In which the game of Let’s Pretend comes to an end

So the story actually begins on Good Friday, but let’s pick it up in July, stuck in post-Appleby Fair traffic on the A64, somewhere around York.

One of us is bleeding quietly from her backside. The other is quietly nursing a monstrous hangover. Yes. Last night somehow turned into a big one.

I gingerly note that gin and rum and fizzy red wine and port and champagne and whisky are poor substitutes for a good handful of lubricant. He greenly notes that eating cockles on Scarborough seafront the morning after the night before might not have been a good idea.

But bleeding and biliousness aside, it’s been a good weekend. A weekend of Let’s Pretend.

Let’s Pretend we can afford this rather expensive hotel – it’s worth every penny, but that’s not the point when neither of us have any pennies.

Let’s Pretend I’m not a dedicated single mother, handsomely furnished with baggage.

Let’s Pretend he’s not a dedicated singleton – handsome, yes, but having somewhat worryingly reached the age of 38 with absolutely no baggage at all.

Let’s Pretend this whole sorry affair wasn’t doomed from the start.

We’re just past Copmanthorpe when the game ends. It’s my own fault – I’m a big ruiner. He knows the ins and outs of my sorry failed marriage in almost pornographic detail, but is persistently evasive about his own relationship history. I am, however, persistently persistent. He is stuck in a small red car with me behind a painfully slow-moving Romany caravan. There is no escape unless he opens the door and runs, runs for the hills!

“So tell me about your ex-girlfriends. I don’t want to know about them all. Just the biggies.”

His eyes dart to the door handle and up past it, gazing longingly at yonder hills, and he shakes his head. I don’t think he even knows that he’s shaking it. It’s quite an impressive flight response. Stag caught in cross hair.

“No – no No-ing! You know all about me. Spill! Who was the one that got away? The big love of your life?”

“Me,” he replies.

I laugh. Ha ha – you’re so funny! Except he isn’t joking.

“There hasn’t been a significant relationship. I guess I haven’t been lucky enough to find The One.”

He could have stopped there and the game of Let’s Pretend could have carried on for a bit longer. Do I think I’m The One for him? Not any more, no – but did I think I could have been 5 minutes before we started this conversation? Maybe, perhaps, possibly, one day. And is he The One for me? Again, with the benefit of hindsight, no – but at the time he was showing potential.

He continues: “It’s only society that dictates you should settle down with one person. I see my friends in long-term relationships and they’re desperately unhappy, desperate to escape their wives for a night out. When I had money, I was happy. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, without answering to anyone. It was wicked, you know? I don’t think I’m even capable of being in a relationship any more. I’ve never even lived with a girl, not properly – I’ve always had my own bolthole, kept all my clothes there. I’m… what’s the word?… Institutionalised. I like being on my own too much.”

First thought: You could have mentioned this before drunkenly and enthusiastically fucking my arse last night WITHOUT LUBE.

Second thought: Well, that told me.

What can I do? I quietly say, “I think you’re right. I think you are institutionalised,” and get back to my quiet bleeding.

You’d think that would be the end of it. He knows what I want – I’ve told him enough times in the past, and it must be blindingly obvious anyway. My heart lives on my sleeve, always has and forever will.

So he knows what I want, and I know that he is unable and/or unwilling to give it me. You’d think we’d just shake hands and go our separate ways or something. Be sporting about it all. “You made my bum bleed for 4 days, I spilled red wine on your North Face hoodie and as I haven’t seen it since I assume it’s ruined – let’s quit while we’re ahead.”

Except the A64 was 8 days ago, and here I am, sitting waiting for his call – we’ve spoken most days since we met, and nothing has changed since he declared his undying love for himself.

Can someone find me my backbone? It’s gone missing. Disappeared around about the same time as my self-respect.

In my defence, he’s very handsome. This is all.


One Comment on “In which the game of Let’s Pretend comes to an end”

  1. Val says:

    Ouch – from the emotional as well as the physical aspect!
    (he sounds like my H1, the textbook narcissist)

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