Renaissance Man

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CC Image courtesy of ♥braker on Flickr

Perky looks thoughtful. ‘Remind me again what your type is?’

I glance over in the direction of her best friend’s boyfriend.

 

Two hours earlier…

I enter the room and immediately fall into conversation with a charming Frenchman. Ten minutes later, a girl I recognise appears at his elbow. We exchange festive greetings then, gesturing towards Charming Frenchman, I say:

‘Have you met?’

She smiles, not unkindly. ‘Yes, we’re together.’

I resist the urge to grab the nearest bag of Kettle Chips and walk away.

 

Three glasses of mulled wine later, I’m standing opposite Perky asking if there’s anyone – anyone – she could set me up with.

‘Remind me again what your type is?’ she says.

‘Umm… the thing is, if I describe my type, I’ll just be describing the last guy I dated.’

But one.

‘That’s fine. Obviously that’s your type.’

Yes, but as my beloved mother has pointed out on numerous occasions, it’s probably not very realistic.

‘Hmm OK,’ I say, ‘well, the most important thing is that they’re very clever. And funny – we need to have the same sense of humour.’

‘OK, what about height?’

‘Not that bothered.’

‘But you wouldn’t want someone shorter than you?’

‘I don’t really mind. The last few guys I’ve dated have been the same height as me and that’s been fine.’

‘OK but you’re quite tall.’

‘Yeah I guess.’ I think for a moment. ‘Also… I’ve got a weakness for scientists who are also interested in the arts. So, a polymath. Basically,’ I laugh, ‘I want Leonardo Da Vinci, but alive.’

And straight. And fractionally taller.

CC Image courtesy of Jeffrey Beall on Flickr

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Maybe Baby

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I survey a broad cross-section of society i.e. Beatrice, Perky, my mother and Adrien, whose response is my absolute FAVOURITE. I print it off and flyer the flat with it, I love it THAT MUCH.

When I start to read your emails

So yeah, I survey my nearest and dearest, and there’s an overwhelming response of:

NOT OK

Which fortunately chimes with how I feel about the whole thing. I know I should be fine with it. I should be, like, that’s totally cool man, shrug it off and go out dancing with my girlfriends.

NOBODY DOES THAT.

But that’s not me. Maybe I’ve got too attached too quickly. Maybe I want a boyfriend so badly I’m ignoring all the reasons it probably won’t work long-term. Maybe this is more about pride and ego and wanting to feel special than my feelings for the guy. But whatever the reason, I’m not OK with it. So I tell him.

CC Image courtesy of Johan Larsson on Flickr

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Reality Check

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CC Image courtesy of reuvenim on FlickrNovember 2014

‘So I’ve got one silly man-related question.’

My mother looks up from her iPad, wearing a patient, slightly pitying smile.

‘Your email the other day made me smile,’ I begin. She removes her glasses, prepares herself for what is clearly going to be the ‘round the houses’ approach. ‘The one where you said you hoped Gus wasn’t going to get my hopes up.’

We laugh.

‘Yes,’ she says, ‘he sounds dangerous.’

‘No, it’s fine, really.’

[insert long rambling explanation of why it’s fine]

‘But,’ I wind up, ‘well, what I wondered is, if Germany does come back to London – and I know I’m asking you to predict the future here – but if he does come back to London, what are the chances he’ll get in touch?’

There’s a pause.

‘He might get in touch,’ my mother says, slowly. ‘And he might suggest meeting up, but then you’d have to decide if you were happy with things on his terms.’

‘I wouldn’t be. I mean, I don’t know to what extent his ‘terms’ were because we were in different countries, but, if we were in the same city then he’d have to want to make it work or I wouldn’t go there.’

‘Right.’

‘And… if he did get in touch and suggest meeting up, then you’d say, what, go for it?’

‘Well, if he gets in touch and you end up… going out, well, then that’s fine… until he meets someone else.’

‘Because,’ I hesitate a moment, ‘I guess the bottom line is, being in the same city wouldn’t make him fancy me more.’

‘Correct.’

‘Hmm. And… if he did get in touch and we went out or whatever, it would probably end in tears?’

‘Yup.’

‘Because if he doesn’t fancy me enough to make it work when we’re in different countries, then it wouldn’t work when we’re in the same country.’

‘Correct.’

There’s another pause.

‘Is there any chance it wouldn’t end in tears?’

‘Nope.’

‘None?’

‘Mmm nope.’

‘Hmm. You don’t know that!’

My mother doesn’t say anything.

‘So really,’ I go on, ‘if he did get in touch, then I’d be better off not going there at all, because it would only end in misery.’

‘Yup.’

‘And heartache.’

‘Yup.’

Another pause.

‘So you’re saying it would be best not to go there, knowing it would all end in tears?’

‘No, well, I’d go there.’ She looks thoughtful. ‘But I think perhaps you wouldn’t.’

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The Fall

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‘He told me to move,’ Ryan says. ‘He said, ‘I want to talk to Anna’.’

‘Oh!’

I look over at the man who supposedly wants to talk to me. This is surely what my mother and flatmate would call a clear sign of… not interest – that wouldn’t fit in the circumstances – but something. I pick up my things and go over to him.

Once seated I become the sole focus of his attention. It’s wonderful. We talk about everything: pets, smoking, Woody Allen films, Cate Blanchett, online dating

‘You’re on Tinder?’ he says, surprised.

‘Yes, well, everyone is – aren’t they?’

‘Well, I’m not, but I’m married…’

 

The previous autumn there was a leaving drinks for one of our colleagues. Cheesecake was served.

‘Who made it?’ I say, taking a slice.

Tobias‘s wife.’

 

‘What?!’

Colleague looks disbelieving when I tell her. Her funky dairy-free diet doesn’t permit cheesecake, but even harder to digest is the news that Tobias – elegant, stylish Tobias – has a wife.

 

For six months or so after finding this out I was invincible. No matter that his gaze made me weak at the knees or that we crossed paths in the kitchen too often for it to be a coincidence. The guy had a wife, and one who baked decent cheesecake at that.

I was invincible when he told Ryan to move in the pub so he could talk to me; when he brought in a DVD of one of the films we’d talked about for me to borrow; when he told me about his family’s history of divorce, about his father’s second marriage to a much younger woman. I was even invincible when he offered to relieve me of some of my workload.

Then, one day, he came over to talk to Gus at the neighbouring desk.

He has a strange way of walking: hurried, impatient, not quite graceful. His hair sticks up a bit at the back and his eyes have this intense, brooding expression.

I look up from what I’m doing and meet his gaze. And that’s when it happens. I fall. Fuck, do I fall.

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Say It With Clip Art

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CC Image courtesy of CameliaTWU on Flickr

I’d never told a guy ‘I love you’. I came close with my sixth form boyfriend.

‘I love… your hair.’

Close shave.

 

VP asked me, was I in love?

‘What – with you?’

It was a pertinent question since at that precise moment I was in love with several different people: Tristan, Max (always), Tobias Menzies (the real life version and probably the blog version a little bit), not to mention several people who have never existed but been dreamt up by various novelists.

I ummed and ahhed a bit, thanked God that we’d opted to Skype without cameras, recalled my mother‘s advice never to tell a man you love him (‘What, never? What about Daddy?’ ‘Oh yes, well, I might’ve, in a moment of weakness…’) and wound up:

‘I’m not not in love with you enough to keep doing what we’re doing.’

Which made sense in context, sort of.

 

Four minutes until the next train.

‘Damn.’

I’m getting later everyday.

In the lift I mentally rehearse an excuse which I know I won’t use, rather I’ll slip into my seat hoping my arrival has gone unnoticed. As long as I get my work done, I tell myself, it really doesn’t matter when I start the day.

I power up the computer, deposit my lunch in the fridge, get a glass of water. Back at my desk I find a new email waiting. In the subject line, ’09:53′. The body of it is blank. I do a quick Google, copy, paste and send. And there it goes: ‘I love you’, courtesy of Clip Art. That wasn’t so hard.

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