For a bit of context, I will quickly explain who my mate Cal is. Cal is short for Caledonian Road, and that’s a name I’ve long wanted to give to someone because it’s easy to use and it sounds like it could be an actual name. But it couldn’t go to just anyone, it had to go to someone I intended on writing about. A lot.
Cal and I have been friends since the tender age of twelve. He kind of looks like James Van Der Beek minus the five finger forehead. Man, that guy has a huge forehead! Anyhow, Cal was always nice to everybody, and all the girls in our circle of friends growing up had a crush on him at some point or another. He rejected me once when we were fourteen (something he doesn’t remember), and since then he’s been firmly friend zoned. Our star signs make us inherently incompatible so it would have never worked anyway. He’s like Lad Boy in that I might as well be a guy to him because we’re bromosexuals.
He was always a good laugh, and ultimately became like the older brother I never wanted. When Neil Strauss’ The Game came out he read it and excitedly told us all about it over lunch one day. ‘If a girl touches the back of her hand while you’re talking to her it means that she’s attracted to you.’
‘Sounds like a load of bollocks,’ I said between bites of my sandwich.
‘No, really! And if you’re talking to a group of girls then you ignore the one you like because then she’ll feel insecure and more likely to want to talk to you. It’s called negging.’
‘This guy sounds like a total twat.’
‘Oh he is,’ Cal warned, as if I might run into this Neil Strauss at our village fête. ‘You should definitely avoid any guy who uses any of the moves in this book.’
Cal emailed me a PDF of the book that evening, instructing me to study it and stay ahead of the game as it were. To this day this is some of the most valuable advice I’ve ever had (that, again, Cal and his old man memory doesn’t remember giving me). Seriously though, I suggest everyone, especially women, read The Game. It can actually be quite helpful for shy men (like Neil Strauss himself, who only wanted to learn how to speak to women initially), and very useful reading for women so that you can avoid total arseholes who legitimately see the female species as something you win. I read it again a couple of months ago and I have rejected many men on the basis of them trying to run this ‘game’. I don’t have time for those kind of jedi mind tricks.
I digress. Per ususal. Moving on, despite Cal’s seemingly ladies man status, since he was twelve years old he’s been what I like to call ‘serially monogamous’ in that I can only think of one period of time, specifically when we were fourteen, that he did not have a girlfriend. Never really one for casual encounters, he just became the kind of person you assumed didn’t like to be single.
That is, until about six months ago. Cal, up until recently, was perhaps the most sensible friend I had. I would put him firmly in my Top Ten list of friends. Maybe even Top Five. Let’s just put it this way, if I got married he would be in the bridal party. But back to the specifics of Cal, sensibility is not to be confused with boring. I don’t keep company with boring people. He’s insanely clever as well, but it’s almost as if he has always been the adult of our friend group, the Liam Payne aka Daddy Directioner if you will. You would trust him with the admin. Out of uni he got a very sensible and adult job and it seemed like the kind of job you could have for life. He spent five years working his way up through the company and had a very serious girlfriend and I think all of us assumed the next logical step would be him getting married, having kids, slowly getting a bit fat, then going grey, then buying a motorbike or something non-sensible like that in his middle age. And then one day out of the blue his relationship ended and he announced via Facebook that he left his job and was going to go traveling for a year.
He wasn’t working in London, rather in some bleak city in THE NORTH, which is enough to make anyone want to retire after a couple of days, let alone five years. I liked the status and made a mental note to call him. A couple of days later I got a message on gchat (old man communication methods, am I right?).
Cal: Yo, yo
Cal: How’s London?
Me: It’s great. Livin the dream. How are you? I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever!
Cal: It’s been a long time. Was thinking about coming to visit you. Would that be alright?
Me: Of course! I didn’t realise until I saw your FB status that you were taking a year off. That is amazing!
Me: I suppose spending an extra year in uni* was kind of like taking a year off. A pre-working retirement.
*I spent an extra year in uni doing a diploma in bullshit.
Cal: True. I had my nose to the grindstone for five years. I am ready for not working.
Me: I’ve had my nose to the grindstone for a year and a half now. I want to retire before I’m 30.
Cal: Haha, me too. Doing a mini-retirement now.
Me: Such a good idea. I salute you, good sir.
Cal: Sort of my idea, but not entirely.
Me: I’m excited for you to come visit! It’s been aaaaaaaaages. Warwick (as in Avenue, new character, another friend from childhood…more on that next time) is taking time out of his busy traveling schedule to come crash at mine for a couple days next week.
(Then, noticing his note about retirement not being his idea, I added) Were you fired? Is this a forced retirement? (joking)
Cal: Amazing, Warwick is all over the place right now. (Like our gchat conversation)
Sort of forced. I was made redundant. But I had planned on quitting in six months. So plans are just happening six months early. Anyway, I am very happy. Things are good, I have zero obligations and I have money, so I am in a good situation.
Me: Everything happens for a reason. Sounds like a perfect situation! And sounds like a very exciting year ahead.
Cal: Yes, I’m going to travel around and at the same time figure out my next move. The plan is to be self employed.
Me: Game plan. We can figure this out over many pints when you come down to visit. I’d like to be self-employed. Which is why I’m working for who I’m working for now. Trying to just absorb all his knowledge of how to run a company. I’ve found a lot of initial capital helps, so I’m attempting to accrue that as well.
Cal: Seriously, it sounds like you’re in a good spot. Okay, I am cream crackered. Going to bed. Love ya! We will touch base soon about future plans x
Me: Love you too broheim! Speak to you soon xx
I closed my laptop and stared at the telly, not really absorbing whatever programme was on, mind still reeling from the information overload. The only way to describe how I felt for Cal was relief. It’s not that he was living a tragic life or anything, it’s just that he was living a bit of an average life, and I’ve always considered Cal to be an above average person. He had a good life, but this seemed like the beginning of a great life, which is really all you can hope for when it comes to the people that you love.
And thus began my summer of houseguests. There were three in total, hence the sporadic posting all summer.
Next time: Warwick in the house!