A few weeks ago Penelope invited me to be her plus one at a wedding. I’d never been a plus one to a wedding so it seemed like a fun thing to do.
The had day finally arrived and so I selected a good suit, polished my most sensible shoes and chose a slightly risqué tie.
Penelope and I met at the train station and got the train together to the depths of the countryside. Penelope was wearing a cream top with a black pencil skirt and strappy silver sandals. She had just got back from visiting friends in the Mediterranean so she was looking very tanned.
The train journey was fairly long but we chatted away catching up about little things. This also gave me a bit of time to learn a bit about the bride and groom before we arrived. After the train we had a short cab ride to the venue. It was a strange wooden building that looked really old.
We were a little bit late but luckily nothing had started yet so we just sat near the back near someone who knew Penelope. He said hello and then started asking when we were getting married.
My slightly startled look and Penelope attempting to change the subject completely passed him by and so we had 30 to 45 minutes of wedding related questions, jokes, jibs and enquiries before the bride turned up and he wasn’t allowed to talk anymore.
The ceremony was lovely, a combination of Dutch and Vietnamese. I didn’t know much about Dutch weddings before but they are excellent. Here are some traditions of Dutch weddings
Whenever the groom leaves the room, all the men in the room rush over and queue up to kiss the bride.
Whenever the bride leaves the room, all the women in the room rush over and queue up to kiss the groom.
The bride and groom can be forced to kiss at any time by the guests. If the guests strike their plates or glasses with their cutlery, the bride and groom must step up on their chairs and kiss. If the guests stamp their feet on the floor the bride and groom must go under the table and kiss.
These are excellent traditions.
We sat down for our meal and between forcing the newly wed couple to kiss about a dozen times met some of the other guests. They were all paired up couples. Deeply in love couples so there was a lot of touching going on. They had some very sweet stories about how they all met. One of the men kept asking me if I was married and when I said no when I was going to get married. I didn’t feel comfortable in ‘blowing our cover’ so I sort of gave neutral answers.
Then some lions turned up.
Not actual lions of course, these were sort of pretend ones. They were like Chinese dragons but shorter, like the most awesome pantomime horse you’ve ever seen. They larked around jumping and doing tricks before leaping up to pick bits of paper up that were suspended on polls. It was really cool and supported by the loudest drumming I’ve ever heard in my life.
They also spent the entire time hitting on ladies. It was amazing. One the paper bit was over both lions harrassed ladies by jumping all over them and in the case of one of the bridemaids, pinching her arse. I’m not sure if that is traditional or just because the men being lions were a bit naughty.
We returned to our tables with our ears ringing and got some more drinks. Everyone was sozzled and it was only then that Penelope finally announced to the table that we weren’t going out. It felt like a great weight had been lifted.
More drinking happened. Then there was the first dance between the bride and groom. This ended with the groom having the tips of his socks cut off (again I’m not sure why). Then the guest were invited to dance too. Penelope wanted to dance and so we danced.
It was a very slow song and the dance floor slowly filled with couples snogging while I awkwardly slow danced with Penelope. Our faces were really close. More close than I felt comfortable with.
The song went on. It was being performed live. The singer was excellent but they also sang it at about half speed.
There was more slow dancing. A slow clock-wise circle where I didn’t know where to put my hands and I tried to avoid our faces getting too close. Penelope was looking at me really intently.
The song went on. There was more soulful gazing from Penelope and me going ‘Oh gosh, erm, well yes, erm, this is nice, erm, gosh.’
The song went on. Everyone else on the dance floor was now passionately kissing or worse. Leaving only Penelope and I slowly rotating while I tried to avoid looking her in the eye.
The song went on. It was the longest song of my life. I tried to make light of the situation by making jokes, Penelope just looked at me.
After what seemed like a decade the song ended. We returned to our table and drank some more. Some time later I got a cab to the train station alone. Penelope wanted to stay with her friends so she did.
Marriage percentage: 20%. Penelope is nice and all that, but I think the time when something could have happened with us was about five years ago. At the time I tried it on a few times and then sort of put her in the friend space.
Plus like I mentioned I’m rather taken with someone else who was arriving later in the week.
Penelope invited me over for a drink in a pub near her on Monday evening.
She lives in a satellite town to London and said we could go to a country pub which sounded like a lovely way to end the weekend.
She met me at the train station in a car. Which I was surprised by. This would mean no drinking, but country pubs don’t often have very good transport links so I suppose it made sense.
She started the car as we caught up and after about three turns we stopped. We weren’t in the countryside. We were on an street with houses. I couldn’t even see any green.
We were at a pub near to the station, like really near. We probably could have walked it in ten minutes.
It wasn’t really a country pub, more of a suburban pub. It was an old, slightly rough looking place with about dozen people in to who welcomed Penelope and eyed me up a bit strangely.
We got our drinks and sat down at a table. A man was performing loud Dire Straights covers with a guitar in the corner of the pub. It was so noisy it was hard to have a conversation.
We chatted about work stuff. She mentioned someone who is in her PhD group who is being a bit weird and we giggled about a few things. Most of these conversations happened in the pauses between songs because the singing man was offensively loud.
A few hours later it was time to get the last train home so we hopped into the car. The subject of previous relationships came up. I told her about the angry letter and how that went down.
She explained that she had broken up with her previous chap a month or so ago because it hadn’t been going anywhere, and that they had been going out for four years.
He had even worked in the pub we had just visited which explained why the locals were giving me weird looks. I suddenly felt a bit weird about the whole thing. Why did she decide to take me to that pub?
Even stranger she mentioned that she was meeting up with the ex the next day to make sure he understood it was over. Why wouldn’t he get that? I was suddenly a bit perplexed by the whole thing.
It had been a very strange weekend.
Marriage percentage: 20% – Couldn’t we have gone to a different pub?
There I was. It was Bank Holiday Monday. I’d block-booked the day as ‘do absolutely nothing if at all possible’ and I was sticking to it.
After a manic weekend I needed a day to recover, against all the odds I was lured to a pub.
Penelope texted me.
Hey Toast you’ve probably have plans but I’m on my way back from A TOWN via PART OF WEST LONDON and was wondering if you fancied a drink?
So I replied and said yes, because as much as I love the sofa I’d like to see more of her.
We arranged to meet outside a tube equidistant between us and then we’d go and find a pub nearby.
She appeared on time (ten points to team Penelope) and was wearing a long floaty black skirt, a denim jacket and a light blue scarf. Her dress was so floaty it kept rising up in the wind causing a bit of a Marilyn Monroe moment.
We found a nearby pub, it was an old wooden place that was built like a maze. She bought some drinks and we sat down to catch up. It was a fairly in-depth conversation catching up future plans and things.
It was exactly the sort of conversation that hadn’t been possible when we met last week because we were mashed and with chums. Okay, I was mashed, and she was with chums.
It was very nice drink and terribly civilised.
The only slightly unusual thing was when she said ‘Oh I’ve just noticed this skirt is a bit see through.’ I couldn’t help but look at the skirt when she said that, and it was a bit.
There were definite outlines. I blushed and hid behind my pint.
Hot damn I’m cool.
Marriage percentage: 30% Slightly lower percentage than last time as the reality of the situation is kicking in, she is a chum.
I met up with the not-quite-an-old-flame at last. She needs a better name than that, because it’s, well it’s not correct. Let’s call her Penelope.
We met years ago, like maybe ten years ago. I went on a lunch date with a girl which was a bit awkward. We stayed in touch and became chums. It’s amazing how many of my female chums are dates that didn’t quite work out but we got on.
She invited me to a few parties and that’s where I met Penelope.
I instantly took a shine to Penelope. She was, and is my type. Greek, interesting and a little bit bit naughty. I was smitten.
It would be fair to say I spent about two years trying to seduce her, well seduce isn’t quite the right word. I met her parents, a few times. I befriended her sister and even bonded with her brother in law.
We would meet up loads and hang out and talk for hours over coffee or go to restaurants. We even went on a sort of mini-break to Brighton that included an entirely asexual night sharing a bed at a friend’s house. I started learning Greek, no really.
We never kissed. Not even once.
I tried a couple of times and it was deftly avoided. I think I must have entered the dreaded friendship zone, which was fine with me really because she is lovely, really interesting and has a splash of silly. I still really fancied her though.
We drifted out of contact a bit when I had to move out of London for a job. When I returned a few months ago we made vague promises to meet up and at last it finally happened.
It was a lovely warm Friday. Half the world had decided to have a cheeky drink after work in Soho. We met up in a pub. I had been there for a few hours with chums and I had, well I’d had one or two small glasses of Sherry. Okay, okay. I was drunk.
She appeared and was completely unchanged, as in still radiantly beautiful. Medium height, slim but with curves in a very good way, huge dark hair with blond streaks in it and the sort of Mediterranean good looks that would score highly at Eurovision. I still fancied her.
After the initial ‘It’s been so long! You look amazing’ we stomped off to meet up with her chums. They were protesting in Soho about a man’s right to kiss other men. We joined in, well we drank beer with them. It was very nice. I bumped into loads of people I knew.
Hours later the protest fizzled out and we went to a tiny little hidden club in Soho. It’s basically a door on the street, you go downstairs and it’s like being in a louche great-aunt’s living room. I LOVE this club. It was packed but we managed to grab some chairs, and another bottle of wine.
Some strangers sat near us and we got talking to them to about all sorts of things in a friendly way. It’s what this club is infamous for.
Penelope and I were the only people in our new expanded of new chums group who weren’t gay men and so the gays started talking about the chemistry Penelope and I had and tried to pair us off.
We did that sort of ‘oh gosh this is awkward’ smile at each other which only encouraged them.
The gay men started planning our wedding and how many kids we would have. They had our entire future mapped out for us by the time the wine was gone. Apparently one of our children will be a classical musician, one an artist and the third will go into finance.
If you want something planned. See the gays.
Everyone wanted to go to another club and so we went, bumping into Biscuit and Jen outside.
The club we went into was called. G.A.Y. I’m sure you can imagine what it is like.
Penelope had disappeared after buying a bottle of wine and we couldn’t find her. We looked everywhere, although mostly focusing at the bottoms of glasses of booze.
Some time later it was time to stumble home. I was so ruined that Biscuit and Jen had to herd me around the place and I fell asleep a couple of times in the cab. CLASSY.
When we did get home Penelope had texted me saying we should have said goodbye and that we should meet up again. I’d like that. I’ve always got time to hang around with beautiful, interesting women who don’t seem to fancy me.
It’s kind of my thing.
Marriage percentage: 50% – No seriously, if she had ever been even slightly interested in me we would have ended up married years ago.