You Bet Your Life

While I have spent the last month without the company of my male friend, the last week has seen me enjoy some very good times courtesy of other male friends. Now before you get all excited, both were on a strictly platonic basis. But both gave me the opportunity to enjoy life outside my usual haunts without any expectations.

On Thursday, I headed into Central London with one of my male colleagues to another colleague’s leaving do. As we debated the closest tube stop to our destination in the West End, he suggested that we stop by The Savoy hotel for a cheeky cocktail. One of London’s five-star hotels, it is not the type of place I frequent, but I was excited by the prospect of a spontaneous visit. So we headed in, and found a table in their American Bar (the American Studies student in me loved that). I have to admit I was in awe of my surroundings. We stayed for two cocktails each, and made two requests to the piano man, the first being Billy Joel’s Just the Way You Are, and the second being, erm, Billy Joel’s Piano Man. In my defence I had used up all my originality in just being in my new location. I considered asking for something by heavy metal rockers, Megadeath, but I managed to show at least some restraint for the high-society venue I found myself in.

My housemate often tells me I want to switch off from my problems, and I have to say that hour in The Savoy sure did allow me to disappear into another world for a while. But I loved every minute and would do it again given the chance.

Now onto my second jaunt. Yesterday I met another male friend in Central London. After we stopped by Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, we discussed what our plan for the rest of the evening would be. He suggested a casino. I countered with the cinema, hoping that we could see Gone Girl before it disappears from the big screen. I had my concerns about a casino, and my purse screamed no. But he said there was no entry fee, and that he would gamble with his money, so I figured why not.

I haven’t been into a casino since an overnight trip to Las Vegas in 2011 with some friends and not spent any real time in one since a four-day trip with my ex-husband in 2008, but the one in Leicester Square immediately took me back there. We found an electronic roulette table (although I don’t remember seeing those six years ago) and he placed his bet. I chipped in with the odd number, usually my birthday or a random pick. While none of my numbers came up, we left the casino £60 up, so I guess he must have done something right.

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“What I win, I keep. What you win, I keep. Got that?”

We left the casino to be faced with the huge billboard of Gone Girl on the front of the big Odeon in Leicester Square, the one where they screen all the big premiers. The expensive one. With a screening of Gone Girl starting in twenty minutes, our perfectly-timed winnings paid for our tickets, two portions of sweet and salty popcorn, a bag of chocolate sweets and two bottles of water.

After the movie, our winnings also paid for most of two portions of ribs at Garfunkel’s, which we devoured before getting our respective night buses home.

My unhappiness in my home life has led me to home-avoid a lot lately. But the silver lining in that has allowed me to discover a new social life. As well, I am finally feeling financially free to socialise regularly, a far cry from my days as a temp after I first moved to London, when I had to walk 40 minutes to work because I just didn’t have the tube fare. I have a lot of work to do on my home life, and feeling comfortable in my own home, which at the moment is causing me great problems, but like my other problems in life, I may be the root cause of all those issues.

Spontaneity was key in both of my fun trips out this week. Letting go of inhibitions and enjoying the moment. Not concerning myself with the cost, which in both cases turned out to be minimal anyway.

A lot is said about the work/life balance, but what I really need right now is a home/social life balance. That desire to go out and socialise without the need to feel like I am escaping from my own home. I’m not a betting person but if I was, I’d say I need to strike a balance between the two if I want to hit the jackpot.

It would be rude of me to go and leave you without any Billy Joel, so enjoy this song. So many I could choose, but I’m sticking with Just the Way You Are. For once, the lyrics aren’t directed at anybody other than myself.

Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel (1977)

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The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 10

With all endings, comes goodbyes.  Or rather, till we meet again.  I had one of those moments today with one of my oldest friends (as in how long we’ve known each other!).  Over a Starbucks, we reminisced how next year would be our 20th anniversary of being friends, having met at the first place I ever worked at, Stapleton & Co Estate Agents in Lincoln.  I was 15, and my friend, Sarah, was 20.  We’ve been through so much together, and I will miss our regular chats over posh coffee.  Tomorrow I will meet another friend, someone else I’ve known for a long time, and that will be another step towards leaving town, and leaving the friends I’ve known for years, through the good times and the bad.

It took me a long time to appreciate good friends.  After I left school, I had a great distrust for so-called friends, and for many years, while I had no problems trusting men (unlike a lot of women I knew), I did struggle to trust female friends (I didn’t have any male friends, which is probably why I have such issues with men).  I think those who have been my friends the longest are those who were the exception.

In my mid-twenties, I began to realise that I didn’t need to keep people in my life, if they were bringing me down, or using me in some way.  I had, to be blunt, a “clear out” and those people are no longer in my life.  Since then, you pretty much only get one chance with me; blow it, and you’re out.  Life’s too short to have bad friends.  That doesn’t mean you can’t be forgiven, but you’ve got to work damn hard to make sure I’m not going to regret letting you back in.  Saying that, I love meeting new people, and I’m always happy to make new friends.

I am a firm believer that people do come into your life for varying times and reasons.  Not everyone will stay forever.  Some people will be there only while you need them, likewise you may appear in their life for a specific reason.  There are people I’ve lost contact with over the years, and I do regret that, but with social media, there’s always a chance that we may be reunited.

What I want to say though, I guess, is that despite the fact I’m moving hundreds of miles away, I know my true friends will always be there for me, and they know that I’ll be there for them.  Distance will never wreck a good friendship, be it over land or sea.  Through the tough times, the fun times, the very, very shitty times, I’d like to thank all my friends for being there for me, and to remind them, you’ve got a friend in me.

 

Assumption: A Family Tree

“What do they say about assumption being the brother of all fuck ups?”

“It’s the mother of all fuck ups, stupid.”

“Brother, mother, any other sucker.  It don’t make any difference.”

I am, of course, quoting from Guy Ritchie’s 1998 film, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.  And the guys in question were talking about robbing their neighbours of their stolen drugs and money in order to not have fingers and toes removed by mob boss, Hatchet Harry.  But the principle is the same.

An overactive imagination and a poor maths ability, such as putting two and two together and coming up with 7  (apparently, not my lucky number) can lead you into all kinds of trouble.  Like some kind of super sleuth, I take all the clues, decipher what I believe to be the truth, and announce it in some ah-ha Cluedo-esque way, “Mr X is in Love with me because he Did this and I Overheard this!!”  Sadly, I don’t have anyone there to check the three cards in the envelope and say, “Nope. You’re wrong. Mr X doesn’t even Know who you are or Why you keep coming up with these crazy ideas!” before asking hopefully “Wouldn’t it just be easier to play Connect 4…?” knowing that all I want to do is keep guessing, albeit wrongly, at Cluedo.

Those of you who have read my blogs before will know that I do have trouble with the opposite sex (something to do with the fact that they’re men, I think).  Specifically, understanding them.  If I could get inside a man’s head, a la Mel Gibson in What Women Want, I’d be happy. Or would I?  I don’t really care about the football results…Yes, I’m stereotypicalising (yes, I know it’s a made-up word); but you catch my drift.  Without knowing exactly what men are thinking, I am left to try to fill in the blanks myself, with usually hilarious results.  Or they would be, if they weren’t so painfully heartbreaking.

This week I’ve been reminded yet again of how easy it can be to misread men.  In the last week, three of my male friends have called me “Baby”, “Sexy” and “Gorgeous”.  One is a one is a work colleague, one is an ex and the other a married friend I’ve never met.  Can you guess who said what?  Or can you tell which one bothered me the most?

It was being called “Baby”.  But not for the reasons you might expect.  Having become a bit of a feminist lately, you’d think I would hate it for that reason.  But, rather, it was because I enjoyed it so much that I had to ask him to stop calling me that.  The word “Baby” drives my heart wild, for in my dreams, it is my boyfriend who calls me that.  But not my ex, or rather a guy I had a fling with.  I knew there was nothing to his calling me Baby, but it kind of pulled my hopes up in a way I wasn’t ready for.  I assumed that perhaps things had changed now he got to know me, but I know this not to be the truth.  We are still friends, and I hope he doesn’t mind me blogging about this.  This blog is not about him, but rather about how I read situations (usually wrongly).

It was a work colleague who has called me “Sexy”, on several occasions.  Reading between the lines, I’m pretty sure he would like to go out with me (although I’m not taking anything for granted these days), but the feeling isn’t mutual.  I’m starting to feel uncomfortable now and so, I think soon, I will have to ask him to not call me that again.

The third was kind of a surprise.  It’s a friend I met on Twitter, who is, as far as I know, happily married.  Now calling someone “Gorgeous” isn’t necessarily indicative of anything, but I guess I just think about how I would feel if it were my other half calling someone that.  It’s been a one-off, so as long as it stays that way, I won’t need to add a third awkward conversation to my life.

One of my female friends said I should enjoy being called these things, because I am gorgeous and sexy.  Well, yes I know, but to be honest, I want that someone special to be calling me those things.  Perhaps that’s what hurts the most, is that I don’t have anyone to say those things to me.  Having male friends do it just gives me conflicting signals or makes me uncomfortable.

Maybe this is the truth of the matter.  I never had male friends growing up, and most of my male friends are those who I have either had some kind of “relationship” or whom I have been attracted to, but the feeling was not mutual.  I’m sure I’ve quoted this in a blog before, but Billy Crystal was right when he said, in When Harry Met Sally, that “men and women can’t be friends, sex always gets in the way.”

He’s right of course.  Many of my female friends will disagree, but to me, men are a minefield in whatever capacity they arrive in my life.

I recently wrote a blog called Friend or Foe, or Just No-No?  http://wp.me/p2ayN0-5Q  A guy who had given me compliments, which I had apparently misread, told me he’d better stop giving compliments to women in the future.  Are we really in a day and age where men have to think that way?  One thing I can do, now I’m in my 30s, is receive a compliment. Gone are the days when somebody might call me beautiful, and I would shake my head vigorously, and claim I’m not.  If I believe the person is serious, I will thank them for their compliment.  I just find it hard, especially where men are concerned, to see why, if a guy thinks I’m beautiful, he wouldn’t want to go out with me.  And if he doesn’t want to go out with me, why the hell is he giving me compliments in the first place?

Back to assumption.  I feel like I’ve strayed from the point a little, but really, I haven’t.  Assumption is when you have nothing to go on except what you’ve been given.  If, like me, you have trouble reading it, or misread it completely, then you are in for disappointment, heartbreak and who knows what else. The thing is, it’s not just what someone says or does that can lead to poor assumption.  If you believe, like I do, that Fate sends signs and makes things happen, then something that a ‘normal’ person might chalk up to pure coincidence, or not even notice at all, suddenly becomes the reason why this person is your soul mate.  I have a catalogue of these occurrences, the latest being very recent.  But I think Fate is having a laugh.  Either that, or she forgot that she was supposed to give the same signals to the other person.  Which is why he looks at me blankly, wondering who the hell I am and why I’m acting so crazy.