Lonely heart

Sometimes I perform random acts of kindness just for the hell of it.    I’ll help an old lady across Picadilly Circus, give up my seat on London Underground when somebody collapses at my feet, or randomly stroke Guido’s man bun.  Well, yesterday I got to play Cupid for a café customer, and it felt good.

Let me introduce you to motor cycle dispatch rider and sometime lonely heart, Jerome.  He’s a 38 year old South London hunk who urgently needed my help.  Apparently old fashioned personal ads in the encounters section of The Times are tricky to write these days.  I was just the person with the right matchmaking qualifications to draft it.  The fact that when I was single I made Quasimodo look like the most popular guy about town was but merely a trifling detail.  We bonded in a booth with our heads together over French Toast and a big banana.  

Jerome is Sociable with a capital S.  He has a great sense of humour, a full head of hair and his own teeth.  He loves cats and his ideal woman is a man.  What’s not to love? He’s fit but has a worrying habit of jogging into The Spanish Onion café on his days off wearing a pair of alarmingly tight running shorts.  I’m not saying that’s not pleasing.  The only other possible negative I can drum up is that apparently he has a predilection for listening to Celine Dion loudly on Saturday nights.   We’re all human. 

 I got out my notepad and pen.  “We should just write down the first tantalising thing about you which you think of and comes straight into your head.  We’ll rule nothing in nor nothing out.  Tell me really fast. What’s irresistible about you?”  I braced myself.  Jerome stared blankly at my equally blank page whilst I checked out his mashed banana technique.  He’s a slicer rather than a musher.  Still, the word desperate loomed large like an elephant in the room.  “Okay dokey,” I said, “maybe we should do this really slow.”   I changed plan and he spoke about his ideal men.  It was the usual unattainable beef cake roll call.

“If you could date Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Brad Pitt or Guido – and be honest here, who’d you pick?” said Jerome sipping his latte.  I chewed my nail and pondered. Honestly, that was a tough one.  Brad did have great hair.  “Well?” he said. 

“Don’t rush me,” I said, “I’ve got it narrowed down to Johnny or George.”  

In the end I shaved five years off Jerome and we just settled for this.  See below.  

Sexy man aged 33 seeks fun loving guy for good times.  Looks unimportant.  Must be tall dark and handsome.  Please feel free to respond.  It would be a real boost for his ego.

Later in bed last night Guido asked me what I’d place in a personal ad if I was still looking for love and a good carbonara.  

“Gone to seed forty something seeks short sighted sex maniac,”  I said.

Guido took off his glasses and squinted straight at me.  I think we’re possibly a match made in heaven.  

A cup of uncomplicated, please

Shortly after I met Guido I used to go regularly to his café to lust over his Rocky Road Cheesecake.  I’d have these insane thoughts.  Like imagining what he would look like frying an egg without any clothes on.  Or having him smother me all over in goose fat with the rough palms of his big hairy hands.  If you ever start dating a hot guy who just happens to own a café then I cannot recommend the latter activity highly enough.  It’s a terrifc boost for the endorphins. Particularly on cold Mondays. 

Guido would wander over to my table with his notepad and pen to take my order.  He’d ask me if I’d like a coffee and I’d say yes and he’d ask me how I’d like it. 

“White,” I’d say. 

“Yes but how would you like it?” he’d ask.  I never had a clue what he was going on about.    I’d wonder if he was secretly trying to send me some sort of subliminal coded message.   Like, let’s go immediately upstairs to the loft and have incredible sex. 

“The usual cup of warm brown water with white stuff poured in it, please,” I’d say.  He’d shake his head and look at me as if I was nuts but somehow managed to make it just the way I liked it.  

I only ever remember coffee being one of two things.  It was white, or black.  Then along comes some bright spark who dreams up the word frappucino and all hell breaks loose.  Nowadays when I walk through the café on my way to work I hear all sorts of lunacy going on.  Customers who order a coffee have to be able to speak a strange and unworldly language.  Part English, a bit of French and a smattering of Italian thrown in just to add an unnecessary “O” into its vocabulary.  Interpreting it makes cracking the Da Vinci Code look like reading the Looney Toons.

These days the battle lines are chalked up on an oversized blackboard right behind Guido’s ever increasing man bun.  The choices are far from stark.  It’s just as well there’s usually a line waiting because you need a good 35 minutes to fathom out what you are going to ask for when you get to the front.  Why, for example, would you go for Large when it can be called Tall?  Hang on just a minute.  Why ask for Tall at all, when a Grande sounds so much grander?  Primo?  I think not.  Nothing beats a Small one in my humble opinion but whoever took the decision to displace Medium and rename it plain old Regular needs their head examining.   And that’s before anything has even hit the inside of the cup. 

May I offer my sympathies if you’re lactose intolerant but no matter what you say, the world already involves way too much soya for my liking.     

I like to think I can masquerade as skinny but no matter how hard I try I always end up being unmasked as a full-fat.  I am, however, a complete enigma when it comes to froth or flat or wet or dry but for goodness sakes just don’t make my cappuccino heavy.  

“Make mine a naked bold grande café au lait skinny extra shot, with some white chocolate and 4 pumps of peppermint to go please,” I said to Guido this morning.  

I like to keep him on his toes.   

Sex and the other options

As you know this blog is rarely ever topical.  But travelling on the London Underground yesterday morning I found myself reading a newspaper article about a Hollywood celebrity who claims to have slept with five thousand women over a four year period.  That’s an awful lot of sex, and let’s face it, statistically I was hoping some of it was awful too.  I immediately got out my calculator and crunched the numbers.  You’d need to sleep with one hundred and four different sexual partners a month just to keep up. I closed my eyes and thought about the logistics.  I tried to imagine who would be interested enough to make out with me and where I might find them all and whether I would be cheating numbers wise if I asked if any of them would be willing to do it more than once.  In the end I got exhausted just thinking about having to change the sheets.    If I fitted that much sex in during the month of December I don’t think I’d be able to walk my way through January.  So thank goodness for monogamy and thank God I can rely on Guido every other Tuesday but twice on a Saturday.  

Coincidentally, right next to that newspaper article was another about the most popular polled things people would choose to do, rather than have sex.  And one of them was to pilot a helicopter.  No really, I am honestly not making this up.  So I threw it wide open in bed last night. 

“If you had a choice between having sex or doing anything else, what would it be and would it involve a spinning rotor?” I asked Guido. 

“Is this another one of your stupid trick questions to catch me out?” he said groaning.

“Straight up,” I said shaking my head.

There was a very long and satisfying pause.  Which I have to say was gratifying considering what I was asking him. At least he had the manners to show some hesitation.

“Okay,” he said rubbing his chin.  “It would obviously have to be pleasurable.  It would need to be flexible.  I’d have to be able fit it in comfortably, oh, and it couldn’t be too short or too long.”

I wondered where we were going with this and if it would be printable on a blog.  

“I’d probably say – stuffing a big Krispy Kreme chocolate dream into my mouth.  Right in there.  Whole.  Straight down.  All in one go. Yum.”  He gave a big mmm noise, had a strange look in his eye and he was blinking a lot when he said it.  I’ll admit the choice was a turn up for the books.  It seemed strange, though highly encouraging, that my only competition in the sex stakes turned out to be with an iced doughnut.  

I lay in the dark thinking.  Was I about to marry a weirdo?  The question was rhetorical but please feel free to post a comment.

Scrub up

I hate to cook.  No, really I do.  Fortunately for me I co-habit with someone who can.  And most importantly, doesn’t mind doing it.  Living with a cook feels like all of your Christmas’ have arrived at once.  You get to eat well but at the same time are taught to have a healthy respect for grease proof paper.  

When Guido and I originally hooked up we were in that silly first flush of foolish love when we thought anything was possible.   Guido had this misguided belief that one day I’d figure out how to operate a four flame gas hob.  Ha! We ploughed on regardless.  I agreed to take a turn to cook on alternate nights.  When Guido cooked we’d be dining on something sumptuous like a big bowl of chorizo and shellfish.  The clams would be waving cheerfully to us from a broth of white wine and parsley.  Then the next night I’d take us to the dark side.  It was like going from all the joys of Summer to a cold harsh Winter in twenty-four hours.  I found out pretty quickly that there are only so many baked beans you can expect the man you love to eat without having to invest in Alpine scented air freshener.  I’m telling you no one cooked tinned beans on toast like I did, nor apparently with such regularity.  

To compensate for this imbalance we now have a house rule that whoever cooks the dinner, never has to do the washing up later.  As arrangements go I have absolutely no complaints.  In fact I think I may include this agreement in our wedding vows.  I’ll love him, honour him, cherish him, and promise to scrub Guido’s sticky pan on a regular basis.  

It’s a well known fact that some people find quiet contemplation by reading prose, or listening to their favourite tracks of classical music.  Other people lose themselves in the glue that is stamp collecting or by swishing rods and fly fishing.   Well, I get a kick out of washing dishes.  For me it’s a state of mind.  Nirvana.  It’s thinking time to ponder the complexities of life and how to put them right.  Light the joss sticks, cross your legs, and chant hum on a scatter cushion with me.  If you’ve never considered washing up as a hobby, trust me it can be incredibly therapeutic.  It probably has something to do with all that warm water, soapy bubbles and the occasional waft of a hot hand towel.  Honestly, throw in a couple of scented candles and a Dead Sea mud facial and it’s better than a night at Champney’s. 

Guido’s never one to look a gift horse in the mouth.  To indulge my passion he’s fitted an industrial sized tap to the loft sink.  It looks like a cross between a cattle prod and something you’d use to hose down a nuclear plant employee who’s accidentally been exposed to plutonium.   These days there’s nothing I enjoy more than whizzing off some encrusted lasagne from a tray bake with it.  Need crumble from a pie tin blitzed?   You got it!   

Anyway last night I had some serious thinking time over an egg crisped omelette pan.  Let me tell you it paid off because afterwards I logged on-line and had a terrific conversation with a guy who told me he’s a tailor from Kuala Lumpur.  I’ve ordered a pink suit.   

Mashed potato

Occasionally Guido will get profound.  It’s usually nothing serious or anything to worry about.  I suppose it could be a lot worse.  Imagine what this blog would read like if I was sleeping with Sigmund Freud. 

“Life is like a dollop of mashed potato,” said Guido.  He was standing in the café kitchen with a lump of it on the end of his wooden spoon.  So apparently Forrest Gump got it wrong and life wasn’t like a box of candy after all.  “Mashed potato should only ever contain three simple ingredients. Potatoes, butter and milk.”  

Hang on a minute.  That wasn’t the mashed potato recipe my mother used to whip up. Someone’s clearly omitted to tell her this important culinary fact.  What had happened to the salt, the cream and the nutmeg?  Perhaps this is where she used to go wrong and why it always ended up tasting so horrible.  I made a mental note to let her know this important news flash the next time we spoke. For goodness sakes, will you drop the nutmeg?  

“Like mashed potato there are really only three important ingredients in life.  You’re born. You live.  You die.”  My brief but interesting life suddenly flashed before my eyes.  Gosh Guido was being cheery today.  

“I don’t remember being born,” I said.  And what a relief that was.  I never did much like the idea of dropping out head first from the bottom of anything.  “And I don’t want to think about dying.  But the “live” part?   Well, that’s a whole different story.  I feel I’ve got to break it down into manageable and bite sized chunks,” I said.  Trust me with this one.  I’d have to have a whole sub category just covering the period relating to my puberty. Let’s just be thankful I haven’t blogged about it yet, that’s all I’m saying.

You may be wondering why we were talking about life and death and mashed vegetables.  Don’t be silly, it was obviously linked to our wedding plans.  Which, by the way, were still non existent.

“You book a date to get married, you get married, and, then you are married,”  Guido said matter of factly.  He made it all sound so easy.  He shrugged, “It’s that simple.”  

Good grief.  What was wrong with him?  Did he still not realise the success of a wedding could be won or lost simply by just how good your fork and finger buffet was judged?  I pushed pastel coloured suits to the recesses of my brain.  But, I still couldn’t help think about my ever expanding guest list.  It was getting frightening.  Scarily it now included our postman, Mike.  

“Okay cutie,” I said with my best John Wayne swagger. “If you’re going to take me down the mashed potato route then why don’t we talk treacle sponge pudding instead?” 

This will impress you readers.  

“Three things.” I raised one finger.  “It’s awkward to prepare.” I raised a second finger.  “It usually looks a complete mess.”  I raised a final third finger, “And finally, it invariably never lives up to anyone’s expectations.”  

In the end it probably didn’t matter which analogy we used.  What ever way you looked at it, our wedding plans were stuck at either the unpeeled potato or an awkward and gooey preparation stage. 

It feels like the latter.    

Cousin Fredo’s big regret

I have an aversion to cold and grey Mondays in London town.  Yesterday I told my assistant Toby I had to go home early to deal with an urgent and unavoidable domestic emergency.  There was no need whatsoever for him to know it involved my pyjamas and a cup of hot chocolate.  He smelt a rat.

“Hmm. Are you sure you won’t regret cutting short another day of sprinkling your interior design magic?” he said sarcastically.

Later Guido made me pasta pesto.  By nine o’clock we were tucked in bed together.  As you can tell life here is pretty exciting at the moment.

Under the blanket I enthusiastically thumbed through the December issue of Homes and Garden.  On page 15 was an article about Christmas gifts for the most tricky of recipients.  I wondered how Guido would feel about an artichoke shaped tea light holder.  

“3 across, 6 letters, the clue is, Rue,” he chewed his reading glasses.  He had the London Standard crossword propped on his hairy knees.  

“Regret,” I said blinking.  I paused. “I’ve had a few.” 

“Really?” said Guido, “Like what?”  It would have been midnight before I finished.

“Not buying that coat in the mid-season sales (it fitted like a glove), forgetting my mother’s birthday (she hasn’t spoken to me for a fortnight), and that time I tried to shake the hand of the Dalai Lama.  How was I to know it would precipitate a full scale Police security alert up Whitehall?

Guido nodded sagely.  “Yeah, I’ll give you that one.  Having your head in an arm lock in front of an internationally admired icon isn’t exactly a great look,” said Guido.  

Guido never regrets anything.  Not even burning toast.  He has this old wise tale his Cousin Fredo once told him involving regrets and how it had changed his view about them forever.

“It was Malaga.  High Summer.  He told me it was 1974.”  Guido propped up his pillows.  “Cousin Fredo was minding his own business.  Taking a stroll along the seashore.  He just happened to be wearing vintage Speedos and was smeared in muscle enhancing coconut body oil at the time.  Guess what happened?  Unexpectedly a big brawny fisherman emerged before him from the bushes like a Greek adonis.   He asked Cousin Fredo if he would consider a private sail on his boat.”

“It brings new meaning to the phrase, checking out tackle,” I said.  

“Cousin Fredo couldn’t think of anything more he’d rather do.  He loved to sail, he loved to fish, and perhaps most importantly of all, he had a love that dare not speak its name for athletic fisherman who looked Greek.    It was a dream come true.  But, he just couldn’t go through with it.  He got scared.  What, he wondered, would the harbour folks think if he sailed home with no catch other than a big dude from the Peloponnese.  Years later he told me he that was a decision he regretted for the rest of his life…” 

“Poor Cousin Fredo,” I said closing H&G as a mark of respect. “I suppose the moral of the story is he wandered the beaches of Malaga forever more, searching for that fisherman.”    

“Not exactly,” said Guido.  “He moved to Germany in 1975 and opened a bar in Berlin with Stavros.”  He rolled over and looked at his crossword. “6 across, 12 letters, the clue is, Laughable.” 

“Preposterous,” I said.  And I honestly meant it.     

Imaginary friends

Last night, after the café closed, our gay friends Gary and Ted came around.  It was their monthly pilgrimage to The Spanish Onion to play poker.  I don’t know why Guido and I bother.  We might as well open our wallets at the front door and just hand them all our cash.  Not surprisingly, after a few drinks, the conversation drifted to my high school reunion trauma. As it turned out Gary and Ted had a couple of revelations of their own to reveal.

“I think you were very honest,” said Ted sucking an olive, “and brave too.”  He threw a card and drank some wine.  “I’ll raise you.”

“Be yourself, everyone else is taken,” said Gary profoundly staring at his cards.  “Though Ted hasn’t always followed that advice,” he sniffed, “you don’t know about Mary, do you?”  He threw a card too.  “I’ll see you and raise you.” 

“Ah lovely, funny, sweet, silly Mary,” said Ted.  He lifted his glass and made a toast.  “To the woman I used to go out with.”  He chewed a macadamia.

“Mary?” I said.  “The woman, you used to go out with?” 

“Mary dated a gay man?” said Guido.  “What was she, headless?  I’ll see you and raise you.” 

It turns out that before Ted was, well, out, and before he married Gary, he had an imaginary girlfriend. Mary cooked cordon bleu, spoke fluent Cantonese, and played the oboe.  She was quite a catch.  It’s just a pity she hadn’t actually existed and Ted wasn’t straight otherwise I reckon they would’ve been perfect for one another.  The helpful thing about Mary was that she also had an irrational fear of crowds, so didn’t get out that much and none of Ted’s friends ever got to meet her. That was convenient.  I have to say I thought the oboe was a terrific touch.  

“I didn’t care if people knew I was gay, but I did care if they thought I was sad and single,” said Gary.  So Gary’s imaginary boyfriend was named Eric.  Apparently he was quite a looker.  They pumped iron together at the gym.  That is unless Gary did actually happen to be at the gym, in which case he told people Eric was an eye surgeon and was busy mending someone’s detached retina. 

“When I was a little boy I had an imaginary friend,” said Guido staring into space, “his name was Jose R. Sanchez.”  

“Well I didn’t see that one coming,” I said raising my eyebrows.  “Your imaginary friend had a middle name?” I asked.

 “Yes, but I have no idea what it was,” said Guido. “Gimmie a break, I was only six years old.”

 Just for the record I’ve never had imaginary friends.  And frankly I was beginning to feel left out.  

“Perhaps Mary and Eric could adopt Jose R. Sanchez and then live an incredibly happy imaginary life together,” I said.

Later that night I lay in bed next to Guido.  I couldn’t help but think about Jose R. Sanchez.  I imagined what sort of life he might have had and whether he would have grown up to be incredibly hairy.  I wondered if he might have a man bun.  I wondered if he would cook a decent risotto and whether he’d be partial to acrobatic sex.   

I reached the sad conclusion these were yet more mysteries on which I can give you no further details.  But please feel free to make some up.