"I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and... I believe in miracles."

"You're burning retinas, animal person. You're an embarrassment to nature. You should be castrated."

"Neon pink is the colour of winter," you say, unmoved. "And I don't have anything castrateable."

"Now isn't that a relief? That means I'm going to be seized by this huge mob carrying pitchforks and they'll tar and feather me for being out in public with you and then castrate me with your iPod." Which is the most beautifulicious shade of mud-oozy, slime-frothy pinkfulness.

You pull off your gloves and tuck your bare hands up the sleeves of his coat. Gloves and socks are never as warmifying as skin. "I'll take it off as soon as we get home," you assure him.

"You've probably got a pink thong or something hidden underneath," he says sulkily. "Your nose is pink, by the way."

"Even the weather gods think pink is the colour of winter."

He leans down and rubs his nose against yours. You giggle and crinkle up your face, rubbing too. Nudgey-nudgey. Nuggety. Nougat. You like nougat-flavoured toffee.

"That was an Eskimo kiss."

"Eh?" you think, mind drifting away from the happy kingdom of nougats. "What?"

"The kiss. It was an Eskimo kiss."

"We kissed? Wha- oh yeah. Right. Yeah, that was cute." But unsatisfying. Oh well, at least your nose is warmer.

He shakes his head and trudges onward. Pause. Pausepausepause.

"It's not pink."


"My underwear."

"Oh... nice." He doesn't really sound interested. You can just hear your mother's approving voice, that's the kind of boy you should be looking for. Someone who's more interested in you as a person than in you as a body. Eh. He doesn't stir in the inner pink in you.


"Blue jeans are the most beautiful things since the gondola."

The sky's just so much bigger when you're hanging upside down. Hair hanging, arms hanging, blood rushing to your head, sun shining on your face, legs wound tight, hard around the monkeybars (eighteen-year-olds love playgrounds even more than eight-year-olds) - it's good to let go. It's even better when you know there's someone waiting to catch you if you fall.

"Madam dude." He stands on tip-toe to slide his arms around your waist. The edge of your T-shirt climbs up. There's a tummy-tickling wind blowing. Or maybe, it's just him? "Get down."

You cackle. Part come-and-take-me-in-the-mud-you-sexy-beast. Part I-really-don't-like-heights-and-that's-why-I-love-climbing-on-the-jungle-gym. Sexualized hysteria.

His hands are warm, ticklishly warm on your stomach. X's and O's traced on your skin. His fingers brush against the hard line of your hipbones as they dip beneath the waistband of your low-rise-jeans. You shiver, squeeze your eyes shut. The blue sky's branded on the back of your eyes.

You're hanging upside down, he's standing on tip-toe, your faces just level for a contortionist's kiss. You're giggling even before his lips meet yours, because this is how it should be, just like in a movie, sunshine flooding the park, the back of his neck citrus-scented, everything just right.

Well, except for the noticeable lack of background score. And his nails scratching against your upper thighs. And the blood rushing to your head. And the damn monkey-bars. Being picture-perfect? Not as easy as it looks.


"Try not thinking of peeling an orange. Try not imagining the juice running down your fingers, the soft inner part of the peel. The smell. Try and you can't. The brain doesn't process negatives."

It's so easy to fall into the trap. To do what you're told to and nothing more. To curl up in your favourite snuggly, shabby sweater, averageness, for days and months and years on end. To stop thinking. To note you're not thinking at all, to not really mind it. Well, not much. To stop caring about whether you care or not.

That isn't even averageness. It's pathetic. And sadly, agreeable.

"Let's take a walk in the park. You seem... sad."

Sad is blue, Prussian blue.

"Well, upset then. Wistful"

Wistful? Now that's ashes-of-roses, slate and wisteria. So pretty. He looks terribly in earnest. Like a puppy. Sure, why not take him for a walk? It doesn't even matter, not really.

Little girls with godawful haircuts, they all think they're princesses. Artsy types floating in a cloud of their own self-importance, swinging chunky DSLRs like pros. Couples doing what they do best - making everyone else feel superfluous, immaterial.

They're nothing special. But they think they are and that's what makes a difference.

You brood by yourself while he drifts off to buy candy. First World Problems. Like a meme. In the end we're all memes, anyway. Anything we do, everything we feel. Recognizable. Classifiable. It should make you feel like a colour but all it makes you feel is transparent, like a thin sheet of dirty ice.

You hold his hand because you know he likes it. Swing your arms as you walk. Chatter fills the holes. This is OK, this is the average nobody's supposed to strive for. It feels a whole lot better than being pathetic.

You're just explaining your latest wiki find - vorarephilia - to him when he stops suddenly. He tilts your face upwards and you just have time to remember to close your eyes - nobody's face is appealing at such quarters - before he kisses you.

It's not what you expected, an acceptable, not-so-random pinprick of randomness. His tongue slides over yours with long-practiced ease, just like in a Mills-and-Boon paperback and then, wait what?

"I remembered orange was your favourite flavour." His voice is sincere, matter-of-fact but there's a Dumbledoreish twinkle in his eyes. "You told me that on our first real date. What's the matter, you don't like it?"

"That was disgusting." You swallow the candy and rub your mouth hard. "And unhygienic."

"I know." He smiles sweetly. "If only you could see the look on your face."

And suddenly, the sheer silliness of it catches up with you. You don't giggle politely, you heave clench-your-stomach laughs. Spit flies through the air and it makes you laugh harder. You taste of oranges. It tastes like a dream.


"In the house of words was a table of colors. They offered themselves in great fountains and each poet took the color he needed: lemon yellow or sun yellow, ocean blue or smoke blue, crimson red, blood red, wine red."

Scraggly wet hair waiting to be blowdried, zits and icepick scars unmasked by foundation, mondo cleavage poking out of the fluffy white towel you've wrapped yourself in. Ugly duckling, dithering between two ballgowns, one of which will make her a swan.

Hands pressed over your eyes. "Peekaboo!" he chirps. "Guess who?"

You point out that you're in front of a mirror. You point out that you live in an apartment for two. You point out that you saw him sneaking up. "Giggling too."

He tries playing Suave and Sensual, forgetting that it's the trademark of men in tuxs and that he's in jeans. "I do not..." he murmurs, close to your ear, one arm encircling your waist, the other trailing down your neck. Cold fingers. Warm breath. "Giggle."

"Retardness is the language of love," you say, but it's already doing something to you. You try to take measured breaths, like they're always urging you to in yoga classes. Tis hard. How do people manage to take measured breaths in naked yoga classes?

You're about to voice that question, but then he's nibbling your ear, trailing soft butterfly kisses down the length of your jawbone. You lean against his shoulder, slipping your arms around his neck and he breathes in your smell, makes a muffled sound that could mean nothing or everything.

He presses you against the dressing table, your knee bumps in it and it trembles. A plastic bottle falls over, splattering pale pink lotion over your toes. "Umf," you protest, but his hands are pressed against your stomach, drawing mandolins (it might be mandolins, it might be anything) and it comes out more as moan than a protest. Wet hair, wet skin and his smell all around you. Like sour apples. That's what desire smells like.

You don't have to wait for mom, dad and the neighbour's cat to go out before you can call over your boyfriend - like you had to when you were a teenager. You don't have to worry about what the kids'll think - like you'll have to, one of these days.

Spontaneity. That's the best thing about growing up.

And of course you're late for the party, afterwards. Oh well. At least bedhair is in.