Names have been changed to protect the identities of people. Even though the names learnt are probably pseudonyms.
Stepping into a new space is … Exhilarating. I’ve always liked meeting new people, but when they’re grouped in throngs at wooden tables with identical food buzzers in their hands, it’s kinda robotic and weird.
Talking. I can’t tell because I’m not looking.
Anxious eyes. Probably just me.
My breath is caught in my throat and I can’t even make eye contact with anyone so I grimace and stare out the curved glass windows of the restaurant. I notice how my reflection is stretched. Enlarged. Bigger, so much bigger than I feel.
I walk around with Nut to see what food is available, even though I’d just had dinner. She checks to see if I’m okay. I keep staring at the dangly choker around her neck and wonder how it might tap against her skin rhythmically when —
I tell her that I want to sit in a corner and not talk to anyone, wondering why I even came here, but when I return, I sit with two other girls instead.
I learn their names.
I forget their names.
Thank god more people are coming, and they re-introduce themselves. Ale. I forgot the other one again.
Also, I’m not quite sure what I expected everyone to be wearing. It’s casual. Keep it casual. Jeans, tee shirts, singlets. Think casual.
My god, who is that? Her dark hair is coming down in waves, and she’s in a splotchy dress. Don’t stare. Don’t stare.
“Love your dress,” Girl Whose Name I Still Can’t Remember says.
Heels. Beige ones, strapped front and back.
Casual. Casual. Casual.
Ale is the same age as me. It’s also her first time here, and she’s still looking for a job. Something non-profit. Huh, interesting.
Someone else sits besides me and has a really nice, chatty vibe. He tells me about play parties in Hong Kong and locally. Eye, one of the moderators, joins in. Talks about Taboo and how it’s male-infested. Pool parties, druggy…
My mind still can’t focus for some reason, although I’m much calmer. I keep thinking about Ariana Grande’s stupid rabbit mask in Dangerous Woman and I think it’s because of the F1 pop-up stalls I saw outside Isetan while waiting for Nut earlier.
Parties. What are they like? What do you even wear? Do you bring a second set of clothes or
Leashes. Pet conventions?
Foxes and cats are so cute. I wanna rub their tummies —
Oh. New guy. Err, we just talked before. What’s his name again? Doesn’t matter, what does he do? Or music. Music is good. Should I ask for everyone’s favourite music? Or is that trying to hard?
What if you start menstruating? Do you even bring a Freedom Cup to these events. The best thing about kink is being able to wear a Freedom Cup since there isn’t necessarily penetration. Is it a mini rape preventer at these parties? What am I even
He’s holding a small cylindrical tin in his hand. Fascinated, I stare at it. Sweets?
“… Rope wax. You can use oil… Mineral oil.. One part, two parts… But now I’m using rope wax,” he explains, opening the tin.
It’s pale beige-yellow. Like the soles of feet that are cracked.
“It smells quite sweet, actually.”
OwO. I bring my nose to it and sniff. Honey! Instantly I want to bite a chunk out of its smoothened surface, so I sit back and focus my attention on his spectacles instead.
“… Nut, Eye and I were spending hours the other day just waxing ropes, burning them…”
Three people. At AirBnB, having a mini assembly line. No, let’s make it dodgier. Three people in white robes in the middle of the night, with a single candle lit, casting shadows on their faces while they work through the ropes. Burning it over – do they burn ropes over a single small flame? How do you even? It’s kinda weird if you think about it ‘cos the candle is made out of wax and you’re burning wax to burn wax into rope. Or maybe I got it wrong.
Still, fascinating. So geeky, but in a completely new way. He mimes rubbing the wax over the ropes, and I wonder about the care he shows for them. Like an instrument. A guitarist tending to his strings.
We talk about his experiences with his partner, and the differences between envy and jealousy. Connective rope, being about the process of bondage. So intimate. I hope I’m not smiling too widely, so I look down.
His hands are trembling. Ever so slightly, with that little metal tin.
Surprised, I look up at him again. A certain tension tugs and stirs in his eyes.
Blood red ropes. He’s winding them around a woman’s thighs, around her breasts, marking her fair skin.
Gulp. Casual. Casual.
Gentle sighing. The snap of a whip. Honey sweet groans, the sharp intake of breath. Trust, smiling. Melding skin. Connecting souls.
“I’m so envious,” I blurt out, realising I might have interrupted him.
He pauses. “What are you envious about?”
“Erm. … I really, really wanna watch,” I stutter.
He looks at me carefully.
Blood red ropes.
“I… Really wanna watch and learn. Voyeur, a little? Okay, a lot.” I try to laugh it off.
My skin. My breasts. My sighs.
But if I connect directly, I can’t stay level-headed and observe all these details. How do I turn my body into a recording device? Or … a clay doll. Soft, pliable. I want to record every impression, every sound.
I want to remember.
“Are you in finance?” Toothbrush asks J. J shakes his head.
“Are you in finance?” Toothbrush asks me.
“Hell naw,” I say. He nods.
“Are you in finance?” I ask. He nods.
“Oh my god. Okay, so I’m gonna ask you something okay. What do you think about cryptocurrency? In one sentence?”
“If you got money, then do.”
“… Really? That’s your one sentence?” I was expecting something more judgemental on a macroscale, like “Cryptocurrency will be the death of us all!” accompanied by an angry shaking of a fist. “Back in my day…”
Or maybe “Cryptocurrency has its own bubble.” I read it in the news a few days back but I forgot what ‘bubble’ means.
“Yes. If you got savings, then do. Like my friend, she just started her job. Don’t even have savings. And if it collapses?”
“Will it collapse?” I ask.
“– Hyperinflation,” says J.
Oh my god I know that word. But I thought “… There’s mining right? For BitCoins?”
“Yes, there’s mining. BitCoins are stable. But all the new, weird weird ones, with nothing backing them up…”
Ethereum? NEO? BNB? But my special friend is doing that. Should I tell him?
“… government bonds are always stable lah,” Toothbrush says.
“The U.S. ones,” J adds.
“Singapore ones too.”
I have no idea what bonds are. But this is pretty cool. I wonder if I’ll ever see them again. If I don’t, the last thing I’ll remember about them is this opinion that bonds are stable. Bonds are stable, okay.
Toothbrush is showing us pictures of ants’ nests and baby spiders that he encountered during his hiking trips. I feel them sneaking up my skin, so I rub my arms a little.
Nut shares how she tried to do a little science experiment with chicken bones. Apparently her teacher told her that if you soaked bones in vinegar, you could see the calcium come out. But she forgot that she had left the chicken bones out to dry, so after 4 days, she came back and saw maggots.
Hundreds of tiny snow white babies, progressing up the back of my neck, nuzzling my ears…
I cover my ears and grimace. Nut sees this, and starts doing a little wormy dance with her index finger. Greenpool sees this, and joins her. He’s making solid eye contact with me, and I can’t tear my eyes away. For some reason, his eyes lack the mirth I usually see in people that are teasing me; his smile isn’t even a smirk.
He’s so calm. Controlled.
The back of my neck tingles, and I realise I still haven’t looked away.
What’s going on?
I end the night by adding them as Friends. I still feel weird not knowing who they are – as in, their names. I realise I don’t mind letting them know my birth name, but I never liked my birth name for it’s way too feminine, and Remi is gender neutral.
But for them? Why did they pick the names they did? Does it have any special significance, and will I ever come close to understanding who they are, what they’re like, what this all means?
Or is this the last time I’m going to see them?
If so, then I hope they’re all fulfilled. I silently thank them for the adding to the fullness in my heart, smiling the whole way home.