The uninvited guest
Series Info | Table of Contents

While my feet are rubbing the coconut matting I am reading ‘Die Eigenschaften von Gummi unter Zug und Druck’. I moved into my new room a month ago, but I do not feel at ease. I thought I was a boy who could fit in everywhere, but now my surroundings are teasing me. I sit at my desk busy convincing myself that I am feeling fully comfortable while reading about the durability of vulcanized rubber under dynamic and static deformation. The article has been written by my grandfather, whom I have never have known in person. Reading his writing and watching the physics formulas calms me down. But still I keep looking at the furniture in the room: the easy chair, the couch, the sideboard, the stool and the Spanish vase carefully put in a  tall wooden cupboard I once found on the side of the street. The pieces of furniture seem to stand coolly and individually in the room as if exhibiting themselves in a showroom to be bought. I really do not know how I can give myself some rest. To what music should I listen? The chair and the couch: what are the best places for them? And the desk?

Chipped walls, a mottled carpet, lonely furniture and a curtain to keep my rubbish from view: my new room. Suddenly I stand up and start to shove aside the desk, without putting it anywhere. For weeks I have been acting like this. Each time I move the desk, I also move the easy chair, the couch and the stool. It bothers me that I am not able to find a suitable place for the desk. Deep inside I know that I seek a corner where nobody can see me. Nobody. A corner where I …

The desk should stand in a niche or in the loo or behind the door if necessary, as long as they don’t see me. I'm not saying they peep at me, the neighbors, they probably have better things to do than that, no, but even the possibility that I'm being watched, or that others should think I watch them, I want to rule out. Finally I decide to give my desk a temporary place, hoping it will end up to be permanent. I don’t sit comfortably. I am glued against the wall, a millimeter from the sink. But nobody sees me.

I always feel examined. During lectures, in the cafeteria, the tram. When paying at the supermarket checkout. Even cycling I do with the idea that everyone is watching me. I struggle to keep my face straight and I am afraid that the muscles around my mouth are going to lead their own lives. Walking on the street I am way too much aware of how I walk. Wooden. Stiff. It feels like I could fall anytime. Sometimes a street of thirty meters seems an endless racetrack on which I, lame or intoxicated, step by step try to reach the finish. The finish is the corner of the street that turns into a new street. When I walk down the long corridors of the university, I am terrified that I won't be able stop my pee. My thoughts make it worse: what if my sphincter won't close! I keep repeating, while painfully rushing forward leg by leg. I walk while squeezing and squeezing, woe is me! While other students saunter coolly through the corridors and simply sit on their chairs listening to the professor, I don’t even attend lectures anymore and stay at home.

I remember that I loved taking the spotlight as a child. There must have been a moment when 'wanting to be seen’ was replaced by shielding and isolation. I still long for attention, but I just can't bear it anymore. I need solitude. Can’t stand that either. I manage to suppress the urge to stand up and move the furniture. I turn to the scientific article. The balcony doors rattle a bit, but I fool myself into thinking it doesn’t bother me. I am glad enough that my writing desk is  positioned well. No one can see me while I overlook a part of the balcony. Well, I must say I am satisfied with the view. One has to have a view, but it should not be too much.

Just when I have read the introduction of the article, and I want to start the third page with the calculations, I see a cat balancing on the railing of the balcony. She just walks on that part of the balcony that I have in my sight. She looks like a kitty, because she is rather small. Something in my room draws her attention. For minutes she walks back and forth on the railing and repeatedly she looks inside. I follow her gaze, but can not get a decisive answer to what draws her attention. The cat jumps on the floor and walks paw by paw to the doorway. Just the appearance of this cat feels like an initiation to a commitment against my will. However tempting it might be, I am not giving in, because I know that I can not live with a cat, and surely not in one single room. She looks at me. I wait anxiously. The cat seems totally unwilling to turn. Shoo!, I hiss and wave with my hands in the direction of the door. She puts one paw on the coconut matting. I prepare to get up. She doesn’t hesitate and puts another paw there. The cat looks up and plaintively meows. Nastily my knee bangs into-the-sink-fuck-fuck-fuck! Go Outside. A merry-go-round of thoughts is swirling through my head: I Don’t Want a Cat! Before you know it you'll be stuck with it.

Then they want food. Then they come back. Then they want more food. Then they won’t leave. Then they want better food. Before you know it you'll be carrying cans of cat food all day. Then they want a  litter box. Indeed: you are privileged when they want a litter box! They love to do their business on the shower mat or in between the folds of your comforter … when you are underneath. She goes. I close the curtains.

Relieved I take the article and stare at the formula. With a strange certainty I feel that I might eventually understand the formula by just looking at it long enough.


Next: I feel tension growing

Table of Contents

Series Info

Your Channel