Meta avatarSticks and Stones   Sun 10-May-2020 14:11

Sticks and Stones

Matthew’s one line message “I hear you’re looking for me” accompanied only by a telephone number is confident, playful and endearingly succinct.

But who the hell is he?

He certainly looks fit from behind; in his profile photo he’s walking away from the camera holding hands with two small children.

Then I notice we have a mutual friend in Melissa. She saw the tongue in cheek request I posted on my wall and decided to do a little match making.

Matthew is 40, ex-military, recently divorced with two children aged eight and three. She assures me he’s as attractive from the front as he is from the back and, as far as she knows, he’s free of ‘issues’.

I’m not sure about that. The man is ex-military and recently divorced. Surely he’s riddled with issues?

Then she mentions that he lives over two hundred miles away in a village that is very middle England.

And that immediately and inexplicably makes him very attractive. I send him a casual response.

He asks me to have dinner with him. I’m mulling over whether or not to accept when my mother phones.

“I had a dream last night”.

That’s always been my mother’s way of seeking confirmation for something she either already knows or strongly suspects.

I used to think she was a witch when I was younger because her ‘dreams’ were always so frighteningly accurate.

I was ten when she told me she had a dream that I used my father's razor and cut myself;

I developed embarrassingly early. So I always held a towel around myself when I got changed for swimming.

But I had accidentally dropped my towel that morning. I was so mortified that instead of picking it back up, I just froze to the spot.

They gawped at me as the room slowly fell silent. Then they started chanting “Kitty has a hairy fanny”.

That in itself may not have been quite so terrible but as the only ‘ethnic’ child in the entire school, I was already considered a freak.

My father and I had walked in through the gates on my first day and almost immediately, a boy ran up to me, shouted ‘paki’ then spat in my face.

I remember waiting for my big, strong, father to give him a clip around the ear.

Instead he pulled out a pristine white (ironed) handkerchief, bent down, wiped my face, whispered to me to stop crying and told me to hold my head up high as we continued to walk on.

And I had been holding my tears in and my head up ever since.

But my clumsy hands had just undone all those years of effort in the space of a few minutes! I could feel the hot tears running down my face as I hung my head.

I went home, tried to (dry) shave it off and cut myself quite badly in the process. It didn’t occur to me that the bloodied razor and towel I left in the bathroom had given me away.

My mother cleaned the cut and put a plaster on it, telling me that “being hairy is the price we pay for having beautiful olive skin”.

I still repeat that mantra to myself at my fortnightly almost-all-over-body waxing treatments.

I take a deep breath and ask my mother what her dream was about. “I dreamt you’d split up with Jake”. My sister must have told her. “Well, did you?”

“Yes”. She tries to make me feel better by telling me a story about a single mother her friend knows who also had a relationship with a 'much younger' man.

He finally ran off with her sixteen year old daughter. "That could have happened to you in six years time so it's lucky you split up now really isn't it?"

Then she asks me if I'm ok. I tell her I'm fine. She's not convinced, "Have you lost weight?"

I always lose weight when I’m unhappy.

It’s not deliberate. It just feels like I have a permanent lump in my throat and I can’t get any food past it.

She invites me to spend the weekend with them while Mia is with her father.

I have visions of being tied to a chair and continuously force fed whilst being made to watch one diabolical Turkish soap after another.

Thank god I’ve already made plans with Charlie. I haven’t seen him for over a year but we effortlessly pick up where we left off (in a way that you can only do with very old friends).

We met in the Union bar in our first week at University when he asked me for a toke of my spliff. He was cool so I shared the rest of my stash with him.

That was almost twenty years ago. And we’ve sinced moved on to sharing bottles of fine wine over dinner in our favourite French restaurant.

But some things never change; by the time we get to dessert, we’re ruthlessly analysing each other’s unsuccessful love lives.

I tell Charlie his problem is that he’s only attracted to women who are unhinged in some way.

He prefers to call them ‘kooky’ but concedes that a few of them have crossed over the line into ‘deranged’.

I helpfully point out that he has a sub-conscious fear of commitment which is why he chooses women that it’s impossible to commit to.

He retaliates by reminding me that my only significant relationships since my divorce have been with a Greek Cypriot and a man almost thirteen years my junior.

I concede that they were unfortunate choices. But insist that I do not have a fear of commitment, sub-consciously or otherwise. And to prove my point, I text Matthew and accept his offer of dinner.

Then I remember that I only got really excited about him when I realised that he lived over two hundred miles away.

I decide not to mention that to Charlie.




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Kitty Moore

Turkish Cypriot with attitude ...