My friends rounded on me after a few drinks recently, as they often do - usually after I have recounted my latest social antics. This tale in particular involved a Monday evening that started innocently enough with copious pink Bollinger at a high-end jewellers and ended at the lower-than-low end of a Soho dive bar - which I try to restrict to two visits a year to be fair - with a hapless, new-in-town Cornish 'surfer dude'. Apparently I pinned him up against the wall around 3am, and refused to let him leave for his train - a plea that doesn't really hold up to scrutiny in retrospect. (I think it was his hair that captivated me so - the most perfect dark brown shoulder-length ringlets).
Anyway, they weren't that interested in this particular anecdote.
"We think you should stop seeing the Beau", they said, with solemn expressions.
I had to laugh - they needn't be worried since we have had precisely no contact since the last time I ambushed him in the hideous City bar, months ago. Nothing had gone wrong that night - in fact it was one of our most enjoyable nights ever - but it was like we both knew it was the proverbial 'last hurrah'.
I haven't shed any tears over this I have to say - if I'm honest I don't even like him that much. The personality clash was hysterical, I can't think of anything we had in common. Well maybe just the one thing. But for the first time ever I was able to to separate emotion from lust and I'd be lying if I said I didn't find it refreshing, nay empowering. This might be an awful thing to admit but I really don't care what he's up to and with whom. And I reckon he feels exactly the same way about me. He was purely a fun-time friend, nothing remotely heavy or involved and that suited us rather well.
I went from juggling him and the slippery Stuntman at the beginning of the year to suddenly not seeing either - they both dropped off my radar like they were in cahoots. A few weeks went by and there was no messing around to worry about - it was almost like they'd never existed. I felt utterly carefree, the bags disappeared from under my eyes, I even tried eating dinner a few times. I looked after myself a bit more. No texts to bat away, no 1am phonecalls, no endless cancelled dates and disappointments. But of course that didn't last. Little pangs of loneliness crept in and I was pathetically grateful when the latter suddenly burst back onto the scene.
"Just back from filming in Budapest babes! Hope you're around this week BIG SNOGS!" read the text from the Stuntman - who else?
"But he stood you up four times in a row!" an exasperated Lu sighed at me, "I am coming round to the theory that he has a massive drug habit or some sort of memory loss - do you think he even remembers? There's living in the moment and then there's downright mentalness."
I have to hand it to him, he knows exactly how to draw me back in to his web. I start off ignoring his calls and texts, then move onto curt one word replies, then the next thing I know we are giggling away at 1am in the morning about something or other. This tends to carry on for a few days, we arrange a meet up and then it all just peters out. It doesn't help that the nature of his work means he can be called away at any hour of the day or night and be incommunicado for weeks (and no I'm not making excuses for him). I just wish I knew how he has managed to get under my skin like that - it's a rare talent.
Anyway he was obviously after making amends as he pinned me down to go out on a certain date - I even had a fun event to go to that promised many cocktails and friends in attendance, should history repeat itself and I find myself alone at the drive-in once more.
The day approached and he stayed studiously in touch, enquiring solicitously about my well-being and whether I'd had good day at work like the well-mannered boy that he undoubtedly is, beneath all the oddness.
Then on D Day I awoke to find a Facebook friend request from him. Now this was odd as he'd friended me many moons before and must have therefore UNfriended me at some point. As trivial and teenage angsty as that all sounds it really was the final straw. How much more could this man mess me about? ENOUGH.
He texted around lunchtime to ask if we were still on for later. I ignored it. He then sent a slightly chippier one asking for a decision. I caved in and demanded an explanation for the Facebook fannying around.
"Oh I got hacked babe", he replied breezily, "had to add everyone again, total nightmare!"
I honestly had no idea whether this was a plausible explanation - but if it was a lie then he was nothing if not quick-thinking.
Once again I found myself being drawn back. But if we were going out it would be on my own patch and on my own terms. I said I was going to a private view at my friend's gallery, not far from my flat, without actually inviting him. No matter, he simply invited himself. I was utterly curious as to whether he would actually turn up. I couldn't imagine the East End gallery scene was quite his thing.
Later on there was half an hour of arty schmoozing to go and he texted to say he was only just leaving West London. I rolled my eyes until they threatened to fall out of their sockets. Three bottles of beer in however and I could feel my resolve slipping. I was having a great time with my friends, no work the next day and I was in the mood to party (just for a change). I texted him the name of the pub we were going to afterwards - a small back street boozer that would probably cost him his entire iPhone battery trying to locate.
"If he wants me he'll have to put in a little effort," I told myself, trying desperately to feel sassy and in control but still not quite believing he would turn up.
An hour came and went at the pub and it was getting embarrassing trying to front it out with my gang about when this mythical beast was going to walk through the door. Naturally they were all intrigued as to why I was still bothering with this workaholic timewaster, three months on. And then he swept in, full of apologies for his dodgy satnav and desperate for a pint (about half an hour away from last orders - by this stage I didn't even want to know what he'd been up to all evening).
He whisked me outside for a proper chat, which was going rather well until one by one my friends came out to join us and blatantly check him out under the guise of cadging his cigarettes. Apparently, the word inside the pub was largely positive. He'd won over even the pickiest of character assassins and suddenly everyone wanted a piece if him. He was the textbook charmer; downplaying his own career and taking an interest in everyone's plans, I admit I was impressed. I didn't even mind when he put his arm round me whilst we all chatted, what had I been worried about? Several of my pals even texted after they left, to say how much they liked him, I was dumbfounded - and really rather dangerously tipsy by this stage.
The pub closed and we walked back to mine, chatting easily and without any weird agenda. I realised how little we actually knew about each other and it was genuinely enjoyable getting to know more. He spoke about how he was off to South Africa to work on a film soon for a few months and offered to pay for my ticket there to hang out on set and have a little holiday. Even when we got back to mine there was no hi-jinks or drunken gymnastics, we simply sat and chatted even more until it was 4am and he has to leave as he had an early start the next day.
'I want to get get to know you really well' he said, and I admit I was rather touched.
I relayed all this to a couple of friends over lunch the next day. They were still slightly cautious but conceded that on this occasion he had finally stepped up to some sort of mark (mainly by just turning up I fear).
I tried to ignore my disappointment that I only only received a few vague chummy texts over the weekend, when I had secretly hoped we might go out again, just the two of us but no suggestion was ventured. Maybe, whisper it, he just wants to be friends! Of course I am fully aware that I may be being played on a grand scale. But I kind of hope not.