The Rastafarian was a hybrid of a party animal and a traditionalist. Some of his traditionalism made me bristle somewhat and evoked a blunt reaction from me, but it is important to note that our cultural backgrounds were very different. That said, he had sisters who were well-educated, one of whom was a doctor in France (if he was to be believed . . . I was starting to realise that he was a part-time fantasist, to be kind), so his stance was arguably old-fashioned, even with making allowances. Returning to my original point, some traditional values allow the man to have a whole heap of fun, so maybe he wasn’t a hybrid; maybe his love of irresponsible fun was part of his traditionalism. His traditionalism led him to talk about marriage a lot. With two marriages behind me, I wasn’t keen to test the ‘third time lucky’ adage, but I didn’t express this to the Rastafarian, as I suspected that these were empty words. Initially, during that delicious honeymoon period, I was surprised that he had remained single for so long, but as our relationship progressed, I understood.
The loan changed our relationship. Or, at least, my view of our relationship. It was as if we were engaged. He was indebted to me; I had lent him money, so there was an assumption, presumably on his part too, that our relationship was grounded enough for us to be together long enough for the debt to be repaid. However, repayments were not forthcoming. He got a lodger, but then there were other things that needed to be paid/paid off/paid for. No sooner had the money left my credit card and zoomed into cyberspace to float down and slot seamlessly into the appropriately sized space that was the Rastafarian’s debt, did another debt for Council Tax pop itself through the letterbox, almost cheerily, unaware of how unwelcome it was . Don’t ask me, I said, wearily but angrily. I haven’t got any more money to lend you. He realised that he’d pushed the boundaries too far this time and he slunk away, meekly, like a naughty pet. Realising that I wasn’t going to get the full amount any time soon, I told him to set up a standing order to repay me in monthly instalments. He duly got his phone out and concentrated on it and I gave him peace and quiet to set it up. My phone was charging behind him and when it ‘pinged’ I wandered over to it and unplugged it. As I wandered back to the sofa, I glimpsed the familiar layout of Facebook on his phone.
‘You’re not setting up a standing order at all!’ I accused, ‘You’re on Facebook!’
‘I never said I was setting up a standing order,’ he hissed in response.
This was a classic example of his immaturity. His defence was as above; he was using semantics to fight his corner. I argued that he lied by implication; he led me to believe he was setting up the standing order and he knew that he’d misled me, but when someone’s ethics have ceased to develop beyond their childhood, this is the type of argument you have to expect. He set up the standing order, angrily and I knew that he could cancel it the following day but it would be hassle for him, at the very least.
The other revelation about spotting Facebook on his phone that evening, was the realisation that he had ‘unfriended’ and ‘blocked’ me. I was aware of his disappearance from my newsfeed, but I assumed that, like me sometimes, he had needed a breather from the insomniac world of social media. He argued he didn’t know how it had happened, then that it was because I’d changed my surname to my maiden name and he didn’t know who I was, then to protect me from his ex-girlfriend. The fact that he couldn’t settle on one story indicated that they were all lies, so I simply told him to send me a friend request or we were through. His final punch was ‘is Facebook that important? Why is this so important to you?’ That was an easy one to conquer . . .evidently it was pretty important to him, otherwise he wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of unfriending me and blocking me. So we became ‘friends’ again. On Facebook. The hostility in the room was tangible.
The ex-girlfriend had been mentioned before. He told me at the start of the relationship that she had struggled to accept it was over. He said that she had become angry one night and attacked him and so they parted company. Apparently, she had threatened to report him for assaulting her, because, he said, he had defended himself against her assault and she’d ended up with a bruise on her arm. I hadn’t really wanted to hear about the pitfalls of his previous relationship; I never volunteered information about my (soon-to-be-ex) hubby. He asked me about him though, which I thought was reasonable; I would have quizzed him if his ex-girlfriend was actually an ex-wife. What wasn’t reasonable, were his accusations that ‘I was always talking about my ex’ which, simply, wasn’t true; I answered questions about him only. But truth and fantasy seemed to be interchangeable, for him.
When the persistent knock at the door became louder and louder, I thought that the loan had come too late and bailiffs were going to descend on his worldly goods. Nothing was said. A normal reaction from me would have been ‘aren’t you going to answer the door?’ But things weren’t particularly ‘normal’ about this relationship anymore. He said nothing, deliberately ignoring the determined pounding on the front door. The lodger didn’t ignore it though, because suddenly we were sharing the room with a small percentage of the local police force. I stepped into the kitchen but caught ‘who’s the young lady?’ I almost stepped out and thanked him for the compliment but thought better of it.
And then they left, with the Rastafarian.