Wedding Night

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CC Image courtesy of RMH40 on FlickrI look at the screen and frown. It’s late, I’m still recovering from drinking my body weight in wine and the prospect of reading an industry report on processed cheese isn’t all that appealing.

*

One of the bridesmaids points him out to me as the only straight, single man there. I look him over, the guy from Dubai, and decide I’m not in the mood for rejection.

Then dinner happens. Pierre to my left is a familiar face from university. He’s charming, French and so not interested. At one point I look over at Catherine.

‘Anything?’ I mouth, nodding in Pierre’s direction.

‘No.’

‘No?’

She could at least pretend.

‘No Anna.’

CC Image courtesy of N@ncyN@nce on Flickr

Catherine and I head in the direction of the bar with a view to asking about taxis.

‘Or,’ I say, putting a hand on her arm, ‘I could try talking to the guy from Dubai?’

‘No Anna.’

‘Why not?!’

‘Because….’ She sighs. ‘Will it make you happy?’

‘Probably not.’

 

‘Oh! Thank you!’ I take one of the G&Ts winging its way to the table via Dubai. ‘You’re Erik, right?’

He confirms his name, asks mine.

‘I’ll rise,’ I say, getting up, ‘in the words of Maya Angelou.’

It’s not my first gin of the night.

‘What?’

‘Oh nothing.’

You’re tall,’ he says.

‘So are you.’

We talk. I discover he loves oysters, Futurist sculpture and Egon Schiele and that he works for his family’s processed cheese business. By the time we’re dancing Viennese waltz in the driveway I’m pretty much a lost woman.

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Catherine comes over. ‘Our taxi’s here.’

I rise from the hay bale, say my goodbyes to Pierre and the other guests. Finally I come to Erik.

‘It was nice to meet you.’

‘You’re leaving?’

We walk a little way from the bonfire.

‘Goodbye.’

‘Goodbye.’

His lips touch mine.

 

‘Why didn’t I stay?!’ I say to the ceiling.

Catherine in the neighbouring bed laughs. This has been my reprise pretty much since we left the bonfire.

 

A week later I’m showing Erik’s LinkedIn photo to close friends with an entirely unfounded sense of pride and ownership. I’ve added him on Facebook, which he doesn’t appear to use, and have heard nothing. I haven’t read the processed cheese report.

 

I decide to shelve all further explorations until the happy couple return from honeymoon and are ready to be reminded that they have friends who are still single and sufficiently unhinged to believe that a distance of 3000 miles is no obstacle to a relationship.

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Model Behaviour

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At uni I launched a poster campaign. I was looking for a man. The precise wording:

Would you like to learn to dance? I’m looking for a 6ft+ male…

‘Really you’re just looking for a boyfriend,’ Tom said.

‘Actually I’m not. I do genuinely want to find someone to dance with!’

 

One morning, as I was coming out of a lecture, my eye was caught by a pair of cheekbones and a tall, slender frame. He was beautiful, the kind of man I’d normally be scared to talk to. But – and this must stand to show just how desperate I was – I asked him straight out, was he interested in learning to dance?

He was nice, pleasant, chatty… not interested in learning to dance. But I went back to college riding a little high, the kind you get after being in the presence of – and acknowledged by – the very beautiful.

 

We became library buddies: he’d drop me a line when he needed a particular book. Then he’d appear at the porter’s lodge, an exotic presence, looking every inch the catwalk model (which he was).

‘Why are you putting on make-up?’ Tom said, leaning against the doorframe of my room.

‘No reason.’

And, my twenty-year-old self knew, very little point.

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Opposites Attract

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CC Image courtesy of HotGossipItalia on FlickrM&S guy bore an uncanny resemblance to Richard Armitage. Then there was Jonathan CakeBen Whishaw and more recently Tobias Menzies.

This week I’m going on a date with Eddie Redmayne. Yum. It helps that I have a weakness for redheads. Not so good is the fact we seem to have, like, nothing in common. And I mean NOTHING. He’s an ex-pro cyclist working in wealth management who hates cooking and, I quote, is ‘not going to take up ballroom dancing anytime soon’. (For the record, I didn’t suggest that he did.)

I’m an all-cooking, all-dancing copywriter who the one time she cycled in London collided with the wing mirror of a stationary vehicle. Hmm.

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A New Lead

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CC Image courtesy of JulyYu on FlickrBeatrice once wrote me a profile for My Single Friend. It concluded: ‘And if you happen to be a ballroom dancer then so much the better!’ I’d long ago resigned myself to the fact that ballroom dancing in the garden – or anywhere – would remain a solo activity. And if by some miracle I ever brought a guy home to meet the parents he would assume the role of amused onlooker while I chasséed and lock-stepped my way around the lawn (he wouldn’t – he’d be forced to get involved and we’d end up laughing so much it hurt and made it impossible to keep dancing…).

 

So when, late one Saturday night, I get a generic Tinder message from Fred Astaire it gives me pause for thought.

 

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried ballroom. It’s one of the most incredible feelings in the world, being led around the floor by an experienced dancer. That might sound horribly patriarchal – and it’s true that an incompetent lead is tantamount to torture – but with the right partner it’s a dream.

 

With Fred I cut to the chase in a ‘You’re a ballroom dancer?! Time and place and I’ll be there!’ kind of a way. Fortunately he finds it funny and suggests a date.

 

‘I’m not sure I fancy him,’ I say to Beatrice, in the run up to Friday. ‘But I think I’m right in saying I fancied all of the dance team at uni, so we’ll see.’

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The Bottom Line

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Tech-y issues mean I find myself reading old blog posts.CC Image courtesy of {Lina} on Flickr

‘…and, bottom line, we need to have a laugh together.’

I smile.  No change there.

 

‘I’m going to a ball on Friday and I can’t wait!  My partner – oh….’ I sigh.  You’d sigh.  He’s tall, dark, and impossibly handsome.  ‘And he can dance ballroom!

‘What’s wrong with him?!’

A fair question from Colleague.

‘Nothing!’

That I know of.

The last time I saw Johann was at a ball.  We danced foxtrot, but it was like no foxtrot I’ve ever danced before, full of dips and spins and drops.  After each dance he queued to get me a glass of water.  Then when I left my dress strap in his room – not what it sounds like – he went to considerable trouble to ensure we were reunited.

‘He has the most beautiful manners,’ I say, with another sigh.  ‘Not like…’

My face darkens.  Being ditched on my birthday, I can handle.  OK, so the timing could have been better, but the act itself is forgivable.  What’s not forgivable is the absence of any kind of thank you note for the dinner.  No text, no letter, no card – nothing.

‘But at least, this way, it makes it easier to move on, cos, well, you don’t want that.’

‘No,’ Colleague says, with a look of disgust.  ‘You don’t.’

 

It’s in the kitchen for some reason that thoughts of FFS come to me.

‘No NO.  Don’t think about him,’ I say out loud, clattering pots and pans, as if the noise might drown out unwelcome thoughts.

I’d read about focusing on someone’s bad points as an effective way of getting over them but had never managed to make it work for me – not because I refused to believe that the men in question had bad points, but because I didn’t know them well enough to know what they were, not having dated any of them.

‘He’s lazy and RUDE,’ I say, to the empty kitchen.

And with those words it’s confirmed, what I always knew, my actual bottom line.

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