But where would you take a neon man for dinner. You can’t take him to just anywhere-for one thing he probably needs a continual power source and also what if you go somewhere with bigger neon than he has. That would be embarrassing…read more
We hot-desk. I still sit at the same desk everyday. I get in early. I leave my heels there over night. I don’t care. At least I didn’t until recently. I can’t even remember when I first saw it. We aren’t that high up, the 9th or 10th floor and there are windows, well of course there are. Floor to ceiling and we look across at other buildings. Of course we do.
I don’t even know why I was looking out the window. It makes no sense. I can see several buildings from where I am, and this building is nothing special. Its no different to the others, except, well one day. On this one day, at least when it started, there was a neon outline of a man, taking up the whole window. On the inside not the outside. Its not a huge window, I mean its not small either. It’s a window, probably average for a window, I mean its floor to ceiling with a strip of something separating it from the window’s either side, but its not massively more wide and tall than the other windows. I’m talking too much. Overthinking it. It’s a window, you get it’s a window.
It was odd. I mean. I guess. I mean I thought it was odd. I stumble over my words a lot. People say that I do. I am truly sorry. A neon outline of a man, a man outlined in a neon sign. Just the outline and nothing else. Just there. In the window of the building. The window I was talking about. It was just there. I mean the man and of course the window. Sorry I’m not explaining it very well. It was yellow. The neon man, he was yellow. Which isn’t really odd. I don’t know? Would it have been less odd if it was orange or green or blue? I tried to ignore it.
But it was there all day and my eyes were just, drawn to it. I vowed not to sit there again the next day. But I left my shoes there over night and when I went back the next day, the neon man was gone. Or at least I couldn’t see him. So I sat there again. It didn’t seem like such a terrible idea. I mean even now, it was my seat. Like I said, we hot-desk, but I sit there every day. Then around 11am, there it was again, the neon man, yellow, in the same window. I looked around me, no one else seemed to notice, everyone else seemed to be working. I didn’t want to disturb them. I kept sneaking a look at him, luminous. He made me smile. To think I knew he was there and no one else had noticed him.
It was distracting then so I tried to ignore it, to avoid it, to not see it. Then when I looked again, there was someone standing within the outline. A real man. That was weird I thought. Five minutes later and the man who had fitted into the outline was gone. I didn’t know what to do. Its not the kind of thing that warrants a phone call to the police, but it was odd. I mean don’t you think its odd. A neon outline of a man in the window if an office block. Then a man stands there in the outline and then-he is gone and there is just the neon left behind. Maybe you don’t think its odd. Maybe its me that’s odd. I can’t know either way can I.
It was gone the next day. Or at least not switched on. I couldn’t even pick the exact window with any certainty. I was busy all day Thursday and a little sad. What had happened? Where had he gone? But Friday, Friday, there he was again. I was so happy. I was buzzing. No one else seemed to notice him or to care. I wanted to say something but what? What do you think about that neon man you can see in the window over there? Maybe they’d think it was an odd question. Maybe they wouldn’t think about him. I did think about him.
Maybe they already think I’m odd. This would make them think I am more odd. I think ‘odd’ is an odd word. But it does what it says on the packet, even if you didn’t speak a word of English and someone said it to you, you would know what it meant. Its one of those words that’s all in the tone and the facial expression. You know what someone is saying when they use the word ‘odd’. The world is not full of those words, there aren’t many. It is a word I love but am desperately afraid of. I live in terror of the hint of an expression of it behind my back as I leave the office kitchen.
Where was I? Friday, yes, odd, yes, Friday. He was back. Neon man in all his yellow luminescence. I wanted to talk about him. I would have talked about him, but no one met my eyes all day. I stood in a world of my own on the way home on the tube. I should give him a name. He should have a name-my first thought was Leon, but no I didn’t want a name that rhymed, that always lacks dignity. But a bit of alliteration is ok, I settled on Norman-Norman Neon. It had a ring to it. It flowed. You could introduce yourself using that name at a dinner party and everyone would know you were in sales, probably electrical goods or medical supplies. Smooth talking Norman Neon. I liked him. Underneath the impeccable natty suit were tubes of light gold, he was well dressed, he talked a lot but he only truly lit up when I was in the room.
Then I thought, Norman and I, we should have dinner. But where would you take a neon man for dinner. You can’t take him to just anywhere-for one thing he probably needs a continual power source and also what if you go somewhere with bigger neon than he has. That would be embarrassing. You need somewhere quiet and atmospheric although not too dark because you can’t have him lighting up the room for everyone else. He would be great in a club, kind of like your own personal strobe but more low key, perhaps we could just skip dinner. I wonder if you put neon on your sofa if it scorches it?
I missed my tube stop thinking about Norman. I had to remind myself that he wasn’t real. The thing is I kind of liked him. I liked him a lot. I could hear myself laughing with him as we walked home to my flat, laughing because Norman was better at killing insects than any man I ever met. He could zap a fly with any part of his tubular body. I could see myself chatting to him getting a kind of low level buzzing in response. He has a kind of gruffness to that buzz that could keep me awake at night. I could see him sitting on my couch. Bright yellow, lighting up the room. I would never need to change a bulb again.
I thought about him all weekend. It was ‘odd’ –that word again. By Monday I was desperate. When I first got to work he wasn’t there and I was crushed. But then there he was again at 11am, yellow and luminous and brightening my day. Filling my dreams with walks in the park and I don’t know –just the idea of having your own personal light source. By Tuesday I was in love. Norman and I were –well it was destiny. But Wednesday-Wednesday-I will never forget Wednesday. He wasn’t there on Wednesday, like the lover that ghosted you. He was just gone. I was heart broken. I couldn’t concentrate. Where was Norman?
I went home. Sat on the sofa, drank hot chocolate, watched TV and well I cried. Thursday. Thursday. There was no one I could talk to. No one I could tell. I just had to act as if nothing had happened. But Norman, Norman was gone. There was still no Norman. He was gone and I had to face it, maybe forever.
It was Friday that I resolved to find out. To go there. Directions are not my thing but I figured out the building and where I thought it should be and off I went. And. Well. Love is weird. I could see the building. I had come slightly the wrong way and ended up at the back of it and not the front and there was a skip. I. You understand. It was destiny. There he was. In the skip. Abandoned. A strange outline of a man. All neon. Tubes of light, dulled by lack of electrical current. So. I. I took him. I tried to ask. There was no one around. I just. I took him. I didn’t go back to work. I got on the tube and took him home. I called in sick for the afternoon, said I had fallen and hurt my ankle. I plugged him in. I lit him up. It was an amazing moment. There we were for the first time, me human and him neon. It was a beautiful moment.
And now, now we are together. And everything is fine. I plug him in. He lights up the room and it is how its meant to be. We watch TV. And everything is fine. I have searched the internet, there is no one like me. I get that. I am ‘odd’ truly ‘odd’. It is a good word. I savour it when I look in the mirror sometimes. I smile slightly at the faint glance as I leave the office kitchen, the one that says they are about to use that word. Sometimes at work- I talk about Norman as if he a human. When they ask me for a picture, I show them a picture of my neon man. No one ever knows what to say. I look at them –all flustered-reddening. Trying to think of the words, how to say, that isn’t a, he isn’t, you can’t, its not. All those sentences they can’t say. Odd, how they stumble over all those words. And Norman and I –we are happy.