I met The Dude in the centre of town on a particularly warm spring day. I was a little disappointed because he was such a scruff, but we went for a coffee anyway and in fact, it all went very well. It was not unlike a movie date, where you find yourselves constantly hitting on common ground. Because we enjoyed chatting about books, movies and music so much, and because we were loving the long-awaited arrival of the sun, we ordered more coffee and then I found myself physically unable to stop talking, because my body is Ninja-trained to expect just one cup of coffee per day. But The Dude didn’t seem to mind . . . in fact, roundabout early evening, when I was wondering what to do with my evening, he texted and asked if a second date in one day would be too much? I guess not, because I was on the next bus into town and that was the start of a lovely relationship.
We went to see local bands (folky, jazzy, punky) . . . We went to the movies (cool indie movies in half-empty Bohemian cinemas) . . . We had an all-round great time for about a month. Then it all got a bit serious and there was a bit of jealousy and I started to wonder if I wanted this in my life. But anyway, there was an Open Mic night I wanted to check out in a folky sort of pub, so we arranged to meet up there. Weirdly, he’d brought his friend. This wouldn’t have been a problem if it hadn’t been for a couple of things: firstly, there had been tension between us, because he wasn’t happy that I had gone to London to meet up with a male friend. So I suggested the Sunday night sojourn to the folky pub, in order to help the wounds in his male ego to heal. Secondly, he hadn’t told me, let alone run it past me, about his friend, who, by the way, was a complete nerd. Intelligent, but socially clueless. I felt sorry for him, actually – clearly The Dude was using him and he was blissfully unaware of this fact.
So the music started and it did not disappoint. We were sitting, for this strange, tension-filled, awkward date with three people in attendance, at a small square table right in front of the Open Mic, like an odd island of anger in a sea of fun.
The Dude chatted to Friend while I watched the music, then when The Dude went to the bar, Friend and I chatted, about Star Trek mostly and which series was actually a truer representation of what Gene Roddenberry would have liked. I started to wonder if I was a nerd, too, but I would have noticed the awkwardness of the 3-way date situation, so I reassured myself that I was merely a Trekker. Friend did not go to the bar at all, because he was so socially inept that he didn’t even get rounds.
I noticed movement on the floor, to my left. I looked down and there was a hand, waving at me. I slowly leaned round the crowd of people that was obscuring the owner of the hand from my sight and there was an arm attached to the hand, which belonged to a man sitting on the end of a bench on the next table. With his hand, he beckoned me and then put the hand out for me to take and because he was the most beautiful man I have ever seen in my life, I allowed myself to be led over to where he was sitting.
He was tall, slim and with thick, shoulder-length, dark red hair. His name was Toby and he told me that my back dimples (I was wearing a cropped top) were the sexiest thing he’d ever seen. We chatted and I fell completely in love with him. (I’ve researched this, guys: it takes just 4 minutes of gazing into each other’s eyes to fall in love. So Jerry Herman was right when he wrote the song, It Only Takes a Moment, for the musical Hello Dolly.) Eventually, I returned to The Dude, because that was the right thing to do but Toby and I still chatted when big crowds of people weren’t in the way and clearly, he was as interested in me as I was in him.
Then I got lost in the music and at some point Toby left because I became aware of a silence to my left where once there had been happy noise. I made my excuses to The Dude and left. On the pavement, outside the pub, was Toby plus friends, obviously deciding where else to go. I was disappointed to say the least and a little baffled, but put it down to experience and went home.
Ah … you thought it was the end, but checked anyway! More on Toby in good time …