I have lots of words but don't know the right order for them.

Friday, 20 January 2012


As always, he was early.  She’d seen his face on LovePals, of course, so he’d be recognisable, but experience – seventeen of them –  had told him that it was only fair to let her take in the rest of him, gasp, pretend to be looking for someone else, and scoot for the exit. 

She’d suggested this locale.  Bar, he supposed it would be called: halfway between a pub and a restaurant.  The waitress – Chinese, Malaysian? – was very professional, managing to overlook his obvious deformities within seconds.  After he’d explained that he wouldn’t be ordering until his companion arrived, she even managed to flirt with him a little.  He flirted back, but his heart was thumping too hard.  On the website, he’d written “I am not physically perfect.”  This was true.  His left leg was four inches shorter than his right, and he was – no better way to put it – a hunchback.  He had been born that way, in fact the doctors had recommended surgery (his mother told him later) when he was six; she had (she told him later still) declined.  “Simon,” she’d said, “God made his decision.”  Whether God had consulted her, or him, was never made clear.
He looked around.  The place was fairly empty, but he couldn’t spot anyone who might be Naomi.  He had a printout of her profile photo in his jacket pocket, but it wouldn’t do to pull it out and start making comparisons.  Anyway, not necessary: he would definitely recognise her.  Five foot seven, cropped dark hair, huge black eyes, a cheeky half-smile …  What the hell am I doing here? he thought.
The plate glass door opened, and there she was.  Something must have told her where he was, because she made immediate eye contact and walked straight over.  He had, as always, deliberately seated himself in such a way that the whole of him would be instantly and obviously noticeable, but she just sat down opposite him.
“Simon?”  He nodded.  “Am I late?”  She looked at her wristwatch, a quite expensive-looking one.  “No, I’m not.  In fact I’m three minutes early.”  She giggled.  Cobblers.”
This last word came out in quite a different voice from the previous ones.  Not exactly a shout; more of a coarse hiss, like someone who wanted to shout but had laryngitis or something.  Simon looked at her.  She wasn’t blushing, was she?  He didn’t want to stare.
“Sorry,” she said, in her normal voice.  “You’ll get used to that.  At least I’m working off List B today.  Anal!”
The waitress was hovering near the bar, glancing their way. 
“Um – Naomi?”  said Simon.  She nodded.  “Um – what would you like to drink?  If anything, of course.  I – ”
“Yes, of course.  Well … I do like alcohol, but it doesn’t like me.  I mean, it gets me going in directions I really shouldn’t, you know what I mean?”  No, I haven’t a clue, he thought.  “I’d better just have a cup of tea.”
Simon caught the waitress’s eye and she came over.
“Can we have tea for one, please, and, oh, a Becks for me.”
“Earl Grey or English Breakfast?”
She giggled again.  “It’s too late for breakfast, so –  Earl Grey, please.  Gallimaufry!”
He decided to ignore that.  The waitress didn’t seem to have noticed.  It was time to get on with it.  This was about the furthest he’d got so far.  He tried to remember the script LovePals sketched out for beginners.  Written by a bunch of teenagers who’d never been beyond a quick snog behind the bike sheds, he’d thought when he read it.
 “So, Naomi, what do you do?”
“ Well, I used to work in a call centre, but then obviously …”
“Have you not noticed?”  Have you not noticed?  “And you?  Dogdoo!”
“I’m on, oh God …  Disability?”
“Well, me too. Surprise surprise …”
Silence.  The drinks arrived.  The conversation struggled forwards as they sipped.
“So.  Hobbies?  Pastimes?  Music?  Books?” she said brightly.  Gosh, though, she was gorgeous.  He was beginning to regret this.  He wanted to tell her about his disability, and about his mother …
“I do read a lot …”
 “I love the Smiths … mmwah humding!”
“More a New Orleans man myself …”
“… and tango dancing … oops …”
“…  Funnily enough, I’m a Terrier …”
“A Terrier?”  She leant forward.  “You like animals?  I have a pet tarantula …Maracas!”
“No, the Territorial Army.  It’s a nickname.  I don’t actually yomp around the countryside toting guns, of course, but …”
“It’s a form of Tourette’s,” she said.  “I used to be pretty out of it, but I learnt some control techniques from an amazing therapist.  She taught me to sublimate – is that the word?  Sheet!  Like that.  And to keep my voice down.  People only generally notice in kind of, um, intimate situations.  Which is why – ”
“Which is why you don’t get into many of those?”
She stopped dead.  Her eyes went cold for a moment.
The waitress had been conducting a whispered conversation with the barman.  Now she came over.
“Are you ready to order?”
Simon avoided eye contact with Naomi.
“I don’t think we’ll be eating, actually.”
Dump!” said Naomi, rather loudly.  A few customers looked up.  The waitress scuttled away and consulted again with the barman, who hesitantly started across towards them.  A burly customer at the next table was getting to his feet.   The barman arrived.
“Is everything all right?”
Simon smiled his most charming smile, part of his armoury.
“Absolutely, thank you.”  He shot a warning glance at Naomi, but she was studying her nails.
“Except that I couldn’t help hearing – ”
“Oh, I’m sorry.  Nothing to do with this, er, location.  You just overheard the punchline of a not very funny joke.”  Oh God.  “I once told one rather loudly in a crowded restaurant which begins ‘That was the worst meal I’ve ever eaten’ – ”  Keep digging, Simon.  “And the punchline is – ”
“–  ‘and the portions were so small!’” shouted Naomi.
The barman backed away.  The burly customer had dropped back into his chair, but started to rise again.
“Well, I’ll leave you to it.  If you’re quite sure there’s nothing we can – ”
Naomi stood up.
Buggerwittery!” she screamed.
 “Actually,” said Simon, “if you could just bring us the bill?”
The barman looked around.
“There won’t be any charge on this occasion, sir,” he said.
Simon and Naomi headed for the plate glass doors.
“That’s very kind of them,” she said to him.  “But you must let me pay next time.  Cobblers!”
She giggled.


  1. I perhaps shouldn't but I had to laugh at this. I wanted more ....

  2. I like it. Particularly 'gallimaufrey'.