Monday, 28 March 2011

In which I embrace single life... and the barman

The last few weeks have been hard. The reality of my relationship ending really hit home; the Former Love of my Life finally moved out of our flat, signalling a real end to everything we had. I went to pick up a stray birthday card and burst into tears; it was not a high point. I realised what a waste of time my flirtation with The Journalist was; he has a girlfriend, and if I'm really honest, I can't be doing with the hassle. An old school friend got engaged, another one bought a flat with her boyfriend... and Best Mate told me she's having a baby! I genuinely couldn't be happier for her and her lovely fiancé, but all these couples have been together for less time than I was with the Love of my Life - it's really hammered home what we could have had, and never will.

So when one of my school friends invited me up to London for a night of vodka and karaoke to celebrate her birthday, I dragged my tired little self into my highest, sparkliest heels and onto the train. And it was there, several vodkas in, that I met The Brazilian.

He was working behind the bar, and he hit on me. I can't remember the last time that happened. In my experience, boys are shy, and as I am not so shy, I tend to lead the way on amorous encounters. But The Brazilian flirted with me, bought me drinks, asked for my number... in fact, he said "You give me your number, yes?" in a way that really didn't suggest it was a question at all. That confidence, that accent... when he kissed me, I actually melted.

My first single girl kiss. It was everything I might have hoped for and more. He'd have been a superb kisser even without the tongue stud, but as a girl who likes a bit of metal on a man... wow.

However, I know how dating works. Men do not call. Barmen who smooch with customers over the bar especially do not call. I did not expect to hear from him again. Except then, less than 24hrs later, he texted me, asking if I'd had a good night. He said he would call me the next day... and he did. It's sad that I should set so much store by a man calling when he said he would, but my last flirtation was with The Journalist and we all know how that ended (no, he did not email me).

Anyway, The Brazilian and I talked for a hour, about music, films, travel... all the usual. He told me his full name, and believe you me, it's a good one, straight out of a Jilly Cooper novel. The perfect name for a sexy foreigner with whom I may have a small fling. Just a small one, because I'm under no illusions that a Brazilian barman with a tongue stud is likely to be anything more than perfect fling material. But I was touched by how straightforward he was - he called, he asked me out, no messing. I'm meeting him on Sunday for a bbq at his friend's place.

What on earth am I going to wear?

Saturday, 19 March 2011

In which I need a little lie down

I haven't been properly single for a long time. I was with my last boyfriend for three and a half years, and the one before him for two, and the two before him for six months each, and if I'm honest, there wasn't much of a gap between each relationship. If I'm actually honest, there wasn't any gap at all. This means I haven't actually been on the look out for hot men since I was nineteen... which explains a lot.

Last week, I was driving to work, and as I got to the bottom of my parents' driveway, this gorgeous man ran past. He was gorgeous. (And just to be clear, he was running in a keep-fit kind of way, rather than an escaping-from-the-law kind of way.) While I accept that 7.45am, while I'm in a car, isn't exactly the ideal time to meet a man, the village I live in is pretty small. Everyone knows everyone, so I was confident that I could probably track this man down later. Sure enough, mere seconds later, I saw him run past my youngest brother, who was on his way to the bus stop - and he waved at him! Score!

I then promptly forgot about the incident until a few days later while I was drinking wine on the sofa with my mum, and when I remembered, I realised that I wasn't sure if he had actually waved at my brother, or just gestured in a "thanks for moving so I can run past you" kind of way. So when I asked if he remembered a guy running past him in the street several days ago, I wasn't really expecting him to - but he did! The conversation started well (started being the operative word):

Me: Really?! Do you know him?!

Youngest Brother: Yeah.

Me: Really?! Who is he?!

YB: Callum.

Me: Callum. How do you know him?!

YB: He works with me at the brewery.

Me: The brewery. Is he nice?!

YB: Er, yeah.

Me: Excellent. Excellent. By the way, how old is he?

YB: Nineteen.

Nineteen? Nineteen?! WHAT? When did nineteen year olds start looking like that? Not when I was bloody nineteen, that's for sure. He looked at least my age. Older probably (I'm very youthful). But nineteen. And that's when I realised - nineteen year olds look like men now, but I can't date them. Same goes for pretty much anyone up to the age of twenty five, which means that I am going to have to be very careful indeed. Can't go round fancying nineteen year olds. No good will come of that.

NB. It is only as I write this that I realise Callum was born in the Nineties. Dear god.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

In which I take a trip down memory lane

I mentioned in my previous post that I know The Journalist likes me. The story of how I know this is a particular favourite of mine, so please indulge me while I take a trip down memory lane...

Some months ago, I attended a launch party held by The Journalist's publishing house. There was champagne, and there was wine. My colleagues and I have a hugely inflated sense of how much we can drink at the best of times, and we'd had a long week. We drank some champagne, and we drank some more. We ran out of champagne and started drinking Pinot like it was water. Except nobody drinks that much water. The Journalist's colleagues were not much better.

At some point, one of two things happened. Either, the event ended, or the booze ran out. I genuinely don't know which. However, we weren't yet ready to call it a night, and headed off into the night in search of a pub. We found some little boozer with sofas and sambuca, and that's when things started to get interesting.

The Journalist was off at the bar, and I was sitting with a mixed group of my colleagues and his, when I realised I'd been in conversation with the same lad for some time and had no idea who he was. I politely pointed out that we hadn't been introduced, and he told me he was The Designer from The Journalist's magazine. I said, "Hi, I'm Ruby from The PR Agency," and he burst out laughing. He actually threw his head back with mirth and howled "So you're Ruby from The PR Agency!"

This concerned me, as well it might. I waited for him to calm down and wipe the tears from his eyes, and then questioned where exactly he knew me from. He explained, "The Journalist has a picture of you on his desk." At this point, I relaxed a bit. The Journalist and I have attended many events together over the years. We have been in the same place at the same time on numerous occassions, almost all of them the type of occassion where a camera would be present. Admittedly, I couldn't think of an exact time where we'd been photographed together, so I asked, "Really? What picture is that?"

The Designer descibed the picture. My hair was longer then, he said, and hanging over my face. I was wearing animal print. I may have been mid-dance. I recognised this picture. The Journalist is not in it. It was not actually taken at an event where The Journalist was present. In fact, it was not taken at a work event at all. It was taken on a night out with Forces Wife some years ago, before I even met The Journalist.

This came as something of a shock.

By this point The Journalist had started glancing over, perhaps concerned at the level of laughter and multiple looks being thrown his way. He looked at me, bemused. I beckoned him over and waited for him to sit down. I then said, "Do you have a picture of me on your desk?"

The look on his face would make a superb photograph. In fact, it did, as The Designer, ever more thrilled with his storytelling, was waiting for this moment with camera at the ready. There was horror, and confusion, and humiliation, and finally resignation. There was a grimace, and a hand over the eyes. I asked exactly how my picture came to be on his desk.

The Journalist explained, without entirely meeting my gaze, that he talked about me so much that for his birthday two of his colleagues (who I also knew well) had found the picture on Twitter and turned it into a birthday card, which ten months later was still pinned to his desk. I'm not sure what I did during this time. Laughed, I think, and expressed an opinion that it was "a bit stalky."

The rest of the evening is a bit of a Pinot-induced blur, but two things stand out. The first of these was that, some time further into the conversation, The Journalist gave up trying to defend himself, sighed, and said, "But you know I fancy you, right?" at which point I explained that, no, I did not know. The second is a recollection of myself at the bar with a colleague, repeating the words "Who knew?" over and over again. Because really, who knew?

In which The Journalist does not email me

I mentioned in my last post that my birthday bought with it a text message from The Journalist. He said he thinks about me a lot, I'm "pretty wonderful" and, crucially, that he would email me during the week. To be clear, those were his exact words: "I will email you during the week."

I should never have got my hopes up as a) my birthday was a Friday and he texted at 11pm, meaning there is a 100% chance he was drunk, b) he has the memory of a goldfish and has been known to forget entire conversations held less than 24 hours ago and c) he has a girlfriend. I realise he doesn't sound like much of a catch at this point, but you have to trust me when I say there is just something about this man. He manages to make all his failings utterly charming (except the part about having a girlfriend).

The Journalist likes me (more on that later) and he knows that I like him. When we were both in relationships, we emailed sporadically, met up for the occasional drink, and flirted outrageously within fairly safe parameters. Because we were both unavailable, we knew where we stood. We were on equal footing - if either of us had called an end to it, the other would have coped just fine. When things cooled off significantly a few months ago, I won't pretend I didn't miss him, but I knew it was best for everyone concerned.

Of course, now, everything is different. I'd written him off until I got his text message (our first contact since his birthday a couple of months ago) but now I was all over the place again. Yes, things would be easier if he was single, but I'm not going to get involved in trying to make that happen. However, I do like him, he is great company, and a few drinks and some flirting would be nice. Hardly admirable, but there you have it.

The week started, and continued, without an email. On Monday, I was ok with this. It wouldn't do for him to look too keen. On Tuesday, I started to obsess a tiny bit. Just a tiny bit. By Wednesday, I was jumping six foot out my chair every time an email came through (I work in PR and receive approximately 500 emails a day). On Thursday morning I thought, f*** it, it's only The Journalist, and emailed him.

Then the real fun started. He didn't email back. I realised that if I checked his Twitter account, I could see if he was tweeting from "web" or "Blackberry" therefore allowing me to ascertain whether or not he was at his desk and receiving his emails. In short, I became a crazy person, in a surprisingly short amount of time.

And then he emailed: "No, I will not go out with you. I have a girlfriend and you are a mental person. Due to cutting edge technology that you are currently unaware of, I am able to see that you have checked my Twitter account 47 times in the last four hours. Yes, I have your email. Yes, I am ignoring you. Please leave me alone and get help."

(This didn't actually happen. But it could have done.)

That night, I convinced myself his email would be waiting when I got to work the next morning. It wasn't. So I broke every rule in The Rules and DM'd him on Twitter. I kept it light. I asked if he'd got my email (I know, cringe) and said it was unlike him to reply. And he messaged me back straight away! He said, yes, he had got my email, but he was very busy and had forgotten to respond. He said he wasn't sure if he was busy next week, but he would let me know via email. He said "I promise." There was a kiss.

So, what we have here is a situation where he has, to all intents and purposes, said he will email me during the week. I am in trouble.

In which it is my birthday

It could have been a recipe for disaster. Recently single, living back at home with my parents, and officially closer to thirty than twenty, I must admit I had some reservations about my birthday. Don't get me wrong, I love birthdays. All that cake and alcohol, and people buying you nice things you don't need. This year though, I'd had to cull my present list a few weeks before the event (an espresso machine ceases to be the perfect gift when you no longer have a kitchen) and I'm still at that stage where a few glasses of wine lead to inconsolable sobbing after lights out.

As it happened though, I had a wonderful day. Best Mate and I caught the train to London, where we ate cupcakes and fancy pizzas. I also had my first ever facial, and a bellini with my lunch. Perfect.

That evening, I came home and shared a Chinese takeaway with The Family and Eldest Brother's Girlfriend, who I adore. We listened to American Anthems (THREE CDS!) and my brothers did a superb (if disturbingly high pitched) rendition of Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. The Girlfriend and I polished off two bottles of Pinot Grigio and generally had a lovely time.

Just as I was heading off to bed, I felt that familiar wave of slightly drunken melancholy wash over me, but then I got a text message from The Journalist. The Journalist and I have, shall we say, a mutual appreciation for each other, but he has a girlfriend and until recently I had a boyfriend. However, a text to wish me a happy birthday and tell me he still thinks about me wasn't entirely unwelcome, and managed to head off any Bridget Jones impressions.

The following day I put on my best dress and headed out for dinner with some of my very favourite people: Best Mate and her fiancé picked me up on the way, Forces Wife and her fiancé came down from Lincoln, Cousin and his girlfriend left the baby at home for the first time, and The Hostess With The Mostest kindly left her husband at home as well, preventing me from being the only single person at my own party. We ate exotic meat (ostrich anyone?), drank copious amounts of red wine, and then nearly broke our ankles climbing over a wall on our way to drink more red wine. Best Mate bought me a cupcake cookery book, Forces Wife's fiancé bought me a pashmina from Afghanistan, and even Geordie Lass sent me a care package of chocolate, wine and girly DVDs. The whole weekend was perfect, and reminded me that my friends and family are some of the best in the world. Thanks boys and girls - you really are something special.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

In which I'm traumatised by a car insurance salesperson

If you have just come out of a relationship, and you think maybe you're not miserable enough already, make some phone calls to service providers. It's a real treat. In the two weeks since my relationship ended, I've done a pretty good job of burying myself in deep, deep denial. Unfortunately, the break up meant I had to update my car insurance. It almost pushed me over the edge.

Me: I'd like to remove one of my named drivers please. Former Love of my Life.

Insurance lady: You'd like to terminate Former Love of your Life?

Me: Terminate? Um, I suppose so, yes.

Insurance lady: Ok, so we are going to terminate your named driver, Former Love of your Life?

Me: Yes please. That's the one.


Insurance lady: So I see you have three named drivers: Your Father, Your Mother and Former Love of your Life. Which one are we terminating?

Me: Former Love of my Life! Please.

Insurance lady: Ok, so we are terminating Former Love of your Life?

After ten minutes of this, I felt like terminating myself. Removing him from my car insurance (ergo, my life) needs to be like ripping off a plaster - painful but brief. That conversation was more like gouging out my heart with a blunt spoon. And it cost me £17.50.

Now to arrange the "termination" of the contract on our flat...