Desperate Romantic: My Life as a Stalker (A Lamentably True Story)


6: Calm and Huge, Like a River of Violence

This kind of obsessive love is often depicted as torture. Not so in my case. I felt like a man floating through the days on a tidal wave of lukewarm champagne, and I was grateful for it. Even if I never saw or heard from her again, I was suffused with a beneficent, calm sense of joy that became the integral element of everything I did.

That said, I was highly agitated and I’m sure I appeared to most of my friends and associates as even more nuts than usual. I’d fling open my eyes at three a.m. and come to life like a fluorescent tube, hurtling through the day starving/hysterical/naked until I collapsed at the other end.

There’s a Roald Dahl short story, ‘The Wish’ about a little boy who envisions that the carpet at his grandmother’s house is alive with snakes. The kid is so enraptured by the game that when he falls into the carpet at the end, he disappears entirely.

I like to play those sorts of games when lifting weights. When training, if I said her name, I’d get another rep – without fail. The whole drama would come out of me and cascade onto the gym floor, calm and huge, like a river of violence.

I’ve got an injured shoulder and a torn section of cartilage in my hip, so my spectrum of activity has been reduced to a handful of lifts. Given my choice I’d much prefer to be training in a boxing gym, because there is a lot less staring into one’s reflection in the mirror, so people training like myself attract less attention, because everyone is more or less doing the same thing.

Interestingly, the only place I could relax was in Bikram yoga class, which was where She came to me absolutely. With my eyes closed, I could feel Her floating above me in the sweltering air like a benevolent ghost.


I received no response to Fifty-one Jokers. So I wrote again, six weeks later.

These letters are unusual because everything else I’ve written is for a reader; a disembodied, faceless presence, necessarily a stranger. These letters, on the other hand, were written for someone in particular.

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