The place isn’t too busy when I go in, just office staff postponing the rush hour journey home. I’m probably planning to eat later so I scan through a menu whilst the barman fetches my beer. I perch up at the bar, then open my paper on the sports section. There are some interesting rides at the weekend, I like the look of a couple of fillies and if the ground stays firm I will definitely have a flutter.
I glance up and see two women sitting opposite me. The woman with her back to me is noticeably tall and has the kind of blonde hair that is fashionably tousled. But I am more interested in her friend, the one I can see fairly clearly. Fabulous red hair, threaded with subtle plum coloured strands. Sexy. On the surface she is dressed plainly, a white shirt and navy skirt but both sheath her shape pleasingly and sheer black tights and red patent heels bring the ensemble together beautifully.
Suddenly the friend hops off the bar stool, they hug and she leaves. The redhead leans over the bar looking for the staff, her reflection glinting in the polished copper trim. She settles back with a red wine and begins to play with her beermat, peeling the damp layers at each corner. She glances up and catches me looking and I’m rewarded with an absolutely dazzling smile. I nod at the empty stool next to her and she shrugs so I go and sit beside her.
“My name is Alan” I say.
“Hi Alan, I’m Pan” she murmurs, holding my gaze very intensely. Is she waiting for me to comment? Yes, it’s an unusual name but there are a lot of ‘Skye’s and ‘River’s’ these days.
“I noticed you were reading the racing pages. Do you like a flutter?” she asked.
“Yeah, it’s a buzz. I don’t bet big but even a £10 wager can be fairly exciting. What about you? Do you gamble?”
“What do you think? Don’t I strike you as a something of a risk taker? I’d say my whole life is pretty risky but I’m not sure we have much choice in these things. It’s the way we’re made I reckon.
I’m not sure I fully understood her and to be honest a lot of our conversation is in the same vein. But I like it, it makes her exciting. She is a superb listener and seems content to let me take the initiative without me feeling like she has nothing to say. At about 10.30 she tells me that she has to go so I ask for her number. She writes it on the frayed beermat and I put it in my pocket. Then she leans across and kisses me. It’s astonishing. It’s hot and urgent and sweet. I watch her leave and my whole body seems to glow with pleasure.
Two days later I find the beermat in my pocket and call her.
“Hi Pan, its Alan. I was wondering if you fancied dinner tonight?”
“Hello Alan. Before I answer I think there’s something we need to talk about. My name isn’t Pan. “
“Okay, what is then?”
“You don’t understand Alan. When I said I’m Pan I was describing my gender. Which means I’m neither a man or a woman. I look like a woman, I was born with male genitalia but I don’t particularly identify as either, at least not in the way each gender is popularly defined. It’s a lot to take in, I know that . Do you still want to go to dinner?” she asks.
“Dinner, yes, sure. But sex? Probably not. Do YOU still want dinner?” I ask.
She says thank you but no. Fair enough I think but I am mildly disappointed. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.