Flutterings in my Goodge Street

Two days after I met the Abrasive Uber passenger, I had my first drink with the Great Scot as just friends, instead of lovers.

A few hours before we were due to meet, he sent me this text:

Oh for fuck’s sake!

Initially, I skim-read the message and thought he was cancelling, but then read it properly and realised he was just doing an unnecessary disclaimer. Possibly, he hoped I’d say “we can reschedule if you like” but I have no time for that sort of shilly-shallying.

The thing about Neoliberalism made me laugh.

I had suggested the same pub on Goodge Street that we went to on our third date, as it was reasonably convenient.

We planned to meet at the pub, but then, when I got off the train at Goodge Street station, and was waiting for the lift, I saw him standing there too.

“Hey!” I said, and we hugged.

We walked into the lift when it arrived.

As is obvious from the name, the Underground train network in London runs underneath the streets. Most stations have escalators to take you underground to the platforms, but some have lifts instead, because lifts take up less space. (Actually only 40% of the Underground is underground – mostly in the centre. The further out you go, the more that’s overground.)

We walked into the lift, with loads of other people. We stood in silence. I realised I was facing the door, but he was standing leaning against the side, so we were kind of perpendicular to each other. I turned towards him. We caught each other’s eyes, and exchanged a warm, nervous smile.

Fuck! I forgot how blue his eyes are!

I felt some serious gynaecological fluttering in my… well, my Goodge Street.

Then we came out of the station, and started walking down the street.

“How do you feel about stations with lifts instead of escalators?” I asked. “I hate them!”

“Me too!” He said. “I also hate talking in lifts! I feel like everyone is listening.”

“Yes! I was about to start chatting to you but then… I sensed that I shouldn’t!”

We walked into the pub. I had been there two days earlier, before I went clubbing, and noticed they had a Scottish flag up because of some rugby tournament.

I steered him towards the flag, to show him.

“Does it make you feel at home?” I asked.

“It would if there weren’t also English, Irish, Welsh, French and Italian flags up as well.” He replied.

As he bought our drinks, I thought I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I expected at least some awkwardness, as we transitioned from shagging to friends, but it felt easy and relaxed.

We sat down. I told him it was my 4th night out in a row.

He asked what my other nights out had been, and he did the thing where he makes me feel like I’m the most fascinating person in the world.

I told him my first night out of the four was staying at my friend Tess’s house, in Friday. We had Prosecco to celebrate me exchanging contracts on the flat I’m buying.

I showed him my new flat on Rightmove, and we talked about the fact I’m moving to a different part of London soon. I found myself talking in detail about the logistics of my move.

“Sorry, this is not interesting!” I said.

“It is interesting.” He disagreed earnestly.

He helped me figure out the best way of organising my move.

Then I told him about my night out clubbing on Saturday night. I omitted the bit about going home with someone.

When I said “the club was great! The ratio of men to women was about 5:1!” he looked slightly unhappy for a second.

He has had the same look when I’ve told him fun anecdotes about sleeping with other people. It’s almost a completely neutral face, but for a split second he looks less happy than usual.

“In Aberdeen indie nights are always a sausage fest. Where can I go where there are more women?” He asked.

“Become a CBT therapist! They’re all women. If you’re a single, straight man, you can have your pick of the women in your team.”

“I feel like I would really be playing the long game. How many years does it take to train?”

Then he said “would they even take me? I’ve been in hospital in 4 times.”

I reeled off some Occupational Health guidelines, then said “are you telling me you’ve been in hospital four times because of your mental health?”

At first I thought he meant he’d been an inpatient or sectioned four times (wouldn’t be the first time someone told me that on a date, not that this was a date). However, he meant he’d been to Accident and Emergency four times, because of hurting himself when drunk and upset.

This was very interesting. On our third date, when he was asleep and spooning me, his hands were kind of in front of me. I noticed a massive scar on his wrist. It was so wide, I thought

Fuck. If that was self-inflicted, that was a suicide attempt, not just self-harm.

It had been on my list of things to ask about, when the right moment came up.

And now he told me.

“I nearly lost the use of this hand, after putting it through a window.”

He told me he severed an artery, and blood was spraying everywhere. He thinks if he hadn’t clamped the artery closed with his other hand, while he waited for the ambulance, he might have died.

“Oh, Scot!” I said, touching his other arm firmly. I rubbed his arm for a bit.

“Why did you put your hand through a window?” I asked.

“I don’t know! It wasn’t well thought through!”

He also told me he had a metal plate in the other hand after putting it through a door.

It seemed like he got these injuries from doing silly, reckless things when drunk and upset, rather than actually attempting suicide.

And I guess – I did break my hand punching a sofa so I can’t really judge.

He told me every time it had been because of a woman, but that it was a long time since he’d done anything like that.

Sometimes people say things to make you have a certain reaction or to make you feel a certain way. Maybe they’re trying to make you feel sorry for them, or to get you to do something, or to stop you being cross with them. When the Whippersnapper used to text me about wanting to die, I think he was doing this.

However, with the Scot, it felt clear that he wasn’t doing that. It seemed more like “if you’re going to accept me as a friend, I want you to accept me fully informed.” It seemed like how I feel, when I tell someone my ex died. I feel like you probably don’t quite know me until you know that happened.

So, it felt almost like a nice thing that he was sharing this personal thing about himself, with no apparent agenda. But it did make me think Goodness me, this poor guy has had some problems.

It was reassuring to hear he hadn’t done it in a long time, but it was unsettling he had done it because of women. I still think he’s not good at regulating his emotions, as I saw when he freaked out when he couldn’t sleep. If I was ever going to be with him, I would want to chat about this quite a bit more seriously first.

It probably sounds like this was a heavy-going night, with talk about self-harm, but it really wasn’t. The vibe was buzzing and energetic. We were both talking fast, laughing loads, making fun of each other and telling funny stories, with little pockets of seriousness, where we clearly cared about each other. Even with the heavy stuff, it didn’t feel melancholy or slow – we still laughed a bit. It felt intense but open and comfortable. I didn’t feel like I was in Therapist Mode, because the pace was still much faster. And I was saying things like “no, no, no! that’s wrong!”, in response to his worries, which I would never say in Therapist Mode.

The other serious bit was when we finished talking about what I’d been up to, and moved onto him. He said he couldn’t believe everything that had happened since that night I came to his, when his sister’s boyfriend was missing. It reminded me he’s not normally like this.

He told me in passing that he’d had some suicidal thoughts. We talked about it more. I said “if you’re feeling trapped in a situation, you’re obviously going to think of ways you could get out of it, and suicide might be one way out. And it might even be nice to think about, for a moment. But at the end of the day, it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Nothing is so bad it’s worth dying over. You can always call me if you feel like that.”

Other times, when we were on depressing topics, especially over text, he really frustrated me. He can be a swirling vortex of misery and impossible to cheer up, but he wasn’t like that at all that night. He was agreeing with everything positive I said.

Anyway, we moved on.

We talked about what we’ve been watching on Netflix. We talked about the film Lady Bird, which I had seen the day before. We talked about how Americans call ladybirds ‘ladybugs’ and therefore we were confused about why the film is called Lady Bird. I showed him a photo of me dressed as a ladybird.

He told me about an interview he had for a job that sounds ideal. I so hope he gets it. He won’t hear for a couple of weeks.

At one point, his knee touched mine, under the table. If he was a normal friend, I would have reflexively moved my knee out of the way, but it felt nice to touch legs. I wondered if he wanted our knees to be touching. A bit later, he was talking quite animatedly and started rapidly moving his knee from side to side, and rubbing it past mine each time.

Does he know? Does he think my knee is part of the table?

It wouldn’t be the first time someone thought my limbs were bony and furniture-like.

I was hungry so we looked at a menu. I couldn’t see anything I fancied that was gluten free, which I need.

He was looking too, even though wasn’t going to eat, and said “what about the sausages?”

I said normal sausages aren’t gluten free.

“Oh! I thought they were, because you told me you made pigs-in-blankets at Christmas.”

I couldn’t believe he remembered that.

We agreed to go to a different pub, down the road, which might have more food options. In the second pub, I ordered a posh burger and chips.

We talked about the winter Olympics. He said his brother used to be good at figure-skating, and he talked for ages about how amazing his brother’s balance is.

“He could ride his BMX along a wall that was this narrow!” he said.

Then he read out a text his brother had recently sent him, which he thought was hilarious. I loved the way he was talking so proudly about his brother.

I told him about a t-shirt I bought for my brother in Australia for his birthday and how I was disappointed he hadn’t seemed that enthusiastic about it.

“It’s got a picture of Neo from the Matrix on, and he’s in a chemist, holding a red packet of paracetamol, and a blue packet of ibuprofen!” I said, laughing at the memory of it. “Do you get it? You’re not laughing that much! Because in the Matrix when he has to decide between the red pill and the blue pill?”

The Scot said “I do get it, but I think what’s even funnier is how funny you find it.” He touched my arm when he said that.

I went on “I thought it was perfect for my brother because we always laughed because I thought Neo was called ‘Neil’.”

A song by Belle and Sebastian came on in the pub, and I said “this is on my Jocks playlist!”

We talked about the playlist of Scottish artists which I made on my way to our 6th date. (I know ‘jocks’ can mean boys who are good at sport, in American High School films, but it is also a slightly offensive term for Scottish people).

He took my phone and started adding songs to my Jocks playlist. He told me about his favourite band, Meursault. He told me how they got their name (which I’ve now forgotten) and it was so pretentious, I said “I hate them already.”

Then I told him all about my recent training in a new type of therapy, EMDR, and how amazing it was when I got to experience it.

I told him about the traumatic memories I had worked on, which meant telling him that I had an ex-boyfriend who was a bit abusive.

He seemed really interested. He kept trying to memorise what EMDR stood for.

As the other memory I worked on, using EMDR, was a horrible work situation, we talked about his work situation.

Then he said “have you had that meeting yet, which you were worried about?”

I had forgotten I even told him that, it was such a minor thing.

Eventually, we walked back to the tube.

As we walked down the street, I said “I’m so glad you came out, I’ve had a lovely time. Thank you!” and awkwardly half put my arm around him.

“We should definitely do this again.” He replied.

We went into the station and into the lift.

We were getting trains in opposite directions. We both went onto our respective platforms to see how long our trains would be, then reunited in the middle again.

“My train is coming in one minute.” He said.

“Me too!” I said.

We hugged to say goodbye, and then I said “please don’t kill yourself! I really like you and I like having you around.”

Then we could hear our trains coming and I said “Give me another hug.”

Then we went our separate ways.

Over the next few days, I could not stop thinking about him. Two nights before, when I was doing grudging sexual stuff with the Abrasive Uber Passenger, I kept thinking God, I wish I was doing this with the Scot instead. 

Then, the day before, I’d been on an underwhelming date, and thought God, I wish he was the Scot instead. I’d be having so much more fun. 

Then, I met the Scot and we had so much more of a good time than I expected. Even though I felt the need to remind him not to kill himself at the end, I spent most of the evening laughing, and all of the evening feeling special and fascinating. I spent a lot of the evening wanting to touch him.

I so wish we could be together.

But I know we still can’t.

 

11 thoughts on “Flutterings in my Goodge Street

  1. Love so many lines in this like “It wouldn’t be the first time someone thought my limbs were bony and furniture-like” and “I did break my hand punching a sofa so I can’t really judge”. I think you’re better as friends but give it some time and see.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Probably a good thing to proceed the way you are with Great Scot…maybe one day when things settle a little in his life you can move forward to something more and by then you would have created perhaps a strong bond

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The differences between love, sex and friendship | Dater Analysis

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