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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CC Image courtesy of comedy_nose on FlickrBasically you’re fucked, is the gist of the Wikihow article, ‘How to get over a crush on your coworker’.

Friday I go into work with a slight hangover and a firm resolution. The night before was the work summer party, which meant two hours of trying not to make eye contact with either Tristan or Tobias. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it was.

I keep my eyes fixed on the screen as Tristan chats to a couple of colleagues sitting close by. I hear him say he’ll get his exam results that evening, but don’t look up. I am not going to end up in one of those conversations with him where we’re laughing so much we can’t breathe. I am–

‘Anna.’ He’s coming over. ‘Hey. So, did you go to the club afterwards?’

‘Yes.’

‘You did?!’

‘Yes.’

‘Amazing!’

He puts out his hand to high five me and meets limp fingers. If this whole not meeting him halfway thing is supposed to make me feel better, it isn’t working.

I think he’s about to leave but then he steers the conversation in a different direction. Minutes later we’re laughing so much there’s no point trying to continue and he does leave.

Later that night I’m on a train homeward bound, catching up on phone admin. The message I sent Tristan the night before asking if he was still at the party is before my eyes. A thought occurs to me and I start typing. Moments later, a reply: he passed his exams with flying colours and is out celebrating. I send back congratulations, stow my phone away and stare out of the train window, feeling my eyes prick with tears.

CC Image courtesy of image munky on Flickr

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Brothers In Arms

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CC Image courtesy of LollyKnit on Flickr‘When’s your thing?’ Ryan says.

‘Yeah… I have to go.’

I start putting stuff into my handbag. Phone (no messages), lip gloss, anti-bacterial hand gel – essential dating kit in case I end up in a situation where I have to eat but haven’t had a chance to wash my hands I don’t know why I do this to myself.

I look round. Ryan is still at his desk.

‘Do you want to come?’

He laughs. ‘Yeah.’

I’m not totally against the idea. At least with Ryan in tow I’d be guaranteed some laughs. Plus the guy I’m meeting is bisexual. He might like Ryan best of the party.

‘Text me,’ Ryan says, as he passes my desk.

‘I will.’

 

Earlier that afternoon….

‘I’m not sure I am looking forward to this evening. Christ, a new low.’

‘You have an early start for hiking tomorrow,’ Ryan sends back. ‘Don’t forget.’

‘Do I look like I hike???’

 

I’m usually averse to sending friends updates while a date is still ongoing. The bisexual (I’m sorry – what else can I call him?) has gone to the loo. I fire off a text.

‘Hiking, right? Arghh.’

‘Hiking. Don’t commit to a second drink for the sake of it.’

I don’t see Ryan’s reply until sometime later. I haven’t committed to a second drink. Instead we’re sitting there, nursing empty glasses. Twice I’ve declined my date’s offer of another G&T. Once I’ve indicated I’ll have to make a move soon. A total of zero times has he taken the hint.

‘So… are you an only child?’ he says.

It’s only later, when I’ve extricated myself from the situation and am heading for the tube, that I remember something Ryan once said.

‘If you’re asking each other if you have any brothers or sisters, that’s when you know it’s doomed.’

CC Image courtesy of chicks57 on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of irucko on Flickr

I see it as a sign of maturity that this year I haven’t invited any romantic prospects to my birthday.

And I see it as a sign of immaturity that I felt the need to share this information with all my close friends.

‘There’s still time,’ Lucy says, in response to my triumphant text.

Perky is more specific. ‘Why don’t you invite that guy?’

I’ve just finished telling her about The Man In Turquoise.

Only Beatrice affirms my decision.

‘Good,’ she says.

‘Yes,’ I say, while wondering how on earth I’m going to find the motivation to make canapés for twenty strictly platonic friends.

Homemade Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onion Canapé

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Sumac (who knew?)

Sumac (who knew?)

You will nearly always fall for the person you didn’t think was your type.

— Dolly Alderton

At dancing the other night I met two guys. One of them you know about; the other was a blast from the past.

The one you know about, The Man In Turquoise, is exactly the kind of guy I can see myself with. A lot of that is probably to do with the fact he likes cooking, cue imagining long evenings spent together getting excited about things like sumac.

The Blast From The Past is a more puzzling kind of crush: the kind of guy you look at and can’t quite explain your interest in. He’s shorter than you and thinner and he has this goofy, toothy smile which is cute, sure, but not really sexy. And he can’t dress and you don’t have the same sense of humour. And when you text to check everything is OK after getting a missed call from him at 1am his reply is barely punctuated. He’s probably not interested and, four cheery chirpy messages later, you still don’t know exactly why you are. And when you tell Beatrice, she says it all sounds just like him because he’s really friendly. And that’s really annoying.

CC Image courtesy of Ed Yourdon on Flickr
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