I live in a metropolitan town. It may be tiny, it may not have much in the way of culture, or entertainment, or anything. It may have bizarre rules about what you can and cannot do on a Sunday (which I’ve been flagrantly breaking recently – a story for another time). However, it is still metropolitan. The melting pot of cultures and people here mean that when out and about, it’s not unusual to hear at least 4 different languages being spoken.
This jumble of people, all taking advantage of the low tax rates and high wages, means that, inevitably, your group of friends is far more varied than even London. (I held my pre-Christmas Christmas drinks on Friday night – of the 40 or so people who were there, we had Hungarian, French, Swiss, American, Canadian, British, Italian, Romanian…)
I met the Italian a couple of weeks ago. Not my usual type at all. A little on the short side, more prop forward than back row. But hell, we were drunk, it was amusing. He seemed keen, after the fact. He added me to facebook (the benchmark by which all new friendships are set, of course), he messaged me at work, asked me out to lunch. I met him for coffee, unsure. Perfectly sweet with a hint of a nice guy about him. “This is no bad thing”, I thought. “Look at previous experience, maybe this time, you should just give the nice guy a chance.” And so I did. I stayed in touch, I agreed to plans for lunch and coffees and meeting up over weekends. Except it never happened.
We talked last night.
“Sorry about today” he said. “I ended up going for a walk with some friends. My life is very complicated at the moment.”
“Complicated how?” I enquired
“Well, I’m separated, and waiting for the divorce to come through.”
“I know I told you I was single,” he continued, “but in my mind I was telling the truth.”
Not so much though, hey Italian boy?
I’ve known of the Frenchman for an age but we didn’t really become friends until recently. I bumped into him at a mutual friend’s leaving drinks about a year and a half ago. We added each other on facebook and started whiling away the hours of work together. Random chatter. A bit of a French lesson. Discussions on plans for the weekend. We swapped numbers. Facebook chats turned into text messaging and whatsapp. Our friendship grew.
It seemed only natural, therefore, to invite him along to my Christmas drinks. Granted, he lives a fair while away and it would be the first time we’d managed to see each other in a year. It was an invite on a whim, I didn’t expect an acceptance. And yet, there it was.
I thought it might be tough for him, knowing relatively few people at the party but he got into the swing of it quickly enough.
We drank, talked, flirted. We all went out afterwards to a seedy club. We drank, talked, flirted, kissed. He walked home with me and, due to the lateness of the hour and a distinct inability on my part to make the spare bed, we collapsed into my bed.
Far too early the next morning I picked up my phone to see a text from Swissgirl, sent at 4 that morning: ”Hi – I am sorry I left quickly like that without saying bye properly but the Frenchman hurt my feelings so I wanted to leave.”
“What happened?” I replied.
A few hours later: “We’ve been seeing each other for more than one year now and I couldn’t believe he would flirt with one of my friends right in front of me, when he was talking about sleeping with me.”
I messaged the Frenchman that evening: “Why didn’t you tell me you were seeing Swissgirl?”
“Whhaaat?” (I ignored the obvious questions about English use here) “Science fiction. Heard that apparently people thought that she was my gf. Bullshit”
“You need to talk to her about it. Because you obviously think two different things.”
Over the last twenty-four hours, the story has gradually unfolded. A variety of misdirections, miscommunications and mistreatment. She thinks they were seeing each other. He doesn’t. She was seeing other men at the same time. I presume he’s been seeing other women. She told various people they weren’t together. She told me they were.
Anyway, it’s all a bit complicated for me.
I live in a metropolitan town. It may be tiny, it may not have much in the way of culture, or entertainment, or anything. However, despite living in the middle of this fondue of different people, it seems that there is a universal truth, no matter where you are.
Men are confusing beings and the older I get, the more I’m convinced that I’d be much happier without them.