A Wrong Proposal

They are sitting in a French restaurant just off Spitalfield, the one where they went for their first date ever. She never really liked it but still hasn’t gotten around to telling him, the romantic that he is, attaching special significance to it. Frankly she doesn’t care enough anyway, given he is footing the bill. He had suggested having dinner here last night and Christine had found it odd, knowing you had to book this popular place weeks in advance, especially a quiet corner spot like this one. He has to be up to something. Maybe he has something to confess, she thinks. She observes him. He looks nervous, sweat pearls building up on his forehead. So revolting, she thinks. Christine hates sweat.

She doesn’t see his left hand holding on tightly to the little dark red box deforming his jacket pocket, the treasure worth multiple months of his salary that he’s been holding on to for weeks now in anticipation. He had considered the champagne glass ploy, but once saw an episode of “Two and a Half Men” where the unsuspecting girlfriend ends up swallowing the surprise and decided to play it safe. Despite having visualized the moment over and over again, now that he’s here, his mind is a blank canvass. He tells himself all he needs to do is say four little words and go down on one knee without breaking his trousers.

“Would you like some wine tonight with your dinner? Shall I call the sommelier.” The waiter says after having taken the order, but George, his eyes burning holes into the menu doesn’t hear a word. She looks at him, giving off a mental sigh.

“George, do you want any wine? George?” Christine almost shouts pushing the menu forward and down.

“Huh?” George says, his face finally revealed to her again.

“Do you want some wine the waiter asked. I’ll take a glass but if you’re drinking too we can get a bottle.” Christine says, mild impatience in her tone. He is so distracted, what is going on, she wonders.

“Yes yes… Let’s have some wine…” The waiter walks off. His fingers are getting sticky and he starts rotating the box between his fingers. Closing his eyes, the smell of fresh bread left on the table fills his nostrils and he lets his mind wander through time to their first night here. She was so beautiful. She is so beautiful. And soon she’ll be all his.

The sommelier asks the usual questions; what are they having, fish or meat, do they have any preference on region and so on. George answers, his voice so weak, almost a whisper. What is the matter with him? Doesn’t he want to be here? After all it was his idea and she has better things to do than sit at a table with a man who doesn’t appreciate her presence. If he has something to say, he should spill it out soon, she thinks. Short-tempered as she is, she is boiling inside and lets her anger be reflected by picking the most expensive wine on the list, despite her having no idea what it is. Something from France with a high price tag, that’s all she needs to know at that moment. This time she gives off an audible sigh.

He winces at the price but tells himself there’s nothing that can be too much for this special day. He looks at her and for a brief moment he thinks she might be annoyed but can’t fathom why and instead dismisses it, deciding he must be imagining.

As the sommelier walks off, George suddenly shouts out much louder than normally acceptable in a restaurant. “Wait! Before the wine, could you bring us some Champagne?” After all these years, he doesn’t even know she hates Champagne. What is she doing with this man who clearly isn’t listening to her.

The sommelier complies and a few moments later, the champagne appears. Now or never, George thinks.

George raises his glass, readying his left hand. “Darling, there is something I need to tell you…” He says. Here it comes, she thinks. Her brain cells are in overdrive, playing out every scenario there is, more for entertainment than because she really cares. Did he cheat on her? Did he lose his job? Or is he gay? No, He definitely isn’t gay. But then again maybe his high sex drive is just an act to overcompensate for the fact that he really is. Maybe he cheated on her with a man at work and lost his job, now that would be funny, she thinks.

Her trail of thoughts is shattered by a woman’s scream on the other table.

“Oh my god, oh my god, this can’t be happening!”

They both turn to see a man down on one knee extending a blindingly sparkling item. It’s bigger than his, George thinks panicking. The woman is almost in tears. While his voice is too quiet to be heard, her “Yes! Of course, yes!” is more than audible.

Christine rolls her eyes in disgust at this pathetic public display of wanna-be relationship. She leans over and whispers to him. “Proposing in a restaurant, isn’t that so lame.”

George drops back the little box in his pocket. Not today.

 

Advertisements

The Letter and the Speech (or Documents of a Twisted Personality)

I sit, the blank digital page of the screen shining against me in the dark, take a sip of water and sigh. Looking down, looking up again, I finally take my fingers to the keyboard.

For those who don’t already know me, I am Allison and the Maid of Honour today. Claudia and I know each other for fourteen years now and I am touched to be standing here today on one of the most special days of her life. This wedding is double special for me as the groom has grown over the past year to become a very close friend of mine too.

I have known Claudia from just about the age where boys started to play any role and have accompanied her through all her ups and downs, loves and heartbreaks. There are many funny memories I cannot share in this censored environment. Instead I’d like to focus today on clearly the only one relationship that ever mattered.

When it comes to Sandeep and Claudia’s relationship, I had a front row seat in the movie theatre premiere, having been there from the earliest days. I remember Sandeep’s fierce courtship and Claudia’s denial, hesitant to lose a wonderful friendship. But it’s perhaps just that hesitance that made this relationship even greater when she finally gave in. Because when that first kiss was shared on our living room couch, it wasn’t just a steamy moment but a sweet promise of all that would eventually come.

There are two key moments I remember thereafter:

February 2013, the visit to Singapore

The day you, Claudia, came back from visiting Singapore and Sandeep’s family for the first time officially as his girlfriend. You were all smiles telling me how much you loved it there, how wonderful his mother was, taking you in her arms like you were her own daughter. I never told you this, but that day I cried alone in my room, in happiness and sadness. Happiness because I knew you had finally found the one. Sadness because I knew that it was the end of an era for you and me.

June 2013, the proposal preparation

When Sandeep messaged me asking me to meet him in the nearby pub in the City, I knew it was serious. I didn’t dare say anything but already knew what he was going to ask.

“I want to steal your roommate from you,” he said half asking as if requiring my permission. From this day on, I spoke to Sandeep almost every day, planning the proposal, collaborating on secretly measuring Claudia’s ring size, discussing when and where the proposal was to take place, even suggesting he should practice going down on one knee, making sure his trousers don’t crack. The highlight of it all was that I was allowed to be a part of that very special moment, right there in that romantic setting of their favourite French restaurant where Sandeep was so nervous he couldn’t get the ring out, while Claudia was gasping and in tears.

Another fourteen months have passed since that special night. Although you are husband and wife for the first time today, I know your hearts and souls have merged already long ago.

Now, I invite you all to stand and raise your glasses in a toast to Claudia and Sandeep, wishing them ever-lasting love and happiness in their new life. To new beginnings!

I put my fingers to rest. I read over the draft and save it as “Claudia_wedding_speech.doc.” I open a fresh page, sigh once more and type away again.

Dear Claudia,

I know this must be coming as a shock to you but I cannot hold it any longer. Today, I am writing you to request terminating our friendship. We know each other for over a decade and have been sharing a flat for half of that time and so it may seem irrational of me to request such a sudden end.

But truth be told, for the longest time, ours was a marriage of convenience, me having a two bedroom flat and you being a clean person to live with. When you started to refer to me as your ‘best friend’ or ‘soul sister,’ I was taken aback. To me, you were nothing more than a person who lived in the same square-foot space who paid me regularly. And yet, like a weak-willed man giving in to an overbearing girlfriend, I gave in to your neediness and have a couple of years ago even decided to upgrade your status in my mind and call you a friend.

Continue reading “The Letter and the Speech (or Documents of a Twisted Personality)”

The Ken Doll (or The Curious Case of the Shrinking Tool)

He closed his eyes and rubbed it, conjuring the images from last night, that blond nymph sensually moaning on top of him. Then, he rapidly took out his tape measure, holding it from the base on the inner side right up to the tip where the hole was, like the NHS site had suggested, using the same method as in the past few weeks. 12.9 centimetres. There was no denial, it was smaller.  He didn’t keep records initially because really, it couldn’t be true. But 12.9 cm? Since those silly teenage days, where hidden in the family bathroom he’d quietly measured himself, he always had at least 15.0 cm, if not 16.5 cm on a good day, well above average. 

***

He recalled that ominous Thursday walking into the bar; no wingman, no friends, just tired of everyone. Worn down by a long week that only resulted in a major deal falling through at the last minute, a good fuck was in order. The rooftop lounge turning into a club with the view of St. Paul’s cathedral wide in front of him was one of his favourites. He had avoided this place for a while; too many familiar faces. But today it felt just right. Sitting at the long sleek black counter and having ordered his one drink for the night, a Campari with orange, like a predator he slowly let his eyes glide through the room scoping for his perfect prey, simultaneously confirming that he was at the upper end of the male contenders here.  

He had a shortlist of three: the petite Asian peeking at him through her colourful drink; the tall blond conquering the dance floor reminding him a bit too much of Jenny from last week, though he couldn’t deny her nice figure underlined by the white tube dress clearly here to be stripped; finally the brunette sitting at a table with a group of friends, the desperate girls night out, every single one of them screaming for a guy to rescue her. He was satisfied with the diversity he had picked. Too many men just stuck to one type until every single replacement just looked like a bad xerox of the last one. Where was the fun in that? 

Suddenly like lightening she caught his eye. Sitting on a bar stool at the end of the counter, her red lips sipping on a martini were so sensual, her appearance was surreal. Her hazelnut wavy hair was draping her beautiful shoulders remaining free above a red velvet dress smoothly flowing over her expressive curves. She distinctly reminded him of the first woman he ever considered sexy: Jessica Rabbit. 

Turn around, so I can see your face. Just in that moment, she swirled around on her seat to face him, her emerald eyes emitting a mysterious spark. His shortlist was long lost by now and the winner was clear.  

He wasted no time to close the deal and walked right up to her, her eyes fixated on him. He wasn’t too surprised. He was a good looking fellow after all, tall and well-built from his regular gym workouts at the craziest hours of the day, his square jaw with just the right amount of dark stubble to look manly and not rogue. His tailored grey suit accentuated his features, while his Tag Heuer Carrera watch was an easy item to communicate his financial standing without being blatantly obvious like the sad men with their overdone gold Rolex bling, bigger than their wrist (and any other part of their body).

“I see you’re having a martini. They do have a killer mojito here. Would you like to try one?” He said now leaning in right next to her. 

“I’d never say no to a free drink,” she said, putting hers to the side. 

Jackpot! “My name is Ken.” Always a monosyllabic strong name. He extended his hand. 

“Annika. Pleasure.” She said.

Continue reading “The Ken Doll (or The Curious Case of the Shrinking Tool)”