Yes Men

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CC Image courtesy of kimberleykv on FlickrI listen, spellbound, to Rachel‘s sister, as she details his every action and word over the course of two years. It would be cruel, I feel, and impolitic since we’ll be sharing bridesmaid duties come the autumn, to start spouting stuff like:

If you’re asking whether he likes you, he doesn’t.

None of that matters. If he’s not asking you out…

The distance thing – he’s using it as an excuse.

He’s having his cake and eating it too.

But I say it nonetheless. Rachel is more practically minded:

‘You should date other people,’ she says.

I agree, while secretly thinking only someone who’s been out of the dating game for a while could think that you can go on dates, with people you’re genuinely interested in, just like that.

‘Yup,’ is her sister’s response, the light easy syllable of someone who has no intention of following through on the advice they’ve been given.

 

A couple of hours earlier I’d received an email from my mother. It was in response to a detailed breakdown I’d sent her of Tom’s most recent behaviour.

‘Just to confirm,’ I wind up, ‘I shouldn’t contact him, should I?

‘You shouldn’t,’ she sends back. But it’s the next bit that stings, that makes me for a moment have to concentrate on not crying at my desk.

‘You need to deliberately park your mind elsewhere,’ she writes, ‘and develop a different interest, rather than dwelling on an area of your life where you are not in control.’

I’m reminded of the chorus of Carrie Fisher’s character in When Harry Met Sally every time Sally tells her that the guy she likes is never going to leave his wife:

You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right.

‘Yeah, you’re right…’ I start writing, by way of reply.

But how the fuck do you do it?

CC Image courtesy of Toxictea on Flickr

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Worlds Apart

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CC Image courtesy of liyinglace on Flickr

I roll over, reach for my phone. A missed call and two messages. One of them I’ve already read – a grammatical car crash from the guy who, ten hours’ earlier, I was lip to lip with.

 

‘Culturally it’s very different, right?’

This is me trying to sound intelligent about China.

‘Yes,’ he says. ‘And they spit, when they talk.’

‘They spit?!’

‘Yes.’

Which is when he goes in for the kiss. Just the right amount of spit, in case you wanted to know.

 

So there’s him asking, ‘How was [the] rest or your night?’. And then there’s Rachel

‘I’ve got a bit of a disaster…’

It might be the first time L.K.Bennett – queen of sartorial conservatism – and ‘disaster’ have found themselves in the same sentence. Newly engaged Rachel has found a bridesmaid dress she likes and wants to know what I think. Another message, this time a picture of the sender, fresh-faced and perky, modeling an elegant lace number. I lie there, eyeliner streaked across my face, scarf wrapped around my head to muffle the midday sounds of suburban London, feeling our worlds edge that little bit further apart.

CC Image courtesy of Ben Fredericson (xjrlokix) on Flickr

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Double Standard

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‘I’ve never had a double bed before!’ I say, clapping.london eye 1

Rachel looks momentarily dumbstruck. ‘Well that’s why you’re still single, luv.’

‘No, because its never got to the point where it’s been an issue with someone… in London,’ I add.

Whereas in Oxford I had them hanging from the rafters. Not.

‘And,’ I frown, ‘why does it explain why I’m still single?’

I’m worried now.

‘If you can’t invite guys back to yours… that’s why you’re still single.’

‘Yeah, but having someone back to yours does not a relationship make,’ I say, my tone serious.

‘So spake the prophet,’ she says, adopting a prayer pose. We laugh.

‘And anyway, I’ll have you know, having a single bed doesn’t stop you inviting people back to yours! It just means you end up with a few more bruises!’

We laugh. Rachel starts to choke.

‘Please don’t die on me,’ I say, patting her on the back, ‘cos if you do I’ll have to tell people what I said to make you choke! And then I’ll sound like a whore!’

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The Boyfriend

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CC Image courtesy of Dr Snafu on FlickrI always thought I’d be the first one to know when I was going out with someone. So it comes as something of a surprise when, Friday morning, I get a text from Rachel.

‘Anna!! Are you going out with someone??’

‘Am I?’ I send back. ‘This is exciting! Who is it?’

I’m expecting her to say she’s read the latest post and extrapolated that VP and I are now an item.  I’m not expecting her to say that a mutual friend has been told by someone’s ex-girlfriend (my alleged boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend no less) that he and I are now an item.  It’s a long, complicated story, but the bottom line is…

‘No, not seeing anyone, not seriously anyway.’

I haven’t replied to Redhead‘s last message.  I have however spent the last forty-eight hours composing a piece of thesis-worthy literary criticism to send to VP.  I might not end up with the guy, but he’s doing wonders for my little grey cells.

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Time’s A Wastin’

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CC Image courtesy of Justin van Zyl on FlickrI tell my brother and he laughs.

‘What?!’

‘Well – well – it’s just – such a waste of your time.’

‘He’s so funny though.’

‘What?’

He’s so funny, and he’s good-looking,’ I say, ticking off qualities on my fingers. ‘You try not replying to funny and good-looking!’

Smiling, he shakes his head.

 

My brother’s right, of course.  A couple of times, I’d caught myself telling a friend about Viable Prospect, only to come to a halt, blushing at the realisation that I have never met this man.  Hell, he might not even exist.

 

It’s the night before I go off on holiday and Rachel‘s round for dinner.  She’d been on a date a couple of weeks back with a guy who, on Tinder, had come across as witty and confident.  To meet, he was like a rabbit in the headlights.  This comes back to me as I bring her up-to-date on VP.

Around eleven she leaves, and I start packing.  A short while later, I get a message.

‘How’re things?  I can’t remember what you do, but I do remember you had Christmas in the dark.’

This is unusual.  Our remit has always been banter; personal questions don’t feature.

‘Well-remembered,’ I send back. ‘Off on holiday tomorrow so things are good.’

‘Where are you going?’

I tell him.  Banter ensues.

‘When are you back?’ he says.

Is this it?  Are we finally going to meet?  Why else would he want to know?

I let the message rest a moment, get my rucksack from the garage.

‘Back Monday, unless I catch the kayaking bug…’

Let’s pretend I spend the next eight minutes – the time it takes for him to reply – being terribly productive on the packing front.

‘Have a fantastic time,’ he says.  ‘Don’t hit your head. Make sure you can get out of the thing if it inverts. X’

I resist the urge to throw my phone against the wall.  I can’t help thinking, a knock on the head, it might be just what I need.

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