I think I managed a whole month and a half of avoiding him. Of course everyone I know was ecstatic and allowed me ample time to lick my wounds, although after a few weeks I grew tired of the mild but constant cringing. I tried thinking terribly empowering thoughts and even did something I've never done in my entire life - I asked a man out. Admittedly it was toward the end if an epic six hour lunch at one of those clubs that get described in the press as 'achingly hip'.
Well he certainly fitted in - tall, smiley with floppy blonde hair - I must have been drunk as I rarely pursue the lesser-spotted goldilocks. Somehow we'd gotten engrossed in an intense conversation about music, when I'd merely been looking for the loo. I should have just left it at that, but as my friends and I prepared to leave I felt a previously unknown sensation of blind optimism and fished around in my bag for a card. None of them tried to stop me as I bounded off across the room to locate him. Even the fact that he was surrounded by a gaggle of adoring nubile young ladies did nothing to put me off my stride. I actually heard myself slurring as I pressed the slightly soggy card into his hand and dribbled something about going out dancing, like we were living in the 60s. To his credit he beamed and said he'd 'love to' though of course he never called. He'd told me his name and naturally the next day I googled him only to discover he was quite the man about town, and was faced with shot after shot of him wrapped round various stunning model/actress types. Suddenly I was back to cringing again.
I even let Posho take me out, despite my vow to never go back there again. Although with him it's always a case of splitting the bill which I find vaguely depressing, like I'm back at school or something. To be fair I turned up several sheets to wind having spent the afternoon at a child's sixth birthday party. But what else is there to do at such an occasion when you're about to be treated to the tenth rendition of Let It Go in half an hour than to, well, let it go?
The date was perfectly pleasant and he was as polite and adoring as he ever was, but as I staggered home at midnight I found myself thinking about my dry cleaning rather than any more blissful romantic thoughts.
I drifted about for another week, positively reeking of ennui, when I found myself in the West End one evening. I was wafting around one of my favourite shops wondering if yet another asymmetrically tailored little black dress would fill the gap where my life used to be when I suddenly homed in on the annoying catchy song they were playing over the speakers. I listened and listened again - I wasn't wrong, the chorus, bizarrely, kept mentioning Serge. (Or at least his real name.) How odd was that? Surely it was a sign. I felt a ripple of anticipation and excitement that I hadn't felt for weeks. I knew what I had to do. I flung down the boring clothes that I didn't want or need and reached for my phone. Without even knowing what I was going to say, I dialled his number, feeling my face flush crimson.
It rang out. Didn't even go to voicemail. I fretted that he may have blocked me or was screening my call. I made a promise to myself that if he didn't call back by the time I got to the tube station then that was that. My phone started ringing just as I began to descend the steps.
The conversation was awkward for the first couple of minutes, but then we were back to chatting like we'd never been apart. I told him that I was in town - as luck would have it he was just heading there. We arranged to meet, at one of the places we always used to. I sat on a bench fiddling with my phone, my stomach churning like a washing machine on a particularly complicated cycle. I recognised the swagger from some distance. But he wasn't alone. He was accompanied by a portly companion, and they were both dressed in smart suit jackets which was new. They also both had large wilted flowers in their buttonholes, the significance of which I never actually discovered.
'Ciao princess!' he hollered in his usual subtle manner, as I got up to claim a sloppy kiss on each cheek. The presence of an extra person was actually a bonus as it took the heat out of the scenario, although they kept sniggering away together, which stoked every paranoid thought rushing through my brain. The friend turned out to be some random mate he'd just bumped into on the street and dragged along for our slightly strange ménage a trois.
We decamped to a dated Italian restaurant that I'd never even noticed and I had to bite my tongue as Serge expressed approval nay delight at the terrible decor. There followed an uneasy three way conversation where I had try and get to know the random friend as well as chat away to Serge like nothing had ever happened whilst drinking at the rate of two drinks to their one. I'd been sitting on one side of the long table next to Serge but following a call that he took outside I was ordered to go round to the other side and sit with Mr Random. I meekly obayed, and was just settling myself down when a petite and very pretty woman walked through the door, clearly looking around for a friend. Which of course was Serge. My heart sank - for a minute I had a wild thought that this might be his wife. I could well imagine that Serge would find this type of scenario completely hilarious. But surely, even as the biggest risk-taker I know, even he wouldn't be that arrogant.
Thankfully she turned out to be family friend, whatever that meant, but he reeled off some complicated story about her leaving her husband and coming to stay with them. As if reading my mind he assured me that there was no 'funny business'.
As the drinks flowed I found that I relaxed into this strange and most unexpected evening and was was soon laughing away with the rest of them. Mr random lasted about an hour before making his excuses - he claimed he'd only been going out to get a coffee, but as I know to my cost, Serge is a difficult man to say no to. Eventually the winsome brunette also peeled off into the night and it for the first time in months it was just me and him.
The chat continued seamlessly, oiled by copious amounts of wine. I felt him place his hand on my leg under the table.
'You know I, um, love you don't you?'
Wait a minute. My mind was well and truly blown - where on earth did that little gem come from? What the hell were they putting in the Shiraz? I babbled some incomprehensible answer, and quickly changed the subject. He wasn't put off however, and whispered in my ear exactly what he'd like to do to me that evening, whilst I imagine a look of pure terror took hold of my face. I tried to style it out.
'Yeah, yeah, but you can't because you've got to go home for your tea, right?'
He had the decency to look vaguely ashamed. He paid the bill and we wandered outside. And as he pulled me towards a darkened doorway to 'say goodbye properly' I had the distinct feeling that I was right back at square one.Suggest a correction