Since going out with someone and being quite happy doesn’t make a good story I thought it would be a good time to revisit some relationship woes. This time the Dressmaker.
I’d just started a new job far away from home and broken up with an actually nice girl for reasons that in hindsight seem a bit wonky. So I was in a town I didn’ t know with no friends nearby. It was quite a lonely time really.
I bumped into a girl at work, quite literally bumped. She was tall with glossy dark hair, high cheekbones and rosy cheeks and very big eyes. We’d collided because we both weren’t paying attention to where we were going.
There were apologises and then we went on our way. Some time passed, I’d see her around the building a few times and we’d share a smile and a hello but nothing more than that.
Then we had to work together on a project. It was fun, she was bright and interesting. The project was successful and we’d email each other occasionally afterwards. Our conversation started to get a little firty, because one day she suddenly she mentioned she had a boyfriend and so I backed off.
More time passed. Yes, I’m a fast mover.
I found out via some people at work that she’d been asking about me. There was a big company culture for office dating. I’d say about 90% of the people there were dating someone they’d met through work. So I had my suspicions about what the questions were about.
She mentioned in an email she was having a tough day and I said wine helps (it does), which ended up becoming a drink after work to bitch about the office. Because that’s what friends do, right?
Just a quick glass of wine
We met up and drank a lot of wine. A lot. We were in a hotel bar because that was the closest thing to a bar nearby. The rest of the places to drink would be charitably called ‘fight pubs’.
We both got very drunk while talking about people at work. Then had a very expensive and very bad meal and then some more booze.
The conversation got a bit hazy. We wanted more booze but the bar was closed. We tried to get more, The Dressmaker was a local celebrity, but she couldn’t get us just one more gin and tonic for the road. ‘Don’t you know who I am’ FAIL.
It was at around this point we kissed. I’m not 100% on how this happened. It got a bit tongue-y. Eventually we left the bar and stumbled out into the cool night air. Actually it wasn’t cool, it was freezing.
Almost instantly a cab appeared. I said she should get in it and go home. She said she didn’t want to.
I insisted because she had boyfriend. I said that I liked her, and because I liked her she should go home. This turned into a monologue about doing the right thing if you really like someone, it was as much for my benefit as for hers.
It was appreciated but had almost exactly the opposite affect to the one I was expecting. She walked, through a war zone (I lived in a really rough area) to visit my flat.
We drank Champagne and talked nonsense and then, at about 4am it was time for bed. I explained that nothing naughty was going to happen because of her situation. She borrowed some clothes off me and I left the room so she could change.
She got a bit angry because I refused to look at her breasts. Like really angry.
She kept trying to break my resolve to do something that would require more than a PG certificate. I refused, again and again. Hoping that in years to come I wouldn’t come to regret this. It might have been the right thing to do, but it wasn’t the most fun.
The next morning, after a light breakfast, we made our way into to town. We had a coffee, and as is the way of these things, were spotted by someone from work.
DUN DUN DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
(To be continued)
The Theatre Producer said she wanted to take me out on a date. A teenage style date to be exact. I wasn’t sure what this would involve but I was deeply curious. I had been told that the something had been arranged but we didn’t have a specific time to be anywhere.
We met at a bar near Waterloo station. Or at least we tried to meet at the bar. I was only about 50 metres away from her but I couldn’t find the pesky place due to an ambiguous name and awful signs. Yeah that’s right, it wasn’t my fault I couldn’t find it, it was someone else’s.
At last I found her. The Theatre Producer was wearing a blue floaty dress, so floaty that it kept rising up in the wind. We walked along the South Bank looking for suitable bench to sit on with her occasionally stopping to pat her unruly dress down.
Once we had found the bench the Theatre Producer produced a bottle of wine, some Costa coffee cups and a large packet of crisps. The wine was decanted into the cups. A whole bottle will fit in two cups which says scary things about how much coffee we drink. We sipped the booze out of paper cups while looking at the Houses of Parliament.
Once the booze was gone we went to Namco. ‘Namco centre’ is an amusement arcade. They’ve got bumper cars and those things with claws that almost let you get prizes and things to punch, shoot, drive and maim. Perfect for a slightly awkward teenage date.
The Theatre Producer had ordered a load of tokens in advance so we clinked around the place trying out everything that caught our eye.
We played a lot of shooting games and went on the bumper cars. The Theatre Producer obliterated me at air hockey and then on the punching machine we discovered I can punch just slightly more than four times harder than her. She liked that bit, although as a feminist she will probably punch me in the arm (weakly) for mentioning it.
After some more shooting, a bit of racing and one of those simulator things that tries to make you feel sick while watching a film we had some beers, ate some nachos and then went home.
It was an excellent teenage date.
Marriage percentage: 64%
P.S. It is a bit weird going to arcades now that home computers are more powerful than arcade machines. When did that happen?
There are dates, and then there are EPICDATES. The distinction was created while the Theatre Producer was in America. Dates are dates, Epicdates are above and beyond the call of duty. I said when she returned I would like to take her on EPICDATE#1, she agreed.
(Normal dates can happen between EPICDATES).
There was a lot of planning, focus groups (no really, I asked a mutual friends), diagrams and brainstorming sessions.
The eventual plan was simple, I’d meet her at the airport when she got off the plane and then I’d take her to a restaurant. That doesn’t sound very epic right? Well the latter bit of it.
I had a plan.
Some friends had just opened a new restaurant in London. I’d been going to their other places for years and I was owed a favour.
So I went in and chatted to them and they said they could give me super-dooper treatment. A reserved table, champagne on arrival and a tasting menu of food paired with the perfect wine to go with each dish.
That sounded quite epic so we went with that.
I hadn’t told the Theatre Producer what we were doing, but I had let her know of the required dress code and given a couple of clues to add to the fun. I said that smelling was involved and that it was something that couldn’t happen until recently. I also gave a vague location.
Annoyingly she worked out where we were going. Now I do find intelligence very attractive but this sort of fiendish detective work had caught me slightly off-guard. Future EPICDATES wouldn’t involve any clues.
I pretended she hadn’t worked it out (It’s amazing how much deception is required in romance) and met her at a nearby location. We said hellos and went into the restaurant.
The moment we appeared through the door we were ushered over to our table and given a glass of champagne and sat down. The Theatre Producer was showing the right mix of surprise and excitement.
The owner came over. I introduced him to the Theatre Producer and he suggested a tasting menu of dishes which he would select wines for. We went with that.
Dishes started arriving. Each one would have a perfectly chosen wine to go with it. As in perfectly chosen. The wine would be explained with tasting notes so we had impressive things to say while trying it
‘Oh yes this one is very structured’
‘You can really taste the wine-yness of this one. By the red tone colour you can tell this is a red wine.”
‘The lack of tannins compliments the duck perfectly’
Guess which one was my phrase.
The evening rushed by, we ate potted duck, perfectly cooked steaks, salty greens, beautiful cheeses and everything was matched with the perfect drink and attentive service.
We talked about all sorts of things, exchanged stories and caught up, by the end of the meal we were holding hands across the table.
Some time later, and rather sozzled we finished off the meal with a glass of Tawny Port and stumbled off into the night.
We ended back at my house, on the flimsiest of pretexts. This was unexpected so I had to make the Theatre Producer wait in the kitchen while I furiously cleared up some mess.
I didn’t do a terribly good job, but I don’t think she was really noticing. There was quite a lot of kissing going on. She kept falling over in her ridiculous heels, so I picked her up and carried her upstairs.
* fade to black *
The next day we woke up and I made us coffee. Even though it was decaf it was poncy decaf and the Theatre Producer approved. I fed her chocolate buttons for breakfast in bed and then made us both scrambled eggs.
With great regret we went to work. It had been an epic first date*
Marriage Percentage: 55% – This feels a bit low actually but I’m trying to remain level-headed over this.
*if it was the first date or not is a source of debate and mild ribbing.
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.
Even when pining, life goes on. June is a smashing month, and it just wouldn’t do to spend the whole time inside listening to The Cure. I’m still doing a bit of that, I just not spending the entire time doing it.
I was given a couple of VIP passes for the Polo. I’m not really into watching sport, but I’d found out some chums were going and they assured me that it was mostly about drinking. I am quite into drinking.
I thought quite carefully about the sort of chum that would be fun at the Polo who would be fun but wouldn’t read too much into my invite.
After a bit of hunting around I invited Rebecca. We had stayed in touch since our slightly disorganised date (in a chummy way, not in a flirty way) I asked if she wanted to join me at the Polo and she said yes.
My first Polo match
It was an extremely hot day, ideal for shorts but I had been invited to a pre-polo lunch which required the wearing of trousers. This was a bit annoying but I thought I’d brave a linen suit.
It was very hot. Thanks to work on the tube line I ended up having to get a bus most of the way there. The bus was very slow, so slow that I missed my free lunch in a posh club. I know, some times life on the streets can be brutal, but it doesn’t help anyone to shy away from the tough stuff.
My chums were already there and drinking away. I joined them and we steadily worked our way through a lot of Pimms and some pink cocktail thing with gin in it. It was amazingly hot so putting cold drinks in our mouths seemed like an excellent idea.
No-one thought to order any water.
We ordered some more drinks, it seemed like the only way we could possibly stay cool under the intense heat of the sun. We got quite drunk.
My date arrives
Some time later Rebecca appeared. I joined her at the gate and handed over her pass. She was wearing a gold dress with massive gold heels. She looked very much the part.
We went straight to the VIP area because it would have free drinks and possibly even some food. The Polo was rammed at this point with a plethora of boozy rahs, but when we walked past the overweight security guard we entered a world of calm.
People using soft polite voices ushered us to our area. It was a giant tent with sofas, a selection of sandwiches, a lot of booze and lots of helpful people wearing aprons. Outside there was an outdoor area that was right on the polo arena (ring? pitch?) with lovely wooden chairs and sunshades.
We had a glass of champagne (not free) and then ate lots of tiny sandwiches (free) and cakes (free) before getting stuck into some white wine (free). It was lovely. The horses had lots of fights over the ball right next to us which was exciting and the bit where you have to invade the pitch to stamp all the holes in with your feet was excellent fun. I’ve never invaded a pitch before but I’d definitely recommend it to friends.
We became chums with lots of people in our section, learning all about the game and which side were supposed to be cheering on. Sadly the Polo ended and we were ushered out onto the streets.
Later on that Evening
Rebecca went off to meet up with some friends and I crossed London to meet up with set of my chums who were celebrating a birthday. I arrived, had to eat a steak, drank some wine and then moved to a pub for some cider.
Biscuit and Jen appeared and we all drank lots of booze while talking nonsense. I was exhausted by this point so we shared a cab home. It had been a good day.
Rebecca Marriage percentage: 20% She is lovely, but my mind is somewhere else.
Rebecca is fun, and interesting but she is in the friend zone now, part of this might be due to the fact that I spent the whole day exchanging text messages with the Theatre Producer. I’m such a bloody sap it’s sickening.
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.
Things have been weird for a while. Not a good weird, just a bad weird.
There has a been a stilted air between the Consultant and I. The conversations have been awkward like the sort of conversations you have with Great Aunts. You know the ones who are a bit racist but you have to be polite to because at some point you may inherit from them.
Not that the Consultant is racist, I’m just talking about the sort of slow pauses where every tick of the clock feels like a cycle of the moon.
On Thursday there was another swish party and I had invited the Consultant along as my plus one. This was held at a famous London landmark. They had changed some bits inside and so invited a load of the press along to see the changes. It was the best possible way to see the tourist attraction because.
1) You didn’t have to queue and it was free.
2) At the slightest pause waiters would offer you vast amounts of food and drink.
Everyone there was having a great time larking about doing things that the normal visitors wouldn’t be allowed to do while swigging wine. Everyone except me and my plus one.
The Consultant was being cool and distant again. Apart from a brief period in the middle where she relaxed enough to have some fun. Then she went all distant again, it was like she couldn’t even look at me.
I checked in the loos to make sure I hadn’t accidentally drawn a swastika on my forehead or anything like that. I hadn’t so I couldn’t understand the disdain.
At a couple of points in the evening we would be talking and then she would run off almost mid-sentence. The first few times she did this it was to grab canapés, which is of course a noble task, but it happened a couple of times later on where she ran off and then sent a text message from the other side of the room. It was weird.
We parted company fairly early in the evening, I had another two bashes to go to and she wanted to go home. The parting was if anything painfully unfriendly. I was baffled.
On Friday I had invited her over to the house. Biscuit was out so The Consultant and I had plans to spend an evening together. You know one of those nice evenings that smug couples go on about.
I cleaned the house and then popped out for supplies. She arrived while I was in the shops and was waiting outside the house.
I let her in and then started constructing the elaborate meal designed to impress her. She played a dancing computer game while I cooked. Compared to previous cooking experiences it was very awkward. I’ll be typing that word a lot in this post.
We ate the food. It was excellent crispy pork with a selection of interesting side dishes, as always I’d cooked far too much, so I couldn’t even get half way through the pudding.
We chatted a little on the sofa and things looked like there were going to get a little bit rude but The Consultant was having none of it. There was a plan to watch a film but she couldn’t decide what to do. So instead of watching a film we went to bed and I had one of the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had. Oh and nothing naughty happened.
So I’d invited her around, cooked a complicated and fancy meal and she couldn’t even look at me in the eye. This was the point at which I decided we needed ‘a chat’ I didn’t want to have another chat but there you go. Sometimes you’ve just got to have chats.
The conversation everyone dreads
I woke up hours before her so I read a little. Her multitude of alarms went off and she asked if she could take a shower so I loaned her a towel. While she was cleaning I went and got some Danish pastries and warmed them up in the oven. When I heard the shower stop so I made tea, to her exact instructions. She likes her tea only slightly warm with a dash of milk.
We sat down with the pastries and I said, “What’s going on? Things seem painfully awkward between us.”
There was a pause. I’ve had enough awkward grown-up conversations to know that you need to just wait out the pause. The pause went on.
“You don’t seem to be interested in me.”
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t ask me enough questions about things to do with me. Like about my work or anything like that.”
Her voice crackled a little bit.
We explored this subject some more. I wasn’t asking her enough questions about her. Which was the cause of the frantic running away on Thursday. I did say that I was interested in her more than her body and I was sorry if she felt I wasn’t asking enough questions. I suddenly decided to list a comprehensive list of facts about her that I had learned and committed to memory. The Consultant Themed Pub Quiz didn’t impress sadly.
We raised the subject of the cold shoulder and she admitted she had been doing it because she was so angry with me, which was also why naughty times were off the table. Reasonable I suppose but perhaps communicating this anger would have been better than me having to tease it out of her again.
We also talked about how we seemed to get on better drunk and that we were having the sort of awkward stilted conversation that a couple has when they have been married for 60 years and they have nothing left to say.
I said this didn’t bode well. You never get a good bode do you?
The conversation was punctuated with vast gaping pauses, which is sort of to be expected. The clock ticked slowly in the corner.
I said how I didn’t want to feel so awkward and stressed by a relationship and this should still be the honeymoon period. She agreed. And that I found it to strike up conversation with her when she was giving me the cold shoulder the whole time.
Then I said that I wasn’t sure there could be a future in this, but that I didn’t want it to end. And I asked her what she wanted.
She said she didn’t want it to end either, we hugged.
She asked if I’d like to meet up this afternoon as originally planned. I said okay because it would give us both time to think about things. After she left I noticed she had cried a little on my shoulder.
Typing out this entry has cleared my mind. It is not going to continue. I’ll meet up with her though, because something should be done face to face.
It’s a big warning sign to have things go wrong this early on, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life constantly battling to tease this stuff out of her while fighting her cold shoulder of rage. For the last couple of weeks I’ve asked her repeatedly what’s up and it’s only now she has come out and admitted something.
I can’t decide if ‘We don’t talk enough about me’ is a valid complaint or not. So I think we can leave that one for now.
Biscuit will probably back me up on this one. I’ve been stupidly stressed by it all for the last few weeks. The fun to hard times ratio has been way out.
Marriage percentage 0.5%
* If a girl starts acting all weird I should call her out on it instantly and not relent until I get the answer.
* Yet again I prove I have terrible taste in women.
* She never made me breakfast, not once, and I know one shouldn’t count these things but I’ve given her loads of lovely well thought out gifts. She has given me a cold.
* A girl being fabulously well dressed counts for a lot, but it’s not the basis of a relationship.
Of course I still don’t know if I’m doing the right thing, what do you think?