Plus-one

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You know Spring is on its way when the days start ending in a slow kind of fade instead of dying abruptly like they do in December.

Friday night. The evening is announced with gold and purple bleeding into an English sky that’s actually visible for once. The usual mass of grey is noticeably absent, the sun has made an appearance and what a difference it makes. There are tenebrous-looking clouds dotting the sky here and there but it is on rare evenings such as this one that the very special luminosity of Turner’s paintings come to life.

I get to the party on time (early), for a change. Which would seem strange as I’m known (almost famous) for my tardiness but I don’t really want to be there, so it makes perfect sense—the sooner I arrive, the sooner I can leave.

I take in the crowd and it’s exactly what I imagined, I expect to have to go through many “and what do you do?” before the ordeal is over — I’m bored to tears already. The lawyer isn’t here yet because we agreed to both come directly to the venue and obviously he would never imagine I could arrive on time.

A glass of champagne is handed to me and I observe the way the bubbles race each other to the surface as somebody drones on about equity laws. I have no idea what they’re talking about so I smile and nod my head at regular intervals because sometimes, even I have to blend in and hide my unusualness. I don’t do it very often and only for people I care very much about.

A solid feeling of middle class confidence hangs above the room. The women are polished and the men all wear that same satisfied smile. They are where they want to be in life, or maybe they are very skilled at deluding themselves. I’m not sure, but the atmosphere is stifling and now is one of those moments I wish I could be just a little more normal, I wish small talk wasn’t so difficult. I have a sudden desire for the ceiling to come down on top of all of us just to see all those people being ruffled and react in not quite such a contained way. I am a horrible person—they can’t help being who they are and neither can I.

I make my way to the bar visualising shots of tequila waiting for me, neatly lined up, slices of sunny lemon and a small mount of salt.

This is what I want but cannot have for fear of the act slipping. Just as I get to the bar, a man approaches. He makes eye contact and I know what’s coming next. The fact I sigh only inwardly shows how good I’m being tonight, my patience is being tested and I’m winning this fight. So far.

“Hi, I’m Mike” he says, taking my hand before I’ve had time to react and shaking it enthusiastically.

There are dozens of other bottle-blondes in this room, did he just pick the first one he noticed not huddled in a group? The one gazelle isolated from the crowd? I have a feeling he might have, so that means I am a random choice and even though I don’t give a fuck about this guy in the skinny suit, it still irks me. What a depressing thought.

I’ve been too good an actress and now this guy is doing his charming flirty act and I’m clearly expected to trill like a bird and feel flattered.
Oh, he has no idea!

Luckily for him, I see the lawyer across the room, making his way towards me. I watch him assess the situation from afar, he quickens his steps. In no time at all, he’s at my side and a lovely scented kiss later, the skinny-suited guy walks off looking dejected. He thinks the lawyer putting his arm around me in a proprietary way meant that I was being rescued, when the reality is that he was.

“I saw that look on your face, I arrived just in time, didn’t I?”

“I have no idea what you mean” is my wide-eyed innocent reply.

He laughs—he always does when faced with my “failings”. He’s not annoyed with me as he could be—as others would—he appreciates the fact I agreed to be his plus-one at this function and even wore a predictable black dress, even it is accompanied by vampire jewellery. He knows “this” isn’t me, he knows I’m trying and he’s grateful that I am.

“One hour and we’re out of here, okay?”

I readily agree because, why wouldn’t I? We all want to be accepted and loved for who we are, especially when what we are is that weirdly-shaped piece of the puzzle which has never quite managed to fit in anywhere.

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105 thoughts on “Plus-one

  1. I enjoyed this. Well said! I can hardly stand that abrupt death of daylight that we have in December. This was fabulous, too. “We all want to be accepted and loved for who we are, especially when what we are is that weirdly-shaped piece of the puzzle which has never quite managed to fit in anywhere.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And here I thought you were making an announcement!! Nice selfie, definitely fooled me lol. This is a wonderful write, especially “this is what I want but cannot have for fear of the act slipping”. We should always be able to be ourselves, sans masks of formalities!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha noooo! I guess the ring is quite prominent in this pic, I genuinely didn’t think of that but…this ring was chosen by me, bought and paid for by me too—for no other reason that I liked it and wanted it 😉
      Yes, we should always be able to be ourselves but that’s not always possible. I’ve been in too many of these particular social situations where I was judged and condemned simply because I didn’t have the right breeding or income (actually, I have a poem about that coming up in my head as I type lol)
      Thank you, Dorinda! Can you imagine if I titled this: “Save the date” 😉 lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As long as you had fun, who cares? Were you as drunk as that one night a couple of weeks back when we left about 490 texts in our iMessage group? 😂 still can’t believe you made my phone die😁

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Reading this I kept thinking how we’re so much alike. Except I think some alcohol helps me play the part. Small talk is horrific, isn’t it? I love the way you write. I’m glad the lawyer knows you so well. 😘

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You and I are very much alike. I agree that alcohol is needed to “play the part” but not too much otherwise I revert to “crazy Nat”. Like, the tequila shots? Waaaay too much, it would have been a disaster! 😂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lol. Yes. There’s a line between playing the part and being a drunken whore. 😜😂😂 Its funny because I don’t feel like I ever fit. I’m either much too reserved/quiet or the most opinionated/enthusiastic/free of the crowd. Perhaps I need to better find that line… 😬😆

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The J is hard to live with sometimes, I wonder if you could handle it coz there are plenty of times I can’t. Like, two days ago someone said to me, you’re being so harshly critical (I won’t say who) and I was like, hello? INFJ — I cannot help it.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. I love it when I find someone like that at one of those things…but it’s hardly ever. A few years back I met this guy who was wearing the same “fake face” as me at an awful function and we ended up completely wrecked and lost in the corridors of the grand London hotel we were staying at. My reputation was ruined after that 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Whew, I am imaging a lot already 🔥 If you were actually trying, I might burst…into flames. I’m having such vivid images of the three of us at a bar…in the corner…easing into the night. Yes, I will finish that dream tonight.🌌

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Your photo is…breathtaking. I don’t believe for a second Mike saw you as just another woman or an isolated gazelle. I would only accuse him of having fine taste. I’ll move on…I don’t want to get scolded, ha! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, that’s nice. I would have been kinder to Mike if only I thought he had sought me out, rather than just hunted down the first woman who happened to cross his path.
      But, thanks. You won’t get scolded over here for…having fine taste 😜

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad/sorry…(not sure which) you identified. I always worry when I write these things that I’m gonna come across as some kind of spoilt bitch who just can’t “chill” — I was especially aware of it with this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great writing. Your prose is as compelling to read as your poetry. I can so relate to this! More so from my younger days when I could draw a few interested eyes. I was such an introvert, introspective and analyzing events as if I’d stepped into a movie. You did well, Nathalie. There is nothing wrong with being unusual. You’re an artist and artists are vital to this world. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just replied to another comment saying that I always worry when I write these things that I’m going to come across as some spoilt bitch who just can’t “chill”. Well, I’m glad you are here telling me you’re the same and that there’s nothing wrong with us. I already knew this, but it’s good to hear all the same 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. She wore a black dress, this combined with the golden brilliance of her hair…made her look like the night sky, in September…A harvest moon hanging over an ocean of stars and all the wonder and silent beauty of fall evenings…where bonfires crackled and sent embers of leaves skyward to the gods..a time when the air around you was crisp and cool and your breath made clouds in the wind…and a prickled blush would flood your cheeks..as you walked in the damp shuffle of fallen leaves….and the oaken stick gently held by the belt loop on my faded jeans was Excalibur bouncing on the hip of Arthur…she reminded me of this…..she reminded me of a time when I slew dragons. Immortal and engraved, in the fondest halls of memory…..The mere sight of her was enough to summon a spark of hope back into my heart. If she paid me no further attention than this….it would be enough.

    ..then she smiled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is without a doubt the best comment that’s ever been left on my blog, EVER.
      It’s not a comment, it’s a story, a fable, a ballad.
      Eric, THIS is why I love you. Because you have the soul of a knight and all the warrior queens of this world, usually fierce and brave, go misty-eyed when you appear 😍😘💜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol!!! It was fun to do…and of course I wanted you to go misty-eyed. 😏 I’m glad you approve. I’m thinking of posting it on my page..giving you credit with this picture, of course. Is that ok?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It would be a shame, no, a CRIME, not to share those beautiful words. In fact, I wanted to ask you if I could post it myself but now there’s no need since you’re going to.
        Use my picture, use anything you like, I am SO honoured! 💜

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I nearly swallowed my tongue. To describe you as a ‘bottle blonde’ is like saying the Venus de Milo is a Cockney. You’re just NOT. You’re just NOT. You’re beyond definition THAT is why you are the stained glass and the Stevie Nicks and the Manon of all the BEST things in the world. You shame ordinariness out of this world. BTW I am in love with your dress – black and blonde – why did I ever give up smoking? Give me a Sobrane now.
    You are one of those RARE flutes of smoked glass captured and yet freer than 99 percent of the world
    You are the tiny dancer
    you are the girl who stops time
    you are an enigma hidden within a tear
    you are the girl of the most heartbreaking love stories
    you don’t know you are and that is a good thing because if you did you would lose the magic of you. At the same time just sometimes I wish you saw it. Suffice to say anyone with a heartbeat and probably even those 8 feet under GET IT and witness it.
    I loved this. It made me want to say fuck the world let’s dump this taco joint and find stallions.
    You put class into anything, it is THEY who know not the vacuousness of themselves. Those stuffed parrots with painted smiles and crooked hearts. Could they recognize anything but their reflection?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What did I do to deserve TWO epic comments in one night? You and Eric are just too much, I love you guys, I really do!
      My god Candice, this is just so amazing and I now want to be that person you describe here because that person is rare and precious and… It’s just not me! But I love you for the way you see me because it is just fucking inspiring! And omg I totally want to find stallions!!! I wish I could make words sing like you do because then I could tell you everything you represent for me…unbridled passion and raw emotions and just…Life as it should be and seldom is. It’s 3.30am and my brain is gone so I’ll just end with: I love you! YOU!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “I saw that look on your face, I arrived just in time, didn’t I?” and “one Hour and we are out of here”: perfect to summarize the feeling that being so overwhelming ends up exploding & dispersing itself.
    Besides, I loved these excerpt in particular: “A solid feeling of middle class confidence hangs above the room. The women are polished and the men all wear that same satisfied smile. They are where they want to be in life, or maybe they are very skilled at deluding themselves. I’m not sure, but the atmosphere is stifling”. I know what you mean, I have felt that exact thing too … more than once and not necessarily at a party. Could have been at a bar at night, and even at the University.
    Excellent post dear Nathalie 😀 Bisous.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The dress may be predictable but it certainly works! I bet partying with you is great, especially if you are forced to endure this type of party for more than an hour. I would buy all your shots, just to see your honesty and scorn pour forth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I would have loved to have had you there! Not because you’d be buying the shots but because we could have found a corner in which we could observe and despair together at the bland and smug crowd. Then we would have moved on to a great convo about books = perfect!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Critical people watching is always a noble pastime. The books would always be welcome diversion from those people and as the drinks flow the talk more outlandish and possibly the insults too!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, the pomp! The smug self-confidence! The boredom! All wonderfully and painfully described in details which made me laugh and wince throughout. What an ordeal, and what a timely rescue! Glad to hear it went okay in the end, and you look amazing in that photo 🙂 Brilliant words as always, Nat!

    Liked by 1 person

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