Saturday, March 18, 2006

When you are your worst enemy

I meet Essex boy at a pub along the seafront in Hove called the Alibi. The staff are giving away enormo Irish hats to people who have no shame about wearing such things. Everyone's buying me glasses of red wine. I've got a spot right next to the fireplace, which keeps my backside toasty. Talk amongst the table centres around whether the Royal family boost the national income and about the recent pharmaceutical guinea pig disaster. Then everyone starts taking pictures of each other with their camera phones, which becomes tedious to say the least. I spy Essex boy standing at the Fruit machine and I roll my eyes. However, he returns, spills £30 worth of coins onto the table, and says "That should see us for the rest of the evening." A couple sitting at the edge of the table can't keep their eyes off the pile of money. I worry momentarily that they will really try to pocket some of it. The problem begins when Essex boy starts chatting with two unsightly ladies sitting up at the bar. I go up to introduce myself. One woman, with an especially hard face and set mouth, explains that she is a life coach from Lincolnshire. She tells me my boyfriend is stressed. "Really?" I say, as though I couldn't possibly know that. He works 50+ hours a week doing door-to-door sales. I'd be surprised if he wasn't stressed. A few minutes later, Essex boy introduces her to the table and she proceeds to inform us that he is very stressed. I point out that the guy to my left is his boss and she suddenly freaks out. "I can't believe he's done this to me! He just puts me on this stool and throws me into the deep end. Oh, I really can't believe this." "What?" I say to her. "He didn't force you to do anything. You choose to come sit over here. You choose what to say." Mike's girlfriend goes with her to the toilets, obviously to talk about what a cunt my boyfriend is. I'm fuming because he really didn't do anything wrong and who the hell are these people anyway. What reality have they come here from? I order a taxi because I have really had enough and Essex boy decides to come with. The woman from Lincolnshire tries to tell him off just as we're leaving. "I think she got the wrong idea," I explained to him. "She probably thought because you were chatting with her that you fancied her." "Yeah," he said. "I guess she really did like me." He seemed simultaneously baffled, disgusted and a bit pleased. In the taxi, we continue discussing the situation back at the pub. I tell Essex boy that women in this country aren't used to people just talking to you - they assume if a guy is being friendly and chatty, they're on the pull. Even if he does have a girlfriend. Essex boy defends himself - "But I didn't do anything wrong," he said. "I was just being open. I can't control how people interpret the world." The taxi left us at the Pressure Point, where there was a live funk band. We met KW inside. Essex did the drunken stagger dance, attempting to twirl me around the dance floor. KW did his usual breakdance floor routine. I pointed to my thumb, which was still sore from the last time I sprained it and shook my head - "No way I'm breakdancing." We had a fun time, of sorts. Then around 1.30, Essex boy slowed down and stood there looking sorry for himself. "I think I need to go home," he said. I ordered a taxi. Essex boy started trying to flag one down anyway. As it happened, my supposed ordered taxi never appeared so it was a good thing when one stopped for us. In the taxi, I was still fuming about the pub incident. I felt so bad. Essex boy said I shouldn't feel so threatened all of the time when things like that happen. I just do. I become unreasonably angry, pissy and shout and scream. A row in the taxi ensued, much of it my fault. Essex boy stopped the taxi when we were 5 minutes away from our house and got out. He stayed the night with his friends and I had the bed to myself. He phoned me this morning and said we really needed to consider whether we were going to make this work, or call it a day. He tells me we've made it this far because he's really in love with me, but he says he's not sure if he has the time or energy to work out all of our problems. "I'm sorry if that sounds selfish," he says. I've got a beautiful creamy white and pink rose with a thick solid stem on my desk. It was the expensive rose I bought him to cheer him up. He'd had an especially bad day at work on Thursday and I wanted to do something nice. He hasn't seen the rose yet. I decided against taking it out last night when I went to meet him at the pub. I was afraid it would be trampled and die in the course of the evening. Now I'm not even sure if a rose will be the necessary glue to keep us together. One of my housemates, recently single after 6 years, says it kills him to see couples who spend years in relationships that should have ended long ago. I worry myself to an early grave that that's all Essexboy and I are doing. Keeping something alive for the sake of it. It seems if only I could laugh things off, I would get an easier ride in life. Stop being so angry about every little thing. This is my own prognosis, not anyone else's opinion. Is change truly possible? Is so, how and when?

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