Doctor Love

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5pm, Friday, I’m undressing for a man.CC Image courtesy of heipei on Flickr

 

I make the call at lunchtime. ‘No bookable appointments for two weeks’, they say. I’m about to hang up.

‘We’ve just had a cancellation. 4:40.’

‘Today?’

‘Yes.’

I vacillate. Work is quiet. Pub drinks are in the pipeline. I should go, alleviate my concerns. My health is more important than a gin and tonic with Tobias and Co.

‘Hmm today’s a bit tricky.’

 

‘Are you busy this afternoon?’ Gus says, when I’m back at my desk.

‘Errr… why?’

I should be going to the doctor. I shouldn’t be taking on a ton of Gus’ work so that he can leave early for a wedding.

I start Googling symptoms. Ten minutes later I’m convinced I have a solitary mastocytoma. I grab my phone and go out into the stairwell.

‘Is the 4:40 appointment still available?’

 

‘Come in.’

‘Hi.’

‘What can I do for you?’

I tell him about The Rash.

‘Did you start doing anything differently when it first appeared?’

That’s a vague question. I mean I wasn’t having sex if that’s what he means, though that sure as Hell would have been different.

‘No… no.’

‘Have you been away anywhere recently?’ he says, examining my back.

‘Err… Berlin in February? Other than that, I’m probably the most stationary person you’ve ever met…’

It’s like a date, this, only I can be way more candid. It’s also 5pm on a gloriously sunny Friday so I should probably stop with the glib remarks.

‘And… Yorkshire, last October…’

I think he’s trying to establish if I’ve visited anywhere where I might have been exposed to tropical diseases. Yorkshire is probably not top of the list.

‘And, what do you do?’ he says, resuming his seat.

This really is like a date. Date slash Tinder conversation, which is about as close to a date as I’ve got recently.

‘Copywriting,’ I say.

‘So you’re not exposed to any toxic chemicals…’

Lots of things about my job are toxic but…

‘No. Most of my office is permanently ill but I think that’s because we’re overworked.’

He manages a faint smile. ‘You want to try and avoid stressful situations.’

I take the prescription for anti-fungal cream – this bit is less like a date – and thank him as I leave.

CC Image courtesy of r0b1 on Flickr

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Going Places

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CC Image courtesy of B. Gilmour on Flickr

I gave a dinner party the other day. One particularly beautiful couple came and held the floor with tales of their travels and adventures.

As always seems to happen when I’m in the company of couples, conversation at one point turned to my love life, or lack thereof.

‘Everyone puts the same thing!’ I say, referring to online dating profiles. ‘They like travelling, meeting new people and seeing friends. I don’t like travelling, meeting new people or – I do like seeing my friends.’

‘You don’t like travelling?’ This from Mr. Beautiful, whose usually mask-like face is wearing an expression of faint surprise.

‘It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just, I dunno, I find it tiring – it’s not what I want to do when I’m tired from work.’

‘Why don’t you say on your profile, ‘I don’t like travelling’?’

Mr. Beautiful – and this hardly comes as a surprise – is evidently not familiar with the cardinal rules of online dating, one of which is ‘don’t be negative in your profile’.

‘Because it’s not true,’ I say.

This is lucky because next week – and it would be happening this week except that the guy in question is travelling on the only days I’m free – I’m going on a date with a pilot. And not just any pilot. This one I stumbled across on TinderMy favourite kind of match: someone I already know of – if not actually know – and spoke to several years ago over online chat when my brother left his Facebook logged in (rookie error), and who sounded funny and nice.

CC Image courtesy of Miroslav Petrasko (hdrshooter.com) on Flickr

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Saturday Night Fever

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CC Image courtesy of pedrosimoes7 on Flickr

Everyday for about a year I woke to the same piece of dating advice. Written in pencil on a scrap of lined paper blue-tacked to my bedroom wall, it read:

If you’re attracted to a guy who isn’t pursuing you, DON’T EVER BE AROUND HIM. It’s masochistic.

At some point, perhaps because I thought it had done its work or because it didn’t meet my stringent standards for interior décor, I took it down.

 

Saturday night…

‘Did he invite you?’

I laugh. ‘No… no, it’s never that simple.’*

Beatrice smiles. ‘No. So, what, he said, ‘I’m going to this thing, you should come’?’

‘Nooo…’

What had he said exactly? He’d said: ‘I might be going to this ball. All Latin and ballroom dancing.’ Then a smiley face.

Cue puzzled face. He ‘might’ be going so, what, I ‘might’ turn up and find he wasn’t there? I recalled a guy friend’s insight into male dating behaviours (‘there are no hidden meanings’), waited a few days, then replied in a similarly ambivalent fashion.

 

By some miracle we are both in the same place at the same time on Saturday night, dancing. Well, he’s dancing. I’m sitting on the sidelines with Beatrice.

‘So, what do you think?’ I say. ‘Does he fancy me?’

‘Do you fancy him?’

‘Yes.’

‘Right. Well… why don’t you suggest going for a drink and see what happens?’

I stare, then spout the usual guff about how it should come from him.

‘Yeah, but what have you got to lose?’

 

Apparently nothing because an hour later I’m sitting opposite the guy in a pub, laughing more than I have in months. Then we’re walking to the bus stop. Then we’re saying goodnight.

 

And the next morning I’m contemplating reinstating the scrap of lined paper.

CC Image courtesy of Dr Stephen Dann on Flickr

*For the record, I am aware that sometimes it is that simple.

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Say It With Clip Art

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CC Image courtesy of CameliaTWU on Flickr

I’d never told a guy ‘I love you’. I came close with my sixth form boyfriend.

‘I love… your hair.’

Close shave.

 

VP asked me, was I in love?

‘What – with you?’

It was a pertinent question since at that precise moment I was in love with several different people: Tristan, Max (always), Tobias Menzies (the real life version and probably the blog version a little bit), not to mention several people who have never existed but been dreamt up by various novelists.

I ummed and ahhed a bit, thanked God that we’d opted to Skype without cameras, recalled my mother‘s advice never to tell a man you love him (‘What, never? What about Daddy?’ ‘Oh yes, well, I might’ve, in a moment of weakness…’) and wound up:

‘I’m not not in love with you enough to keep doing what we’re doing.’

Which made sense in context, sort of.

 

Four minutes until the next train.

‘Damn.’

I’m getting later everyday.

In the lift I mentally rehearse an excuse which I know I won’t use, rather I’ll slip into my seat hoping my arrival has gone unnoticed. As long as I get my work done, I tell myself, it really doesn’t matter when I start the day.

I power up the computer, deposit my lunch in the fridge, get a glass of water. Back at my desk I find a new email waiting. In the subject line, ’09:53′. The body of it is blank. I do a quick Google, copy, paste and send. And there it goes: ‘I love you’, courtesy of Clip Art. That wasn’t so hard.

CC Image courtesy of MAGIC CHARM GRAFIX on Flickr

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Faking It

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CC Image courtesy of Chesi - Fotos CC on FlickrTuesday, there’s a departmental meeting, most of which I spend thinking, ‘I don’t even care, I should be working in the FILM INDUSTRY.’

Leaving the room I draw level with The Man for Whom I Baked. He’s tall, slender, beautifully turned out and – and this is the real reason I love him – he always looks happy to see me. I worry that one day his illusions will be shattered and he’ll see me for who I really am, someone who spent a week in Berlin and didn’t visit a single museum or art gallery OUT OF CHOICE. Conversations with him are like an Oxford interview, or an episode of Faking It.

‘How are you?’ he says, looking into the distance before snapping his head round to meet my eye. It’s sexier than it sounds.

‘Yeah, fine thanks. What did you think?’

It’s too soon, like a diner asking his companion for thoughts on the restaurant before they’re out the door. And this man’s an aesthete; my clumsiness must grate. He looks round at the sea of colleagues, perhaps scouting for eavesdroppers or passing time until it’s safe to speak. He answers in a low voice then says again:

‘No but really, how are you?’

Six months I’ve been in my role and this is a first. Family and friends have shown an interest of course and when things got really bad threatened to airlift me out of the office, but this is the first time I’ve been asked by someone on the inside. Someone who knows what I’m up against, who knows the system. Someone who looks a bit like Tobias Menzies.

‘Yeah… OK.’

‘We should have coffee sometime and you can tell me how it’s going.’ He’s back to staring into the distance.

*

I’m plating up flapjacks for Tristan and Co. in the kitchen when Tobias walks in.

‘Would you like one?’ 

‘Thanks,’ he says. ‘How are you?’

‘Stressed.’

‘Stressed? What about?’

I tell him.

‘Is there anything I can do to help?’

That helps – just asking. Where’s that line from? Almost certainly Sex and the City given the breadth of my cultural references. Something else this man doesn’t need to know.

CC Image courtesy of El-AMD Photos on Flickr

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