesco, eventually passing the sailing school. As we walked along the quay, I saw commuters coming home from work, heading the opposite way. Unlike Tom, I looked at every woman that passed us. Observing one blond as she approached us, I noticed that she appeared to be on the verge of crying. "That woman looked like she was about to cry," I told my younger companion. Tom didn't seem to have anything to say to that news. I wondered what was bothering her. Maybe she just got fired from her job. Nah, this is Britain. It's very hard to get fired, here. We turned the corner at the end of the quay. Then I was confronted with three joggers. Why anyone wants to run when he is not being chased is beyond me. I noticed a number of Orientals, as we walked. "There seem to be a lot of Oriental women around here," I observed to Tom. My observation seemed to leave him uninspired. In contrast, I am always inspired by Oriental women. As we walked through the subway which cuts under the last road before Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, I observed an attractive blond woman coming the other way. She had a carrier bag of shopping in one hand. Looking at her, I noticed she rolled her eyes, dramatically. I smiled at her. I often smile at women, when I am in a good mood. Sometimes, they smile back. I always get a thrill when one smile s back, even though it never seems to lead to anything. This one just rolled her eyes again. How odd! Maybe she has some sort of condition.
We soon reached Tesco. Tom stopped to use the cash machine outside. I don't know why he did that, when he could just use his card to pay for his purchases, but Tom often doesn't explain his eccentric behaviors. Once inside, we split up. He told me he'd be in the beer aisle. No surprise there. I picked up a sandwich to have at work the next day. I also added a bag of donuts, two bottles of sauce, a multi-pack of crisps, a box of microwave popcorn and two bags of peanuts, and two bottles of squash to my basket. Tom bought beer, wine, and some other bits. I looked at my new watch and noticed it was getting close to the time for "Eastenders" to start. I tried to hurry Tom along, but he seemed to be dragging his feet. It's almost like he was deliberately trying to cause me to miss "Eastenders." He went ahead of me at the checkout aisle. Of course, Tom picked an aisle with a male cashier. What a waste. Tom started chatting with the man operating the register. "Don't distract him, Tom, you're slowing him down," I said in exasperation. Tom just laughed to himself and continued chatting to the cashier. Oh for Pete's sake! "Would you two hurry up, there are people waiting," I said, trying to coax some speed out of them, again.
When it was finally my turn, I told Tom I bet I had spent less than him. His total had been £26. My total? £5.91. We walked out of the store with our purchases. I suggested taking the bus, but Tom wanted to walk. I was going to miss the beginning of "Eastenders." Because Tom doesn't even have Freeview, he doesn't get BBC Three, so I couldn't catch the re-broadcast at 10PM. We retraced our path back to his flat. Rounding the corner of the first quay, I saw a couple sitting on a bench, facing the water. The man had his arm around the woman and I noticed she was crying. As soon as we were a little past them, I said, "that woman was crying. How strange is that? We see a woman crying going in each direction."
"Maybe they are tears of joy," Tom suggested, like some overly optimistic leftist.
"Maybe he's saying to her, 'I'm going to rape you, as soon as those two geezers are gone,' " I countered. Neither possibility was very likely.
Back at Tom's flat, I rushed him to put on the TV as soon as possible. I felt relief to finally have "Eastenders" on. It's my favorite soap opera in the entire world. I sat watching it while Tom cooked dinner. After my show was over, I suggested putting on a film, from amongst the DVDs I brought. He didn't seem interested. He put some tosh on and I fell asleep in the comfy chair, where I usually sit. I woke up later and Tom was still on the settee, watching TV. Then I remembered the DVDs of the two projects I was in. "Do you want to watch the DVDs of me? I asked.
"What, now?" Tom asked, in response.
"Yes, now," I answered. I dug the discs out of my bag. First, I had him put on "The Whistle," the short film I was in. Tom seemed underwhelmed by seeing me on the screen. After my part, he asked if there was any more of me in the film. I gave a vague response and we continued watching. I wanted him to see that I was in the credits. We performers love our credits. When the credits were on screen, Tom seemed even less thrilled than he had about my actual performance. He told me he didn't understand the film. I explained it to him and had him put on the next disc. That was me on the chat show, "X-Forum." The "X-Forum" was longer, being an hour show. Towards the second half, Tom began to look sleepy. All of the sudden, he got up and climbed in bed. Although he could see the TV from his bed, if he made the effort, he rolled over and turned his back to the screen. "Hey, you're going to miss me. I have a good line towards the end," I yelled out. Nothing I said persuaded Tom to turn over and watch the end of the show.
When the show was over, I put the second disc away. I contemplated what to do. Tom's internet connection was down, so I couldn't post a blog, much as I wanted to. I always think about you, my dear readers. In the end, I decided to go to sleep, myself. I got undressed and made my bed on the settee. It was more comfortable than sleeping in the comfy chair, because I could lay down. I felt cold and noticed Tom had left the kitchen window open. Oh for Pete's sake! After closing the window, I lay down and pulled a small blanket over myself. That would do nicely. Tomorrow would be another day.

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