The Worst of Times

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CC Image courtesy of Juska Wendland on FlickrA couple of years ago, just after the car crash that was my 26th birthday party, my brother gave me some good advice.

Don’t invite someone you’re dating to a party because it will make it all about them.

When I drew up the guest list for my housewarming, Tom‘s name was conspicuously absent. Obviously. I’d said I didn’t just want something casual and he’d suggested ‘being friends’.

Colleagues featured heavily on the list. Then the usual round-up of friends, my brother, and men I’ve always had a vague crush on but nothing has ever happened with.

It was safe. The latter wouldn’t come; the former would treat it like after-work drinks.

Then Friday happened.

‘Can I invite Tom?’

Beatrice says no. I play the Friday card. Tom is the least of my worries.

I don’t see Tom everyday and feel a jolt in the pit of my stomach. I don’t don my headphones to drown out his voice when he comes over to talk to Ryan. I don’t look up mid-meeting, see him walk past, meet his eye, struck by the sadness of his expression, and spend all afternoon wondering what it means.

Tom doesn’t pass my desk on his way out…

‘Bye,’ I say, with a wave.

… and acknowledge my farewell but keep walking.

CC Image courtesy of Vickilgh's Pictures on Flickr

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Out Of The Blue

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‘What do you make of Tinder?’ CC Image courtesy of ant217 on Flickr

I take a sip of mulled wine.  ‘Hmm not a fan.’

‘Oh – why?’

Tinder Guy, Simon, Viable Prospect, and Daniel.  Especially Daniel: that made no sense.  But because I don’t know how to articulate this within the accepted time frame of a drinks party conversation, I say:

‘I think the emphasis on location means it lends itself more to casual hook-ups, and if that’s what you’re looking for then fine, but I’m not….’

No, I’m looking to meet the love of my life on an app, which is much more realistic.

We’re interrupted.  A short while later I head home.

*

Be-ep. 

I shut the front door behind me.

Be-ep.

I find my phone in my bag, and bring it to life.

You have a new Tinder message from Viable Prospect.

Huh?

‘How’s your Christmas prep going?’

I scroll up.  Two months have passed since my last message.  He must be either very bored or very drunk.  I consider not replying.

Tapping on his profile picture brings up the strangely familiar set of photos.  Clear blue eyes, and the bright white smile of someone who always brushed their teeth when they were younger – or just has good genes.  He’s cute, no two ways about it.  I consider making some kind of witty reference to his poor response time in my reply, if I reply.

The next day, I reply as if no time has passed.

‘I give him a week – two because it’s holiday season – to suggest meeting in person,’ I tell Beatrice that evening.  ‘After that, I give up on him.’

Him, Tinder, the lot.  Until next year.

CC Image courtesy of ToastyKen on Flickr



In Da Club

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(Continued from Parental Guidance)CC Image courtesy of Richard Sennett on Flickr

Crossing the foyer of the club, I saw the main doors open, and Nice Guy come in.  I quickened my steps in the direction of the suite where the drinks party was taking place.

I put off the inevitable catch-up until sufficient wine had been consumed that it wouldn’t be awkward.  But no amount of chardonnay could have prepared me for what came next.

‘We got on crazy well!’ I told a friend, over Skype, the next day.  ‘If there’s no follow up from him, I’ll lose all faith in my ability to read men.’

I lost it.  I also lost patience and dropped him a line saying if he was ever near my place of work and fancied some ‘heavily discounted vino’ (one of the perks of my job back then, ironically, for it couldn’t have been bestowed on a less grateful recipient), to let me know.  He wrote back, ‘I shall’. 

(TO BE CONTINUED)

CC Image courtesy of basheertome on Flickr



Love Poetry

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‘You’ve only come so you can write about it,’ the guy says, with an irritating smile.CC Image courtesy of dichohecho on Flickr

I scan the room.  ‘Hmm.’ 

It’s a birthday drinks.  I don’t drink, and I don’t like the birthday boy.  And the guy I’m speaking to, I was mildly obsessed with for about a year before he hooked up with my best friend – two days ago.  So I’m having a whale of a time.

 

The only dating potential I’ve found so far is propping up the bar.  He’s got a slight paunch – the mark of the mature student – and is wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogan ‘I love Cromer’.  Get too close and he starts spouting poetry.

 

I’ve had enough of ‘elephant in the room’ conversation with smiling guy.

‘I’m gonna head.  Goodnight.’

I do head, to the bar; I’m in the mood for a poem.  Since we last spoke, Paunch has communed with a couple of beers, and I find him in high spirits.  He might be gay – did I mention? – but he’s also frighteningly clever and well-read, and, well, you know what they say about opposites attracting.

 

Three missed Byron references later, I’m stammering out an apology/explanation, whilst he writes down, not his phone number, but a reading list.  Yep.  I leave the joint with the following prescription:

  • Geoffrey Hill
  • Kipling (not the cake – I checked)
  • Some obscure poet
And orders to watch Azerbaijan’s Eurovision entry.  Did I say might be gay?
CC Image courtesy of PanARMENIAN_Photo on Flickr