"I like intelligent women, he said. Looks are nothing. What’s sexy is smart"by Janice Galloway / June 18, 2015 / Leave a comment
Janice Galloway is an award-winning novelist, memoirist and short story writer, who most recent works are This is Not About Me and All Made Up. Her new story collection, entitled Jellyfish, explores in razor-sharp prose David Lodge’s contention that “Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children; life’s the other way round.” The story below, “Romantic,” is narrated by a woman whose eye is caught by a man nearly 20 years younger than her. Galloway says: “This story is set in Edinburgh—or at least its international face—complete with castle on a rock, cool eateries and bars. Two old friends, neither of whom are native, meet up unexpectedly after an absence during a too-hipster-for-comfort day. It’s original title was ‘Iconic.’ Too close to ‘laconic’ in flavour, I scrapped it for ‘Romantic,’ because that’s what it is.”
He’s there when I arrive, 20 minutes late, still standing at the bar. I can tell from his face he’s ordered already and he doesn’t kiss me hello. He usually consents to a kissed hello, but I am late again. I don’t deserve it.
Sorry, Charlie, I say. Traffic.
I know he says. It’s always traffic. Anyway, I’ve ordered.
This—he says grandly, opening one arm like a theatre curtain—is Maria. She’s Hungarian. He nods in a don’t make a fuss sort of a way. She’s just staying over for a few days at the flat.
There are always people staying over at the flat. We have that kind of place. I smile at Maria and her long blue hair, her dark purple nails. She smiles back with a look that suggests she is fed-up being smiled at by strangers and having her hair noticed. It’s probably been happening all day and she’s tired. Maybe she’s just arrived.
She’s tired, Charlie says. Just arrived.
I smile again. We were going to have a meal out at the bar together, nothing fancy, but just me and Charlie. We don’t do it often and we save up, look forward. For entertainment, I brought some self-help book Simon wants him to review for the Herald and pictures of funny cats off the internet as light relief in case work is a no-go area over dinner. I…