You are in the queue at one of those discount bakeries and there is only one thing on your mind. It stares out from the glass case, almost saying “look at me, I am so delicious and you want me, don’t you?” It’s the last chocolate éclair.
You are almost at the front of the queue now – there’s only an old guy in front before it’s your turn and you can finally get the éclair. But wait a minute – the old guy mutters but you can just about make out his words – “choc-o-late e-clair” – nooooo! So near but so far and all you can do is opt for the dried-up gingerbread man. Your heart is heavy and you don’t even feel hungry any more. If only you had set off five minutes earlier.
This is a long, convoluted illustration of the near misses in life, the ones that got away – I wanted to avoid the over-used fishing metaphor.
There are always those events you look back at and think “would it have been so bad if I had done that, chosen him, accepted that job, taken the alternative route home…” etc.
With me it starts with the nice, sweet boy, a mate of my friend’s boyfriend. They had tried to put us together, which he was totally up for but I wasn’t. He seemed too much of a geeky goody-two- shoes – not unattractive, but too sweet and inexperienced with girls. I also lacked experience (hard to believe now) at the age of 15. But I wanted a proper man to teach me stuff. Instead my first boyfriend was the groping 18-year-old who lived two doors down and had his own car. With hindsight, neighbour with car was arrogant and only after one thing, which I didn’t give him, while sweet geeky boy genuinely liked me and would have treated me with some respect. Maybe we would have stayed together and made geeky babies and we would have all gone out wearing identical Star Wars t-shirts.
Then there was tall skinny Indy music guy at university. I will call him D. D had shiny black hair in that rather odd messy bob style fans of ‘shoegazer’ bands (Google it) could get away with circa 1991, and piercing blue eyes. With his chiselled cheek bones and handsome features he should have had girls crawling all over him, but he was very shy and quiet.
One of my friends had just dumped him, as she got frustrated with his lack of chit-chat, and introduced me to him with the aim of setting us up. I don’t think he actually spoke to me for half an hour – just smiled and twinkled his perfect eyes at me while she rambled on. It turned out he was quite interested and I think we spent a couple of nights together, fully clothed in his bed, just kissing. His laid back, uncommunicative approach and my need, at the time, for things to happen halted a relationship before it even started. My head was soon turned by more outgoing, rugged alternatives and poor D was soon forgotten. I would sometimes see him at the back of the student bar, pulling a sad little boy face at me, and be almost drawn back to him, but he either didn’t have the fight or the heart to try any harder.
A few years after leaving university I discovered an extremely cute barman (I’ll call him G) working in one of the scruffy nightclubs my friends and I frequented on a Saturday night, after a few too many ciders. With dark wavy hair, olive skin and dazzling blue eyes (there’s a running theme here all of a sudden) I couldn’t help but be drawn to G, especially as he always made the effort to talk to me. After a few weeks I tried my luck at asking him out for a drink. It paid off and we became an item.
We had a few happy weeks of getting to know each other and things seemed to be going really well – he was intelligent, witty and the sex was just starting to get interesting. Then I flushed the whole thing down the toilet on a night out with friends. One of my male friends had an old school friend up to stay from London, someone I had met a few times previously and had always fancied. We were in a late opening bar and G was meeting me there later after he finished work. I should have been sensible, not drank too much and enjoyed the anticipation of seeing G later. But no, I was a foolish woman in her mid-20s with a reckless edge. The ciders went down a little too quickly and ‘London friend’ gradually became the most beautiful man on the planet and he was spending a lot of time talking to me. My drunken, twisted philosophy was that life is too short to let fidelity get in the way and ‘London friend’ was only there for the weekend. A couple more ciders and our lips just couldn’t stay apart any longer. Within an hour G turned up, I confessed what had happened and he left immediately.
This, readers, is one of my biggest regrets. I tried to call G to appeal to his forgiving nature, but it didn’t work. A couple of months later a friend told me he had moved away, but had managed to get a mobile number for him. I made the mistake of calling him. He was surprised to hear from me but quickly ended the conversation. And I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach; guilt, regret and embarrassment, all in one steel toe-capped boot.
But we would not be the people we are now if it wasn’t for a few bad decisions and if we took the right track every time we would always reach our destination without any adventures along the way.