I had brought my girls from London up to Leeds for a night out. I saw that the guy behind me was hot, and then I saw that he was watching me. I sucked my tequila soda out of my straw in a way that probably looked a lot less sexy than I imagined it did. He came over and spun me around, and I made him spin under my arms, too. We didn’t talk much, but I could tell he was funny; he had smile lines reaching up from his eyes, and his friends jumped all over him, their arms hanging over his shoulders. I could imagine us slumped on one of the leather sofas downstairs with my legs over his lap. He’d say something about how I have good eye contact and then I’d stop being able to look at him because I’d be too aware that I was doing it. I’d ask his star sign and then we’d google whether ours were compatible, and I’d scream when it said that whatever his was counterbalanced the chaos of Geminis.
I could imagine a lot more things besides this, his hand on my leg in the Uber, texting him next time I came home for a school friend’s birthday—that is, until I saw him looking at my friend. I yelled in all of my girls’ ears that I didn’t want to be second best, and who does he think he is? They repeatedly told me that he didn’t look at her that way, that he was just being friendly. I ignored them all, and when he tried to dance with me again, I turned away. “Fair,” he said, backing away, and then he moved through the crowd to find his friends.
The next morning, I woke up, peeled off my sleep mask, and glugged from the water I’d left next to the bed. I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t. I just kept thinking about that guy and how he wasn’t trying to get with anyone else—not that it would have even been a big deal if he was. I gave up and got out of bed, made a milky tea, demanded everyone watch Troy with me, and recited all the best lines, like when Brad Pitt says, “Immortality! Take it! It’s yours!” It was fun, but I was still thinking about him, how tall he was, the ways his eyes traced me up and down. My friends packed their bags to head back to London. I got in the shower and picked the hardened clumps of mascara off my eyelashes, then reheated this chicken curry my dad had left us. I felt bereft; something tugged at my insides, tied them up in knots. I went over and over our interaction in my head, and when I got bored of that, I thought about how many times I’ve done something similar.
Like when that lawyer guy asked what I was up to when I’d just taken a bite of pizza and how the carbs made me realize how sleepy I was, so I told him I was busy and how we never ended up meeting after that. I thought about the party I was invited to the weekend before that I didn’t go to because I’d made other plans, and how I saw on Instagram that there had been loads of hot guys there. I thought about every time someone’s chatted me up and I’ve walked away from them thinking, I’ll find him again later, only to obviously never see them again. I thought so much I wondered if I was going mad.