Listen to Your… Chest (Part 3)

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(Continued from Listen to Your… Chest (Part 2))

The following Friday, at a birthday drinks, I told a friend about the guy off Tinder I’d been chatting to for the last year but had never met. I omitted a few salient details and he looked at me like I belonged at the funny farm.

‘You have to meet him,’ he said.

If the past twelve months had shown me anything it was that I definitely didn’t have to meet him, but I wanted to.

That night, waiting for the last train, I texted Neuro. The platform was deserted except for a man in his 60s wearing a shabby raincoat. He came over and alerted me to the fact that I was facing the wrong way so I might miss the train. I thanked him and he asked where I was travelling to, did I have a boyfriend?

‘Yes,’ I heard myself say.

‘Are you meeting him now?’

‘Yes.’

The train arrived and we boarded. He was still talking, nineteen to the dozen, when Neuro replied.

‘Where are you?’ I sent back.

‘Home. U?’

‘I’ve never raped a woman and I’ve never touched a child,’ my neighbour was saying.

‘Ring me!’ I sent back.

He did, just as the train pulled into my station. I took advantage of my tipsy state to announce that we needed to meet. It had been a year. We needed to meet.

‘Come over now.’

‘I can’t. I… I need more notice.’

It was early February. The last time I shaved my legs there were leaves on the trees. But, more to the point, he was a virtual stranger. I wasn’t about to rock up at his flat in the middle of the night.

He suggested the next day.

‘You don’t sound very sure.’

‘Or Sunday?’ he said.

‘Hmm Sunday’s tricky.’

He said he’d be in touch the next day.

 

We never did meet. As I write this, a referral letter from the hospital where Neuro works lies open on the kitchen table. The appointment is for next week…

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The Best of Times

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CC Image courtesy of Ibliskov - Flucтuaт Nεc Mεяgiтuя on FlickrI’d been looking forward to the party. Tristan would be there, and Tobias. We’d demolish the canapé supply and drink too much cheap white wine. Tobias would make a passing remark about clothing, sparking a fit of anxiety from Tristan about his branded jumper, and I’d reassure him it was fine. Twice.

 

We’d cross the road to the neighbouring pub. Tristan would order doubles in place of my usual single. We’d bump into someone I went on a couple of dates with once and Tristan would ask, ‘What’s the deal with that guy?’ Twice.

 

I’d say or do something daft.

‘You’re really great,’ he’d say, laughing and clinking glasses.

 

We’d hug and I’d say:

‘I’ll miss you when you go to New York!’

And he’d tell me to come visit.

 

Out on the pavement, we hug again.

‘I always want people to be more like you,’ I say, ‘cos that makes them a better person.’

‘You’re really great,’ he says again.
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Later, in the casino, over champagne, we lose money and laugh about it.

 

Later still, in the crowded bar, he kisses me. Light, tender and unexpected.

‘Tristan…?’

I meet his eye. He looks happy and drunk and takes my hand, tight, beneath the table. We rest our heads together.
CC Image courtesy of maxxtraffic on Flickr
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My Week With Tristan

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CC Image courtesy of Captn_Jack on FlickrMany more WhatsApp messages to Beatrice and I’ll have a book – albeit the kind you’d definitely have to self-publish if you wanted it to see the light of day, which I wouldn’t – called ‘What Tristan did today to make me love him’.

Friday, he took me on a lunchtime walk to brainstorm solutions to my work crisis.

Monday, he left the lunch table early to hint to my lazy colleague that he should also be getting back to work.

Tuesday, he sent me a printout in the form of a paper aeroplane.

Thursday, we both got very drunk, hugged and he told me I was one of his favourite people at the office.

Friday, I resolved to be satisfied with this.

Monday, we were laughing about something and I looked at him and thought, I can’t do anything but love you.

Fuuuuuuck.

CC Image courtesy of quinn.anya on Flickr

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The Million Dollar Question

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CC Image courtesy of jaumescar on FlickrNovember 2015

‘Fuckery.’

That’s Lucy‘s analysis of his behaviour, delivered after three cocktails. I sit there, grinning, probably because I’ve also had three cocktails.

Adrien, presented with the same facts, brands Viable Prospect ‘indecisive’ and ‘twatty’.

‘You have two choices,’ he says. ‘You can reply, saying, ‘Sup m8 let’s go for drink/shag’.’

Hmm.

‘Or delete his number, unfriend him and move on.’

Instead I take to haunting his profile. I attend three events in as many months just because Facebook says he’s ‘Attending’. For the third of these I shell out actual money. It’s a lecture on Henry James. I didn’t attend lectures at uni when they were free. For this one I both buy a ticket and do preparatory reading.

The Portrait of a Lady – aside from being brilliant – is the story of a young American woman who comes to Europe and falls for the wrong man. I don’t need to point out the irony.

‘I might just suggest meeting up,’ I say to Beatrice, after another no-show.

She agrees it would be better than what I’m doing.

‘But,’ she goes on, ‘what do you want from seeing him?’

That’s the million dollar question and I don’t have an answer, not a real one.

‘Closure I guess, whatever that is.’

CC Image courtesy of I like on Flickr

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Performance Review

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CC Image courtesy of zak mc on Flickr

My boss and I are setting my development objectives for 2016. In my head they go:

1. Get in earlier.

2. Leave at 5.

3. Get a life.

4. GET A BOYFRIEND.  

Which might actually make me leave at 5.

 

That evening…

Through the glass I see him approach. He pushes the door open. I smile, and our eyes meet fleetingly. What a pity, I think, as we set off in the direction of the tube.

Towards the end of dinner conversation had turned to relationships past – or lack thereof. I revisit the subject.

‘Do you find it weird that I haven’t had a boyfriend?’

‘No,’ he says. ‘I mean, it’s unusual. I suppose by 27 most people have–’

‘Had a relationship.’

‘Yeah. Why do you think it is?’

I shrug. ‘I don’t know.’ I laugh. ‘You’re probably in a better position to say!’

He makes as if to speak then stops himself.

‘Go on,’ I say.

‘No. I can’t say that.’

‘What?’

‘No.’

‘What?’

‘Well… it’s obviously not that you’re not desirable. I guess… I don’t know, maybe you haven’t made time for it. You’ve been focused on work?’

I shake my head. ‘That’s a recent thing.’

‘Then… it has to be because you’ve chosen it.’

‘I haven’t,’ I put in quickly.

‘Not chosen it, but I mean you could be with someone so it’s because of your requirements.’

‘Mmm.’

We talk about his relationship history – two serious girlfriends and two Tinder dates. This is number three.

‘Have you been on many dates?’ he says.

‘A few.’

‘What have they been like?’

‘A mixture, some good. But mostly they’ve been…’

‘Bland?’

‘No. It’s weird, you can spend an evening with someone and get on well, but that’s it. You don’t need to see each other again.’

‘Like this evening.’

I turn to look at him. ‘Candid much?! That – that would be a first, appraising a date while you’re on it!’

‘Would it?’

I don’t know if it’s the two G&Ts, my masochistic streak or a desire to expose this whole frustrating situation for what is almost certainly is – a dead end of a date with someone I find very attractive – but something makes me say:

‘Actually, why not? So… what did you make of this evening?’

And he tells me. He’s enjoyed it, enjoyed my company. Good sense of humour, he says, which is important, and I’m self-deprecating. But he thinks I’m quite shy…

And the whole time he’s speaking I’m trying to figure out what the hell it all means. Does he fancy me? Was the ninety excruciating minutes we just spent in the restaurant a false start? Or is this reassurance? Don’t worry, he’s saying, you’re a catch. You’ll find someone. I’m just not that guy.

 

The train pulls into the station.

‘Be in touch,’ he says, rising from his seat.

I force a smile. ‘Yeah.’

 

Half an hour later, I’m sitting on my bed, listening to Adele, contemplating unfriending VP. Every disappointing Tinder date feels like his fault. My phone flashes up with a message. It’s my date, asking if I’ve got home OK. His next question throws me completely.

‘Did you have a good evening?’

I fancied him rotten, I was aching for him to kiss me, I was the most excited I’d been in a long time when he suggested getting dinner. But the dinner…

‘Yes,’ I send back. ‘Did you?’

 

An hour later, we call it a night.

‘Let’s see each other again,’ he says.

CC Image courtesy of LuluP on Flickr

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