Babysitting finishes just in time for me to catch the last train. I collapse into a seat; four hours of battling with the remote has taken it out of me. That’s not to say I’m past noticing my fellow passengers. One in particular catches my eye: a cross between Sean Connery in his younger days and Jonathan Cake (Google him, trust me, it’s worth it). Wearing black tie, less the tie. Yum. He’s on his mobile, arranging to be picked up from outside my local. The conversation ends and I feel him glance in my direction.
The train comes to a stop: our stop. We rise and make for the doors. He’s limping. I smile to myself, imagining the kind of black tie affair that produces walking wounded. Deciding that I can’t justify slowing my pace on the back of a fleeting glance, I make for the station exit.
He catches me up at the traffic lights. This time there’s definite eye contact. (Did I mention that this whole wounded soldier thing is really doing it for me?) Lights red, man green… other man yet to break the ice. We cross. He has in tow a large overnight bag, and one of its wheels catches on the kerb. I turn back:
General enough to be interpreted either as an offer of help, or a conversation starter. He takes it as both.
‘Yes thanks. You?’
A question! This must be love. The ‘how we met’ story would write itself.
‘Yep, good thanks.’ Pause. ‘Heavy night?’
He assures me it was surprisingly civilised, for a bank’s centenary bash. The ball is now in his court. My local is within sight.
‘What have you been up to?’
A disclaimer: it’s 2am on a Sunday. I’m tired. My brain is barely functioning, let alone in a fit state to come up with a sexy and witty reason for being out and about in casual clothes with a laptop at such an hour.
I dismiss ‘babysitting’ (too close to ‘loser’). Turns out the alternatives are no better.
‘Looking after children,’ I say.
Otherwise known as ‘how to kill your sex appeal in three words’.
At this point, he’s called over to a waiting car. We say our goodnights. I go home and, in the absence of the Jonathan lookalike, eat cake. Lots of it.