Gordon's Breakfast - 28
"That was a weird day," Larissa says.
"But I thought you did pretty well as stand in guy and bonus points for people management."
"Really? Well I always wanted to be stand in guy, but I was still expecting Paul to walk in the door. I was convinced he work come back. I just thought he had to."
"Absolutely, I feel like I've lost my relationship road map. I mean if it can't work for Jack and Jacqueline, or Alison and Paul, as I like to call them, what hope for the rest of us?"
"You don't really think that do you?"
I shrug, "Oh, I guess not, but that is my official response should anyone ask me."
"Off the record?"
"I thought there wasn't any off the record? Isn't your favourite quote something about Joan Didion? One last thing to remember, journalists are always selling someone out?"
"I'm memory girl, you know that."
"Well you're right, Didion did say 'one last thing to remember, journalists are always selling someone out, but...well, you can't sell everyone out."
"No, besides it takes too long."
"Are you trying to tell me there, that you wouldn't sell me out?"
"You really are just an old romantic."
"Yeah, well cynicism will only get you so far, you know, so I heard."
"You heard right, anyway, unofficially?"
"Unofficially, I think it all comes down to the two people sitting opposite each other and what they're telling each other."
"What do you mean?"
"Well it just appears that maybe like a lot of people Alison and Paul just started assuming things about each other."
"That's rather good – the bit about the assumptions. So are you advocating absolute honesty?"
I smile, "That would be totally insane."
"That's an understatement."
"No, not totally honesty, just talking and making sure that the person sitting opposite you knows what's on your mind."
"You know what I really find having trouble believing?"
"Hit me with it Lissa."
"Well it's pretty straight forward, but Paul must have, and I mean absolutely must have known that Alison was approaching her cut off point."
It isn't a phrase I've ever heard Alison mention. Larissa Snowe on the other hand is always mentioning it when talking about other people or in relationship to friends at work. Lately I think I've heard it a lot. The cut off point is suddenly something of an issue. It started with Elspeth, one of Larissa Snowe's friends. A couple months back when Larissa Snowe called me with some ("shocking") news. Her friend Elspeth she told me was pregnant, which was shocking chiefly because at the time, or last I'd heard, Elspeth didn't have a boyfriend.
"But didn't she dump Tom like months ago?"
"She did, but they got back together about six weeks ago maybe less."
"You've been holding out on me?"
"I didn't think it would last. So technically I was just delaying."
Previously my last Elspeth update had been that she had dumped Tom (her musician boyfriend) and thrown him out because he was lousy and inattentive (forget birthdays) and generally no good (he cheated) not to mention the fact that he owed Elspeth thousands of pounds almost entirely as the result of a major cocaine habit.
"This is the same guy that when she threw him out she went to the trouble of changing the locks on her house?"
"And now she's pregnant?"
"And now she's pregnant."
"That's odd he didn't really strike me as father material."
"Father material? Are you claiming expertise?"
"No not an expert on father material, I had this idea that fathers would generally teach their kids to play cricket and football and build model WWII fighter planes from plastic Airfix kits rather than educate their kids on class A drugs."
"Did your dad do that with you Gordon?"
"Now that you mention it…but I'm serious, that's my game plan."
"That's sweet, but I didn't think you had a game plan?"
"Well now that you mention it…but anyway, aren't Tom's major talent cutting and slicing white lines and strumming a few bars?"
"Elspeth used to say that he could play the piano rather beautifully. He used to play to her when they first went out. Later he would cut lines of cocaine on top. She used to think it was sexy."
"Classy, but corny, I can see that."
"He hocked it of course. He hocked everything."
"Lucky kid so why so rash on Elspeth's part? She always struck me as a rather sensible girl, which is why you two get on so well together."
"Oh you're charming aren't you? Sensible?"
"I mean that in a good way."
"As opposed to?"
"A bad way?" I offer.
"I'm sure Elspeth will be as thrilled as I am to hear you say that," Larissa Snowe said laughing.
"Well I'm going to reappraise her. She might lose her sensible girl rating. I might have to downgrade her to really rather rash girl. So what happened?"
"Elspeth reached her cut off point that's what happened."
I'm not sure if that was the first time I'd heard about the cut off point, but I think it was probably the first time that I realised that it was something of a trend. Trend is the wrong word. I think it's a generational and demographic consequence and a product of the lives and lifestyles of my contemporaries. It's something else that seems to coincide with exiting that key 18-34 year old age group. In Elspeth's case, she was almost 35, which seems for a lot of women to be their personal 'cut off point'. I guessed at the time that she cut with just a passing ("well I supposed I could do worse than Tom") thought.
"Her cut off point?"
"Elspeth decided ages ago that her cut off point was 35. She said she didn't care if she had found the right man. She always said she wanted to be pregnant by then."
"So Tom gets a call back as Elspeth is running out of time?"
"Basically, yeah. Tom gets a call back, you know how it is Gordon you can't always cast the right guy. It's a shame as he probably thinks she wants him for his music or even god forbid his personality."
"So much for true romance then."
"Welcome to true biology."
"I have to tell you that's pretty damn good - true biology, do you think you'd be able to find it in Detroit?"
"You could always look. True biology, do you think it'll catch on?"
"Oh I think it just might. True biology, a story about genes."
"Men should be told the truth."
"The truth, which one are you interested in?"
"The one about cut-off points."
"Well, you said yourself it's about knowing what's on your partner's mind. Anyway Gordie, so what's on your mind?"