bad date story, friendship, humour, night out, unrequited love

53. Talk of shame

“So…so, let me get this straight. You went to a party at her boyfriend’s house. You got very, very drunk. You told her you loved her. And later you were sick on your hands.”

“And on my coat. And a bit on the carpet.”

“Right. And you can’t remember anything? Like, nothing at all? Because that’s fairly crucial information.”

“Believe me, if I knew anything, I would tell you. I assume her response was so traumatic my brain wiped it automatically for self-preservation. Like – whoosh! – that’s too fucking painful to process sober.”

“Oh, sweetpea.”

I remember when I was younger, every now and then I’d wake up after a night out with the ‘what the hell happened?’ horror. I might be in my clothes from the night before or naked or in a curious new ensemble I’d rustled up from the bowels of my wardrobe for God knows what reason. Sometimes I’d wake up in bed with my phone or my bag or my coat or a human or the congealed remains of a kebab – or all of them together like some kind of weird, greasy, oniony, fashion sex show.

But always there’d be the fear. What did I do? What did I say? Did I kiss someone silly? Fall asleep on a bus? Fight with my best mate? How much mayonnaise did I actually take from the chicken shop?

“Owner devastated after drunk woman eats month’s supply of mayonnaise.”

I’d stagger round the house looking for clues: Aha! Vodka consumed…from gravy jug? Small puddle of sick in bin. Best friend on sofa. Alive? Poke. Snarl. Alive. All three packs of cheddar gone, plus packet of minced meat wtf? Ooh, my knickers!

Now that I’m in my thirties these moments are blessedly few and far between. I don’t want or miss the hangovers pickling my head like rotten eggs or peeling off a stranger in the dark of morning and bundling them to the front door.

I know my limits; I quit whilst I’m ahead. Yes to water, no to tequila, pasta for dinner and ooh! better get the last train. But every now and then something so traumatic happens that the only response is alcohol. Nothing else will suffice. No one has the answers. And water sure as fuck won’t make me feel better.

Still, there’s always a price to pay:

“Why couldn’t I just say I like her? That I have a bit of a crush? But no, like the giant, walking lesbian cliché that I am, it had to be love. Why not just chuck in a proposal as well for good measure? Maybe a baby? I LOVE YOU. NOW LET ME PUMP YOU FULL OF THIS DANISH SPERM.”

“Do you love her?” My friend asks gently.

“I don’t know. Probably,” I say miserably.

“Darling, you have to talk to her.”


“Look, I know it’s really difficult ­– ”


“But you can’t keep – ”

“Computer says NO. Talking to her is not an option. Next?”

“I don’t know, leave the country?”

“Finally, something I can work with.”