“Andrew,” I said barely hiding the disappointment in my voice
“Erm…I didn’t expect…”
An awkward silence ensued for what seemed like eternity.
It was then I noticed he was holding a Spotty banana. Part of the Super Ted quip I suppose. An innocent ice-breaker.
“So you’re Wonder Woman?”
“And you’re Super Tit?” I said tripping on my words. I wish I hadn’t had that last glass of wine!
An odd moment occurred where for a millisecond I was uncertain whether he was going to break out into the Super Ted pose or throw a banana in my face.
I could see the headline now: Bridesmaid Bashed by Banana!- subheading- 35 and Still Single.
It was one of those fight or flight moments. Do I stay and endure possibly fighting off Arsehole and his banana or turn and run? My first instinct was to run as fast as I could.
“Little bit messy back there eh?”
He laughed. It was an awkward laugh but most definitely an ice breaker laugh.
“Oh that..” I said as if I had not just insulted his mum and Step Dad like some screaming banshee, “yeah just a bit.”
I shuffled awkwardly- aware now that my swan like grace was a mere illusion and with it so was my hem-line!
“I’m sorry for shouting at your mum and…”
“Joyful John? Long time coming I say. Dirty sod.”
I looked Andrew in the eye for the first time.
“Seriously, he’s been eyeing up other women for as long as I can remember. Soon as Mum broke up with my dad she got with him and has been accepting his crap ever since.”
“Mr Loose Eye?” I mumbled.
“Mr Loose Eye? Where d’you get that from? I love your phrases.”
I no longer felt like running.
“Oh just the conclusion I came to after dating a man who couldn’t keep his eye in his head or penis in his pants.”
Andrew perused my thoughtfully.
“What?” I asked somewhat defensively.
“So what other names do you have for these ‘Mr Wrongs?’”
“Mr Serial Liar, Mr Parasite, Mr Ex Factor and Mr Dreamer.”
“A-ha. Mrs Dreamer. I’ve had one of those.”
I looked at him bewildered. I’d never known him to have a girlfriend for the entire seven years I’d known him
“Yes..there are Ms Wrongs out there too.”
“Really? What happened?”
“She was my first love. Proper love shall we say. I’d seen other girls before but nothing like this. I was 25- a late bloomer.”
“Me too,” I laughed.
“I would’ve done anything for her. You name it I’d do it. She’d want a lift, I’d be there with the car ready to go, she’d need cheering up, I’d be round in a flash, she’d run out of money I’d be there with the cash.”
Andrew paused a second.
“I’m a rapper and I didn’t know it!” he laughed and pulled out a can from his back pocket and fizzed it open.
I took a sip and passed it back.
“Nicked it from the mini bar..I mean..I am gonna pay..”
“Or you could just hold up the place with your banana and nick the whole lot!” I laughed.
It was the first time I’d ever seen him laugh I think. In all my seven years I’d known him. I mean I’d seen him laugh awkwardly or nervously but this was different. He was confident, relaxed, at ease.
“I was a bit of a fool for her truth be told. She’d say ‘jump’ I’d say ‘how high?’ I cut off from my mates to spend time with her. They didn’t like her, you see. Said she was just using me and that she was ‘loose.’ I couldn’t have a bad word said against her so I cut them loose- stopped talking to ‘em.”
He took a sip from his can.
“She told me they were just liars and that they were jealous. Even told me one of them had tried it on with her. She said she wanted to settle down with me, get married and have kids-that I was the only one for her.”
He stopped for a moment.
“And then what happened?”
“Well I bought her a ring,” he sighed.
“Did you propose?”
“Well I didn’t get the chance to.”
“I planned to surprise her. Y’know turn up at her work, get down on one knee and propose the old fashioned way. Except I didn’t ask her dad-he’s dead you see. I asked her mum and everything. She was delighted but looking back now I could just tell there was that moment of uncertainty in her voice. Should’ve listened to that because when I arrived at her workplace, there she was bold as brass cuddling and snogging another man. And when I confronted her…”
His voice was cracking now.
“…when I confronted her-and I’ll never forget it- she actually blamed me for turning up without telling her. ‘You should have told me you were coming,’ she said. I should have told her I was coming! It took me a long time to get over that I can tell you.”
He stared into the darkness now.
“I’m so sorry to hear,” I stuttered.
All seemed a bit meaningless though to say.
“But Ads, he never left my side. I was a mess. Couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. I forgot who I was. But Ads he helped me get back on my feet. Reminded me that there was a whole world out there and life is worth living. I love him for that. No one else could understand why I took it so hard, I felt totally betrayed.”
“And how do you feel now?”
“It still hurts of course-the memory- but I pity her more than anything. I think she was just looking for a Dad in the end- someone (anyone) to give her attention, affection and everything she wants. She was a Daddy’s girl you see. Swings and roundabouts I s’pose.”
“Swings and roundabouts indeed. I’m more use to rollercoaster relationships and the occasional Ghost Train.”
“Ghost Train? Huh?”
“Yes. I’ve had my fair share of Ghost Train relationships. Y’know the ones where your man brings the past into a relationship full on with the Ghosts of Girlfriend’s past and skeletons in the closet!”
“You are a quirky one aren’t you?”
And there it was again the all-encompassing ‘quirky.’
“You must have a few skeletons in the closet?”
“No not at all. I’m a pretty straight forward girl actually.”
“Well you’re certainly carrying some baggage about!”
“What? Me? I don’t think so,” I said offended,
Andrew just looked at me. That look again.
“Anyway I better be heading back,” I said shivering.
Andrew took off his best man suit jacket and before I knew it, it was enveloping me like a lost child.
“Thanks,” I stammered fully comprehending the absurdity of the situation.
The drink was wearing off now and I could feel a slight hangover creeping up to my temples.
“I’ll walk you back.”
And so I walked, oversized grey suit jacket around my shoulders and frayed hemline sweeping the streets.
As we got to The Gracelands Hotel, I felt my heart sink.
My earlier antics and imminent repercussions haunted me like a lion stalking its prey.
I paused outside the hotel reception afraid to go in. I felt like a prisoner about to receive their sentence.
To hang or not to hang? That is the question.
Andrew looked at me in the same thoughtful way he’d done earlier.
“What’s that look for?”
“No,” I said a little too defensively, “you’re judging me aren’t you? You’re thinking-how’s this quirky, single woman attracting all these Mr Wrongs? There must be something wrong with her.”
He said nothing. Just stared.
“There must be,” I said quietly, “look at the way I behaved in there.”
I hung my head.
“No not at all. I was actually wondering how an earth any man could ever be able to cheat on you. You’re gorgeous, funny and extremely intelligent (if a little mad) but I love it.”
His words hung in the air and for a moment I knew not what to say.
“Mad?” I repeated in almost a whisper.
“In a mad scientist way,” he smiled.
I stood there in disbelief. Nobody had ever said anything like this to me before.
For a moment my eyes caught his.
He had such kind eyes and ever so sincere. I’d never noticed how brown they were. In fact I don’t think I’d ever looked at them.
He took my hand in his and kissed my hand softly. A shiver ran down my spine.
Was this really happening?
“Good night,” he said softly, eyes entwining with mine.
I could barely get the words out as he ushered me through the revolving doors.
“Go-ood night,” I stammered.
I walked towards the lift holding my hemline self-consciously.
Was he watching?
I turned around.
He winked and mouthed a friendly, “Good night.”
The doors closed. I felt a pang of longing in my chest that I could not fully comprehend.
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