‘I am the music man. I come from far away and I can play. (What can you play?)
I play the Spanish guitar … but also ladies’ hearts …’
‘I think that you have been treated badly by Omani men.’
Now, I am not one to generalise, but this was an Omani man making the generalisation and arguably, it wasn’t a generalisation yet. It was a statement. A generalisation would be the deduction that all Omani men behaved this way, based on two experiences.
‘This is what they do.’
Ah ok … there it is. Well, just to reiterate, it wasn’t me talking; it was the Omani.
‘But I will prove to you that some are not like that,’ he continued, ‘because I am not like that.’
This was a fluent, serious and intelligent chap and I believed him. The intelligence was reflected in his cavalier attitude towards his fellow Omanis. To hold an unpopular view and to announce it so boldly, is a sign of intelligence. It is a sign of integrity, of conviction, of commitment to a cause … all very attractive traits. But the intelligence lay in the fact that he knew this would impress. I believe that he believed in his judgement; but was he different? Was the real intelligence that he knew he was the same, so all he could do was pretend he would be the hero, the odd-bod, the one who bucked the trend? Let’s see …
I had met the Musicmaker at a Karaoke night. It was at one of my favourite haunts for dancing, drinking and singing (only on Wednesdays) and he started chatting to me on the balcony overlooking the beach, a swimming pool and a scattering of people enjoying a drink al fresco with perhaps a shisha or two, with the obligatory palm trees to remind us all that we were in a hot country.
My friend with the beautiful headscarves crept up behind me and snatched my mobile from my hand. There was a momentary standoff while I smiled at her and she smiled right back … but her smile said why aren’t you fighting me for it? While mine said I’ve already given him my number … weeks later she would reveal to me that she didn’t want to see me get hurt yet again. Some weeks after that, I would realise that this was a bit of a stretch, but we’ll save that for another post …
We met the following night and this was a man who knew how to soften a woman with romance. We drove into the mountains with food, drink and his Spanish guitar. We stopped where we could look out over the lights of Muscat from a serene vantage point nestled amidst millennia-old rocks. There was something comforting about the contrasting environments; the shooshing of distant cars was hushed by the flawless plucking sounds of Musicmaker’s guitar, accompanied by his unusual, if slightly nasal (in a strangely appealing way) voice. In addition to how impressive this private concert was, I was also struck by Musicmaker’s confidence. Many hide their lights under bushels until the truth is revealed by removing the wrapping paper of pretence that no-one must know; others openly boast; but this perfect-looking man presented his talent at the opportune moment. I felt suitably serenaded, seduced and also shown that he had talent.
To be fair, Musicmaker was very complimentary towards me about my singing voice.
“Lisa has a beautiful singing voice,” he announced to a musical friend one night.
In the early days we camped and barbecued on the beach, went out to lunch, watched TV shows in my apartment and went out dancing and drinking with his friends. He brought his guitar round … hang on. Yep … it is all sounding a little familiar, isn’t it? He surpassed Batman easily with the guitar, though. He wrote his own songs and was keen for me to learn one of them. (I wish that I could erase the melody from my mind. It happened in a film, didn’t it? Come on someone … mimic fiction and invent the darned thing already and make my mind spotless and full of eternal sunshine again.)
The honeymoon period was brief. Around a week. But it only took a week to fall for Musicmaker. Batman needed longer to make me fall for him, ergo it was vital that the honeymoon period lasted longer. Musicmaker was clever, smooth and wore a facade of sincerity, rather like Rusty when he can see a treat in my hand. Enough said.
So week two was unremarkable. I had to wait till the weekend to see my potential new accompanist and love.
Week three and even WhatsApp messages couldn’t be bothered to crawl out of his phone and into mine.
Yet still I hoped.
“I am not spending enough time with you,” he said, whilst looking directly into my eyes and holding my hands firmly, after a spontaneous visit one Thursday night.
“No,” I replied, “You’re not,” I agreed.
He was blunt so I felt I could indulge my equivocal bluntness.
“I have so many problems,” he continued.
Yes, it really was that similar … to be fair, Musicmaker’s problems were grim. He had suffered two major traumas in his life in the space of a year and like all Omani men (it seemed) he was building a house and had parents.
“Are you in a position to be in a relationship with me?” I asked, fairly and nicely.
“Yes,” he replied with a steely determination, “and the next time my mother invites me for lunch, I am going to tell her that I bringing someone!”
This wasn’t just a big deal – this was a deal with proportions similar to The Rock – it was so huge I couldn’t process it. Which is just as well really, seeing as it never happened. Sorry for the spoiler, but you know that only the failed relationships reach my blog!
I had stopped expecting to see Musicmaker at weekends and was, frankly, allowing the union to fade into obscurity and experience (and eventually my blog). He had told me that he was busy with his house and his mother that weekend and so I ventured to a rooftop venue complete with a swimming pool and palm trees as well as a bar, a dance floor and a DJ. I went with three female friends and – forgive the cliche – we were dressed to kill.
“You’ll see him tonight,” said my closest friend out of the three, in between taking selfies in a very cramped car (but it was a lift so we were just grateful).
We blagged free entry, only to have large amounts of money extorted from us in return for drinks which would not last and eventually danced to the very repetitive (and slightly disappointing, given the wondrousness of the venue) dance music. The youngest of my friends leaned into me …
Instinctively I looked around.
“Don’t go to him!” ordered the third friend who had two moods: ecstatically fun and angrily difficult.
I didn’t. I couldn’t even see him and I didn’t look for him. But at some point I needed to venture beyond the two points between which we were moving (our spot on the dance floor and one of those tall tables where you can place your glass and lean, when you’re a bit bored) to visit the bathroom and/or get a drink. I forget the purpose for my journey but I made it all the same and on my return I spotted him, dancing alone. I smiled as I walked past and he extended his arm to me, to invite me to join him. We danced well together and anyway, I wanted to dance with him. So we danced. And talked. I said nothing about the lie but he broached the subject, explaining it away by saying that his friends dragged him out because he was sad … etc … etc …
I let the matter go because I didn’t care. I adored this man, but his lack of reliability was causing me to withdraw and therefore to become less vulnerable to any hurt.
Our last date was at a music festival. This was a relatively hushed-up affair … only made known to those on the music scene so, thanks to my involvement in this area, I made the hour and a half journey in my humble hire car one weekend to a remote beach with a backdrop of a mountain range. The journey was eventful … it began with six people rammed into my car which was all too much for it, because after five minutes it had a sulk and conked out. A kind man fixed it, after Youngest Friend asked him to and for various reasons the rest of the journey was made with just two of us, which I was keen to complete before sundown as I had lost a contact lens. After getting slightly mislaid en route, Fun But Difficult and I arrived (after sundown).
After the stresses of the journey had been laid to rest, we drank, danced and generally had the sort of fun you expect to have at a music festival.
Then Musicmaker arrived. I was surprised about many things concerning the Musicmaker and this festival. I was surprised that he knew nothing of it until I told him about it. Then I was surprised he agreed to come along. Then I was surprised he actually came. It preyed on my mind however, that he had told me that his ex would probably be there. How did he know this? And why would he go to something so far away that potentially would upset him? Especially as he intended driving home the same night. Was he going there to see his ex … ?
Then it all happened. He saw her. She was dancing with her new boyfriend. At this point I realised that my boyfriend was slightly unhinged. He had a tantrum and dragged me into it. Aggressively, he introduced me to her. Then he left.
I chased after him and tried to take his hand, yet he shook me off. Enough, I thought.
“I have done nothing wrong!” I announced.
He stopped and turned.
“She lied to me!” he replied, as if this somehow excused his poor treatment of me.
“So?” I questioned, boldly, continuing with she’s your ex!
“She told me she wasn’t seeing anyone!”
“Again,” I squared up to him. “she’s your ex!”
“I still have feelings for her,” he softened and put his arms around me.
And he left.
As I predicted, the relationship petered out and I accepted this. I saw him around a month later and he apologised for many things and told me what a wonderful person I was.
“You told me you were different,” I complained, “but you were the worst of the lot.”
“Well I was different then, wasn’t I?” he smiled.
And that was it.