Pain Quotidien

Posted on

CC Image courtesy of Steven Leonti on Flickr‘Hi Anna!’

I look round, searching for the speaker. ‘Hi Tristan.’ He probably has a question about work. ‘How are you?’

‘Good,’ he says. ‘What’s in the box?’

‘Oh, just lunch.’ I hesitate then go over to where he’s sitting. ‘Look!’ I hold out my paint-spattered hands. ‘I did legal graffiti last night! It does come off – but I didn’t try very hard!’

He laughs. ‘Illegal graffiti?’

‘No no, legal graffiti.’

Tobias is listening now.

‘Ahh.’ Tristan smiles. ‘You can call it reeling, y’know?’

I give him a look. ‘Yeah, that’s what we do in the church. It’s funny, they never notice afterwards. They’re too busy–.’

‘Church?’

‘That’s where we reel.’

‘Were you reeling or praying?’ Tobias says.

‘Neither!’

Tristan looks surprised. ‘You were actually doing graffiti?’

‘Yes!’

‘Where?’

‘There’s a tunnel, near Waterloo, where it’s legal.’

‘What did you draw? I imagine with your painting and drawing…’

I don’t remember having ever told Tristan I paint and draw.

‘… you’d be good at it.’

‘Hmm it’s difficult…’

My companion kept telling me to hold the nozzle close to the wall and the spray can vertical, neither of which I succeeded in doing.

‘… and, well, most of the spray cans didn’t work.’

Tristan grins. ‘It sounds like an artisan date.’

I laugh. ‘I think that would happen at Pain Quotidien.’

Our audience has expanded to include the rest of Tristan’s team. I can feel myself growing red.

‘Yeah well… I better go,’ I say, starting to move away. The next question will probably relate to who I was with. Adrien, Gus and Ryan know all the grisly details about my dating life and Tobias knows some of them but I’ve always been silent on the subject with Tristan. Perhaps because the others can be relied upon to keep him informed of any developments (he often greets me with, ‘How was your date? Adrien/Ryan said…’). Or perhaps because I don’t want him thinking there’s anyone but him. And I’m not sure there is.

CC Image courtesy of whizchickenonabun on Flickr

Related Posts:

A Play For Voices

Doctor Love

Lifted

The Name Game



Saturday Night Fever

Posted on

CC Image courtesy of pedrosimoes7 on Flickr

Everyday for about a year I woke to the same piece of dating advice. Written in pencil on a scrap of lined paper blue-tacked to my bedroom wall, it read:

If you’re attracted to a guy who isn’t pursuing you, DON’T EVER BE AROUND HIM. It’s masochistic.

At some point, perhaps because I thought it had done its work or because it didn’t meet my stringent standards for interior décor, I took it down.

 

Saturday night…

‘Did he invite you?’

I laugh. ‘No… no, it’s never that simple.’*

Beatrice smiles. ‘No. So, what, he said, ‘I’m going to this thing, you should come’?’

‘Nooo…’

What had he said exactly? He’d said: ‘I might be going to this ball. All Latin and ballroom dancing.’ Then a smiley face.

Cue puzzled face. He ‘might’ be going so, what, I ‘might’ turn up and find he wasn’t there? I recalled a guy friend’s insight into male dating behaviours (‘there are no hidden meanings’), waited a few days, then replied in a similarly ambivalent fashion.

 

By some miracle we are both in the same place at the same time on Saturday night, dancing. Well, he’s dancing. I’m sitting on the sidelines with Beatrice.

‘So, what do you think?’ I say. ‘Does he fancy me?’

‘Do you fancy him?’

‘Yes.’

‘Right. Well… why don’t you suggest going for a drink and see what happens?’

I stare, then spout the usual guff about how it should come from him.

‘Yeah, but what have you got to lose?’

 

Apparently nothing because an hour later I’m sitting opposite the guy in a pub, laughing more than I have in months. Then we’re walking to the bus stop. Then we’re saying goodnight.

 

And the next morning I’m contemplating reinstating the scrap of lined paper.

CC Image courtesy of Dr Stephen Dann on Flickr

*For the record, I am aware that sometimes it is that simple.

Related Posts:

New Initiative

Against Type

Laughing Matters

A River In Egypt



Carbon Copy

Posted on

CC Image courtesy of M i x y on Flickr

I hit the forward button and type:

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Beatrice comes back minutes later:

I wondered if you’d react.

Of course I’d bloody react!

Her advice is not to go.

*

Two weeks earlier…

The first thing I see is a status update: he’s leaving the company, leaving London, moving up north. I don’t know what he’s doing there (getting married and having babies probably) and it doesn’t really matter.

 

As the leaving date approaches, I think of him occasionally. It’s sad, the way things have turned out. Given what happened, I can’t but think badly of the guy, and I’d much rather think well of him.

 

The afternoon is busy, my inbox awash with emails. ‘Drinks tomorrow’ is the subject, but it’s the sender’s name which makes me stare. I open the message, read the farewell note to colleagues. He’s sent it to his whole office, and in the ‘CC’ field included just four names.

*

‘Hey!’

I run into Beatrice on the station side of the traffic lights.

‘Hey!’ she says. ‘What are you doing here?!’

‘Oh… I’m just going to a drinks thing before dancing.’

‘Oh! Right!’

‘Yeah. Where are you off to?’

A gallery opening. In fact she’d better go, she’s running late. We say a hurried goodbye.

 

I come to a standstill a hundred yards or so from the pub, make a meal out of turning off my iPod, bundling up the headphones. I check my phone, stow it in my bag, and look for traffic in both directions before crossing.

 

He looks a little awkward, which makes two of us, but pleased. Or relieved? He finds me a chair.

 

‘I think… the last time I saw you,’ he says when people have moved around a bit, and we have less of an audience, ‘was at the summer party.’

‘I remember.’

He laughs, a tad awkward. ‘I think I was very drunk that night.’

‘I think you might’ve been.’

He laughs again. I can’t think of what to say next.

 

A short while later, I get up to go. We hug.

‘Don’t let the man get you down,’ he says, with the same awkward laugh.

I don’t say that with him out of the picture I’ve a marginally better chance of following his advice.

CC Image courtesy of antony.howard on Flickr

Related Posts:

Let’s Dance (Part I & II)

If You’re A Bird…

Perfect Strangers



Numbers Game

Posted on

CC Image courtesy of ansik on FlickrI number off:

‘I, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – hello!’

We embrace like old friends, the way you do in this kind of crowd though we’ve only met once before. I don’t think of him again until the last dance.

‘I like the colour of your t-shirt!’

‘Thank you!’ he says, turning me. ‘I like…’

I don’t catch what it is that he likes.

 

Later, in the pub, I’m part-way through a bucket of sauvignon blanc. You’d have to be in order to say to the immediate company, ‘I just need to go and speak to that person’, point, and then walk in the direction you’re pointing.

 

The taxi comes to a stop.

‘Tell me your number,’ he says. ‘I’ll remember it.’

I recite the digits, then reach for my purse. ‘Are you sure I can’t–?’

‘No no, we’ll go for drinks sometime.’

‘OK. Can you remember the number?!’

 

‘And he repeated it back to me,’ I tell Gus the next day. ‘That’s weird, right?’

‘That is weird.’ He chuckles. ‘That’s pretty cool.’

‘Yeah. I was, like, a lost woman. But, well, I don’t know if he’ll remember it. And,’ I shrug, ‘if he does, he might not use it.’

‘Yeah… but he might.’

CC Image courtesy of John.Karakatsanis on Flickr

Related Posts:

Not Working

Where To?

What Do I Know?



What Do I Know?

Posted on

CC Image courtesy of Diamond Hoo Ha Man on FlickrIf an alien landed in London and stole my phone (it’s a big ‘if’ – I’ve got a budget Motorola) it would probably think my surname was Tinder and that I was really good at keeping in touch with my immediate family. It might also wonder why all these conversations reached fever pitch before coming to an abrupt end. It might not know how to operate a mobile phone.

After five Tinder dates in as many weeks I’ve learnt a few things:

  1. Meet. Your chemistry might be electric over text/Whatsapp but if you – or they – fail the acid test in person, that’s that.
  1. Meet on a week night. It’s much easier to curtail a mid-week date if you’re not feeling it…
  1. … which you probably won’t be. Keep your expectations low.
  1. Don’t contact your ex – especially not the one you met on Tinder – immediately after an underwhelming date. Actually don’t contact your ex, period.
  1. Split the tab, unless he absolutely insists. But otherwise, go Dutch. He’ll respect you for it and you won’t feel any guilt when there’s no follow-up. Plus, well, it’s the 21st century – why should the guy pay?
  1. You’ll decide pretty early on if the stranger who just said hello to you outside the tube station is someone you could kiss or get naked with. Whatever the verdict there is no polite way to get out of the ensuing date (see #2).
  1. After a run of average dates you might start to question your ability to know when you really like someone.

The day after date #5 I go dancing and run into an old, newly single acquaintance. He’s wearing turquoise and a broad grin and greets me like an old friend. I spend all of the next day hungover with this big dopey smile on my face.

Trust me, you’ll know.

CC Image courtesy of Pulpolux !!! on Flickr

Related Posts:

The Best Dating Advice: Part I

Aged to Perfection?

Funny About Money