Friday, May 26, 2006

Gordon's Breakfast - 6

In the morning I am sitting eating cereal and watching late morning TV and I can't seem to help myself from repeating Helen's words from the night before. Amusing reflective asides? Pseudo intellectual conversation? God how crushing was that exactly. Don't answer that.

Susan has been emailing and ringing me all morning to ask me how it went last night. I have been ignoring her. I swear I am such a fool when it comes to following really stupid advice. It's like Susan has some kind of relationship disaster radar that steers people onto to the rocks.

I do intend, of course, eventually that is, to answer one of her calls. I'm just making her stew a little. Okay, I went of my own volition, but it still seems fair enough to blame Susan.

And so as the phone goes for the sixth of seventh time, I pick it up. Slowly, of course.

"Suze," I say with a sigh and a little exasperation.
"Oh, don't say it like that. Gord, you've been avoiding my calls."
"Really, and I wonder why I would be doing that."
"So how did it go? Just tell me."
"Put it this way, how do you think it went?"
"Oh that bad."
"Put it this way, Suze, your advice?"
Expectantly, she says: "Yes?"
"Remind me that it is critically important, and really I can not stress that enough, that under no circumstances, and I mean none whatsoever, do I ever follow your advice again."
"Oh come on it can't have been that bad."
"No you're right. It wasn't that bad, it was so much worse. So much worse that I think it has set a new worse record. Apparently, and I seem to have curiously blanked this out like some false memory, right afterwards, and I mean right after..."
"Right after?"
"You know - right after."
"Oh, I see, right after the moment."
"Yeah, after...the moment, I started examining her floorboards..."
"Her floorboards?"

And Susan sounds non-plussed, and to be fair, rightly so.

"Yeah, her floorboards, and giving her DIY advice."
"DIY advice, oh dear."

The way Susan says this somehow manages to sum it all up perfectly.

"I can't believe you actually examined her floorboards. That's like, I don't know, what is that like?"
"Apparently not a successful tactic is what it is like," I say, "and DIY aside, I still I haven't even told you the worse bit yet."
"There can't possibly be a worse bit," Susan says.
"Suze that kind of thinking won't get you anywhere. She said it reminded her of her dad."

I can hear Susan gasp down the phone. And to be honest, hearing my words have a physical affect on Susan doesn't actually make me feel a lot better, but it does kind of sum it up.

"Ouch. You're right that is worse, much."
"You're right," I say.
"You must be really depressed?"
"You know, I don't feel too bad."
"I think I should come around and comfort you, we can watch a suitable movie."
"What exactly do you mean by a suitable movie, Suze?"
"My choice, I'll see you later."

That's it. With that Susan hangs up on. Even when she is trying to apparently cheer me up she hangs up on me. What's that about?

Susan has some explaining to do. We have just watched a four or five-year-old movie that is perhaps one of the worst films ever made. I swear, that it is so bad that it makes Gigli look...well look, just as bad as it is.

"Susan, you said you were going to cheer me up."

Susan looks at me and shrugs.

"Oh how was I to know that it could be that bad."

I'm not exaggerating, I swear, it was definitely one of the worst romantic comedies I have ever seen. The film in question was 'Serendipity' and it was, as agreed, chosen by Susan.

"Look it had John Cusack in it, that is usually an indicator of some quality?"

This is true, 'The Sure Thing (a modern classic surely), Grosse Point Blank' and High Fidelity' is a good back catalogue, but with 'Serendipity'? No such luck.

"Anyway, I definitely remember before we started watching it you uttered the line 'Kate Beckinsale fantastic'. Oh, how wrong can you be? Another case of putting the brunette before the script. How was I to know that two young attractive stars of today could combine to produce utter rubbish? I wasn't convinced by their relationship either."
"Suze you don't have one."
"Funny, I can still comment, besides, I shouldn't think it would be that long."
I sit up when she says this.
"Oh really? Got any plans I should know about?"

Susan shakes her head.

"No, not as such."
"Didn't think so."
"Gord?"
"Suze."
"Don't you sometimes think?"

Susan's done that thing again and lost me. It could be the wine. She's looking across at me, eyes fixed curled up in the opposing armchair. I think she's about to fall asleep. The DVD player closes down and suddenly the only sound in the room is the slight electro buzz of the now blank TV screen.

"What?"
"I mean don't you sometimes think?"

And she moves her hand through the air and I look at her like she's a little spaced. As far as I can work out Susan has just repeated her last sentence again, slightly rearranged, but essentially saying the same thing. It sounds like a fragment of a sentence lifted from a more complete conversation.

And then she does it again, slightly rearranged,

"Don't you?"

Now I think about it, I'm struck that it's like one of those conversation that you have that lead you to tell people that they're deep, which usually means you just sat up late and talked for hours about yourself and nothing much at all.

In response to Susan's question I smile at her and I ask her if she's drunk. She purses her lips and looks down into her glass and as if it's going to tell her something.

Going to give he answer or tell her something important.

Are there people out there who read fragments of cork? You know like people who read tealeaves? All looking for a hint of things to come. It seems that there should be.

"You don't do you? You don't just sometimes think?"

I shake my head, I mean I guess I don't, as I still absolutely have no idea what Susan is talking about and I tell her this just in case things are a little unclear.

"No I guess I don't as I have no idea what you're talking about."

Susan nods at this, all contemplative and at one with things.
"That's okay," she says, "I didn't think you did."

And like you do we start talking about something else. Just gabbling away at each other and after a while Susan says that she can't stay much later as tomorrow she has dedicated herself to going for a long run. Time to travel she says.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gordon's Breakfast - 5

You know to be strictly honest I can't believe I fell for that. Paul's killer line? The one that spurred me from the comfort of their nice warm house and into action? You want to know what it was? Read on.

"He hasn't got the balls to go, I guarantee you."

I swear I am such a sucker when it comes to being goaded to act when it is blindingly obvious to all and sundry that such action is completely detrimental to my self-respect and well being in everyway imaginable.

"You don't think I'll go?"

At that point Paul confidently pushed his chair back from the table and sipped on his wine.

"Nope," he said with a shake of his head.
"I'll go, just watch me."
"Go on then, I dare you to do it now," Susan said.
"You dare me? Why don't you just go all out and double dare me?"
"Gord, I would but everyone knows that double dares are just made up and therefore don't count."

Double dare who says that? Pathetic right? It's weird as I started out quite firm in my rubbishing of Susan's very stupid idea, which has translated very quickly to me standing on the door step of Charlotte's flat having just pressed the doorbell.

Worse than that I can hear someone on the other side of the door. I think they are actually going to open it.

Maybe it was that third glass of wine, but really I'm not at all convinced of that. In the end I think it was, and it pains me to say this, that they were right. I'm not sure why exactly, but I do want to know. I mean I absolutely regret coming to that conclusion now, but that's mainly because I have already pressed the bell and the door is open and I am staring face to face with Charlotte, who to be honest, is looking about a shocked as I am.

"Oh my god."
"It's funny people have been saying that a lot today."

From behind her I hear what must be one of her friends calling out asking who is at the door.

"Who is it Charlie?"
And then another: "Is it the pizza bloke?"
"Not quite," says Charlotte.

Looking down the hallway of Charlotte's flat her two room mates emerge to stand either side of her in the door way.

"You're definitely not the pizza guy are you? What with your lack of pizza," says the second girl.
"No not the pizza guy, although I'm a big fan of pizza and obviously commend your culinary choice."
"This is weird," the first girl says, "who are you and why are you standing in the doorway to our flat?"
"Your flatmates?" I say.
"Yeah, flatmates," Charlotte says, "Helen," she says pointing to the first girl and, "Claire," as she points to the second.
"You two know each other?" says Claire.
"Oh I know who you are! You're the guy from the other night guy," Helen adds.
"That's probably quite a good description," I say.
"But what's he doing here? They're not meant to come back," Helen says.
"Well that's a long and complicated story," I start.
"He wants to know why I kicked him out so early in the morning," answers Charlotte.
"And when you put it like that, apparently, not so complicated."
"You know I think this is a first," Helen says.
"I'll say. This has definitely never happened before. They never usually bounce back," says Charlotte.
"You don't think this is the start of some trend do you? I'm worried about a sudden rush of one-night-guy bounce-backs all popping out of the woodwork and wanting detailed explanations. I'm not sure I could cope with it. What do you tell them anyway?" asks Claire.

Charlotte shakes her head at this still looking a little stunned by my appearance on her doorstep.

"I have absolutely no idea."
"You tell them all the truth that they were crap in bed and that you really don't want to put yourself through a repeat experience. Easy," Helen says confidently.
"Hey!"
Rolling her eyes Charlotte, says: "You weren't crap in bed."
"I thought they were always crap in bed?" Helen says.
"Not that I had noticed."
"Me neither," Claire adds.
"Oh," Helen says disappointed.
"I always thought it was because they were hanging and only ended up at your place because of an over reliance on beer goggles," Claire says.
"Oh cheers."
"You're not hanging," Charlotte says rolling her eyes again.
"I'd have to agree, so what is your story?" Helen asks.
"This is really quite exciting. We were just having a quiet night in and hadn't even gotten around to talking about Charlie's recent one nighter when he turns up in person. It's kind of like Jay Leno with special walk on guests," Claire says.
"You think this is exciting?" Charlotte asks looking sideways at her friend.
"You know I was definitely thinking more along the lines of humiliation," I say.
"Definitely more humiliating, and I was the one who did the kicking," Charlotte says deflated.
"Yeah, and about that," I say.
"You'd better come inside, we have a mountain of wine and it looks like we might need it," Claire says.

I follow the three girls inside and on into the sitting room. There's a bottle of red wine open on the floor and Helen pours me a glass.

"So come on out with it Charlie. What did he do that was so awful you had to kick him out so fast that he hardly had time to pause for breath," Helen asks.
"Well..." Charlotte starts.
"I'm really curious now, if he wasn't that bad in bed and isn't heinous looking what on earth did he do? It must have been..." and Claire trails off.
Throwing her hand in the air Helen, says: "I know, he must have done something afterwards, right?"
Claire claps her hands at this, "Oh you mean like some weird post coital tick?"
"Well to be honest you're kind of close," Charlotte says.

I'm indignant at this, it simply isn't true I do not have any funny post coital ticks and I tell her this.

"I don't have any post coital ticks."

For some reason this makes Charlotte grimace, which is really irritating as it spurs Helen and Claire to laugh.

"Hey, I don't, I swear other than witty pseudo-intellectual conversation, and amusing reflective asides."

Charlotte looks down her nose at me as though she had on glasses and to be honest I am really not liking the look all that much.

"Oh really?" she says.

Just then as we each fix our eyes on the other, and are locked in reflection, we are transported back to the previous evening when it hits me. When I said witty pseudo-intellectual conversation? I think I might have overstated the case, you know, just a little.

We were lying in bed with Charlotte's head resting on my arm in one of those moments that feels quite perfect and complete. No one has said anything as there is nothing to say and it feels like it will continue for quite some time even though you know it will end quite shortly when someone either rolls away or breaks the silence and speaks. It was me, what can I say? I talk a lot.

"This is a really nice room," I said.
"Thanks, I like it."
"But you know what it would look really good if you did the walls a light creamy beige colour."

When I said this it seemed perfectly natural and I don't think I noticed the look at first that Charlotte gave me, that asked in no subtle way, if I was in anyway mad, which is odd as in retrospect, thinking about the moment, I can somehow see it rather too clearly. Don't ask me, please. I have no idea what I was thinking.

"Beige?"
"And the floor, this place must have original floorboards."

See what I mean? I have the kind of mouth that just does not quit especially when it is behind, but just to make sure I rolled over and looked down at the carpet where I began to pull up the carpet edge to look underneath. Without getting back up again I then turned my head back to Charlotte.

"You're looking at my floorboards?"
"Yeah, floorboards under your crap carpet. You should do them."
"You're giving me DIY tips?" and she shook her head amazed, "at two thirty in the morning? After..."
I pulled myself back up and lay down in bed, "I just can't help thinking it might look good. Clean up the pine."
"It's scary but you sound just like my....oh my god."
"Like who?" I ask her scratching my head.
Charlotte rolled away, "Never mind. You know, I think it's time we got some sleep, night."

Helen is looking at me like I'm someone who is in need of help. Actually to be more precise someone who is need of a great deal of help.

"Amusing reflective asides? Pseudo intellectual conversation? You're into DIY. Sexy," she says laughing.
"Didn't your dad offer to do your floorboards?" Claire enquires helpfully.
Charlotte eyes her flatmate keenly as she says this.
"Yes, he did, and you know what? Lets not go there."

I am I know slow on the uptake, but I do at last finally get it and I can feel my face opening wide in abject horror.

"Your dad? Oh my god, I started speaking about DIY? I can't believe it. That isn't me. I have no idea where that came from."
"Beige?" Helen interjects.
"Really it was pretty good up until that point," Charlotte says.

We all sit there for a second and no one says anything. It's not really a very perfect kind of silence. More perfectly awful and humiliating, I swear, I could kill Susan.

"You know I think I might make another speedy exit," I say.
"A second one? You should hang onto this one Charlie," which causes all three women to howl with laugher as I break for the door at speed that tries to balance a vestige of dignity with a fast get away, but to be honest as I run down Charlotte's hallway I'm not sure I got it quite right.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Gordon's Breakfast - 4

Susan is at the door and I'm not quite ready. I buzz her to come up, but Susan is playing at being impatient and she insists on sitting outside on the wall in the cold while she waits before we head over to Alison and Paul's for dinner.

"How can you," Susan shouts through the intercom, "still be getting ready? Gord
you're a guy for Christ sake."
"And your point exactly?"
"Well you're meant to be like the Wash & Go ad, not still be mucking around in the
bathroom checking you've applied enough moisturizer."
"But wouldn't Wash & Go mean that I had dandruff?"
"Now you're just splitting hairs."
"I'm going to get ready."
"Gord…"

I can still hear Susan wailing through the intercom as I return to the bathroom. If she didn't already know it I would tell Susan that she's right. To be fair I used to be Wash & Go guy, but lately I'm not quite so Wash & Go guy. I'm more Wash & Go in about twenty minutes to half an hour guy. I am sadly, and I hate to even admit this, sitting in the bathroom with the toilet seat down reading an old copy of Esquire magazine with a seaweed facemask on. Oh the shame of it. There I said it. I could of course never tell anyone this as of course (and rightly so) I would face heaps of public ridicule, which unlike now would leave me very red rather than blue faced. Fortunately for me the taboo about men talking about beauty products still stands strong and looks in no danger of disappearing no matter how many grooming features they publish in FHM
or Maxim.

"You were ages, I want to know what you were doing?" she says testily.
"Guys stuff, sorry I lost track of time."
"Gord there is no such thing as guys stuff."

Susan shakes her head in general disgust.

"Well there didn't use to be until you all started to get more gay than gay and compete with us for bathroom time," she says laughing, "On current performance you seem to be winning."

I smile at this and start to walk down the street, "I'm saying anything."

"Oh come on, it's okay, I know that men don't like to talk about it. Personal grooming is still a difficult subject."
"I hate the word grooming, did I ever mention that?"
"What tough guys don't groom?"
"It's what I'm thinking."
"What was it anyway, an avocado face mask? Or maybe a lemon skin peel? You know I'll make an effort to look in your bathroom cabinet next time I'm around."

I shake my head and try not to smile.

"Okay it was a seaweed vitamin replacement mask, but this goes no further. If word gets out…"
"Gord you don't have a reputation, besides word will not get out."

Alison opens the door, she smiles, a very wide smile. Some people look grim when they give really large smiles everything flies out of proportion. That doesn't happen to Alison. Somehow there is a proportionality at play with her face and the lines flow. Did I mention I was president of the Alison fan club?

"Hello, you two, you're late."
"I just want to say that on the issue of lateness it was Gord's and not my fault. I was on time, but he was cowering in the bathroom with a girly face mask on."
"Oh what the seaweed one?" asks Alison smiling.
I nod, "The very same, and thanks Suze for following through on your word of not repeating my male grooming ritual."
"I recommended that to him," says Alison who ushers us inside.

Alison turns and leads us into the house down the hallway past the sitting room and the dinning room, which is set and ready to accommodate dinner for four, and into the kitchen. Paul has an apron on that says "Danger professional at work". This is good advice and it is well worth standing back a little when Paul is cooking. He tends to bark and flash sharp knives around.

"You guys are late," Paul says as soon as we walk into the kitchen, "you're lucky I've got the culinary skills to accommodate. You have no excuse," he says waving a dripping wooden spoon in my direction, "you don't even have a job."
"Hey, what's with the no job thing? I probably put in more hours on the keyboard than…well okay that is clearly a lie, and a poor one at that, but I work at home where I write incisive pieces about yoga and male grooming."

Paul smiles, "I heard from the doorway, seaweed face mask is your top tip, right?"
"No," says Alison, "that's my top tip as well you know. I bought some for Paul and he was swanning around the house in at the weekend like Elton John."
"Lies, lies," Paul shouts, "I was not swanning. I relaxed in the bath."

"You don't mind do you, but I so need a drink?" Susan asks and without pausing lifts out a bottle of white wine from the fridge.
"Gord needs a drink, as well," Alison says, "We're terrible hosts," she says sipping from her own glass of wine.
"I'm just here for the free food," I say accepting the glass of wine from Susan.
"Well it's a good job you have friends like us who are able to fend for themselves,"
Susan says.
"Good friends like you who can fend for yourself in our kitchen," says Paul laughing.
"Well we don't have kitchens like you Paul, as you well know. This is a trial run for the rest of us. We get to watch you operate in this grown ups kitchen full of acres of chrome. It's like one of those adult training areas," I say.
"Gordie, we've been hearing about your recent embarrassment," Alison starts, "tell us more."
"My recent embarrassment? Give me a moment here...."
"He's trying to place which embarrassment you're referring to," says Susan.
"Oh that's helpful, Suze."
"Your one night stand," Alison supplies helpfully.
"Oh that. You should have come right out and said it. You got me all confused. It wasn't so much embarrassing as absolutely mortifying. It's a subtle difference, but it's okay. I'm out the other side."
"Susan says you have a plight," Alison says coyly turning over some food with her fork.
"A what? I have a plight already? I don't have a plight."

I don't have a plight that's just plain crazy slash Susan talk. Suze has delved straight into self-help 101.

"What you mean going from one meaningless short-term relationship to another short-term meaningless relationship? You have a plight."
"Hey, they're not meaningless they're disastrous, there's definitely a difference."

Paul shakes his head in dismay at this.

"I'm not going to ask you how many hours you spent honing that. But mate, please, why would you even want to make that distinction?"
"Because they start out with, you know, potential."
"Who told you that?"
"Funny. There is always something, but somehow it gets lost in translation."
"See? You definitely, you have a plight," Susan says.
"It does seem like you definitely have a something," Alison adds.
"You're screwed, face it," Paul concludes.
"Are you sure? The other day I suffered a slight setback and already I have a plight. This is like the arms race. You start out with a bow and arrow, tanks by midweek and the A-bomb by the weekend."
"You definitely have a plight. It's the beginning of the end. You'll have to give up one-night stands and grow up."
"Yeah I think I got that bit."
"But Gordie, did you really?" asks Alison.
"Ali, I swear I got it."
"So no more empty one night stands?"
"Empty? I think you should cast you mind back. You know to those pre-historic pre-marriage days. Whoever said one night stands were empty vessels that left you feeling soiled and unfulfilled?"
"Everyone?"
"Okay, so everyone says it, but serious, the whole everyone thing is definitely overrated. It's fun, you know sometimes."
"Is that before or after they kick you out?"
"Did she really kick you out? Ouch that's so..." Paul starts.
"Crushing, yeah, that about explains it. Although to be honest there was definitely some humiliation in there as well. And difficult to admit as it is, I'm afraid it's all true. I feel like I've grown just by owning up to that."
"You've grown? Wow it's amazing what a new personal low can do for a guy," Paul says.
"You mean lower than not actually having a girlfriend?" Susan throws in.
"Hey you can talk, Ms Single for 18 months."

Susan snorts at this.

"Resting and between boyfriends. Unlike some I have standards. That's sober standards."
"Well it seems that this woman has standards as well considering how fast she kicked him out," Paul guffaws.
"You know who this girl sounds like don't you?" Alison asks cryptically.

I roll my eyes when Alison says this as of course I know exactly who Charlotte sounds like in this story. She sounds just like me, well you know a younger version of me who did not get kicked out really early – without breakfast.

"Tell me about it. It was like I was standing there watching a carbon copy of myself, but with breasts. And I was looking at her and it suddenly dawned on me how little time I spent thinking about…"

And I'm waving my arms in the air in search of the right word before Alison helps me out.

"What you mean, how little time you spent thinking about those women that you slept with in the past? The little regard you paid them?"

Those are of course exactly the words that I am looking for, but when you hear one of your best female friends throw it at you like that it doesn't sound all that appealing.

"Yes, essentially, I started thinking about those women that…
"You'd slept with."
"…that I had previously known if…"
"Briefly?"
"…for a short-time. So yeah, I was standing there and thinking oh my god, that is exactly how long she is going to spend thinking about me. How depressing is that. Answer, obviously very depressing."
"You mean 30 seconds?" says Paul, who being happily married finds this all rather too hilarious.
"Hey come on that's just callous. Longer than that."
"So Gord what does this new found wisdom tell you?" Alison asks.
"I think it was like a sign."
"Saying?"
"Oh definitely a stop sign," Susan says.
"Suze is right, a stop sign with a little proviso at the bottom, you know like the small print in financial ads, that basically says very clearly that 34 is a bit too old for one night stands and that if you pursue them beyond this age results might well vary."
"It's scary just listening to you. You've just realised this?" Paul questions.
"Paul, unlike you I wasn't born with a pre-programmed instinct to want to marry as soon as I humanly could."
"Oh you mean in Paul's case as soon as I would agree?" provides Alison who squeezes Paul's hand as she says this.
"Anyway, I have a plan."

Already I'm not liking the sounds of this. Susan always has plans for other people and they never seem to involve anything appealing or vaguely sensible. Her plans are more like flans, they fall to pieces as soon as you try to do anything with them. They're more like flan plans than real plans.

"You have a plan? I'm not going to like this."
"Possibly not."
"Possibly not? Oh sell it to me why don't you."
"I think you should confront it."
"Confront? I'm not liking these words. Plight followed by confront? I have to tell you that I am absolutely dreading what comes next."
"You should go round and see Charlotte."
I swear the woman is insane.
"She's right Gord," Alison says.

Let me rephrase, I swear women in general are insane.

"You're insane, you know that right? I mean both of you."
"Listen, you should go around and see her and ask her why she threw you out. You
know you want to know only then will you be able to move on."
"Oh thanks, but in a word, no."
"Gord, it will put your mind at rest," Alison says.
"My mind at rest? You're kidding, here's a better idea, she's Susan's friend, and she introduced me, why doesn't she ask her?"
"I'm sitting here, if you don't mind."
"I know that, you're the one with all the crazy talk."
"Besides Charlotte's not a friend, she's a work colleague."
"And yet you still want me to go around and see her?"
"Absolutely. Anyway, I thought she looked very nice. You know for the type."

Don't you just hate it when women do that? I swear it is only women, they dangle that implied question and you just have to roll with it, you just have to ask. There's no escaping it, there's nowhere to run: you have to ask, so I do.

"For the type?"

Susan is, of course, delighted when I ask the question. I'm only surprised that she was not clapping.

"Oh the junior fashion writer type you can pick up at a fashion party and have a one night stand with."
"Hey? I thought she was cute."
"But a little short maybe?"
"She was a brunette."
"Really more mousey than brunette, I would have said."

That's like an aural cue for both Alison and Susan to touch their perfectly silky brunette hair.

"She was funny, she had a great sense of humour."
"But apparently not that smart."

And it's weird, but I think Susan is on a roll.

"Hey, she was 25."
"Oh, but Gord they are always 25," Susan opines.
"And still a perfectly respectable age to waste time on people like you."
"Oh gee thanks Suze, remind me again who people like me are?"
"Oh that's terribly easy. You're people who aren't even close to 25 and at 34, you are on the cusp."
"The cusp?"
"The cusp of 35 when things start to go downhill at an incredibly rapid rate, which is really just another reason why you should go around there."
"You make it sound like a downhill bobsleigh event."
"Gord, it's when advertisers lose interest in you and, well, other people do as well."
"You're harsh. Have people told you this?"
"You know she's only teasing you," Alison says.
"Yes, I know she's only teasing, but Suze? You're still harsh," I say smiling.
"Think of it this way, at least if you turn up at Charlotte's she'll be completely gob smacked, I swear. Her jaw will drop like a stone."
"Oh I get it. You've been thinking what kind of social death can I inflict on Gordon, right?"
"Seriously, I promise it will help."
"Mmm, and after that I will publicly flail myself for good measure. I'll sell tickets, make a day of it, are you on drugs?"
"Gord?"
"Suze, no way, I mean come on Paul, help me out here?"
"Susan's right you should go round there."

I'm stunned into near silence, I mean seriously I can't speak. This always happens to be me when people make the most ludicrous suggestions in the entire universe. They seem to inexplicably make perfect sense to other people. What's that about?

"Uh? Could you repeat that?"
"I think she's right," Paul says again.
"Are you insane, contrary to popular belief I don't actually go out looking for
humiliating experiences."
"Dude no one ever said you did. We thought they came looking for you," Paul says
grinning.
"And yet again with the humour."
"Seriously you should go," Paul says.

He pauses and I know he's going to say something else and I know that he is going to twist the knife. I swear I can feel it coming.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Gordon's Breakfast - 3

When the phone rings a couple of hours later I'm watching daytime TV. I know I should be working, somehow though I have failed to come to any conclusions about men and yoga - you know the fundamental reason why men go. I'm sure it will come to me. And besides, I get some really good ideas from daytime TV.

I feel suitable bad about watching it, of course, as I know that like too much sugar it rots my brain, but I can't help it. It's like crack cocaine, but without the need to rob people's houses and ruin your body with needles. Sometimes when I watch daytime TV I get into a terrible panic. I realise I have been engrossed for hours, maybe more, and I have the urge to rush over to the bookcase and pull out a Sartre and start manically reading it to show that I still can, but at the same time I worry that when I look at the words they will just stare back at me and have lost all meaning like I'm reading Latin. Or rather not reading Latin. Trust me it's important. It's part of this long term nagging worry that I am moving towards a land where I no longer have the capacity to read big books or watch foreign movies with subtitles. I'm lying about the foreign movies. I haven't been able to bring myself to watch one for years. In French? Give me a break. Okay, I know exactly what that means: I've become lazy, but most days I'm kind of unrepentant about it and I know full well that instead of reading serious literature I'll probably catch some more day time TV and write about men and yoga or dating tips for women over 30.

It's Susan again and before I have the chance to say anything more than hello Susan has launched into a conversation and like a lot of conversations I have with Susan sometimes my participation is in no way strictly necessary.

"Hey."
"I know why you do it."
See what I mean? It's like she started without me and I'm already lost.
"I'm lost."
"Of course you are, but I'm sure that will pass."
"No seriously, I'm lost."
"I was talking about one night stands, I know why you do it."
"You know why I do it?"
"Of course."
"Oh okay, so what's you're theory?"
"It's because of the 'one'."
"The one? I have no idea what you're talking about."

I cross my arms, fidget, and scoff loudly at this, baulking at even the slightest suggestion that I could be carrying a torch for a girl, otherwise known as Larissa Snowe, who dumped me four years ago. Okay, so I have a vague idea of what Susan is talking about.

"You have no idea what I'm talking about? I bet you're sitting there with your arms folded."
"That's rubbish even for you. Besides..."
"Rubbish? That's not exactly the convincing denouncement I was expecting. And anyway, since you found the one, and lets call her Larissa Snowe..."
"Do we have to?"
"Oh I think we do, as I was saying, since you found the one and then carelessly lost the one..."
"Careless? I'm not careless I'm the exact opposite of careless. I'm..."
And suddenly my mind is a total blank. It's always the easy stuff, damn that girl and daytime TV.
"As I said, carelessly lost the one now you need to find the other one."
I scratch my head, "The other one?"
"The other one is the one that you keep," Susan says pleased with herself.
"Any idea what she looks like? You know just so I know."
"No idea sorry, but I'm sure you'll work it out eventually."
"Really? That's not very helpful. I thought you might have a hint or something for me."
"You want a hint?"
"Yes, that would be cool."
"Okay, here's a hint - work it out for yourself."

With that Susan hangs up on me. Sometimes I swear I have no idea, I mean seriously what's that about. And the hanging up? Don't get me started.

Back at my desk in the spare room I am at least staring at my computer, but it just isn't happening. And while I hate myself for doing it, I find myself totally preoccupied with the subject of the one. I know that in so many ways spending time thinking about something as inane as whether there is or not a one (the Matrix and Star Wars movies aside) or whether a concept of the one actually exits elevates the whole subject to heights that are wholly inappropriate. God, what has on earth happened to me? I have an English degree and a really high IQ, and now I use my grand IQ to work out whether there is a one, which really, and lets be honest here, equates to nothing more than the simple (Self Help Manual inspired) question as to whether there a girl out there who is 'like, you know, totally right for me?'. Those I hasten to add are my own italics for my own specially imported valley speak brain.

It's sad, but the only thing that makes me feel a little better about wasting my averagely valuable time on this subject is that I know it isn't just me. I know I am far from alone. It's other people and at least most of the people I know, you know give of take those who are very happily together or in fact married. My friend Adam for instance, who just like me, will talk about this one girl on a regular basis and about how this one girl got away. She's his one. You know like a POW. Like Steve McQueen on a motorbike. Except with the escaping part. Unlike the cooler king this girl made a clean break, well from Adam, at least.

I digress. There is this girl. She's like every girl and she got away. She got away from us all. I'm sanguine about it all, I'm pretty sure in all of our cases that the one who got away isn't coming back. I mean they just aren't (right?), sadly this doesn't stop us talking about it. Really, to be honest, I'm pretty healthy when it comes to this subject. For instance, I have managed to stop myself Googling her, which has been a gargantuan effort, really hard, as it's just so damn tempting and easy to do. But I know if I touch those keys and hit the return button it will be OMG Gordo time as the horrible truth is revealed about my really successful and happy ex-girlfriend. I don't need that so I advise you all to stay away, I mean why do it?

She's still sort of out there, of course, you know in my head. In my headspace like one of the many permanent residents who my brain has handed out a parking permit to, but there's nothing much I can do about that.

Maybe Suze is right. Maybe all this talk about the one stops you finding the other one. On an impulse I decide to test the theory on Adam and I dial his work number.

"Hey."
"Hey, I'm just on my way out to a meeting."
"It's okay I'm just calling to field test a new theory, you know snap research, it won't take long. I'm thinking of writing a piece."
"Oh yeah, what's the story?"
"Errr women, what do you think?"
"Sorry stupid question. I worry sometimes that we don't have any other topics of conversation."

This makes me laugh I swear it is so true. Obviously there is TV, cultural goings on and football, but to be honest we seem to spend a lot of the rest of our time talking about women. Finding them, being with them, losing them and finding new ones. It's a vicious circle, I swear.

"You're sadly right, I plan to get some new hobbies, you know someday, to give me something else to talk about. I'm going to wean myself off women in the same way I did cigarettes."
Adam laughs at this.
"Yeah, but you'll back on the women in no time flat. How many times is it you have now given up smoking?"

I should mention this now and get it out of the way. I am the maker of grand drunken gestures, evening promises and other things that I generally don't stick to. I have on so many occasions after smoking half a packet of cigarettes declared that I am through with fags. Sometimes I do this loudly and invite witnesses. The thing is, and I know I sound like an addict here, that I smoke so little, I hardly see the point in stopping. Other that is when I am out boozing.

"That's true, but about women I'm serious."
"Funny, I'm not sure the women in your life have ever seen it that way."
"I'll let you have that one. I'm feeling pretty magnanimous this morning."
"Really?"
"Uh huh, really."
"Okay, so what's your research?"
"The one. You know as in 'she's the one'. You've been down the road. I thought I'd start with you."
"Oh you mean Karen Young? The girl I filed under 'too stupid to realise was the perfect girl and have since lived to regret'. You mean that one?"
"That's exactly what I was saying to myself, you've been there and done the whole one thing."
"What brought this on, anyway?"
"Susan."
"Susan?"
"Well more the girl I met last night."
"You didn't sleep with her did you?"

As he says this he delivers one of those filthy laughs down the line that somehow suggest moral superiority and is really only delivered to let me know that he has me just where he wants me. To be honest I am not a big fan of these kinds of laughs. It's unfair as usually, and I swear this is true, I enjoy sitting on the moral high ground in relation to Adam.

"Well I thought I did, but you know on reflection, it seems that she slept with me."
"This from the man who never does one night stands."
"Hey, it was a one off."
"They're all one offs that's why they call them one night stands."
"Whatever, the point is Susan says that the reason I have them is because of the one."
"Because of Larissa Snowe?"
"Wow it sounds so harsh when you put it like that."
"So you think she was the one?"
"Of course not."
"You don't? I thought you did?"
"I don't believe in the theory of the one other than in terms of Star Wars, and the one who will bring balance to the force, which is of course more serious."
"It doesn't matter whether you believe or not. The theory of the one is like god. Believing or not believing doesn't change the fact that god is still out there, which is kind of like the one."

I sigh deeply. That makes absolutely no sense and I tell Adam this.

"That makes no sense."
"It makes perfect sense. You talk about her all the time."
"That's not true, what I do is talk about her as an example of things that can go wrong when you date someone, but only when it comes up in conversation."
"Like I said you talk about her all the time."

Damn Adam and his smart answers. He's right, which is so weird as Adam is never right. I mean it's like a law of physics and the law simply states that Adam is never right. It's an immutable, fixed and unalterable fact about our universe well the one my friends and I inhabit at least.

"Weird. You're right I do. Do you think we just shifted into an alternative universe one where you're always right no matter what happens? I think we might have. Say the sky is falling right now, you know just to see what happens."
"Piss off."
"What can I say?"
"Nothing apart from you talk about a girl all the time who you haven't spoken to for almost four years. Weird? I'd say so."
"Smart arse? I'd say so."
"Well in that case, yes I've had a one experience, but don't even think about using me in anything you write."
"But I thought you came across really well in that metrosexual piece?"
"You made me gay. I don't call that coming across well."
"Adam you're over reacting. You came across as just gay enough."
"I don't want to be just gay enough. Anyway, you know who the other one is don't you?"

Know who the other one is? What's he talking about? If I knew who the other one was would I be sitting here. Suddenly my heart begins to beat a little faster. It's crazy I know, but maybe Adam knows something that I don't.

"You're insane, of course I don't know who the other one is."
"Oh come on, why don't you just get it done with an ask out Susan."

I cough and splutter into the phone. That's where crazy thinking will get you. Adam doesn't know anything that I don't, that's just insane. He is insane. I can't go out with Susan. No one can. That's the rule as Susan is our friend and if we started dating her and...well its bound to get complicated.

"You're insane. I can't go out with Susan."
"Whatever, anyway, got a go."
"Later."

And I hang up and I'm back at my desk thinking about the one and the other one (who is definitely not Susan) when really I should be thinking about men and yoga, which while intrinsically as silly as spending time and energy thinking about the one will actually pay the rent.