‘What’s the occasion this time?’
‘Err….’ I scrunch up my face. ‘How many people do you get coming in saying they’ve just been dumped?’
‘Aaw,’ she says with professional concern.
‘Not dumped,’ I put in quickly, ‘not in so many words…’
Make that no words.
Scissors at the ready, she meets my eye in the glass. ‘No but – you want to feel good about yourself.’
I can tell she’s used that line before.
‘Yes,’ I say. ‘I want to feel good about myself.’
She looks up from what she’s doing. ‘Are you up to anything tonight?’
‘I… I don’t know. I’m supposed to be having dinner with someone but I’m err waiting to hear if it’s gonna happen.’ I laugh. ‘I’m so bad at this dating stuff!’
She gives me a sympathetic look. ‘Why don’t you just text him saying ‘are we still on for tonight?”
‘I thought about doing that,’ I say, taking out my phone, ‘but… whenever I’ve done that in the past it’s never panned out well. I mean, whenever I’ve… not forced it, I’ve never forced it, but whenever I’ve – y’know…’
‘Taken the initiative?’
‘Yeah, it’s always turned out badly, and I end up thinking, if I’d only heeded the signs early on I’d have saved myself a lot of heartache. So I figured, this time, I might as well leave it, because, well, he’s clearly not that interested.’
Exactly a month ago I’d found myself in the same predicament with VP. At 1.30 in the afternoon, I’d cracked and texted him. This time, with Redhead, I leave it. By half 6, I’ve mentally re-allocated my evening. I feel sad, but not crazed in the way I was when VP left me hanging. I don’t think it’s because I’ve learnt from what happened. No: it’s because it’s not VP.
7pm, I emerge from the tube. Once home, I’ll write a shopping list. It’s still early enough on a Saturday not to look like a total loser, wandering round Sainsbury’s with a basket for one. I check my phone, more out of habit than anything else. And there it is, a message from Redhead, asking if I have any ideas for dinner. I don’t know what to feel. Fed-up? Frustrated? Glad? Sad? Pissed off?
Part of me wants to greet him with a reprimand. Before he’s had a chance to sit down I want to tell him he can’t do this. I can’t do this! I need plans and certainty and… plans. I need plans! Shoot me!
I bet Tristan would plan, which is a pointless thought. And anyway he probably wouldn’t.
I’m too tired and generally fed up to put much effort into choosing a restaurant. There’s a part of me which can’t be bothered to go. But I will, for the simple reason that I find him really attractive. Now shoot me.
Five Years’ Time
“Manners Makyth Man”
A Lesson In Dating