“I never earned a penny in my life. Thatʼs why I donʼt date girls in their twenties. Like you. For you Iʼd have to get a job.”
He thought I was hitting on him, the Apollo-looking guy, his words shaping the tobacco smoke as he spoke. The grey-circles crashed into the air of Soho and he told me about his ʻage of innocent dreamsʼ.
He once wanted to become a sailor, or a vet for arctic foxes. Those animals speciﬁcally, I ask?
“Arctic foxes yes, have you ever seen one? Theyʼre the most beautiful animals. Snow-white. Monogamous. Which I am not.”
While Nicolai tells the story of the arctic predator, I notice his expensive Swiss watch. A wisp of wrinkles around his eyes. Fresh haircut. Frowning. Then, suddenly, as if realising heʼs being watched, a smile.
Wine. Cigarette. Women passing by the Soho. Eye-measuring from heels to hairstyle. Then he tells me his fox story.
“I always wanted to go to Northern Hemisphere for the arctic foxes. Now I just get to see them hanging over the arms of some fancy old-lady that I sleep with. Now I realise, Iʼm the fox, actually.”
I drink some of my Vermintino white wine and I ask… does this mean youʼre the ʻclose your eyes and think of Englandʼ type? He doesnʼt answer, instead staring away from me, his attention elsewhere. Suddenly he waves at someone.
In front of the gay pub across the street, thereʼs a 40-something year-old woman, wearing leopard-printed skirt, heels high enough to cramp her knees, a blue-navy hat.
“See that woman with the leopard… damn it, she never stops wearing leopard-print! Anyway, do you see her?” I nod, “How old do you think she is?”
I throw out some mid-forty numbers. Wrong. Hot? Cold? “37?” Apparently not.
“Sheʼs 68, yeah, 68. And we once dated. Yes, letʼs put it that way. Dated.” He laughs.
“In the pub you get the best catch, you smell it, you feel it coming closer to you and then you grab it. And live your twenties with the late sixties.”
He apologies, says heʼs sorry I got the wrong idea, still convinced I was trying to pick him up. Then heʼs gone, heading off to some other pub across the street, where he can be available. Again. He is indeed the arctic fox. A predator.
Reporting by Oana Marocico.
Behind the Story : For me it was a day that lasted for… oh, well: since the day before. Soho seemed to be taking my shift, right after sending the sun to bed. So full of energy! Like a freshly-brewed coffee.
Streets filled with pubs, sipping, clopping-heels and laughter. When everyone is busy with everyone, how do you get the one? Scanning. Someone who’s alone, but not expecting anyone and for sure not the depressive-looking guy in the vintage chopper jacket leaning the wall of a pub. The pub-character needs to have character. And the ‘je ne sais quoi.’ Found him!
Some sort of Dorian Gray attitude. “Hello! You look like you need to speak to someone. (…) No, I’m not a psychologist. I just like listening to people’s stories. You know there’s this website…”