Thursday night always had a magical ring about it and I would get more excited about the possibilities ahead of me on a Thursday than on any other night of the week. I always felt mischievous on a Thursday night too, knowing that although I shouldn’t really let my hair down on a school night, I would anyway.
I was being flirtatious as usual. A glass of wine on an empty stomach and I am in my element. We were in the Phoenix theatre bar and it was a warm August night. My friend Russell had arranged for his friend Ian to join us. I hadn’t met him but allegedly he was a writer who had been the brains behind a famous lads mag.
Russell was always trying to set me up with one of his friends. I wasn’t sure Ian sounded my type, but Russell reassured me I would love him. We were in high spirits, talking loudly over our large glasses of Pinot, when Russell said, “Oh look, there he is!”
I looked up to see an attractive guy in his mid thirties wearing a rather incongruous Hawaiian shirt strolling towards our table. He perched himself on a stool directly opposite me, confidently held my gaze “Hi, who are you?”
It was a raw, no frills approach but, by God, it worked and thrilled by the attention, I greedily gulped down more wine. Our words danced provocatively together, our questions designed to extract maximum information, our answers designed to impress and say ‘fall in love with me’, swinging back and forth like trapeze artists, never letting go of the ropes. The others smirked at us and left us staring at each other in the bar, like lovers, besotted. Ian got up to order another bottle and without him, I felt a big empty space open up in my chest, my heartbeat rattling unsteadily inside. It was then I realised how drunk I was. My ears were ringing and I felt sweaty in the wrong places. I wondered if I could sneak a squirt of perfume from my bag but as I bent down, pretending to look for something under the table, I spotted Ian weaving his way through the tables carrying wine in an ice bucket. I sat up quickly and grinned at him.
“I got us champagne,” he grinned back at me.
We were so pleased with ourselves. I was anchored by his presence again. Then he asked me to come back to his place.
No, I said to myself, say no.
I said it out loud, “No” and the blood rushed to my face when I said it. “Why don’t we meet up for dinner soon?” I suggested. Then I waited as Ian surveyed me, his expression changing like the sky on a windy day.
Eventually he said, “We don’t have to get up to anything….naughty. I just want to wake up with you.”
Do you actually know how many bloody times I have heard that line, I wanted to say, but he was talking again, this time with an earnest, loving expression on his face. I was superb, lovely and funny. I could trust him, he already knew he wanted to see me again. He thought I would make a great mother. Yes, he really did.
Then he kissed me and his lips were cold and slippery from the wine. My head span round, until I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to anyone’s home. I imagined just staying in the pub rolling over to my side on the seat and sleeping there. I felt the roughness of Ian’s tongue in my mouth and suddenly felt turned off.
“I’ve got to get some fresh air, sorry.”
Ian grabbed our bags, ushering me by the arm through the emptying bar to the street outside. We stood on the pavement, bags at our feet, him cuddling me gently while I took some deep breaths.
“Come on, I’ll get us a cab.”
“No! I mean I am not coming back with you. I need a cab for me. I’m really sorry but I wouldn’t be much use tonight anyway.”
Sullen, Ian hailed me a black cab with a promise to call me and I didn’t even care if he meant it or not. I sat in the back of the cab pretending to text, so the driver wouldn’t talk to me, I tried to work out what had just happened. It was as if the alcohol had kidnapped my senses, making me feel an attraction that wasn’t real. I felt empty, already longing for lost hopes. By the time I reached my home in Putney and paid the driver his extortionate fee, I was hungry.
Actually, I was starving.
I didn’t even close the front door behind me. I dumped my bag on the cooker and opened the fridge, kicking off my heels at the same time. I grabbed a falafel ball from underneath some cling film and munching that, went back to close the front door. The open fridge cast a rectangle of light across the dark kitchen. This was a scene I was familiar with. I moved back to the fridge, my practiced eye scanning the shelves, mentally working out what I would eat and in which order, while munching another falafel. In a meditative fashion, I began to remove food from packaging and arrange it by the cooker. I took out a frying pan and poured in some oil. While I waited for the oil to heat I chopped, scraped, scooped, stuffed, chomped, gulped, swallowed.
I began to throw ingredients into a pan, tossing in condiments, a twist of black pepper here, and a dash of Tabasco there, never leaving my mouth empty for a minute. I knew it would only take five minutes to cook and I was practically shaking with anticipation. I kept munching through my selection of snacks on the side. A baby bell, a handful of kettle chips, a rolled up slice of ham dipped in horseradish, spoonfuls of cold bean soup.
The contents of the pan were ready. I turned the heat off and, holding the pan close to my face, I scooped up the steaming contents into my mouth. It slid warm and comforting down my throat warming up my tummy. I hardly needed to chew. I couldn’t get it all in my mouth fast enough and in my haste, I spilt some on the floor. I quickly knelt down, still holding the pan and scooped up the little mound that escaped directly into my mouth. I couldn’t afford to lose a scrap. When it was gone I licked the pan. I sighed a big deep breath. Now I surveyed the fridge shelves again. No, I seemed to have eaten anything worth having. Swaying slightly, I flung open the cupboard doors catching sight of my reflection in the kitchen window.
Was the blind firmly down? Yes.
Hmm, cuppa soup was the only thing on offer. Okay, would have to do. Then I spied the cereal packet.
Fucking fantastic! I grabbed soya milk from the fridge and had breakfast. It was so delicious I had another bowl. I noticed it was now two in the morning. I had to hurry or else I’d be screwed for work in the morning. I gulped down some water and waited, pacing around the kitchen and rubbing my tummy.
It was coming.
I dashed to the toilet and whoosh, brought up the first lot. The Special K had turned into a thick gooey liquid. I could hardly remember what to expect next. Whoosh! Urgh, that was a strong one. All the spices I’d used in the stir fry. You could have practically eaten that from the bowl. And so it went until I was tired and couldn’t get any more out and I went to bed utterly disgusted with myself.
The alarm woke me at eight in the morning and I held my bloated stomach, groaning. As I lay under the duvet making myself late for work, I prayed for deliverance.