My best mate turfed up again last night for some beers, some gorgonzola, and a chat. As you do.
Inevitably the conversation drifted to my love life (or lack thereof) and I couldn’t help commenting that I had now been single for 6 months and 13 days (although I have been through one serious almost-wobble). Officially my longest such period since I was 20. Which was so very long ago. I added my usual observation that maybe things were better this way.
Well Paul, maybe you’re right about that. Maybe you’re just like an alcoholic. Sure it would be nice to have a drink, but realistically – you just shouldn’t. Perhaps it just doesn’t do you any good.
I stared into my beer. Ate some cheese.
And I started to rationalise the fuck out of it. But…but…but…Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Steve. Right at the bottom, food, shelter and sex. And what about intimacy and belonging? These are all real human needs. It’s not like alcohol, which you don’t really need.
But Paul…you’re counting the days. One month, three months, six months. This is worse than when you were trying to quit the fags. Do you want a certificate? A medal?
That’s all very well Steve, but you’re not the one gnawing the furniture here.
Nope. I’m not. It’s you that’s going cold turkey.
But it’s not like I’m going to live forever. Surely just one more won’t do me any harm? Maybe this time I can handle it. Actually, I know I can. I can do this and I’LL BE JUST FINE. OK? I’ve got things sorted in my head now and…it’ll all be OK.
I toss him my phone. Look, right there between Google Maps and YouTube. Look. It’s the OKCupid App, see? It’s been right there on my ‘phone the whole time and I haven’t touched a drop. I didn’t delete it. I wanted it there it front of my nose every day; I’ve proved I can ignore it.
Why are we even having this conversation, Paul? Who are you trying to convince? And what are you trying to convince them of?
The conversation drifts on and away, and eventually he takes his leave and heads home. I pick up my phone. It’s a teeny teeny pink icon. What harm could it do? I close the cover again. Put it down.
I’m imagining a revised profile. Trying to hone it down, boil down the essence in 300 words. Previous versions were faulty. How to convey, in words? To be read and understood. Anyone would think I had some sort of compulsion to write it all down.
Oh damn it all. I adore women. What’s the use in pretending otherwise? Why pretend this isn’t making me miserable?
“Wanted: Ruination. The Scorch of the Sun. Burn me and Break me”
I sweep my arm across the bar and knock a dozen glasses flying, cheap booze spraying through the air and the sound of splintered smashing.
I point. Right over the barman’s shoulder. Unwavering. I want your finest malt, sir. He starts to pour but I grab his arm, take the whole bottle and slam it down in front of me. And I drink. One glass after another after another until there isn’t a drop left. Stagger out into the street, drunken, bellowing, raise my arms wide to the stars above and…roar.