“You mean to say,” asks my friend over a coffee in the park, “that’s there not a single man ON THE WHOLE PLANET that you find attractive?”
Her eyes are nearly popping out of her head as she stares at me, agog.
“That’s not what I said,” I reply. “There are many men that I find attractive. It’s just that they aren’t necessarily single. And the ones that are don’t seem to be attracted to me.”
She tuts in disgust.
“The trouble with you is that even when a bloke is super-keen, you don’t notice!”
I consider this.
Whilst there haven’t exactly been hordes of men beating a path to my door of late, it’s true that, historically, I have been a bit obtuse in that department. But there once was a time – admittedly many years ago – when I was confident in my ability to attract gentlemen that appealed to me. Now, my default is to assume that they just wouldn’t be interested … mostly because they’re not.
“What happened to that guy you wrote to on the dating site?” she persists.
“And the guy you were spending all that time with?”
Ah, now this was a single gentleman that I did like. And I thought that he liked me. He spent enough time round at my place, anyway… initially, at least. He was even great with the little guy. But then one evening we went out together and I made the tiniest of advances … and was so firmly rebuffed that I didn’t dare try again. And that was that.
We’re still mates, and he’s still in the little guy’s Top 10 of favourite human beings, but I’m under no illusions about the fate of that friendship.
“Wasn’t interested,” I mutter.
“Whaaat?!” She narrows her eyes. “He spent all that time with you because he wasn’t interested?”
I have to admit, it seemed odd to me. But what do I know?
“Apparently so,” I say.
My friend rolls her eyes in disgust.
“And did you challenge him about it?”
I’m not sure what my friend has in mind, here. Ask him how very dare he spend time with me if he had no intention of making an honest woman of me? Maybe he just wanted to spend time with me. Maybe he was bored. Maybe he loves hanging out with the little guy. Whatever his motives, I doubt very much he’d change his mind just because I challenge him.
“You have to fight for what you want,” says Friend.
Now it’s my turn to roll my eyes.
“You can’t force someone to like you,” I say.
“Why not?” she says. “It worked for Belle.”
Actually, improbable as it may seem, it really did work for Belle.
Belle is a woman we used to work with, full of fun and raucous laughter, bustling and hugely efficient, but also feisty and maybe just a tiny bit pushy.
Anyway, despite having been engaged to each other for no short time, her other half took it upon himself to dump her. But she wasn’t having that. Oh, no. She hassled him and harried him and refused to take no for an answer. Now they’re married with two kids.
So yes, it worked for Belle, but that’s just not my style. I don’t want to be known as the woman who bullied someone into being with her.
“If I challenge him,” I explain patiently, “then I might lose a friend. And I’d rather have a good mate than a reluctant boyfriend.”
“So you’re just going to yearn quietly from afar?” says my mate.
“Yes. Well, no. I’m done with yearning.”
I can tell she’s about to berate me again, so I jump up brightly and suggest getting lunch. Which is, apparently, all that’s needed for the guy who’s been sprawled on an adjacent bench to come to his senses and join our conversation.
“Lunch? Yes please, darlin’!” he crows, before breaking into the sort of wheezy laugh that has you reaching for the Lemsip in emphysematic empathy.
I look sideways at my friend, biting my lip in an effort to suppress a rebuttal.
She smirks at me and, raising a suggestive eyebrow, whispers, “Get your coat love…!”
And I do get my coat. I get my coat and I throw it squarely at her head. And then we go for lunch.