eeny meeny miny mo

In the days that followed, Barry couldn’t help but feel slightly duplicitous.  Not that he did anything or even saw any of them again. Just thinking about each of them in turn was enough.  It had turned out that perhaps he hadn’t entirely and cataclysmically blown his chances in one single moment, as he had convinced himself at the time.  During a slowly sobering Sunday afternoon, he asked himself: what if, somehow, she hadn’t seen me with her?  I still have her details anyway, isn’t it worth trying?

And so he tried, receiving reasonable text message replies from the pocket-sized American who had effortlessly won his highest affection.  Attempts at fixing coffee didn’t go smoothly, but she didn’t sound as if she was being polite merely for the sake of it.  So he remained unbowed and they agreed to try and arrange something soon.

It wasn’t just her though.  That same Sunday afternoon he received a reply from the lady who had told him, in no uncertain terms, to leave the venue.  She sounded forgiving, apologetic of her own drunkenness, claimed not to remember.  Barry entertained thoughts of her, ever mindful of her age.  However much he tried not to think about it, he couldn’t avoid thinking that the further up the agestream you look, the louder physical clocks tick.  Whereas further downstream, it’s quieter, less implicitly threatening.  He didn’t continue the dialogue with her, though it was she who had come closest, who had touched, and who had once invaded his dreams when none other had.

A dream appearance hadn’t even been bestowed upon the one main possible from the previous Tuesday’s event.  She was of course ignorant of his Saturday evening adventure with her neighbour from the event.  (Thankfully, they had not been acquainted).   He was still exchanging messages with her, discussing meeting up again.  She sounded very young in comparison, because she was young in comparison: a touch ditzy and forgetful of practically everything in their one conversation.  He would certainly be willing to give her another chance all the same, he thought, giggling at his magnanimity.

But he did feel conflicted and guilty, entertaining the ongoing notions of each of the three, trying to ignore that he had involuntarily ranked them in his head, despite scantly knowing any of them.  1. the ornamental American, 2. the younger possible ditz from the event, 3. the older ballsy lady – who he hadn’t altogether ruled out pursuing again at a later point, if 1 and 2 both fell bay the wayside.  But not now.  Not yet.  Not while there was still hope elsewhere..   How romantic of him.  She could even already have children, of course, he pondered.  There was something a little fragile beneath the bold, strident exterior.  It was an absurd situation, knowing practically nothing about each of them, being swung so readily by what they looked like.  They could each be quite mental.

He hadn’t told anyone he knew about all of this, and felt momentary tugs to verbally unload.  Let it all come pouring out in one long torrent.  With a friend / colleague, but around his girlfriend.  In a pub with his brother during a pause in conversation.  Never quite comfortable enough speaking to his brother about such things.  And it needed a good five to ten minutes of energetic monologue; he was never sure if he could retain anyone’s attention speaking for that long.  He’d do it given booze and the right scenario, but it didn’t seem to want to present itself.  And there was the other reason that it could all easily come to nought in the long run.  Telling people where he was up to would mean having to give updates and then answer questions when all hope was extinguished.  That sad shake of the head and puffed cheeks, together with a brave, rueful, pathetic ‘tried again, failed again’ smile which would make people sympathise and pity, and would make him want to headbutt them and run away.

Still he felt pressed to pursue, to not give up hope just yet, to try and secure another meeting or two and see if their interest would wane.  Or if his would.  It was a tricky and tediously long game; you gave line, then reeled in, gave line then reeled in, keen to appear neither too desperate, nor too casual.  He tried hard to negate his natural pessimism, tried not to envisage a month hence, when it would all have stalled and spluttered out to a disappointing nothing once again.  He would keep trying.


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