Recently I have had the good fortune to spend 5 weeks training in and around Los Angeles. For the final week I used the website AirBNB to find me accommodation near Laguna Beach, C.A. I was to stay with a Californian lady by the name of Josephine (may not be real name). Here is a transcript of a series of emails I sent to a friend of mine over the first two days and an account of the final few.

DAY ONE:

*** Email: 8.30pm ***

So, it’s 8.30pm. Having finally arrived at the place I am staying, I was greeted by a woman in a wheelchair. Nothing unusual in this, although she hadn’t been in her photos. She also looked a bit older. Turns out she’d had two operations on her feet last month and has both in casts and struggles to get about a bit. I should NOT have judged her. I offered to cook dinner, during which she told me all about the fact that 1. She has sky-dived. Recently. 2. a) She has flown a Spitfire. 2. b) SHE HAS FLOWN A FUCKING SPITFIRE. 3. She is going to drive Nascar in a few weeks.

Anyway, she was telling me about the sky-diving and, after telling me it was like child-birth (‘only do it once’, LOL), she then told me how much she enjoyed it. “It was tandem, so you have someone strapped to your back. My instructor was HOT. I’d have flipped over for him in a flash”. She is 68.

I have no idea what is coming up…

*** Email: 8.35pm ***

OH. MY. GOD.

So she said her ex husband (who also survived testicular cancer and then died of a heart attack 8 years ago *sadface*) was from Ilford and had gone to school in West Ham in London. He was feeling particularly homesick and nostalgiac so on one of their visits there she went and bought the school uniform and DRESSED UP FOR HIM IN THE BEDROOM!

This is amazing. (I am also mildly terrifed).

*** Email: 8.38pm ***
I just found this on the coffee table…

Please, please, please, please, please, please don’t.

[Some time passes before we begin watching the tv adaptation of Birdsong, in which there is, for those who haven’t seen it, rather a lot of sex]

*** Email: 10.36pm ***

And now there’s a sex scene on tv and I want the ground to swallow me up. This is the third in as many minutes.

P.S. We are not watching porn.

*** Email: 10.39pm ***

During every single sexual overture or dalliance on screen she looks over at me and smiles, often with a flyaway “HA” or a joyfully salacious “At it again Leo!”. Eventually I pretend not to see her, made all the more difficult when she attempts to lean over into my eyeline as I fix my stare right through the tv screen and deep into approximately 17 new dimensions. Anyway, I’m getting tired now. So I’m off to sleep. In bed. My bed. Alone.

DAY TWO:

*** Email: 8.33pm ***

We are eating Oreo’s together on the sofa watching Antiques Roadshow.

We have high-fived at least twice.

I am feeling unusual.

*** Email: 8.34pm ***

*hurriedly*
‘unusual’ is NOT sexual.

*** Email: 9.00pm ***

She has dated both David Frost and Richard Burton.

I am beginning to feel that I am not in her league.
Suddenly she is unbelievably attractive.

***Email: 9:41pm ***

Josephine: “So, are you training for the Olympics?”
Leo: “Well, that’s kind of the idea”
J: “Well, well, well. An Olympian staying in my house”
L: “We’ll see”
J: “So I may see you on the tv then? I’ll be able to tell my friends!”
L: “Haha. Er yeah. I guess. Certainly the people I train with will be there”
J: “Well if you want you can bring them over for a barbecue”
L: “Oh that’s ni…
J: “I mean not because of what you’ve just told me”
L: “Oh, no of course n…
J: “I’m not like that”
*slight pause*
(‘has she finished?’)
L: “No, of course. I’ll see whether they’re free”
J: “Hmmm, interesting”

*thinks* ‘Interesting’? What could be ‘interesting’? Is she planning on COOKING them?

[At this point, I’m just slightly awkward]
[I had been watching stuff on my laptop so I now replace my earphones. Conspicuously. To end the conversation]

J: “You know. I was talking to my girlfriends ab… Leo? LEO!”
L: *takes out earphones nervously*
J: “I was just saying, I was talking to my girlfriends, the ones I mentioned earlier, about you today”
L: “o..o…oooh?”
J: “Yes I was saying to them ‘So I have this guy staying with me, when I saw his picture I thought “he looks a bit w-e-i-r-d*” – I told you this already haha – but then, I answered the door and there’s this… GORGEOUS… BUFF… *gesticulates male body*… HUNK of a man and I thought “Woah Mamma”‘.

At this point my face was fixed into the kind of gritted, horizon-staring grin only exhibited when you wish you had a remote control to fast-forward life itself.

Anyway, she continued..

J: “… and they were like ‘You be careful there Josephine, don’t you do anything stupid'”.
L: *grinning stops*
J: “…and I was like ‘haha, don’t be silly girls'”
L: *0.0000000000000000001% relief*
J: “…’but then had I been 20 years younger and 30 pounds lighter'”.
L: *5 billion% panic*
L: *weakly* “ha, oh… don’t… be… silly” (there might have feint ‘?’ sound here)
J: “Oooooooooh yes, believe it. Anyway, Oreo?”

(*The night before, over dinner, she had brightly informed me that I looked ‘really terrible’ in my picture on my AirBNB profile – which is linked to your Facebook account – despite the fact that I am, apparently, “wholotta hottie”. I actually just gagged typing that. Anyway picture attached here to make your own mind up).

Dressed for the English summer.

***

DAY THREE:

[We sit both watching tv again]

Advert: “…7 days of sex”

J: “huh, oh?”
L: *thinks* ‘ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod’
Advert “How YOU can save your marriage”
J: “Ha, how to save your marriage”
L: *types fast at computer*
J: “Leo, if only I were young again”
L: *stares deep at every single pixel of his laptop screen* What on God’s green earth can she fucking mean? How in ANY way can that be directed at me?
J: *turns round to me*
L: “hahahaha, yeah” *sobs inside*

DAY FOUR:

*** Email: 10:30pm ***

So I went to sleep this afternoon. When I woke up she was nowhere to
be found and this was left outside my door.

“No Excuses” – laden with passive aggression.

***

DAY FIVE:

The following day, I drove up from Laguna, where Josephine lived, to LA for a training session. We’d been due to eat that evening and I’d noticed an additional place set at the table when I’d left. On the panic scale of ‘Jeremy Kyle DNA results’ to ‘accidentally emailing your lifetime’s internet history to your Mum’ this was roughly ‘sneezing the contents of your sinuses into your hands, moments before meeting the Queen’. As it turned out, my training ran over, I hit typical LA traffic and I wasn’t home until almost 10pm. I loped in to see a forlorn plate of cold roast chicken and limp vegetables and Josephine sat watching tv. Apparently her ‘friend’ had been and gone so I was left to apologise profusely and rabidly enthuse about how much I ‘prefer cold food after training’ (WTF?). Encouraged by this she sat with me and pulled out her camera as I was eating. Instinctively I put my cutlery down and smiled.

J: “Oh no, don’t do that, I want one natural”.
L: *thinks* Yes because naturally I stick sprouting broccoli to the gaps in my teeth and dribble orange juice down my chin.

Having got the ‘munching’ picture she then asked for me to pose for one too. This was quite one of the most uncomfortable pictures ever taken. I had no idea what the next day had in store.

DAY SIX:

So the day came where I was due to leave. This was despite Josephine kindly offering me as many days as I wanted ‘for free’. I knew that ‘for free’ might not come without a terrifying caveat so I politely declined. The friend with whom I had been emailing had left me with all sorts of instructions ranging from leaving love letters hidden within her books, winking at her slowly and seductively, to walking across the corridor to the bathroom naked (one of these I completed), however there was one I knew not only was altogether achievable but also one that took away a token of our time together.

Leo: “Josephine, it’s time for me to leave. Thank you SO much for your hospitality, you’ve been an absolute star and one of the most IN-TER-ESTING people I’ve ever met”.
Jospehine: “Oh Leo, it’s been my pleasure entirely, you should come again”.
L: “So, I was wondering, since you have so many of your own, that perhaps I might get a photo of us together for me to take home”.
J: *brightly* “REALLY? I’d be delighted!”.
L: “Excellent”.
J: “I have one request though”.
L: *panic now reaching ‘internet history’ level* “Ooooh?”.
J: “You need to take your top off”.
L: “…”.
J: “…”.
L: “…-…”.
J: *slow smile*
L: “Josephine, you know that I can’t do that”.
J: “But Leo, how am I going to remember that body?”
L: “Please don’t remember this body!”
J: “Spoilsport!”
L: “OK. Compromise. I’ll take off my hoody but the vest stays on”
J: “Deal”

Ladies and Gentlemen. Leo and Josephine. Laguna Hills. April 2012. In my fucking vest…

Addendum:

I am at absoute pains to point out that Josephine (not real name) was absolutely one of the funniest, kind-hearted and interesting people I have ever met. I am in no way mocking her. I am still in touch actually. Although we exchange less photos.

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