Saints & Sinners

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CC Image courtesy of thephotographymuse on Flickr‘But I don’t care, I really don’t care!’

Sam raises an eyebrow.

I laugh.  ‘OK, I get it!  It’s not convincing!  But I really don’t–.’

I fall silent.

‘Even if he was hoping for something that night,’ Sam says, ‘that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not interested in something more long-term.’

‘No, that’s true.  But, still, it didn’t feel great, as in, it felt like that was all he was interested in, and because I haven’t heard from him since… that kinda suggests–.’

I break off.  Three people have just come in: Pleasant And Stilted, his girlfriend, and the hostess who hasn’t heard of carrier pigeons.  It’s like a reunion of sorts, with one member noticeably absent.

***

Everyone’s pairing off for the last dance of the night.  I turn to Sam, who’s beside me, and has been for much of the evening.

‘Would you like to?’

‘I was going to suggest it, only,’ he nods discreetly in the direction of the only other man without a partner, ‘I always feel the paying punters should get a dance…’

He’s a saint, this guy.  I pull a face. ‘What if I’d rather dance with you?!’  A thought occurs to me.  ‘Does it make a difference if I’ve been dumped?!’

He laughs.  ‘Yes.’  And leads me to the floor.

I haven’t danced with Sam in months; I’d forgotten just how good he is.  How he places you like a china vase, spins you like a top, makes you feel like the only girl in the room – the world!

Walking off the floor, I put my arm around him, rest my head against his shoulder.

‘Thank you Sam, I so needed that dance.’  I give his arm a squeeze.  ‘Best one of the evening – thank you – and not just because…’

He smiles.  ‘My pleasure.’

CC Image courtesy of erin_everlasting on Flickr

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Forget Me Not

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CC Image courtesy of James F Clay on FlickrI’m watching a film on my computer, otherwise known as waiting for a Facebook message from the world’s slowest correspondent.  He’s called FFS for a reason.  I’ve twice given up on him and we’re yet to go on an actual date.

I know – and not just because Flatmate has told me as much – that so long as it’s evident I’m not at the forefront of the guy’s mind, I mustn’t let him anywhere near the forefront of mine.  Which is a lovely idea

So yeah, I’m watching a film, which it turns out is brilliant and wonderful and endorses all those dangerous myths about love and soul mates and relationships founded on a meeting of eyes and absolutely zero verbal communication.  They’re bad news, such films, because they make me nostalgic.

There’s a scene where the man and woman, who only met properly a couple of hours before, slow dance at a silent disco.

He’s walking her to a party when they have a blazing row, and she goes on alone.  He follows, and arrives to find a roomful of guests silently dancing, each lost in their own little world.  There, in the middle of the floor, is the woman, eyes closed, moving in time to music.  He goes over, puts a hand on her shoulder, and she turns.  They don’t speak.  She removes an earphone, offers it to him, makes a selection on her iPod.  A slow, sweet song comes on, and they dance, arms round one another.

I’d dreamt of just such a moment since the days of the dreaded school disco.  I remember one time, Angels came on and I grabbed a partner.  A minute of shuffling on the spot later, I realized it didn’t work with just anyone.  Ten years on, at an office party, I discover someone it does work with.  So, when the couple in the film starts to dance, it’s him I think of.

*

An hour in, I’m despairing.  Matthew’s not a patch on the male protagonist.  I’ll never have what the characters in the film have.  I bet they’re together in real life.  Hell, this isn’t a film at all, is it?!  It’s just two actors falling in love!  It’s probably not even scripted!  I want to cry!

Then, all of a sudden, the woman in the film is despairing.

Is there someone else – is that it?’

There isn’t someone else.  I won’t tell you what happens in case you watch it, which you should.  It’s beautiful, funny, and heart-breaking.  It’s the kind of film I hope to write one day; about the kind of love I hope to know.

CC Image courtesy of lisandroPeralta on Flickr

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The Time Of My Life

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Freddie sticks his head round the door.CC Image courtesy of jonathan229 on Flickr

‘We’re dancing the next one.’

‘I love that you’re telling me!’ I say, laughing. ‘That I don’t have any say in the matter!’

‘Oh, I’m sorry.’  He’s not, not really.  And I do love it, really.  ‘Do you already have a partner?’

‘No.’

‘Would you like to dance it?’

‘Yes, thank you.’

He laughs.  ‘That was really silly!’

 

The music comes on.  He takes my hand, though I try to extricate my fingers, and leads me onto the floor.  As we dance, I find myself thinking, wishing, if only this was it.  If only life, a relationship, a date, was just a dance.  We work when we dance.

 

It takes me back to a night in early summer.  Dinner and dancing, literally, between the tables.  Then a club, grimy and stark.  I walk in and who should I see but Milonga, leaning against the back wall, flirting with a nondescript brunette.

Freddie and I make for the dance floor, shuffling with the others at first.  Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Milonga and the brunette.  Eventually I crack.

‘There’s someone here I had a brief thing with,’ I say, ‘and – well – he’s here with someone else.’

Freddie looks surprisingly sympathetic.  ‘Who is he?’

‘Oh it doesn’t matter, but, well – I need to look good!’

He spins me.

‘You do.’

 

At the bar, we encounter Milonga, alone.  Freddie, oblivious, greets him.

‘You look great,’ Milonga says, kissing me on the cheeks.

‘Thanks,’ I mutter.

A new track comes on.  I tug on Freddie’s arm.  ‘I love this song.’

He doesn’t get the hint; he never does.  I try a more direct approach.

‘Can we dance?’

Freddie excuses us and leads the way onto the floor.  For the next half hour we dance like I’ve never danced before, a whirl of spins and drops.  Onlookers applaud.  I forget Milonga. I forget everything, lost in the dance.

*

‘You look incredible together!’ Beatrice says, when I come off the floor.

‘I know,’ I say, without thinking.  I look back at Freddie, all smiles, telling another girl her fate for the next.

CC Image courtesy of Xanda on Flickr



There Is Love

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CC Image courtesy of rogamuffin on FlickrDolly Alderton and I have a few things in common.  We are tall; we write about dating; we are both half-way through a great party (apparently); and we have both been a decade in this game.

Along the way, she’s learnt a thing or two…

1. Mischief is what ties a couple together. Lust inevitably fades, mischief will be thrilling forever. Have cruel nicknames, get pissed, go on adventures, break rules. The couple that pranks together, stays together.

2. A good relationship is one where you take turns to be the parent for each other. A bad one is when this is unbalanced. Partners should both need each other equally, at different times, for different reasons.

3. Of course a first date should not be an activity, you mad asshat. Stop making it complicated. You should only ever be eating, drinking, talking or snogging on a first date.

4. If you really like someone, you really should not have sex with them on the first date. Sorry. I know. Annoying.

5. The greatest, filthiest, nastiest, most exciting sex you will ever have will be with someone you’re in love with. Sorry. I know. Boring.

6. There is no feeling more wonderful than when you first fall in love. And as corny as it is, there’s no bloody avoiding it. You think you’ve felt all the feelings possible and then it hits you — bam — a brand new one. Like suddenly experiencing hunger or lust or jealousy for the first time — there is love. It rampages through your entire body, awakening every cell and fibre as it goes. It turns you into a raving lunatic. You’ll notice the beautiful way the sun falls and the blossomy smell of the air. You’ll want to be just excellent to everyone. You’d happily empty your pockets and give it to anyone who needs it. You’ll wonder why anyone ever gets bothered about anything if they know this feeling exists. And suddenly you know everything will always be fine because you know, somewhere, this feeling exists.

Read the full article here.

Dolly Alderton writes a regular dating column on newly relaunched men’s lifestyle site AskMen.  Head to http://uk.askmen.com/dating/ for more from Dolly and AskMen’s other columnists.

CC Image courtesy of Emyan on FlickrCC Image courtesy of xpgomes12 on FlickrCC Image courtesy of Ian Briggs on Flickr


Three Little Words

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CC Image courtesy of Slaff on FlickrI’ve got it bad for the guy. The usual suspects: waking up and he’s the first person I think of; asking everyone I’m on speaking terms with – and a few people I’m not – if it would be a bad idea to add him on Facebook; I even start writing poems again. Shudder. (They really are bad.)

The consensus is, add him. Which is nice to hear, but I’d have done it anyway.

The next day, I’m at a friend’s house. She’s trying to persuade me to ask an old flame for help with a job application. I’m being stubborn.

‘If you won’t call him, I will!’

‘No!’ I say, grabbing the phone out of her hands. ‘Argh, OK, I’ll do it.’

I fish my phone out of my bag. The ‘home’ button is flashing green.

‘Ooh! He’s accepted my–.’

The words die in my throat. Below the profile picture and education information are three little words:

In a relationship.

‘But – but – I don’t understand!’

‘He’s in a relationship,’ my friend says, in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.

‘But – but – he asked me if he should get with that girl! At the party!’

‘Oh – yeah.’

‘He must have been really drunk,’ I say, nodding.

‘So… what are you going to say to him?’

‘Nothing!’

Friend sighs. ‘No, to Richard! About the job!’

She’s invited me round to do job applications, not to discuss my latest crush’s dubious take on monogamy.

‘Oh – right. I’ll draft something.’

I get out notepad and pen and begin.

Hi Richard,

I break off. ‘I can’t believe it.’

‘Focus!’

‘Sorry!’

I bend my head to the notepad.

I hope you are well…

I pick up my phone, scroll down the page.

‘Bastard!’

I throw the phone into my bag.

… and enjoying the summer.

Like I am.

CC Image courtesy of SimonQ on Flickr