The old man looked across the spotless, bare aluminium desk at the white coated technician with glasses on. He’d heard about this place in hushed whispers amongst the elite wealthy. A month before, his best friend Gaston, an Austrian billionaire, had disappeared for a few days and returned a changed man: permanently. Whereas he was previously a sad and bitter hypochondriac, now he sauntered through the days with a spring in his step and a cheeky, wistful grin on his face.
He’d asked him endlessly what he’d done. What magic tonic had he imbibed? All Gaston would say was “Ahhh… that week in Rome with Helga” and smirk.
Who was Helga? And to his knowledge Gaston had never been to Rome. It didn’t make sense.
Finally, aided by Gaston’s refound love of booze and fast-living, he had wrangled it out of him – and now here he was himself, in a top secret and both highly illegal and highly high-tech laboratory beneath a particle accelerator in the Ukraine, carrying a briefcase containing eighteen million dollars.
The technician talked on. “What if” he said, “what if we could send you back. What if we could send you back thirty years to when you were forty. Just for one week”.
“I don’t understand” the old man said.
“Let me guess” asked the technician, “you have regrets, right?”.
The old man considered and bit his lip. “Yes, of course” he answered slowly and hesitantly.
“And let me guess” continued the technician, “your regrets are…” he cleared his throat, “now please listen carefully.. your regrets are precisely not because of what you did”, he paused for dramatic effect, “but for what you did NOT do. Correct?”.
The old man looked down and felt something akin to shame, but different. He ran a hand through what remained of his silver hair.
“Our business” continued the technician, “can be described as… ‘the science of Regret-Avoidance'”.
It took the old man all of a second.
“Exactly how much will this cost me?” he asked.
It had been yet another so-so day of daygame. The needle on the ‘belief’ gauge was fluttering between mid point and bottom. Whilst I trudged onwards, familiar thoughts, you could call them ‘old chestnuts’, were kindly suggested to me by that annoying part of the brain (which I don’t consider myself) which specializes solely in producing a stream of unhelpful and annoying thoughts:
- This is a waste of time.
- You have proven to yourself it doesn’t work.
- It’s undignified.
I call up a wing and we walk round together. R is younger than me and has had more success, so no weaseling or undertow from him. We chat and saunter and enjoy the summer sun. He pops off every now and then to do a set. It starts to feel light-hearted. I do a set or two. I spot a nine walking down ahead of us and I’m momentarily struck by her beauty. Tall, tanned, with cascading brunette hair. She’s lithe and walks gracefully, with a full-length skirt slit up one side to the knee. Topping her cascading chestnut mane is an artful little hat and she has a canvas bag over one shoulder marked “Royal Ballet”. Immediately my mind concocts a Fake-Weasel-Back-Story:
“She’s the privileged daughter of a rich Jordanian heiress who has married a Russian oil magnate. They schooled her in Switzerland and now she lives a life of luxury, staying in the Covent Garden apartment that papa bought for her and studying to be a ballerina. She speaks four languages, thinks eight quid for a sandwich is reasonable and she’s never shit in a public toilet.”
Then she walks into T.K. Maxx, shattering all of that. I don’t like shop-stops but I have to do it so I drift in, loiter creepily and unhelpfully, and then go over and open. “Hey, I like your hat”. She smiles. “Makes you look posh” I add.
We chat for a few minutes. I’m nervous but it hooks. I know quite quickly that it’s not on: you can tell it in the eyes. She’s probably got a boyfriend as, believe it or not, most Russian nines who are well educated and not corrupted by bling culture generally are into me. I say this without irony. Perhaps I should move to Russia?
All in all we chat for five or ten minutes. I reach that sweet, delicious point when all nerves are gone and finally, finally I see it click in her eyes what she’s talking to and then, most wonderful of all: I feel ‘The Flip’. I’m now the value.
Outside my wing congratulates me on opening a nine and in a shop of all places. We stroll on. The mind plays tricks on you. Soon I’m feeling dejected about it rather than enthused:
“This is futile..” suggests The Voice.
I finally decide I need some vibe repair work so I won’t approach anymore and just keep R company. Saying goodbye at Oxford circus I turn to walk home. Ambling along a side-street by Tottenham Court Road I’m in a dreamy mood and I notice a girl up ahead. Something, something deep in my brain makes me notice her. It’s the Daygame-Hindbrain: all those years and thousands of sets have created an instinct that is beyond my conscious understanding.
She’s very young and is incredibly beautiful. Objectively around the level of the Russian, ish. Most men would prefer the Russian, as she wouldn’t have looked out of place on the cover of GQ. This girl, however, is altogether different. She instantly reminds me of a young, fresh-faced Julie Andrews or Audrey Hepburn. Short, bobbed hair and skin so flawless. Sharp cheekbones and just oh so breathtakingly beautiful. She wears a white silk Chanel-style blouse, with a French pierrot-style black collar.
I’m momentarily struck senseless by her profound beauty. I realize that I have never found a girl more beautiful than her in my entire life. Something clicks in me and I feel a deep, gut-wrenching physical sensation, at once yearning and jealousy. I’m so attracted to her that my breathing shallows. All at once cascading emotions flood through me. Number one is that awful, sick feeling, as the unhelpful voice in my head says:
- She looks like you used to dream girls looked
- She’s your wasted youth. If you’d lived differently, you could have had her. Now just look at her and weep, old man.
- Gaze upon your lost youth, gaze upon your memories and life that never was
(the Voice can be quite profound and creative)
She’s wandering around like an idiot, staring at her phone then at shop windows and street signs. A wave of anxiety washes over me, so powerful I almost shit in my pants: Oh God….
She’s a WANDERING LOST GIRL.
“Fuck this” I decide, then I run a simple NLP trick: as if talking to a wing, I say “watch this super-hottie blow me out, ha ha” and walk over. I go to open but she’s so spasticated she changes direction at the last second. She hasn’t seen me so I turn round and go to run around her. She turns again. Frustrated I just reach out and grab her arm. “Hey! You’re wandering round like an idiot!” I say.
She smiles and steps towards me, closing the distance, and looking into my eyes.
I can’t believe this is happening. The SDL alarms have just gone off at Defcon Three. That was it, right then, the step in and the smile: a second of body language which is all a daygamer with enough chops knows to recognize as a girl wanting the Universe to manifest an adventure for her (thank God the streets are drenched in thousands of ever thirsty prowling men to enable this ‘magic’ to happen).
I chat to her for a minute or two. She’s from Slovakia, and works as a nanny. It all fits into place. This is her first time away from home. She’s been stuck out in Essex for six weeks and this is her first visit into town. She’s eighteen.
“What are you up to now?” I ask. I know this feels good.
“Just looking for somewhere to have a beer” she says.
Exactly the words one of my previous daygame SDL’s said to me. I lead, taking her arm and saying “come one, I know a nice pub, I was going there anyway on my way home”.
One the walk there I probe her logistics and run some comfort, telling a story about being an uncle. At all times Jabba’s words from Primal Seduction are running through my head: “think where the girl is at”. My concern is with her. I will reassure her as quickly as possible that I am not a dangerous man, but a charming and fun non-rapist, who will, with impeccable manners deftly take her through every step of a perfectly executed and guilt-free seduction, politely providing her with the adventure she so requires.
We reach the pub and she asks for a pint of dark beer. When I return with them she moves across and sits beside me.
Can it be this easy?
It feels on. It feels SUPER ON. I notice her throwing the beer down her throat with abandon. Her hands are shaking like a leaf. She wants a cigarette so we go outside. “Gut”, I ask myself “what should I do?”.
comes the answer. I start trying to catch her eye more, then through fifteen minutes of conversation rapidly take her through a sequence of carefully thought-out psychological steps. This is pure game.
First, I create intimacy. What’s she feeling? She’s feeling swept away, but this is not enough. We need to feel in a bubble: just me and her against the world. “Tell me a secret about yourself” I ask her.
Second, I break down the sex wall. I need to state the elphant in the room. She says something about her cat so I shamelessly ask her how her pussy is. I joke that she’s left her pussy at home so she doesn’t get into trouble with men. She loves it and plays along. The ice breaks. We feel closer. I’ve displayed outrageous tact.
Third, I push the Secret Society frame. I correctly predict that boys so far have frustrated her: they think because she looks so sweet and cute that she’s a precious ‘good girl’. How can they not understand that she’s just human like they are? She looks grateful. I tell her I know she’s got a dirty mind just like every other woman and I don’t care, it doesn’t mean anything. We’re all just human. “I like porn” she tells me. She wants to tell me another secret: “I slept with a girl once” she tells me.
Finally I break down the fourth wall. “I don’t mess about” I tell her. “I know that you know that I like you. Right?”.
“And I also know that you like me as well”.
She pauses. Too late, I know the rules.
“Right” she admits.
The tension is electric. I take hold of the nape of her neck and we kiss. She flops her entire body against me, sighs and drapes her arms langorously around my neck. Her eyes are shut and she’s moaning, running her hands throught my hair, rocking her body against me.
As I kiss her I realise that this is it, right now, this is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in my life and I’m kissing her. I literally have never fancied a girl more than her the second I saw her, and now I’m kissing her just twenty five minutes later in a pub. It’s a genuinely unreal moment.
To lower things to the level of crassness, I should note that I also get a semi and realise ‘this girl is ready to fuck RIGHT NOW’.
I need to cool it down and get her home. I pull her in to a hugging position, just holding her hand, and try and think of where she’s at. It must be overwhelming: being so young and with such volatile emotions. In a new city with her loins screaming for excitement and suddenly out of thin air a tall, devilishly charismatic stranger has appeared and surprise of surprises: he’s fuckworthy! Finally, a man that her brain tells her is OK to fuck.
The comfort is done. I’ve seeded the seedy gay bar by my house and she asks me to take her. “We can smoke some shisha too” I tell her, thanking Allah that I bought a whole kit of BounceBack Shisha Paraphenalia the week before and even practiced using it in a nerdy ‘dry run’.
I need to piss, and also slyly take a viagra, as I’ve foolishly made the little vicar puke twice already that morning and worry my performance will be lacklustre. “This is your chance to run off” I joke and walk to the toilets. I take my Viagra and walk back.
She’s run off.
Seriously! She’s actually legged it. Pop! The bubble had burst. Too much, too fast, too unreal, too overwhelming… perhaps. Or alternatively a more simple explanation: I know we were cutting it fine to her host family curfew so perhaps she glanced at her watch, saw she had to go and being a woman didn’t want to face having to explain this to me and having me whine or go needy so just took the easy way out and ran for it. The latter is the more likely.
I hang around a bit to see if she’s playing a practical joke. I quickly check the ladies toilet, knowing full well she might have gone for a thirty minute make-up session without telling me. Nope.
I wander down to Piccadily Circus and as I walk one emotion is flowing through my body:
I’m living absolutely in the now, and I’m so grateful for my life. I’m still not ancient or sick yet I’ve already learned so many of the secrets of life. I’m content and happy and I’ve just had a small experience the likes of which most men cannot imagine as true. I’ve just done it. Through hundreds of hours of drudge I’ve built another “hit by a bus” memory to add to my collection.
I laugh to myself, wistfully, not bitterly. “Such is game” I say. I’ve been here before. Hours and hours of boredom and yearning and ups and downs, hope and expectation then suddenly a high-octane jet-ride from nowhere. It’s the game rollercoaster.
I’m not annoyed or sad. I’m really, really happy. I stand at Picaddily Circus a while and listen to Queen on my mp3 player and watch the throngs of tourists come and go.
I go home and sit on the edge of my bed in stunned silence. The exact emotion I have could be described like that of an old man looking back at faded polaroids of glory days of his long faded youth. A strange kind of pathos. I feel like that was it: that precisely was one of those moments. Sysiphus got the boulder to balance just for that one moment. I realize my eyes are leaking.
The portal shimmered and the man stepped back through, his youthful form morphing back into his older body. His eyes met the technician’s and the technician asked:
The man’s eyes twinkled. “I’ll always have Piccadilly Circus” he said.