This is a love story.
I’d spent three years at my first job out of uni before transferring to a new job at another work location. This new job occasionally sent me back to my old workplace. In the meantime, positions like mine which had fallen vacant had been backfilled. So when I returned for the first time there were new people there.
I walked into the near empty tea-room well before the start of the working day, and was greeted warmly by a former colleague. She was sitting with one of the new people: the once and future TLOML. Very nice. Dark hair and big brown eyes, a little bit like a young, non-bitchy Joan Collins, first impression anyway. We were introduced and chatted a little. I liked her voice too. When she got up to make a cup of coffee, I watched her walk over to the urn, not too obviously I hoped, eyes only bulging a little and eyebrows probably hardly raised at all. She had a nice walk. And a great figure.
I’d bump into her occasionally over the next 12 months or so. At parties or other work-related social get-togethers. We’d chat briefly, but I didn’t detect any interest on her part. And I didn’t show too much. So things sort of drifted along. She was hanging around with a group of girls from work about the same age and I was hanging around with my mates and smoking a lot of dope.
Women had become a complete mystery to me. I was a romantic basket case. I’d ask girls out who just weren’t interested and then be deeply disappointed when they begged off. I had quite a few of these in a row over some months. I hadn’t had a girlfriend in ages and felt like a complete loser. And I’m pretty sure I looked like one too.
I bumped into TLOML at a Christmas party and hardly spoke to her. I didn’t really talk to anyone and left without saying goodbye very early. But not before I’d told a few people about a party I was having just before heading off on a trip to the US and Canada with a couple of mates.
This party of ours wasn’t bad at all and being among friends I felt lifted out of a slump. I even danced for chrissakes. I’d half-hoped TLOML would come along but she didn’t. No big deal.
I got back from my trip and drifted through another working year. But early on, I had something of an epiphany. I dropped in on my folks one afternoon to find mum’s cousin was visiting. He was a really nice bloke who had never married or even had a girlfriend and I only saw him sporadically over many years but with his encyclopaedic knowledge of football and kindly manner, we’d always got along.
He would have been in his early fifties by this time and I can remember thinking to myself that if the never-married thing had happened to him, and no doubt countless others, then there was no reason why it couldn’t happen to me too. I decided that I could accept that as my lot and resolved to do the following:
1) Stop whingeing and just get along with people. I was running out of friends who didn’t find me unbearable;
2) Steer clear of women. Not avoid them, just make sure I wasn’t making a nuisance of myself going where I wasn’t wanted;
3) Be quieter. Most of my many problems had been caused by a failure to keep my mouth shut. If you don’t say anything, you can’t say anything stupid;
Very noble of me, I thought, saving the women of the world from my unsolicited attentions. Now I had a plan. Just in my own mind, like, because I had a feeling that were I to reveal this new direction to anyone else they would probably think it as cockeyed and wrong-headed as the behaviour and attitude that had brought me to this point.