A few years back, I received an email from a bloke I hadn’t thought about in while. One I was supposed to meet ten years ago but didn’t. “Remember me?” ran the subject title. It took me a second. A nanosecond.
I had been a fugitive from heartbreak for a few years and getting tired of being on the run. I’d got lucky and fell in with a lively crowd attached to the job I took up. Jenny sat cross-legged at the neighbouring desk. A good sign. It was inevitable we would soon meet on Saturday afternoons for hangover parties to slump over coffee, despair at the state of our singlehood, and expertly decode one another’s star sign from the paper.
Then, one day, the dreaded inevitable happened. She broke with self-pity convention to suggest we do something about this terrible state of affairs (Munch Scream). A woman of her whim, she flung herself into the world of web-dating and set my comfort zone on fire with her inexhaustible optimism and candour at the state of my “aura”. Not forgetting the fact my dress sense was beginning to resemble that of an “orthodox Muslim”.
Under pressure, but unable to come up with a profile, I settled for hiding behind a few lines quoted from a favourite song. A cunning plan that would guarantee a non-response, or separate the Pink Panthers from the Anthill Mob.
I got one reply. He was funny, self-assured, with a great taste in music (obviously), a passion he converted into a living by writing about it. It was the height of Summer and our early attempts to meet were thwarted by family visits and pre-arranged trips elsewhere. Gradually our lives became a backdrop to our emails so that by the time Autumn came round the shine had gone off my nerve.
He’s happily hitched now with two kids of his own. It would be another year before I could brave it over the threshold of my charred comfort zone into the trust of another.
Jenny is still sitting cross-legged somewhere. Switching between umpteen languages on the phone nestled under her chin as she frantically rummages around looking for the phone she’s holding. I imagine it’s one of the many reasons her fella fell for her. And some other pair of eejits will be slumped at our old table tomorrow.