Sex and Relationships

The Single Girl: A scene to remember

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Sat on the tram home this Thursday I was positively excited about the profoundly uneventful evening I had in store; with a pile of work on my lap, something specifically unchallenging on the TV (I was thinking The Bachelor, but I think I just prefer the recaps) and the a steady stream of Charlie’s hilarious texts.

At first everything went exactly according to plan: My puttanesca and roquette salad devoured, my work was being done at a merry pace, on the TV women were somehow finding an ambulant cardboard cutout attractive, and Charlie was in fine textual form. It was blissful.

As Richie said his sad laugh for the fiftieth time that episode (Richie doesn’t actually laugh, he just says his laugh, he literally says ‘har har’ — watch out for it, once you notice, you can’t unnotice) my phone chortled its little message alert.

At the pub just down from you, might pop round after if you’re about? D

This was a rather unexpected turn. Davo, you see, had picked up at the same party at which I met Charlie, and had been AWOL in a pit of passion ever since.

This was true to form, Davo’s manta when it comes to new relationships is go-hard and never go home.

Not out with Mrs Davo this evening? I replied, as noncommittally as I could.

If you’re not about that’s cool. Just need a quick chat.

What. The actual. Fucking fuck.

In all the years I’ve known Davo, 22 in all — from the day we became friends to the end: when he got Tony Decarlo in a headlock at Sarah Jacob’s 16th birthday for calling me a slut — he has never asked, not once, for a chat.

I was immediately and completely terrified.

Please tell me you’re not dying, I replied.

The reply was instant.

We’re all dying. That’s what life is. But no, I have not been made aware of condition from which I’m suffering which might expedite my personal progress to the worms’ dinner table.

I noted with a gulp of maternal pride the correct use of the plural possessive apostrophe — teaching Davo this had been personal project of mine for much of the last four years.

He arrived an hour later, and I knew instantly he was completely loaded.

“Last week’s column was funny,” he slurred the second the door opened.

Oh my god, he loves me, I thought. Last week’s column was so painful for him to read he’s come round to announce his love before it goes any further with Charlie.

I remember precisely thinking these words,  and I also remember another parallel part of my brain laughing at this part for thinking it.

“I didn’t know you were reading it,” I said, ushering him up the stairs.

“I don’t – that was the first,” he replied.

“Well, thanks for the support dickhead,” I said, more than a little peeved. It was almost 11, and I was quite sure whatever Davo needed to say needn’t be delivered in person.

“So, yeah, right — so I spoke to Robbie, you know, to see if this Charlie was a good bloke,” said Davo, sat stiffly on one of my kitchen stools.

I’ll admit this thawed me a little. I had heard from friends that Davo was prone to these feats of dating espionage on my behalf, but this was the first time he’d copped to it himself.

“Very sweet of you, but Charlie is a wonder. He’s amazing, it’s going so so well,” I said.

It had, we’ve seen each other four times since we last spoke, each date, each morning more amazing than the last.

“Yeah, he’s not. He’s got a wife and kid in Elwood mate,” said Davo, never one to sugarcoat a plot point with a polite, ‘Robbie told me something,’ just right out with it.

“Bullshit,” I said. “He’s got the wrong Charlie.”

“He hasn’t I double-checked.”

“He stayed here all this week,” I was desperate.

“He told her his was working away in Bendigo,”

I remembered it well; that gut punch, that clenching sadness, so immediate, so brutal. The next bit was new though: the tears didn’t come, my knees didn’t buckle, my tongue doubled over, and I sucked hard — and that was that, back to neutral.

I thanked Davo with a hug, understanding I’d never know a friend like him again in my life.

So far, so squalid. But wait dear reader, because it picks up from here: Charlie and I had a date chalked in for Saturday night, and I had no plans on cancelling.

In fact, I was about to double down — I text him suggesting a bigger, snazzier restaurant than we’d previously agreed on. Well, if you’re planning to cause a scene, you need an audience.

I arrived spectacularly late looking spectacular. And I think he knew from the second I sat down he was in the shit.

I had planned on eating three lavish courses — then dropping my bomb, but alas, best laid plans and all that.

I’m afraid to say I barely made it past the starters, before an opportunity too delicious to deny presented itself.

An elderly Japanese business man was seated at the table next to ours, accompanied by a topple-inducingly busty blonde whose demeanour suggested an almost weary professionalism.

“How gross,” he said, leaning across the table, raising a conspiratorial eyebrow.

“What’s gross about it?”

“Paying for someone to keep you company, and probably balance on your balls later? I find that kinda gross,”

“You find that gross?” I said, flabbergasted.

“Yeah,” the look on his face by now was a mask of horror.

“Do you not find yourself a little gross? [ladies and gentlemen of the restaurant jury]” I said, slipping out from my chair.

“Does it not strike you, Charlie Meadows [the accused, ladies and gentlemen, accused of being a complete fucking shit] that your behaviour is rather gross?”

Judging by his face, if you’d given Charlie the option to teleport into the large intestine of a blue whale, I’m quite sure he’d have taken it.

“[The evidence, if it pleases you ladies and gentlemen] Is pretending not to be married gross? Is pretending not to have a child, is that gross? Are those things a gross person would do? A shit person? A deeply shit person?”

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, pathetically.

“Sorry? [Do not, ladies and gentleman of this learned, and may I say, well-dressed jury, credit this pathetic display as anything approaching honest contrition],” I said, the waiting staff now slowly encroaching on all sides.

“[Yes, my closing arguments] I’m sorry, sorry for your wife, sorry for your daughter, sorry that shits like you get away with this behaviour, this, your, disgusting behaviour. Please for everyone’s sake, drop off.”

I handed my cloakroom card to the maître d’ as he approached, “he’s paying”.

Hideous fun, obviously.

I realised afterwards, watching Evelyn sulking in the spire of his underwater castle, I hadn’t allowed myself, despite my misplaced admiration, to form too strong a bond to Charlie.

That had to be the case; I’d bounced back too quickly, I fought back the sadness too easily.

The alternative, that those emotions aren’t ones I can feel anymore, that’s scarier. I won’t entertain that theory.


Previous ep: I’m feeling whiskyed away

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TMGR's girl on the front lines of love. The Single Girl is an indie-obsessed, wine aficionado buff drinker, with a penchant for vinyl and French novels. She finds her goldfish Evelyn's indifference upsetting so she's sharing her dating stories here instead.