Faking It

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CC Image courtesy of Chesi - Fotos CC on FlickrTuesday, there’s a departmental meeting, most of which I spend thinking, ‘I don’t even care, I should be working in the FILM INDUSTRY.’

Leaving the room I draw level with The Man for Whom I Baked. He’s tall, slender, beautifully turned out and – and this is the real reason I love him – he always looks happy to see me. I worry that one day his illusions will be shattered and he’ll see me for who I really am, someone who spent a week in Berlin and didn’t visit a single museum or art gallery OUT OF CHOICE. Conversations with him are like an Oxford interview, or an episode of Faking It.

‘How are you?’ he says, looking into the distance before snapping his head round to meet my eye. It’s sexier than it sounds.

‘Yeah, fine thanks. What did you think?’

It’s too soon, like a diner asking his companion for thoughts on the restaurant before they’re out the door. And this man’s an aesthete; my clumsiness must grate. He looks round at the sea of colleagues, perhaps scouting for eavesdroppers or passing time until it’s safe to speak. He answers in a low voice then says again:

‘No but really, how are you?’

Six months I’ve been in my role and this is a first. Family and friends have shown an interest of course and when things got really bad threatened to airlift me out of the office, but this is the first time I’ve been asked by someone on the inside. Someone who knows what I’m up against, who knows the system. Someone who looks a bit like Tobias Menzies.

‘Yeah… OK.’

‘We should have coffee sometime and you can tell me how it’s going.’ He’s back to staring into the distance.

*

I’m plating up flapjacks for Tristan and Co. in the kitchen when Tobias walks in.

‘Would you like one?’ 

‘Thanks,’ he says. ‘How are you?’

‘Stressed.’

‘Stressed? What about?’

I tell him.

‘Is there anything I can do to help?’

That helps – just asking. Where’s that line from? Almost certainly Sex and the City given the breadth of my cultural references. Something else this man doesn’t need to know.

CC Image courtesy of El-AMD Photos on Flickr

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The Morning After

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Sunday, midday.CC Image courtesy of torbakhopper HE DEAD on Flickr
Eyes open. Half-open. Eleven hours. Bliss. Phone flashing on the floor. Yawn. Boring. Wonder what it will be. Get up, go to bathroom. Come back, pick up phone, flop down onto bed, swipe screen. Stare. Stare some more. Laugh. Power up computer, new tab, a fragment of a URL… Yes. It’s there, it’s real. More staring. What does it mean? What should I do? Nothing, obviously, but what does it mean? And he must have done it, what… [counts hours on fingers] he was probably drunk. He’s probably regretting it now, would probably undo it if he could but he knows it would hurt me. It doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t mean anything, but I feel so wildly, deliriously happy. I feel like skipping, and do, downstairs, to fix breakfast. It’s a gloriously sunny day and the light fills the kitchen. The cafetière is still half full from the night before – perfect. Everything’s perfect now. I can do anything – anything.

It doesn’t mean anything.

*

As she takes the picture I think of you. Will you see it? Will you care? Will you feel… anything? Regret? Disinterest? Will you…

‘Smile!’

We flash grins.

You should put more photos up, you said to me once, to feed me. And then you grinned, cheeky, a tad wolfish. And I felt like prey or dinner or something.

Or something. That was one of your catchphrases.

Something… anything.

It doesn’t mean anything.

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Laughing Matters

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‘Oh shit. Am I going to have to buy you a coffee?’CC Image courtesy of Phil W Shirley

I laugh. ‘No Ryan, I said I had a comedy story about OkCupid, I didn’t say I had a date!’

It’s not until early evening that we get a chance to speak properly.

‘So,’ I begin, ‘it was the section where you admit something private about yourself and I read his and realised… we must be related!’

‘Ohhhh.’

‘Yeah and I figured out… he’s my… third cousin, so quite distant. So the question is, Ryan, is it OK to fancy your cousin – third cousin – and date them?’

Ryan reckons not.

‘Ohhh but he’s funny!’

Ryan and I are on the same page when it comes to this one: we both only want to date men who make us laugh. The way he actually puts it is, ‘I HATE people who don’t make me laugh’. I don’t feel quite so strongly, but I do think it’s a bugger that the first funny, good-looking guy I’ve encountered in the virtual world (or the real world for that matter) since VP also happens to be a blood relative.

I try a different tack, though my tone isn’t hopeful.

‘We’d probably have a lot of things in common.’

Ryan gives me a look.

Chromosomal DNA for one.

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Desperate Measures

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CC Image courtesy of le vent le cri on FlickrYou might have noticed a slight drop in output recently. There are a few reasons for this:

1. I’m working every hour God sends in my new role so I have less time to write.

2. It’s tricky to meet people when you’re chained to your desk.

3. (and this is perhaps the most surprising) My threshold for what is blog-worthy appears to have changed. I have a draft folder full of silly stories about the time Tristan made a heart shape between his fingers at me across the office; or the time Karl suggested accompanying me to an art show only for his enthusiasm to cool when I told him the ticket price; or the time I unexpectedly found myself on a date – my brother‘s.

 

Tuesday night, I’m sitting in a pub somewhere in the West End with Ryan, Gus and Tristan. We’ve escaped ‘official’ work drinks. That is, I thought we all just happened to be leaving at the same time, but once out on the pavement, Tristan claps his hands together.

‘Now the fun can begin!’

Which means a pub, pints and Ryan asking the group at the neighbouring table if they know any single men he can go out with.

‘And,’ he points at me, ‘do you know any single men Anna can go out with?’

I break off laughing just long enough to request that they be straight.

 

‘We should make a bet,’ Ryan says en route to the station, ‘to see who can get a date first.’

‘What are we going to bet?’

Ryan is famously tight and I’m not exactly Mother Theresa.

‘A cappuccino?’

‘You’re on.’

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Civilised Company

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(Continued from Crowded Room)CC Image courtesy of jjMustang_79 on Flickr

I push the door open with my foot.  Its trajectory is blocked by a sewing box which usually lives downstairs.  ‘Coffee?’

‘Thanks.’

‘Would you like milk?’

‘Err – if you’ve got it.’

‘Sure.’

His costume is back in place, and he looks a little uncomfortable.  I go back downstairs, add milk to both mugs, and linger there a moment in case he follows.

Flatmate’s step on the stair makes me start.  I wait until he’s passed the entrance to the kitchen, before making my way back upstairs.

Ben takes the cup.  ‘Thanks.’

I sit down on the bed.  He follows suit, perching on the edge.  This is foreign territory.  I’ve never been offered coffee at a guy’s place after staying the night.  On the contrary, it’s usually a race to leave before (God forbid) he notices my presence.  It’s why I don’t do it anymore: that feeling, like you’re nothing; and on his side, a palpable desire to erase you from his life as quickly as possible.

I don’t know if it’s Ben, or my desire to civilize the whole thing, or the fact that I want a coffee so naturally make one for my guest; but here we are, nursing mugs which are still too hot to drink, making polite, if not entirely relaxed, conversation.  It’s like a date in reverse.

We discuss our plans for the weekend; he tells me about his parents’ work; we exchange restaurant recommendations.  There’s no suggestion that we might at some point visit one of them together, which saddens me a little, but not too much.

‘Well, I’d better get going,’ he says, rising.

We both have trains to catch.

‘Yep.’

My hand on the latch, we kiss.

‘Goodbye.’

‘Goodbye.’

I close the door on his retreating back.  He didn’t ask for my number; I have no expectation that I’ll hear from him again; and I feel… OK about it.

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