Original Blues Guy and I usually exchanged texts from Sunday-Thursday, to touch base about the evening’s entertainment. I’d cut right back on nights out over the summer, but we kept in touch and the absence of a text from him on Monday was noted. I hadn’t contacted him, because of his visible harrumphing as he exited The Folky Pub the night before. But anyway, I had a girly night out planned and I’d suggested a trip to a pub where there would be Open Mic and another where I knew there would be live jazz. We went to the former first and both Original Blues Guy and the Rastafarian were there. I spotted the Rastafarian at the bar when we walked in, so I took charge of the first round and while the girls found a seat, I headed over to him. He turned and grinned; there’s something really uplifting about someone looking so pleased to see you. (As long as it’s welcome, otherwise it can be awkward.)
He greeted me with a hug and a kiss and he was about to play, so after the distribution of drinks, I took the girls next door into the Open Mic room, which was set up like a cabaret. He played his very listenable reggae and then I introduced him to the girls, whom he charmed. He spoke fluent French and so conversed with my French friend and I guess he must have flattered her in some way, because she giggled and then he kissed her hand.
Even though Original Blues Guy had been there from the start, I hadn’t had a chance to say any more than ‘hey’, so when I spotted him outside, while the Rastafarian was being charming, I slipped out in hope of clearing the air.
‘What are you doing?’ he inquired.
I stared back blankly. I knew this was a criticism of my growing friendship with the Rastafarian, but I still didn’t know how to answer his question. But it didn’t matter, because he expanded on his question.
‘What are you doing running around with him?’
Now I had something to argue against. I pointed out that I wasn’t ‘running around’ with anyone. If ‘him’ referred to the Rastafarian, then it was true that we had become friends in the same way that the two of us had become friends. But there was no ‘running around’ and if that was an implication that we were spending a lot of time together, then seeing as less than 24 hours had passed since we met, that was a stretch. And so what if we were? So what if we wanted to? If the implication was that we were in a relationship already, then we just weren’t, but again, so what if we were? So what if we wanted to? And who had invited him to sit next to me, and then told me to ‘stay’, when I had started to leave the pub?
He had arguments with which to defend his opinions. He has plenty of women, he said. I’m not surprised, I said; have you noticed how gorgeous he is? More harrumphing. As long as he’s not two-timing. He has a girlfriend, he said. How do you know these things, I said . . . you couldn’t even tell me his name, when I first asked you about him . . ? That brought about a furious look of frustration on his face. He was caught between maintaining his lie and then victory was mine, or admitting his lie and being branded a liar. He did the latter which made me laugh and which made him mad.
His growing fury stepped up the rant . . . he’s younger than you, he said. It was true that he was younger than me, but not by as much as I thought. He was older than he looked and I pointed these things out to Original Blues Guy and threw in another ‘so what anyway’ for good measure. My (soon-to-be-ex) hubby had been younger than me but good grief, I said, I can’t believe I’m making comparisons with my (soon-to-be-ex) hubby! I met this guy 24 hours ago, we’re not even in a relationship (yet, to be fair – I could see how the land was lying) and what does all of this have to do with you? And while we’re on the subject of ages, I said, the age difference between you and me is about the same, it’s just in the opposite direction? I didn’t think he’d have a problem with our age difference, were I to fall into his arms and profess eternal adoration for him.
But he was stuck on the ‘what’s it got to do with you’ question.
It has everything to do with me, he said, because I thought . . . I thought that . . . I thought that we might have been going somewhere. I knew this had been his wish, but I had made my stance clear. I couldn’t continue to win this argument though, when we were arguing because of his fondness for me.
But then the Rastafarian came outside and Original Blues guy roared at him:
‘WE’RE HAVING A PRIVATE CONVERSATION!’
‘He can come outside if he so wishes,’ I swiftly defended him, angry at the rudeness of Original Blues Guy.
The Rastafarian used calming tones, without being patronising, to attempt to diffuse Original Blues Guy’s anger. I decided to return to my friends, as the Rastafarian, clearly, was done with charming them and so I needed to return to my girly night out. I was done with arguing, anyway.
We went to the quaint, jazzy pub and continued our night out away from the dramas of the previous pub. At some point I arrived home and as I walked in my phone pinged.
‘I miss you.’