After about an hour, I pick up the phone and look for a CD for the return trip. I am interrupted by a cyclist passing close to me. He is standing on the pedals, he looks like a spastic mechanic intent on working with the engine to increase its displacement. His ass comes out of his shorts because they are ripped. What was the saying? "Better a healthy ass in broken pants, than vice versa". I do not remember.

I decide to go back. "It's downhill now," I think. And while my legs are stiff with fatigue, I see in front of me a branch dangling from a wall. I take it in my hand to move it, step under it and stop a little further on to look at the view. The air is clean, I'm surrounded by greenery. But my brain only suggests the image of a toilet. I smell the scent of flowers, of vegetation, of perfumed stuff and that olfactory mix seems to me one of those sprays that you spray after you take a shit, one of those things that look like a cross between an apology press conference called by the boss and a prodigy of chemistry.

And in short, I'm tired, so I head briskly home. As soon as I breathe a sigh of relief, I'm back where I've been safe for the past two months. I smell the smells I know, the pheromones of my records, my books, my stuff. Just before I go to take a shower, the doorbell rings. I scream that I'm going. It is the delivery of the shopping.

In front of me is a sweaty guy. He pants, coughs, puts down bags, baskets of water. Sweat drops everywhere. I am looking for the mask but I no longer have it. He hands me the machine to pay with the ATM. He runs a hand over his sweat-rotted forehead, then touches his ass and blows. "Uff, how hot!" he says snorting. I smile unconvinced. And as he tears up the receipt to hand it to me, I think the world is everywhere.


- sorry, would you have a cigarette? -
He saw her every morning. He knew she was one of those good girls, who never smoked. He wasn't the type. But he asked him; not so much for the cigarette as for talking to her. Just to see her lips in a dance just for him, to tell him something, anything. For him.
- no sorry. Still better for you, right? Smoking is bad -
- bad? Bad for what? -
- ah I don't know. Brain, lungs ... heart -
- what if one smokes to forget the harm they have done to his heart? -
- then in that case he needs help. He's killing himself. But I'm not a doctor, I can't know -
- Help? Guy? -
- like love. -
- and what is love like? -
- it's like when you smoke a cigarette and take his soul, but then it gets inside and kills you. But sometimes it's not like that -
- and how is it, the other times? -
- it's like when you kiss a strong person so that he can get inside you, and that person could kill you instead he chooses to save you. -
- then? -
- and then he hugs you and puts your heart close to his -
- and you? -
- I what? -
- you don't smoke. Do you have a person who can save you? -
The girl laughed.
- they were just metaphors. I don't believe in love. It was a nice way to tell you that smoking is bad for you, just like love does -
- you must have huge scars in there. -
The girl looked down.
He took her hands, looked up and saw those dead and empty and dark eyes.
- we will have to learn to hurt each other, what do you say? -
- what are you talking about? -
- I save you and you save me. Make love. We hurt each other together. Maybe every day or even every hour. But we keep ourselves alive, because we hold hands. So, are you there? -
- what if we end up killing ourselves? -
- what if we end up loving each other? -


I’m not a huge fan of the idea that men and women are fundamentally different in what they value and how they approach relationships.
To me, the ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ mindset seems as outdated and irrelevant a way to understand men as ‘The Rules’ – the ones that say you should never call a guy, never accept a Saturday date after Wednesday, and in general, play hard to get. Both of them stem from books that were on the bestseller list more than twenty years ago; haven’t we come a long way since then?
Here’s the thing, though. The Rules work. And many men really do operate on a totally different playing field than women do, when it comes to relationships. As much as I’d like to deny it, and not to pigeonhole men and the way they behave, it’s true that there are certain things about men that seem to be true across the board. If you try to deny it, you’re likely to end up frustrated, with a string of failed relationships to show for it.
I’m not saying you have to subscribe to every theory out there about how men and women.

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