Elephants Can Forget

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Slowly you move on. Little things help, like hearing him say he’s contributing to her mortgage.

No, that’s a big thing. The big thing. The thing you take away from the evening, that makes you glad you drank that second glass of wine so you don’t go home and cry into soup but instead drunk-message men with trouble written all over them.

But you still think about him. And, the following night, at 2am, with sleep feeling too far off, you draft an email.

***

Not for a moment do I consider declining Ryan’s invitation. Even though I’m tired and have lots of work on but no make-up. I toy with the idea of asking my too-cool-for-school colleague if I can borrow some eyeliner but think better of it.

I’m running late and fire off a quick message to Ryan, checking they’re still there.

It’s a shorter walk than I thought to the pub. He’s sitting in the window and my face breaks into a smile as I head for the door, push it open.

He’s exactly the same. The same jumper, the same trousers and shoes, the same hesitant smile.

And I want to ask him everything. I want to know every wretched detail of his life. I just want to look at him.

So I go to the bar with Ryan and we chat about his new job, the overpriced wine, our love lives. Glasses in hand, we go back to the table. Tristan’s talking to a girl – a stranger. I hate her for being there. It crosses my mind that the evening might come to an end and I won’t have spoken to him.

I’m telling Ryan about my recent spate of self-destructive dating behaviour when Tristan cuts in.

‘Shall we…’ He motions to suggest more of a group conversation.

I’m across from him. Bitch to my right, Ryan on my left. Bitch tells me she used to work with Tristan – she takes credit for talent spotting him. Once I’d have remarked on how brilliant he is. Now I just nod and say, ‘Ah’.

Bitch and Ryan are at the bar. I’m trying to crack open the more resilient pistachios with a metal knife. I press down on the nut and hear the shell crack. Our laughter turns to confusion when I hold up the intact shell.

It’s almost how it was before.

Our eyes meeting occasionally.

Him telling me about things that matter to him.

Like the mortgage. I need to hear it. It makes me check my phone, prepare my line about needing to leave.

***

At 2am I draft an email. Something about elephants in the room and wanting to acknowledge what happened, just to clear the air.

I don’t send it.

Slowly you move on.

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No Reply

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CC Image courtesy of Iain Farrell on FlickrBeatrice and I laugh.

I’ve just told her that, with Tom proving to be flakier than dandruff, Viable Prospect is starting to look like a ‘safe haven’.

‘I’m laughing,’ she says, ‘but we both know…’

‘I know.’

‘What did he say?’

‘He said, “Anna. How goes? Sor–”.’

‘Oh for fuck’s sake,’ she cuts in. ‘”How goes?” Argh. You know anything the guy says is gonna make me angry.’

In contrast to how I felt when his message came through.

I was sitting at the kitchen table, trying not to look at my phone, hoping for a message from Tom (yes, that’s a legitimate activity for a Tuesday night). It didn’t occur to me that the message from an unknown number might be VP resurfacing. It even took me a moment to recognise his photo.

‘And I felt… nothing.’

‘That’s a really big thing,’ Beatrice says.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, think how far you’ve come. I mean, would you have reacted like that two months ago?’

‘I suppose not.’

I wouldn’t have contemplated not replying either.

CC Image courtesy of jcbwalsh on Flickr
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28 Days Later

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CC Image courtesy of brian glanz on FllickrIn the time that elapses between the journalist asking me out and his forgetting I exist, I turn 28.

The evening of my birthday, my brother rings. I end up telling him about my latest Tinder disappointment.

‘Tinder’s quite a casual way of meeting people,’ he says, ‘so this kind of behaviour is to be expected.’

I remind him that I’ve been on Tinder for more than two years and it’s only in the last few months that this has started happening: a guy asks me out, I suggest a date and then… nothing. The Man from Hampstead, The Man of Phone Sex Fame (admittedly that one was a non-starter), The Man from Euston Station (nothing to do with Tinder but a convenient statistic), the journalist – it’s getting very boring.

And now Viable Prospect. He proclaims meeting up to be a ‘grand idea’ and says he’ll let me know when he’s back in town at the end of the week. Four weeks of radio silence later, I unfriend him, delete his number and resolve, finally, to move on.

CC Image courtesy of 612gr 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.’

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Dog’s Bollocks

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‘So how exactly was it left?’

I sigh. ‘Well… that’s why I’m fucked off!’

‘Or not, as the case may be…’

This is my mother on the line.

‘Yeah, well, quite.’

I bring her up-to-date.

‘… so it’s been… three days since I last heard from him.’

Silence.

‘I hope he does get in touch because… we did get on really well.’

‘Is he the kind of guy who gets on well with everyone?’

She is so annoying.  I delay answering.

‘Yeah, well… yes.’

‘I hate to say it…’

Isn’t your mother supposed to think you’re the dog’s bollocks or something?

‘I know, I know.  It’s like what you said just after I’d met him.’

‘What did I say?’

‘You said, “Is he cool, charming, gorgeous and funny?”  I don’t think you needed to say anything else!’

We laugh.

‘I hate to say it, but I think you’d better move on.’