Some events unfold in a way that defy mere ‘coincidence’. Sometimes, they can only be explained by one thing — fate. This is proof that not only does fate exist, it also hates my freakin’ guts.
When it comes to romance, I have the mindset of a preteen. That means I believe in online horoscopes, signs from the universe, and — to a certain degree — fate.
So when I encountered a girl during the final hour of my final day at a miserable gig, I knew then and there she was significant. I just didn’t know how.
Author’s Note: Names have been changed. If YOU ever read this, I hope you too can laugh at all our ‘history’. Also, please don’t sue me.
Couple summers back, I did a short stint at an indoor trampoline park over on Hong Kong Island. I was a glorified lifeguard whose job was to prevent any child from ever having fun.
It was shit.
I lasted a month.
On my final day, they put me at the foam pit, where I was in charge of making sure kids dove in one-by-one, in an orderly, boring fashion. But I decided I was going to let these rascals run loose for once. I laid down my whistle and devoted my remaining time to counting down the seconds until freedom.
Near the end of my shift, someone tapped me on the shoulder. An angry parent probably.
To my surprise, it was a girl — 20s, tall, athletic, Caucasian, with an oddly enchanting smile and an air of down-to-earthness. She was pretty too, not too much to instill arrogance and not too little to be overlooked — the perfect amount of pretty.
The girl smiled and pointed to the pit. “Can I..?”
“OF COURS — I mean, ahem. Proceed.”
“Oh, there’s someone in there…”
A group of little buggers were lounging in the foam pit like it’s a freakin’ jacuzzi. I shouted for them to scram, then gave the girl the thumbs up.
I want to say I had the willpower not to ogle her backside when she strutted up to the pit. I also want to say I refrained from committing the same sin when she climbed out, as her chest momentarily aligned with my eyes at such a fortuitous angle that her top dropped low enough to expose her bosom. But of course I ogled.
I think she knew too, because as she walked by, she asked, “So how’d I look?”
I swallowed. “Um… what?”
“My somersault. How’d it look?”
I had no idea, but I said, “There’s room for improvement.”
“Got any tips?”
“You must be a pro if you work here.” She gestured towards my coworkers on the far side of the park, who were backflipping and wall-running around like ninja assassins high on the supersoldier serum.
I made up some bullshit about tucking her head in.
“Cool! I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks…” — she squinted at my name tag — “…Felix.”
Normally, people grow tired of the foam pit after one or two dives — but not this girl. She kept coming back, and each time we made more small talk, and I offered more off-the-cuff, potentially life-threatening advice.
As I was unsure if she was interested in me or the foam pit, I didn’t ask her name or number. But I promised myself — if I caught her on my way out, I’d ask her out.
I didn’t catch her.
Coincidence or Fate?
I had almost forgotten foam pit girl when, the next night — after a long string of events involving alcohol, tight wallets, a birthday party, and getting kicked out of two clubs — I wandered into a dingy bar to pee, only to find her dancing on the bar top.
I looked up. She looked down. Yep — it was her. Dancing. On the bar. Jessica Alba in Sin City style.
“Holy fucking shit,” was what I wanted to say. Instead, I mustered a cool and eloquent, “Well, hello.”
The girl hopped down and hugged me. She smiled.
“We, uh, met yesterday… I’m the… well, was… the trampolin-”
“Felix! I remember.”
To meet her again in a place like this, I knew it was fate.
Channeling every ounce of courage in my bones, I then masterfully segued into the bravest words ever spoken by man. “So you wanna go out some time?” I braced for the worst, as that’s how these things tend to go.
Against all odds, she replied with a swift and decisive, “Yes.”
“Are you drunk?” I thought it right to ask.
She said, “Nope”.
Instantly, my self-confidence tripled. I brushed my hair back, puffed up my chest, and curled my lips into a shit-eating grin.
“I’m afraid I never caught your name,” I said.
“I’m Guinevra,” she told me.
Guinevra? I didn’t know how to spell such a strange name, so I slipped her my phone and had her enter her details.
I walked out of that bar feeling like one smooth muddafucka.
If this was anyone else’s story, now is when they say, “And that is how I met your mother!” But this is my life — a life of tragedy.
That night, I tried to find her on Facebook — for research purposes, so I could figure out what to do for our date. Anyhow, with a name like Guinevra, you’d think she would be the first result. Not so. Even after trying out various spellings, the closest match to anyone in Hong Kong was a “Ginevra” — and that was a dude. It struck me as odd, but maybe she just didn’t have Facebook.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Then I found out I had a bigger problem: summer was over, and Guinevra was leaving that Friday to study abroad. We agreed to meet up anyway for a platonic picnic before she was gone forever. I picked up some McDonald’s — the most unromantic food I could think of — and met her at the IFC rooftop.
Turned out Guinevra was even more down-to-earth than I imagined. Within minutes of meeting, we were already revealing our mundane backstories and whatnot. She asked questions and appeared genuinely interested in my answers. She even told me to call her Jade, a nickname derived from the color of her eyes, which were, well, jade. (Don’t worry, I’ll still refer to her as Guinevra to save us all headaches).
More than anything, I found myself captivated by the way Guinevra attacked her food. Rather than conforming to the whole “pinkies up, dab your mouth with a napkin every other bite” thing, here was a girl who didn’t give a hoot about looking like a Hungry Hungry Hippo. Every bite was vicious, calculated to inflict maximum damage. Her trained fingers danced nonstop between fries, burger, and lips.
I couldn’t help but smile. It was refreshing to meet someone who behaved with such honesty. Though we didn’t have the right timing for romance, maybe we could be friends. Skype chat once a blue moon and hang out whenever she’s in town. Who knows, maybe in the future, way down the line, more could come out of it. But for now, I was happy to suppress my hormones and be friends.
So you can probably imagine my face when, without warning, Guinevra wiped her hands, stood up, and said, “I gotta go.”
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the downfall you’ve been waiting an essay and a half for.
Escape From IFC
I thought I heard her wrong, but Guinevra had started gathering her things, including the remnants of the burger and fries she just conveniently finished. I should’ve known better, but at the time, I fully believed her next words.
“Sorry to cut this short! But I still have lots to pack,” she told the crumpled McDonald’s bag.
It was 6PM on Tuesday — three full days before her flight on Friday. We had been at the garden for half an hour.
Before I could say anything, Guinevra was halfway to the exit. She waved.
“Nice meeting ya!”
Now, when you suspect somebody might be trying to bug out, you’re not supposed to offer to walk them out. Otherwise you risk making things awkward for both parties. Better they leave thinking you’re a dick for not offering to walk them, than to put them through cringe-inducing small talk as you tailgate them to wherever and proving that, yes, you are indeed a dick. I’d know because that’s exactly what I did.
The next five minutes have more or less been suppressed from my memory. I vaguely remember babbling about elevators to distract myself from questioning what I’d done wrong.
I do recall the moment we reached the bus stop. As if chasing the last chopper out of Saigon, Guinevra sprinted straight onto the 90B bus without so much as a “thanks for the McDonald’s, prick!” When someone runs away from you at such velocity — well, it has to mean you done fucked up.
What’s worse is that in a tragic attempt to salvage things, I shouted, over the hustle and bustle of the busy sidewalk, over all the buses, rush hour commuters, and my raging common sense, “Add me on Facebook! I’m the guy in the blue eating a deepfried Oreo!”
Needless to say, Guinevra didn’t add me.
Like A Fiddle
I spent that night mentally running through every second of the meeting, trying to pinpoint my exact action that made Guinevra turn tail and run. Perhaps she wasn’t satisfied with my choice of food. Was it my bad jokes? Wrinkled shirt? Or the one sneaky hair that occasionally peeked out my left nostril? Maybe she really had a lot to pack. Girls do take a long time with that sort of thing.
Then it hit me.
I Facebooked her again, this time using the name “Jade”. Lo’ and behold, there she was! I scanned through her page. The name “Guinevra” never popped up. Everyone called her Jade.
Something rubbed my spidey senses the wrong way. I Googled the name “Guinevra”. Guess what? Guinevra’s not a real name. There’s Ginevra and Guinevere, but Guinevra? Total sham.
I even found her waltzing through a bar district that Saturday — the day after her supposed flight. At the time, I was too humiliated to confront her. I instead dove behind a dumpster and hid.
I thought I had dodged a bullet, putting an end to the “Guinevra” saga. But little did I know, this bullet would come back around a full year later.
Fate Hates Me
The next summer, I was out clothing shopping with my then girlfriend when I looked up and — you guessed it — saw goddamn Guinevra again.
Her hair was much shorter and she wore more makeup than I remembered. She looked like a different person. Yet, curse my perceptive eyes, I still recognized her!
I stood gawking. “Guinevra-But-Not-Really-Guinevra” was a few sections away, flipping a bra back and forth as if expecting a nugget of gold to fall from its cup.
It was obvious fate wanted to torment me. Then again, what if fate was giving me a second chance at redemption, to vanquish my self-doubt, regain my family’s honor, and emerge a fearless alpha male? I was strong enough to confront her. I will confront her, I thought.
Yeah, all that changed when Guinevra looked up. For a second, we made eye contact.
Deadly. Freakin’. Eye contact.
You know when you bump into somebody you used to know, and you can see recognition in their eyes too, but you just can’t be fucked to say hi, so you glance in their general direction, eyes glazed over, as if to say, “I’m just looking at something really interesting behind you”?
That’s the move Guinevra pulled. Then she looked away, unimpressed, and resumed her gold panning.
By the time my girlfriend turned around, I was down the street nervously puffing on a cigarette.
It was only when my girlfriend came out to yell at me for running away that I asked myself, why did I run? I was the one with a pretty girlfriend while Guinevra was alone, picking out sexy lingerie for god knows what purpose. I had done nothing wrong, and neither had Guinevra. Things didn’t work out between us, but they worked out for the better. I ought to march back in there with my girlfriend’s hand in tow, flash Guinevra a smile, and continue my shopping.
I like to think that’s what I would do today.
So that’s one of my Hong Kong stories. If you’ve any stories you feel like sharing, leave a comment below or get in touch with me directly via the footer link. Have a grand day, and may your adventures in Hong Kong have happier endings than mine!