We’d been talking for not much more than ten minutes when he said it. For reasons which will soon become abundantly clear, I cannot remember what we were talking about exactly. I suppose when you get right down to it we had been talking about nothing, just one of those idle conversations that pop up between two people who happen to be sharing a park bench, which is how we met. But the topic of our conversation doesn’t matter, any more than it matters which of us spoke first. What does matter is that what he said did not in any way follow from what we were talking about. Out of the blue, and in the most matter-of-fact tone of voice imaginable, he up and says, “You know, I’d really like to have sex with you”.
He caught me totally unprepared. I didn’t know how to respond. It didn’t occur to me to punch him in the face; I’m not the kind of guy who goes around hitting people. My mind simply went blank.
He was pleasant enough and not at all bad looking, a few years older than I, but still... The park did not have a reputation for being a homosexual hangout. I had come there to read my newspaper. I had no clue what could have prompted his remark. He couldn’t have been reading my mind, since sex with anyone wasn’t something I had on it. And he put it so bluntly too, without the faintest trace of lust in his voice! It sounded more like an observation than a proposition, not at all your typical pick-up line.
I’m only speculating on how I would have assessed the situation. As I said, my mind went blank, and I just sat there.
“So? How about it?”
“Just give me a moment to collect my thoughts.”
“Take your time.”
He delivered his follow-up question in the same noncommittal fashion, as if it were all one to him. I detected nothing sinister in his manner. What do you make of a person like that?
“So what do you think?”
“I don’t think. I’m trying to collect my thoughts, but it’s as if I didn’t have a thought in my head.”
“That’s because I collected them for you.”
“Collected your thoughts. It’s sort of a hobby. I collect thoughts.”
“You collected my thoughts? You collected MY thoughts?”
“I want them back!”
“Sorry. Finders keeps, as they say. Besides, I can’t give them back. I threw them out. It was all a lot of rubbish anyway, a bunch of pseudo-intellectual gibberish that had nothing to do with me. It was very rude of you, letting your mind wander like that.”
“You go picking my brain – no, pick pocketing my brain – and then you accuse me of being rude!”
“Oh come now! Lots of people are willing to share their thoughts.”
“This isn’t sharing. This is theft!”
“Well, if that’s how you’re going to be about it. Here.” He reached into his pocket and handed me a coin.
“A penny. For your thoughts.”
“This is outrageous!”
“You’re not going to ask for more, are you? I already told you what I think they’re worth. And it’s just for your thoughts, mind you. I don’t pay for sex. Nor do I ask to be paid.”
“You take away my thoughts, rob me of the very essence of my personality, and on top of that you expect me to go to bed with you?”
“Yes. You’re in the perfect frame of mind for it. Not calm perhaps, but collected. And without a lot of trivial, self-indulgent thoughts to get in the way, you can become one with your body. It will be a tantric experience. For me, too. I haven’t a thought in my head. That’s why I have to collect them.”
“You mean you throw everybody’s thoughts away?”
“Yes. I have yet to come across a thought worth keeping. Unlike most collectors, I hate clutter. It’s amazing, the nonsense that goes through most people’s heads.”
“You... you’re nothing but a psychic voyeur!”
“Admit it. You’re intrigued.”
“I admit nothing of the sort!”
“There you go letting your intellect take over. You’re resisting me.”
“You’re damn straight I’m resisting you!”
“You shouldn’t, you know. Not if you want the sex to be good.”
“The sex we’re going to have together.”
By now I did feel like punching him in the nose. But how would I defend myself against assault charges when my mind had gone blank?
I stared at him, but couldn’t stare him down. He just returned my gaze, not even blinking. I got up and walked away without a thought in my head.