“How are you feeling my darling?”
“I’m okay. Still kind of sad.”
“I thought about this after you told me the other day, and there is something wrong in that boy’s head. It is his loss.” The owner of my local kebab shop finalised his statement by placing his hands around his wide waist and nodding his head as if to say that was the final word on the matter. “Here you are my darling,” he said in his strong accent as he handed me an order of chips.
I sighed, watching the grease and vinegar seep through the paper. “I know.”
Most people probably don’t go to a middle aged kebab shop owner for therapy, but over the course of my time in uni I’ve come to know him well. I rarely eat anything from the kebab shop, but having been dragged there by college mates on nights out, I’ve always ended up talking to the owner. He has the kind of smile that could cheer anyone up and he tells great stories, so I’ve made a habit of stopping to say hello every time I see him working.
“Don’t be sad. It is his loss. He is a stupid boy. Now, smile!” I cracked a small smile. “That is much better. You have such pretty smile, don’t be sad. Now, what else would you like my darling?”
“Just the chips is fine.”
“You must eat. You are too small.”
I laughed. “I won’t be if I keep eating chips for dinner.” I reached for my purse.
“Ah, ah, ah, ah,” he said, waving his hand at me. “Don’t worry, I take care of it my darling.”
“Thanks,” I said, smiling again.
“For you, anything.” I sat and ate my chips while he told me a story about his family, then we had a winge about the weather, and then I went on my way back to my college.
I spent the week following my breakup with Grey in a bit of an isolated haze. I avoided my friends to avoid the ‘How’s Grey?’ scenario, and locked myself in my room drinking wine and watching Gossip Girl.
The next week I ran into a friend of mine at college as I was making my single daily appearance outside of my room to go to a lecture. The only way to describe this boy is ‘cool.’ He defines that word. He is the epitome of coolness. I wouldn’t say he’s part of the Tubestop Gang, but he definitely merits a Tube Stop name, which is Camden, or Cam for short. “Alright, beautiful?” he said, taking a drag from his cigarette.
“Heyyy,” I said slowly.
“Love, you have got to cheer up. Come around mine tonight. I’m throwing a party and they we’re going out. It’ll be a laugh.”
“I don’t know. I think I might be busy,” I said unconvincingly.
“Yeah right,” he said, unconvinced. “Come on, I haven’t seen you in ages!”
“Wicked. Seven o’clock, yeah?”
“See you then.”
“You know I’m going to call you if you’re not there by seven thirty.”
He glanced at his watch. “Shit, I’m late.” He was always late. “See you tonight, darlin.”
“Bye,” I said as he gave me a quick kiss on the cheek and took off.
I took a deep breath, the lingering smoke and Ralph Lauren cologne filling my lungs. I unintentionally exhaled with a large sigh. I had been doing a lot of huffing and puffing, almost as if I had forgotten to breathe every couple minutes. I was late as well, but in less of a rush to get there than Cam was.
After my lecture I walked my bike through town, headed nowhere in particular. I window-shopped my way around for about an hour before heading back to college. I parked my bike and went to check my mail. My lackadaisical behaviour meant that all of this had taken me until approximately seven o’clock in the evening. I knew that if I went to my room I would never leave, so I headed across the college for Cam’s.
“Heyy!! You came! Nice to see you, beautiful,” Cam said as he greeted me with a kiss.
“Yeah, I came!” I said, trying to feign as much enthusiasm as possible.
“I’ve ordered a ton of pizza and there’s a crate of beer over there, help yourself to anything.”
“Oh, thanks. I’ve already eaten though,” I lied. I hadn’t had an appetite in a week and wasn’t about to start shoving pizza down my throat. I went for the liquid calories instead.
“Hey, have you met my mate?” Cam said, nodding towards an attractive boy standing by the door and speaking to some other guys I know.
“No, who is he?”
“First year grad student. He’s on the football team and a good lad. Oi, Russ!” (Short for Russell Square or Jack Russell Terrier. I haven’t decided if he’s a Tube Stop kind of boy or a Dog Breed kind of boy). “Have you met my lovely friend here?”
“No. Hi, I’m Russ.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“And you.” We had some general chat about course and where we’re from and such that you have about a hundred times before half of the first term is over. He got me another beer and as he handed it to me said, “So, are you coming out with us tonight?”
“Ehh, I don’t know. Probably not.”
“What? Why not?”
“I don’t know, I’m just not in the mood.”
“Oh come on, it will cheer you up!”
“Whatever is wrong, this will fix it.”
“Yeah, I tried that last week and it didn’t work so well.” I said, recalling the waterworks outside of Grey’s college.
“Well, my boyfriend broke up with me.”
“What? With you? He must be crazy.”
I laughed, “Yeah that seems to be the general opinion.”
“Well that does suck. My girlfriend broke up with me right before I came here.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Nah, it’s okay. Sometimes things just aren’t right.” He told me more details of his breakup without coming off as if he was trying to get it off with me.
“Wow, I’m glad I met you.” I said once we had finished rehashing all the ups and downs of our respective relationships.
“Yeah, it’s been great talking to you. Now, you must come out tonight.”
“Okay, I’m coming!”
Five minutes later.
“I think I’m going to go.”
“What?” Russ said, puzzled.
“Yeah, this has been really fun but I can feel myself taking a turn for a really bad mood.”
“Aw, come on. It will be great.”
“Next time, I promise.”
I was about two drinks away from telling everyone my sob story and felt it best to avoid that scenario at all costs.
Sunday afternoon I got a text from Cam.
‘Pre-drinks at mine tonight then we’re going out x’
I kept my promise, and made more of an effort when choosing an outfit, straying from the jeans and hoodie look I had been sporting for over a week.
I walked into the common room where Cam held all his parties to find it packed with fellow members of the college consuming snake bite at an alarming rate. Cam spotted me and came over, “Hey! There she is.”
“Here I am,” I said smiling.
“You seem a bit more cheery today.”
“I’m feeling a bit better.”
“Good, then grab a drink!”
I walked towards the drinks and spotted Russ, who almost simultaneously spotted me. His face lit up as he smiled and waved at me. It was kind of precious. “Hey, you came!”
“I told you I would.”
“Yeah, but you also told me you’d go out the other night.”
“Do you want a drink?” he asked, quickly pushing himself up from off the wall.
“How are you doing?” he asked, handing me a drink.
“Good,” I said. “Your breakup story actually made me feel much better.”
He laughed, “Cheers for that.”
“No, I don’t mean I’m glad you had a bad breakup, but I mean. Yeah, there’s no way to backpedal out of this. I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine,” he said, smiling. He was giving me that look. The one where you know someone is starting to like you. A slight tilt of the head, a squint in the eyes, a constant smile. I usually panic slightly when I see that look on other people. Not this time though.
“Are we going to head soon?”
“Let’s go!” he said, putting his arm around me and escorting me out the door. “Cam!” he shouted once we were outside. “Cam! Let’s go!”
“Let’s do one!” Cam agreed.
Their level of excitement put me off slightly, as I was still trying to reintroduce myself into society and the night scene. I played along though, putting my hand around Russ’ waist as we walked out of the college and through town.
Briony was meeting me at the club and luckily she was close to the front of the queue when we got there, so I slipped in with her. “Hey! How are you?”
“I’m okay.” I said, and I was. Briony knew me well enough to know that if I answer a question with a conversation ending statement not to push the subject further.
“Tonight should be fun!” she said, a bit over enthusiastically, as she does.
“Yeah, should be a good one.”
We got through the doors and Russ and Cam came in shortly after. “Ladies, let’s do some shots!” Cam said, putting his arms around us and ushering us towards the bar.
A few shots later and Russ put his arm around me. “Let’s dance,” he whispered into my ear.
“Yeah, okay.” I said, letting him lead me onto the dance floor.
We danced. We kissed. We danced some more. I began to notice a lot of our college mates around us and became quite self-conscious. What if Grey found out? He wasn’t even at my college, but we still had enough mutual friends … and then, I thought ‘fuck it.’ I kissed Russ like there was no tomorrow and I really didn’t give two bits about who saw.
Eventually we were separated and I danced with Briony a bit before heading towards the bar. Russ was flirting some other girls I didn’t know so I got Cam to buy me a shot which we downed together immediately. I felt as if I’d had enough excitement and alcohol for the night and went to coat check to get my stuff. I came back to say goodbye to everyone.
“What? No! You can’t leave.” Russ said, grabbing a hold of my hand. “Please stay.”
“Yes you can,” he said, pulling me closer to him. “Look, I’m going to buy you a drink and it will be fine.”
“You don’t have to –” he was already ordering drinks, “do that.” I said to deaf ears.
“Here,” he said, handing me his recent purchase. “I’m going to go have a fag, don’t go anywhere.”
“Okay.” I said, sitting on the bar stool. And I didn’t. But after five minutes he hadn’t returned so I finished off the beer and took off.
Approximately four days later I was walking through college and saw Russ.
“Hey you.” I said.
“Hey!” he said, surprised. “Where did you go the other night?”
“Where did I go? Where did YOU go?”
“I came back to find you and you left.”
“To be fair, you were gone for awhile.”
“I was, wasn’t I?” he said sheepishly.
“No worries, it was a fun night.”
“I was sm-ashed.”
“I’m sure you were,” I said, raising my eyebrows.
“What are you up to then?”
“Cam and I are going shopping for some fancy dress costumes, you want to come?”
We spent the afternoon wandering around town going through various charity shops and joke shops and Halloween shops. In the end I bought nothing and they paid an exorbitant price for some Halloween-brand costumes. To be fair they did look quite good in them.
“There’s a party at Trinity tonight, you should come.” Cam said.
“Yeah, it’s meant to be wild. Then we’ll probably go into town afterwards.”
“I’m going to have drinks at mine beforehand if you want to come by,” Russ offered.
“Sounds good. See you guys tonight.”
I couldn’t be bothered with fancy dress, so I just wore the sexiest outfit I could muster. The theme was something about celebrities, so I could pretend I was anyone. I got to the preparty where, for some reason, I was the only female. My kind of scene really.
We left for the party and once there Russ was once again all over me. I had started to feel that I actually liked him and that I might not want to just randomly hookup with him, so when he took a break from dancing with me to talk to some other girls I took the opportunity to dance with other people. Russ looked as though he was doing fine on his own and appeared to be chatting up three girls simultaneously, so I left him to it. There was a guy dressed as a tiger at this party, but in the most liberal interpretation of a “tiger.” He was wearing jeans, no shirt, and tiger face paint. He looked quite nice without a shirt on so I decided he was a worthy dance partner. He had been dancing alone so I approached him and just started dancing. Fifteen minutes of dancing later and we were kissing.
At some point a song came on which reminded Tiger that he had abandoned the rest of his “jungle cats” as he called them, and he excused himself and ran towards a group of equally attractive men dressed as different felines. I laughed a bit to myself and then felt an arm around me and a kiss on my cheek.
“Hey beautiful,” Russ said.
“Hey!” I said, surprised.
I looked towards where Tiger was taking shots with his friends. “Oh yeah.”
“I think we’re going to head into town, you coming?”
I looked back towards Russ. “Yeah, definitely.”
He kissed me before saying, “Good.”
I found Tiger and told him my plans for the rest of the evening, gave him my number, and as I walked away thought, ‘Well, that was fun,’ but had no real expectations that I would see him again.
Outside the club Russ looked as if he was on the verge of being refused entry for being too drunk, but we managed to sneak him past the bouncers as Cam sweet talked them. Once in the club my phone started to ring, but like Lady Gaga says, “Sorry I cannot hear you, I’m kind of busy” so I ignored the call. I turned around and saw Tiger holding his phone and looking at me with a look as if to say, “I just saw you ignore my call.” Whoops.
I quickly ratified the situation by joining him on the dance floor and at the mouth. We had a couple songs of dancing and kissing before the ultimate, “Should we go?” question came up. Why, yes. Yes we should. I had lost Russ and wasn’t particularly worried about him at that point so my conversation with the Tiger moved to whose house was closer. Mine was, and while I rarely bring people back to mine, there is a level of convenience to waking up in your own bed on a school day.
I did not regret my exception to the rule. The Tiger was amazing. We had sex twice before I fell asleep into a sexually satisfied, drunken stupor. I woke up in the morning the way I like to – alone. There was a note scribbled on a piece of paper apologising for his early exit, but apparently he had class that day as well. He texted me later that day to see how I felt. What a gentleman.
Rebounding is fun.
Next time: Belated Breakup Sex with Mr. Grey