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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Wedding Night

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CC Image courtesy of RMH40 on FlickrI look at the screen and frown. It’s late, I’m still recovering from drinking my body weight in wine and the prospect of reading an industry report on processed cheese isn’t all that appealing.

*

One of the bridesmaids points him out to me as the only straight, single man there. I look him over, the guy from Dubai, and decide I’m not in the mood for rejection.

Then dinner happens. Pierre to my left is a familiar face from university. He’s charming, French and so not interested. At one point I look over at Catherine.

‘Anything?’ I mouth, nodding in Pierre’s direction.

‘No.’

‘No?’

She could at least pretend.

‘No Anna.’

CC Image courtesy of N@ncyN@nce on Flickr

Catherine and I head in the direction of the bar with a view to asking about taxis.

‘Or,’ I say, putting a hand on her arm, ‘I could try talking to the guy from Dubai?’

‘No Anna.’

‘Why not?!’

‘Because….’ She sighs. ‘Will it make you happy?’

‘Probably not.’

 

‘Oh! Thank you!’ I take one of the G&Ts winging its way to the table via Dubai. ‘You’re Erik, right?’

He confirms his name, asks mine.

‘I’ll rise,’ I say, getting up, ‘in the words of Maya Angelou.’

It’s not my first gin of the night.

‘What?’

‘Oh nothing.’

You’re tall,’ he says.

‘So are you.’

We talk. I discover he loves oysters, Futurist sculpture and Egon Schiele and that he works for his family’s processed cheese business. By the time we’re dancing Viennese waltz in the driveway I’m pretty much a lost woman.

CC Image courtesy of flickr-rickr on Flickr

Catherine comes over. ‘Our taxi’s here.’

I rise from the hay bale, say my goodbyes to Pierre and the other guests. Finally I come to Erik.

‘It was nice to meet you.’

‘You’re leaving?’

We walk a little way from the bonfire.

‘Goodbye.’

‘Goodbye.’

His lips touch mine.

 

‘Why didn’t I stay?!’ I say to the ceiling.

Catherine in the neighbouring bed laughs. This has been my reprise pretty much since we left the bonfire.

 

A week later I’m showing Erik’s LinkedIn photo to close friends with an entirely unfounded sense of pride and ownership. I’ve added him on Facebook, which he doesn’t appear to use, and have heard nothing. I haven’t read the processed cheese report.

 

I decide to shelve all further explorations until the happy couple return from honeymoon and are ready to be reminded that they have friends who are still single and sufficiently unhinged to believe that a distance of 3000 miles is no obstacle to a relationship.

CC Image courtesy of Kurush Pawar - DXB on Flickr

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Blue Soup

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CC Image courtesy of irucko on Flickr

I see it as a sign of maturity that this year I haven’t invited any romantic prospects to my birthday.

And I see it as a sign of immaturity that I felt the need to share this information with all my close friends.

‘There’s still time,’ Lucy says, in response to my triumphant text.

Perky is more specific. ‘Why don’t you invite that guy?’

I’ve just finished telling her about The Man In Turquoise.

Only Beatrice affirms my decision.

‘Good,’ she says.

‘Yes,’ I say, while wondering how on earth I’m going to find the motivation to make canapés for twenty strictly platonic friends.

Homemade Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onion Canapé

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Back For Good

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CC Image courtesy of Ross_Angus on FlickrI don’t know if it’s because Lucy says she doesn’t think I’ve heard the last of him. Or because Attractive Witty Lawyer doesn’t rock my world and when Fred Astaire kisses me on the Overground I’m not really sure I’m feeling it. Or because I’m reading Love In The Time of Cholera which basically says it’s OK to devote your entire life to someone who might have forgotten you exist.

Or because I’m currently on a plane bound for a city which can’t help but make me think of him. He’s not there anymore – he’s back in London. He didn’t tell me; I read it on Facebook. For a week I was down in the dumps before picking myself up and… going to his place of work.

I’d been meaning to check out the dance classes for a while. And when I say a while I mean getting on for three years. And it just so happened that they took place every Saturday in the building where VP was working.

The chances of running into the guy were close to nil. I suppose… it will sound silly (and I do think Gabriel Garcia Márquez is partly to blame), I wanted to walk where he’d walked, go where he’d gone before me. Is that weird? Maybe, but at the same time I was dancing again and that could only be a good thing. He’d made me dance once before and now here I was again, dancing. And who knew where it would lead?

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(Continued from Fade In)CC Image courtesy of Lorenzoclick on Flickr

‘I think you should reply.’

Lucy’s the first to say this.  Beatrice, probably because she’d seen first hand the state I was in when I was replying to his messages, had been unequivocal in her advice.  My mother, ditto.  So I’m a bit thrown.

‘Oh… really?’

‘Yeah, why not?’

Because the guy put me on Nytol and I don’t want to go there again.  Because for two weeks I’ve been miserable bordering on depressed.  Because, this way, I’ve regained a little bit of ground.  I’ve won.

As if reading my mind, she goes on, ‘I don’t think there are any winners and losers in this scenario….’

No?

‘… only losers.’

I laugh. ‘Thanks Lucy.’

Her fiancé pipes up, ‘You have to ask yourself Anna, if you don’t reply, will you always regret it?  Will you always wonder what might’ve been?’

 

Beatrice calls the next day, and in passing I mention that I’m thinking of replying to VP.  We agree it’s fine, if I think I can handle it. I’ve just had some good news at work so I think I can handle anything.

‘It’ll be fine,’ I say.

There’s no way it will be fine, but at least this way, I’ll regret nothing.  Right?

CC Image courtesy of duncan on Flickr

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