The Boyfriend

Posted on

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.

CC Image courtesy of elena-lu on Flickr

Related Posts:

Five Years’ Time

Shoot Me

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien



Time’s A Wastin’

Posted on

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.

CC Image courtesy of ConanTheLibrarian on Flickr

Related Posts:

Photorealism

The Definition Of Insanity

July Days

Cinder-fuckin-rella 



An Ideal Husband

Posted on

CC Image courtesy of DavidInc on Flickr

Several things happen.  In the cloakroom, I bump into Hannah.

‘I saw Freddie’s mother yesterday,’ she says, ‘and she was telling me about the time she rescued you or something?’

I roll my eyes. ‘Oh God.  She always goes on about–.’

‘And she was saying how she thought you’d be the perfect husband for him.’

‘Husband?’

‘Wife, sorry – the perfect wife for Freddie.’

‘Oh – right.’  I frown.  ‘She always talks about the time – it was very kind of her – basically I’d locked myself out of my flat and it was freezing and she came and picked me up.  But she always mentions it, every time I see her!’

Hannah laughs.  ‘She always will.’

‘I know you’re right.’

Freddie’s mother will still be telling that story when we’re old and grey, have five children and a house full of dusty books.  Oh wait…

*

‘How goes your mission?’

The official challenge might be over, but my dating days hopefully are not; and Rachel and I have set ourselves the task of finding a date in the course of the evening.

I look past her, towards Hannah’s table. ‘Hmm. I just bumped into a friend of Freddie’s. Apparently his mother thinks I’d be a good wife for him.’ I laugh. ‘Now all we need is for Freddie to come round to her way of seeing things!’

Rachel frowns. ‘Do you like Freddie?’

I think for a moment. ‘I used to, a lot. I think I’ve accepted that he doesn’t see me that way, but well, at one point it looked like he did – no he did, judging by his behavior, but when we talked about it he said…’

The music comes on for the next dance.

I shrug. ‘I think we’d be good together.’

We go off in search of our partners.

Passing one of the tables, I notice a guy I’ve never met, but who I feel like I know.  There’s a spark of recognition in his face also.

 

Then there’s Todd.  Who I know I have chemistry with.  And who I know knows it.  I join him in the breakfast queue.  I say ‘in it’.  He’s accidentally on purpose jumped to the front.

‘Do you think it’s OK if I join you here?’ I say.

The couple behind us look amenable enough, whilst pointing out that they are not the end of the queue – it snakes back some way.  Todd feigns innocence, and we thank the couple for letting us in.

‘Sorry do you mind…?’

This time it’s Todd who is amenable, and lets the guy get to the scrambled egg.

Laughing, I say, ‘We’d be hypocrites to say no, being queue-jumpers ourselves.’

Todd laughs.

‘I’m very stealth, aren’t I?!’

He scoops egg onto his plate. ‘You’d be a rubbish spy!’

I laugh.  Plates in hand, we make our way back to the table.  I liked him when we met, two years ago now.  And I like him still.

 

‘There’s a guy here, and it’s a bit weird, cos, well, we have a bit of history…’

By which I mean, I added him on Facebook after we met at a party (the hostess kept introducing us to each other, and each time we pretended we hadn’t met before), and he struck up a conversation… before going MIA.

‘… that is, I think he liked me at one point – no I know he did, a bit – but well, he’s engaged…’

‘No. Just no, Anna.  You don’t want to be that girl.’

Rachel’s been abroad for a bit.  I’ve missed her no-nonsense manner.

‘No,’ I say.

‘Wait til he’s married, then you can be that girl.’

Ooooook.

 

We dance, Todd and I, and I try not to flirt. Because, well, his fiancée is next to me in the set, and, well, he has a fiancée!!!!  Suddenly a guy ‘having a girlfriend’ doesn’t seem like that much of a big deal.

 

On the stairs, I see the guy from before.  I know who he is – I knew immediately on seeing him.  He’s a bit shorter than I expected, and looks quieter, nicer.  We exchange faint smiles.

CC Image courtesy of RozSheffield on Flickr



The Other Option

Posted on

CC Image courtesy of nic snell on FlickrWhen you’ve been single for as long as I have, the idea of walking into a room full of friends and acquaintances hand-in-hand with a guy, of kissing someone in front of them – it all feels like a big deal.  It’s as if, with that interlacing of fingers, that meeting of lips, you’re taking yourself off some kind of shelf, ruling out a whole host of other options.

Tuesday is a case in point.  I’m hovering at the bar, awaiting a glass of white.  Stephen arrives first.

‘I’m not getting you a drink!’ I say, with a laugh.

It’s a long story.

He looks mock-offended.  ‘I was going to ask if I could get you one.’

‘Oh!  Thanks, but not to worry – I’ve got one coming.’

There’s a bit of small talk, then he says,

‘So, what about you and boys? Anything going on?’

‘Errrr… umm…’

Experience tells me guys like Stephen don’t ask this question out of polite curiosity, which is confusing.  I’ve known him for getting on for a year.  We met at a dance and continued to see each other quite often, usually fleetingly, whilst moving at speed to music.  Recently I’d found myself seated next to him at a dinner party and had a ball.  Then, at an actual ball, I discovered his fun side and together we danced the night away.  But not once in that time has he shown any interest in me other than as a dance partner, so this is disconcerting.

But even more disconcerting, and the real reason I’m now doing fish out of water – where is my wine?! I need something to do whilst I figure out what to say! – is that, for the first time in a long time, there isn’t a straightforward answer to this question.  If I didn’t fancy Stephen, I would just say ‘yes’, think of FFS, smile goofily, and go on my way.  But I don’t do this.

‘…errr…’ I scratch my head. ‘Umm…’

Time for the good old-fashioned turnaround.

‘… I don’t know.  What about you?’

He too ums and ahs for a moment before concluding, ‘It’s complicated, and no.’

‘Yeah, same, sort of, no, I don’t know.  I don’t know!’

Articulate or what?  Evidently I don’t want to rule out an option, not until I know what the deal is.

‘I’m sorry, is this a difficult question?  Would you rather I asked you about books?  Have you read anything good recently?’

No, I wouldn’t rather he asked about books, because books make me think of FFS which in turn makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

He looks past me to the sofas.  ‘Would you like to sit down?’

That’s an easy one.  ‘Yes!’

So we do.  Now he begins in earnest, with the body language and the subtle flirting and the compliments etc.  More disconcerting by the minute.  And it doesn’t help that Sam, Rachel, Freddie… oh loads of people I know have a ringside seat.

*

‘Shall we get the tube?’

What’s strangest about the way events are unfolding is that this is exactly how I’d like things to have played out with so many people in the past, but now that it’s happening with Stephen….

 

The next train isn’t due for five minutes.

‘What’s the most fun thing you can think of doing for five minutes?’

I’d say that, had this line come from FFS or Matthew or Tristan, I would have loved it; but that’s not true – or rather, it’s not their style.

‘Dancing!’ I say, feeling a bit sorry for the guy.  I’m not making it easy for him, but then I don’t think I want to.

He takes me into hold.  The train comes; we board.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried waltzing on the Circle line but that evening, for the first time, I did.  It should have felt like all my Christmases had come at once but something about it doesn’t feel right.  I’m not relaxed, I’m definitely not drunk enough, and when he suggests going for a drink sometime, I’m faking it, kind of.

‘Yes!’

Because I’m too much of a coward to say what I feel.

 

We’re approaching his stop.

‘So, how about that drink?’

‘Yes,’ I say again, though with less conviction than before.

The train pulls into the platform; the doors open.

‘This is you, right?’ I say.

‘Yes.’

‘Well, goodnight.’  I lean in to kiss him on the cheek.

‘You’re not coming for that drink?’

It’s gone midnight on a weekday, so no, Cinderella is not ‘coming for that drink’.

I glance at my watch. ‘I have to go home.’

We say goodnight in the doorway, then he’s off.  I settle back into a seat, thinking and probably saying aloud, ‘WTF?!’.  Part of me wonders what FFS would say if I told him about the events of the evening.  I can’t know for sure, but it would almost certainly make me laugh.

CC Image courtesy of Toni Blay on Flickr

Related Posts:

Saints & Sinners

Too Little, Too Late?

FFS

Cinder-fuckin-rella



Fun & Games

Posted on

CC Image courtesy of sean dreilinger on Flickr‘I shouldn’t contact Nick, should I?’

‘Nick?  Who’s Nick?’

I know how Rachel feels; it’s hard to keep track sometimes.

‘The guy I mentioned on the phone earlier?’

‘Oh – right.  Probably not, no.’

She’s right of course.  This is a man with the world at his feet.  I might as well pursue Linford Christie for all the good it will do me.

*

The party’s winding down.  I get my bag and coat, check my phone.

Four new messages, from Beatrice, Rachel, my brother, and… Linford Christie.

I stare a moment, laugh, and open it.

Sorry I missed your call.  I had fun dancing

‘What the…?!’

It takes me a moment to find the call log on my new phone, but when I do, there he is.  10 hours ago: Nick.  Shit.

I send back an apology, blame my new not-so-smart phone for having a mind of its own, and concur.  I also enjoyed dancing; the route to getting there, not so much.

CC Image courtesy of Army Medicine on Flickr

Related Posts:

The Chosen One

A River In Egypt

Egg Flip: Parts I & II

New Initiative