New shoes, old clothes, familiar faces, guest list, stand in line, out of line, vodka vodka vodka - it just never ends. The treadmill that is the social whirl has taken it's toll on my health of late. I've spent the last two weeks resisting a rogue virus that has threatened to floor me on a daily basis. Five nights in a row I limped to my bed, unable to walk another step, hoping that sleep will cure me and then have woken up feeling like I've been out all night, minus the amusing anecdotes. I think I've won though; I have a constitution best described as 'robust'.
So last week it was time to venture out and have some fun. In the same way one is injected with a little dose of disease in order to build immunity, a low-key yet exceptionally well catered private view, I concluded, could only make me stronger.
I roped in my trusty party companion Kay, and wriggled into my thinnest jeans (losing inches from my waist being the only palpable benefit of my time in the sanatorium.) Neither of us were exactly on sparkling form, but enjoyed perusing the rather racy fashion photography that was on offer. The assembled crowd was buzzing with talk, not of the art but of the exotic foodie delights being cooked up outside so we followed our noses to see what the fuss was about.
'Actually, stuff the risotto, are those men over there as hot as I think they are?' I enquired, having come out without the glasses that I rarely remember to wear.
Kay peered at the group of three men in question in an unsubtle manner and confirmed that yes, two of them at least were worth a closer look.
Getting talking to them was easy, and within ten minutes one of them was unbuttoning his shirt to show off an impressive full sleeve tattoo with additional scribblings on one pec. That's what I truly love about London nightlife - everyone loves a show and tell and his smart suit and shiny shoes completely belied his undercover life as the illustrated man. His companion, who had caught my eye turned out to be French. And how! He was like a purebred cliché of Gallic insouciance - tall with dark floppy hair and criminally full lips that morphed lazily from sneer to smirk and back. He was wearing a dark suit and a tie so hideous that it was actually rather chic. They were with another guy who hovered slightly behind them and didn't appear to speak, which was faintly unnerving - at first I didn't even think he was with them but he definitely was, hanging back like their shadow. They made for quite an odd trio.
It turned out that they all worked for a high-end company that had lent some of the equipment for the show and further banter revealed tattoo man to be a serial fiance-mentioner, as opposed to the French guy who slipped the fact that he was single into conversation an impressive number of times.
My interest was more than piqued; my relationship with the beau has been fizzling out slowly like a Junior Disprin. I can't possibly compete with his extra-curricular sporting career, although he always sends me a photo of himself in whatever kit or strip he happens to be wearing that night. At first I thought this was quite a sweet gesture of inclusion but have come to regard it more as a look-at-what-you-can't-have slap in the face. A fresh new flirtation could be quite the tonic.
We talked for another hour (well four of us did), before tattoo man predictably made his excuses and left to get back to suburbia and his betrothed.
Spurred on by about five glasses of tongue-furring chardonnay, Kay and I suggested going into town and French guy readily agreed. Mute man must have nodded, as we were all suddenly bundling into the tube station en route to our friend's bar in Soho where the margaritas are strong and the waitresses are on the rob. In a moment of complete madness I told French guy that if he could do ten pull ups on the scaffolding outside then he could come back to my house, having rashly assumed that the gym was not high on his agenda - it would surely get in the way of smoking. He did them with ease and even managed a little shrug upon dismounting. The game was most definitely ON.
My depleted tolerance for alcohol meant I barely recall the journey home but I do recall him taunting me with his driving licence in my living room when I asked him how old he was. Even in my addled state I managed to do the maths and in an almost-sobering instant realised that he was young. Like, really young. Like I-was-finishing-school-the-year-he-was-born young. But he certainly possessed the charm and self assurance of someone much older.
The next day he texted me 88 times, starting at 7.30am when he got back to his flat and continued throughout the day. I freely admit that my ego was having the massage of its life. The constant beeping of my BlackBerry was the only thing keeping me awake through one of the worst hangovers of my life. And he made me smile throughout the evening as I slumped on the sofa, wondering how my plan to get better could have gone quite so spectacularly awry.
It carried on throughout the following Saturday, getting more random by the minute.
'You have lovely nails'
'I'm in bed!'
'I touched your back when you were asleep'
And rather fantastically: 'Do I text too much?'
If his plan was to wear me down then it worked. I invited him round that night. My friends were incredulous. 'But you hate younger men!' Sarah exclaimed. 'Remember what happened with my little sister's mate who you snogged in my kitchen and then spent the weekend with?' cautioned Zoe, 'You promised me, NEVER again'.
Blinded by the thought of those obscene cheekbones, I brushed them aside in reckless denial.
He turned up later on, having kept me informed throughout the early evening of his showering habits, aftershave choice and sock selection. He still looked gorgeous but worryingly younger in his weekend gear. I felt an unwelcome wave of trepidation. He was in high spirits but somehow the giddy abandon that accompanied the first meet was gone and all I could think about were the endless needy texts and his 'tender' years.
I leaned in to kiss him and I swear he actually grimaced. At that moment the whole sorry predatory scenario really hit home and all I wanted was for him to get out of my flat. He did after a strained couple of hours hazily drinking gin and avoiding prolonged eye contact. He sloped off into the night, moaning about how many stops he was from home. I was still cringing as I locked the door behind him. There's a good reason that a one night stand is common parlance yet a two night one is unheard of.
I poured another drink and stretched out on my sofa with my phone nestled next to me in blissful silence. I wonder what the beau is up to this week?Suggest a correction