An Evening with Leonard Shelby

men who forget everything

“So where are you from?” This Norwegian’s mind reset every thirty seconds like in the film, Memento. Abby was patient with him. We were on the island of Hvar at a trendy bar with outdoor seating. Three women at a square table left space for one more.

“Albany and I are from the US and Kaya is Indian,” she told him for the third time. I don’t know if he actually heard her but he took a long drag of his cigarette and enjoyed the effects of whatever drug he had used to lace his nicotine.

Island of Hvar, Croatia

Island of Hvar, Croatia

“That’s an interesting t-shirt,” I was trying to be charming like Abby. The t-shirt had a cartoon naked woman mowing a lawn.

“You’re funny!” said the Norwegian, “where are you from?”
“India, we’re all Indian!” I proclaimed.
“Nah, I don’t believe it! I’ve been to India.”
“Interesting, where did you go in India?” Kaya asked.
“I never went to India! Where are you from?”

“We told you, we all three come from Jamaica.” I said again, sounding annoyed now. Like Leonard did with Sammy Jenkis in the film, I wanted to ascertain the extent of the Norwegian’s brain damage.

“Hahaha,” he took another puff of his cigarette before stroking Abby’s forearm with his two fingers. He looked intently into her eyes. “So lovely lady, where are you from?”

That night Abby and I had short drinks and had long since finished them but Kaya was drinking a mojito and is a lightweight so we didn’t want to rush her but when the Norwegian’s hand went from Abby’s forearm to her leg we both stood up and decided we’d buy Kaya another drink somewhere else.

“Where are you going?” he said in his same monotone voice.
“To the moon,” I replied.

“Hey can I get a cigarette first?” he gestured toward Kaya’s Marlboro Lights. The best thing to do when a robber is after you is to throw your purse behind him so he will have to turn around to get it and you can run away. Kaya did this with the cigarette and we were all three stunned by this man’s slow reaction time. He finally stood up off the bar stool, got down on the floor. At the foot of a statue of the Venus he looked up, facing it, cigarette in hand, and said “so where are you from?”

– Albany Eden


Smoke & Leerers

20131109-135847.jpgmen obsessed with smoking

“Do you have a joint?” I was startled and mildly amused by his candor. I was wearing my pastel skinny jeans and a designer blouse. My hair and makeup were intact, as I had just arrived at the party, so I couldn’t help but take offense at the possible implication that I appeared strung out.

“Um, no I didn’t bring one, sorry. Maybe you should ask somebody else,” I suggested. He reminded me of the privileged and hot late bloomer I dated who “only snorted cocaine on weekends.” I guess the implication was that cocaine use from Monday to Friday was not acceptable but come Saturday anything goes. As a non-recreational drug user myself, I tried to be open-minded but at some point every girl has to ask herself, “would I be embarrassed to tell my best friend the truth about this guy if he were my boyfriend?” and if the answer is “yes,” move onto the next.

“Let’s leave this place,” he gets credit for boldness but this is not what a woman likes to hear ten minutes into a first conversation with a guy at a friend’s birthday party.

“No, I’d like to stay here with my friends, but by all means, go find your joint and I’ll see you when you get back. So do you smoke a lot?”

“Of course not. It’s been a week,” he reassured me. “I still have two cigarettes so I’ll go later.”

“Um, if you’re really on the hunt for an altered mental state, you could always get drunk,” I suggested, trying to be a charming girl on his wavelength because by their 30’s, many of the sober and appropriate men have been snagged by their high school sweethearts.

“It wouldn’t work, I’m Russian, I would have to drink an entire bottle of whiskey.” His chiseled face, strong body and elegant stature accompanied by such remarks created a bizarre schism in my mind.

Feeling mild discomfort at the suggestion of how his tolerance became so high, I asked something else. “So how old are you?” He looked young but this was my grad school crowd so I couldn’t quite tell.

“26” he says without flinching. So what do you do?”

I tell him what I do in the wine & spirits industry.

“Then you’re in the right place, these people at this party love to drink!” It seemed he was attempting a joke, so I smiled. Polite girls smile even when it’s not funny.

“Haha, I got you! I’m actually 23!” He was quite amused with himself. At least somebody was. So that’s why he didn’t have frown lines. I was this close to asking him the name of his dermatologist for I had realized long ago that you can often obtain useful tips even from the biggest loser.

He spoke some more about his privileged upbringing, the luxury leisure sports he practices and the high profile politicians in his family’s inner circle. I guess he was trying to impress me but all I could see was his trembling hand. Nicotine withdrawal? Worse? I was afraid to ask.

“So tell me, what do you do?” he asked again. I suppose it bothered me only because he had asked me all but two questions the entire night and of the two, only remembered that I did not have a joint.

– Albany Eden