The lovely Miss Crow reminded me that I had never finished the story of how He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN) and I, finally, got together. Yep, it’s time for another self-indulgent look back at the past.
After graduation I had moved away from Brighton and was living and working back home. HWSNBN had stayed in Brighton and was studying for his Masters. After graduation we did not see each other until four months later at a friends Halloween party.
I was standing in the hallway when I saw HWSNBN climb the stairs in his oversized leather jacket, a friend in tow. My stomach flipped as I saw him. Really saw him for the first time. Had HWSNBN always been this handsome? This tall? As we chatted I realised a) I really fancied HWSNBN and b) I had no idea what to do about it.
I had talked to HWSNBN without any problems for years but now I fancied him it was a different story entirely. I dragged a friend aside and in the epic queue for the toilets we held a council of war as my previous strategy with men I liked (stammer, avoid eye contact, hide) was surprisingly unsuccessful.
‘Talk to him!’
‘I can’t, I really, really fancy him.’
‘So then talk to him!’
‘I can’t. If I talk to HWSNBN, he’ll know I fancy him’
At which point HWSNBN’s friend walked out of the toilet having heard everything. AWKWARD. My friend turned to me with a gleeful ‘problem solved!’ look on her face. Except what we did not know was that although the friend told HWSNBN, whohad crushed on me since the moment we first met, he was convinced the friend was just winding him up.
As the party began to wind down I found myself sitting on the wall next to HWSNBN. I may have had a couple of shandies. OK, a lot. For those of you not acquainted with drunkRowan instead of being the life and soul of the party she doesn’t speak and falls asleep. HOT! As he invited to me to a party my drunken brain frantically whirled trying to figure out what the invitation meant. In my head I smiled at him seductively while saying ‘I would love to go to a party with you’. In reality I said nothing while smiling at him in a dazed way and nodding slowly. My flatmate’s then boyfriend stepped in and insisted on taking me home with them (grrr). And being very drunk I was not articulate enough to protest or, yanno, talk at all.
We did not get together then. Instead I talked about HWSNBN for months, annoying/boring everybody around me. Roll forward until February, one long grey Sunday and my flatmate and I were bored. We texted everybody we knew to see if anybody wanted to come over for drinks. HWSNBN was the only person who turned up. As he rang the doorbell, I lay on my bed (my bedroom was also our living room. Aah student life) reading a magazine, trying to look alluring but disinterested. But because there were only four of us I had to talk to him and when we started I couldn’t stop. We talked into the wee hours, past my flatmate and her boyfriend going to bed. Until I started to sober up and remembered I get up to go to work in minus five hours. (I really, really liked him to cut into my precious sleep time) As we said goodbye I panicked was he going to kiss me? Was I ready? As he hugged me, I turned sideways and we engaged in an awkward sideways hug.
We did not get together then. Roll forward to the end of March 2004 and my last week as a single girl.
The week before we finally got together: three different men asked me out and I didn’t fancy any of them. I had been happily single for almost two years but that Wednesday I clearly remember sitting next to my mum on the sofa in tears. Why did I never like the men who liked me? Why did the men I like never like me? Should I just ‘settle’ and see if romance grew? (Answers: a) cos I’m picky. b) because of my aforementioned ‘seduction technique’ c) Hell no. Never settle.) For the first time I admitted to myself I wanted a boyfriend. My mum gave me a big hug and told me that somebody I would meet someone who loved the way I deserved to be loved. Mum’s rule.
What I didn’t know was that week HWSNBN was dreaming of me. My flatmate was good friends with a close friend of his. Our real life cupids put their heads together and came up with a plan. And at a party male cupid told HWSNBN that I really liked him. According to HWSNBN he swore because now he was going to have to do something about it. That week, he had a series of vivid dreams in which I was dating another man and it made him sad. So he confided in his mum. And she told him point-blank that if he liked me so much, he should snap me up before another man did. Mum’s rule.
He texted my flatmate asking for my number saying he wanted to ask me out. Knowing how socially awkward I was she replied with ‘If you like her, you’ll have to get it yourself she’s down that weekend.’
And he did.
Next time: on kisses, stuffed toys and happy ever afters?