I made the short trip from the underground towards The Regent in Balham (pre-closure for renovation), smiling smugly as I waited for my phone to get service again. I was early, not even on time, early, which is a bloody miracle if you ask any of my friends. My phone buzzed to life, notifications indicating I had service once more.
Here Cal had already texted me two minutes earlier.
“SON OF A BIT-” I began to mutter aggressively as I pulled the door to the pub open, scanning the room for him. “How the fuck did he-” I continued to swear to myself as I walked to the back, trying to find him in the crowd.
Damnit! I punched into my phone, hitting ‘send’ especially hard. I looked around again before sending off Where?
Regent flashed on the screen almost immediately. I frowned, looking around. Surely he could see me standing in the middle of the pub like an absolutely muppet, turning around in circles. Outside
I was still frowning as I pushed the pub door open. ‘What?! How were you here before me?!’ he said, equally enraged that he hadn’t won this unspoken battle of who would show up first.
‘Ha!’ I said, walking forward into his open arms for a hug.
‘I was like, “I’ll totally beat her here, I’ve got time.”‘
‘Sucker! …Where were you?’
‘Around the corner, waiting for you. You must’ve walked right past. Why are you here so early? It’s not even six.’
‘I’m turning over a new leaf, my friend. Now that I’m one year older I’ve decided to get my shit together.’
‘Trying to recapture all those lost minutes from before when you were always late?’
‘That, and realising my impending mortality. We’re all slowly dying, Cal. No time to dawdle. Like, gooooo! You’re dyyyying.’
‘I know, right? Let’s get a drink, then.’
‘Did you know this place use to be a brothel?’ I asked, sitting down near the window in the restaurant bit of the pub. Neither of us were particularly bothered about the football.
‘I did not. Is it still?’
‘Obviously. Why do you think I’m here so often? Workin on my night mooooves,’ I sang.
Cal laughed as he picked up the wine list. ‘Not surprised.’
‘Most people aren’t. SPEAKING of which,’ I said, dramatically dropping the menu, ‘Multiple people have suggested that I use that arrangements sugar baby website thing.’
‘What?!’ he barked, frowning. ‘Seriously?’
‘Yeah. Fucking rude, that. As if I’d actually sleep with men for money.’
Cal raised his eyebrows and hummed a bit, nodding his head to the side, ‘You know, a lot of girls from Oxford and Cambridge do it and seem to make a tonne of money.’
‘Define “a lot of girls”…where exactly are these statistics coming from?’
‘Dunno. Read it in The Times.’
‘I almost inadvertently ended up in an arrangement like that.’
‘Wait, what?’ he asked, dropping his menu.
‘Can I get you two something to drink?’ the waitress interrupted.
‘Um, could I have the Cabernet Sauvignon, please?’ Cal asked. I scoffed internally. The man loves red wine and will drink it in any climate. It was extremely hot, so I asked for an pint of Aspall without hesitation.
‘So back to this sugar baby thing,’ Cal said, redirecting his attention back to me.
‘I WASN’T a sugar baby,’ I insisted. ‘I was just dangerously close to sugar baby territory.’
‘Well,’ I began, ‘during second year I went to a banquet that had this speaker who was really attractive and I ended up chatting with him afterwards.’
‘”Chatting”? Is that what we’re calling it now?’
‘Dick!’ I said, hitting him. ‘We were JUST chatting. I mean, later other stuff happened, but anyway,’ Cal laughed. ‘ANYWAY, after, y’know, he kept in touch and then came to visit me and picked me up from college in this amazing car. Like, proper sports car.’
‘I know, I was there. So then he drives us to this hotel where he’d rented a room just outside of town and we have this great dinner with champagne and have a great time. But, like, he lived a couple hours away and was always out of the country on business so we only saw each other sporadically.’
‘But then one time he asked me to come to London and things were a bit tight money-wise, and I told him as much, and said that I didn’t think I could make it. But then he asked for my bank details and said that he would send me the money for a train ticket.’
‘And at that point I was like, this definitely feels like being paid for sex.’
‘Well it’s not like you were working a corner.’
‘No, not quite. But, still. I felt uncomfortable, so I said no.’ Cal nodded. ‘But then I thought, I wonder how much money he would have deposited.’
Cal laughed. ‘Maybe you should give this whole sugar baby thing a try!’
‘Fuck off,’ I said, grabbing the pint that our waitress had deposited on the table.
‘Good. But, speaking of arrangements…’
Cal was smelling his wine before taking a sip. ‘Hm?’ he asked, placing the glass back down.
‘Have you ever heard of that 40 Days of Dating website?’
‘Well basically two friends who were single decided to date each other for 40 days.’
‘Okay…’ Cal said, hesitantly.
‘Oh, no! I’m not suggesting we do that. Spoiler alert – it fucking blows up in their faces and they end up not friends at the end. What I want to do is 40 Day s of Friendship to prove that men and women can indeed be friends. And I want you to do it with me.’
‘Okay…’ Cal said, taking another sip of wine.
‘It’s meant to be satirical. We can just carry on as we are right now, but just with me documenting it.’
‘Do you want to do it?’
‘Wait, do we have to date?’
‘Are you fucking deaf? No. In fact, we don’t even have to see each other every day, we just have to, like, talk. Even if I just text you that picture of the heavy breathing cat, just something.’
*PS and by the way I send Cal this image on the regular*
‘You fucking love that cat.’
‘I do,’ I sighed. ‘He just…really captures the essence of me, you know?’
‘You relate to an asthmatic cat?’
‘Absolutely. Overcoming adversity to become an internet phenomenon.’
Cal laughed. ‘So is this going on the blog?’
‘So I’m Cal?’
‘…Okay. I’ll do it.’
‘When do we start?’
‘Next week. Next Sunday.’
‘Okay. Do I need to do anything?’
‘No, I’ll take care of it all.’
‘Did you seriously just finish that pint?’
‘What? I’m excited! To friendship!’ I yelled, thrusting my fists into the air.
Cal laughed. ‘You’re insane.’
‘Yes. But you are friends with me, so what does that say about you?’
‘That I’m tolerant?’
‘Maybe…Anyway, where’s the waitress? I want food.’
So there you have it! Cal and I have already started the project and I will be officially launching it next week. We would like this to be interactive. A bit like ‘Ask Lad Boy and SAO a Question’ but now with Cal. I still love Lad Boy, but he’s busy. Cal is Lad Boy ver. 2.0. SO if you have any questions for two completely platonic friends please submit them via the comments section or to firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re very excited to share our completely platonic friendship with you and to prove that men and women can, in fact, be just friends.
All the love! SAO .x