My best mate Steve is just back from a glam trip to LA and is filling me in on all the gossip as we nurse giant measures of Amaretto - for some reason that's a 'thing' with us. After a while he settles back and asks me what's been going on back here in the fortnight he's been away. I take a deep breath and tell him.
"Well, I went out for dinner with Serge at last and we kind of ended up back at mine and erm, 'got it together' then I freaked out that I was too into him and called The Beau and went out with him three days later and slept with him too then the Stuntman called out of the blue - he's in Thailand for some reason - and he's offered to pay for me to go to South Africa plus the posh bloke I went out with for a few weeks keeps sending me 2am drunk texts telling me he still loves me and oh that friend-of-a-friend bloke I hardly know sends me porno picture messages about twice a week and wants to have cyber sex or something and I thought it would be funny, you know, having all these blokes on the go and I thought I could handle it but it's not and I can't."
I sit back and wait for the talking-to.
"Blimey" counters Steve. "So this is what happens when I go away."
"Yes" I reply limply, "it's all your fault. Right now I'm not sure i can be bothered with any of them".
He throws me an odd look, concern mixed with pity. Ugh, I'd rather be punched than pitied I think to myself, and wonder for the millionth time this week, how on earth I managed to get myself into this situation.
Sleeping with Serge was the culmination of weeks and weeks of unbearable sexual tension, furtive leg squeezes and in-car clinches, an itch that really needed to be scratched. Beyond all expectation he'd finally got it together to take me out for dinner, to a buzzy new tapas place that was so packed I thought the waitress was going to laugh in my face when I said we didn't have a reservation. Instead we were seated at the bar in a space so tight we were virtually in eachother's laps, but neither of us raised any objection. We had a brilliant time, feasting on little bits of this and that and giggling away like some sort of camera-ready first daters. We teetered back to the car and he offered to buy me some wine. I was slightly mystified - what, to drink in the car?
"It's raining," he shrugged, "I'll give you a lift home".
Neither of us spoke, but it was clear the game was well and truly ON. We walked up the stairs to my flat, the air heavy with anticipation. He poured us both massive glasses of wine in my kitchen. I'd been telling him earlier about a film i wanted to watch that night, and he nonchalantly looked at his watch.
"Well, we've got an hour" he smirked and kissed me up against the cooker, with me still clutching my glass. True romance. Only slightly dimmed by hearing him shut himself in the living room shortly after and phoning what I presume was his wife.
We've been in contact since, and not really mentioned our evening together, and I've started to wonder if he sees me more as a personal shopper than a lover. He has taken to summoning me to various high end department stores to help him pick out clothes and shoes.
"You have great taste," he said the other day whilst admiring my choice of handbag. "That's why you like me!" Cocky doesn't even cover it.
Predictably and completely correctly my friends are horrified. I vainly tried to defend him the other night whilst out with the girls.
"You'd like him if you met him!" I protested limply, "He is SO clever and speaks like, six languages! Ladies, he was telling me the other night about being really into metaphysics! How mad is that? And the body! Oh my god, the BODY".
I looked back at a row of stony faces.
"Yeah it all sounds lovely," shot back Sara, "if you overlook that fact he's a cheating scumbag who tries to palm you off with his mates".
She's right of course, Serge and I exist in our own little bubble where wives and children don't exist, and it is bound to end horribly but I just can't imagine not being around him. The other evening on my way home after seeing him I felt an uncomfortable sensation in my face, before realising I was smiling - properly grinning from ear to ear - an all too rare occurrence of late.
And then right on cue the Stuntman returns. Having friended me then defriended me on Facebook THREE TIMES (without explanation) coupled with our awful last meeting I had accepted that this was probably the end of the road for us. But up he popped, wanting to chat on messenger whilst I was at work, oblivious as ever to the constraints of a 9-to-5 office job. He didn't wait long before he lobbed his grand gesture into the mix. (He has a very well worn pattern of operating: he goes AWOL for large amounts of time then suddenly reappears when you least expect it, with some bountiful offering - in this case a free holiday - and expects me to drop everything and fall into his arms.)
I admit the idea of lording it up at his expense on a far away continent, and escaping grey boring London was tempting. But considering we can't even get it together to meet up in a bar in the town we both live in, I don't hold out any hope for such a trip ever coming near to actually happening. Plus I don't think I could take his ebullient company for a whole week; he has so much energy and his capacity for high velocity carousing dwarfs even mine. The simple fact is that I have become so used to the single life I often find myself itching to go home after spending prolonged amounts of time with other people, and just be on my own in my wonderfully silent flat.
So here I sit, trapped between a frankly amazing selection of rocks and hard places, with absolutely no idea what to do next.