It had been a great date, but I didn’t really know where I was going with this. Well, I knew it wouldn’t, or rather couldn’t go anywhere, but the problem with being a Leo is that you always play with fire because you think you’re invincible..
After the initial few messages that night, Harry was oddly quiet. I didn’t class myself as a paranoid woman, or an over thinker. My mind was constantly full of mischief, so it was hard to dedicate too much time to thinking. Intuitively however, I knew something was wrong. Did he all of a sudden realise that he hated my company? I mean c’mon, of course not. If I must say so myself, I’m a dream to be around – well, so long as you can handle a potty mouth and a bucket load of inappropriate comments and sarcasm.
A few days later, I figured that there was no point in waiting around, so I sent Harry a message. If I didn’t receive a response within a respectable period of time, I’d simply sit back and let my ego take over. I certainly wasn’t a chaser, and Harry would be no exception to this rule.
I did however receive a reply that evening. Call it a bombshell if you must. It started with “full disclosure…”. Harry told me that I had been his first date in several years. His marriage had recently ended, and he had children. He apologised for not saying this earlier, and that if I wanted to block him, he would understand.
Would I be justified in being mad? In the circumstances, I didn’t think so. In the weeks leading up to our meeting, we never really talked about relationships. I certainly didn’t feel the need to tell him about my past, given that he was a LinkedIn contact. In fact, we hadn’t even acknowledged that our meeting was a date until 3pm on that very same day.
Of course, whilst the “what the fuck is he thinking, surely he can’t be ready for a relationship” alarm bells were ready to ring louder than a Yale HSA 6200 alarm system, I’d have been a hypocrite for making it an issue. I had enough self-awareness to understand that it was no coincidence that I had never made it past date three in the last 5 years. The fact that the words “commitment” and “boyfriend” would send shivers down my spine were indicative of my own issues, that really, I was not ready to deal with anytime soon. What right did I have to judge Harry? So, I sent him a “don’t worry about it” message and everything just fell into place again.
I looked forward to my conversations with Harry. We talked about everything from my obsession with Bollywood’s Salman Khan, to how he went about murdering a goldfish as a 7 year old evil child (note: my instincts about him being a serial killer weren’t so wrong after all). Talking to Harry was different. I was never guarded with him like I was with others. It’s fair to say that he was a little scared of my constant threats to murder him which I did – you know, just for fun. He was also seemingly okay with me having a feisty bitch reputation, and not wanting to ruin it with – God forbid, coming across as ‘nice’. He suggested that I drop the act with him, but if he ever met my friends, he would tell them that I was a bitch.
My friends on the other hand, were soon on to me. My dating life generally consisted of one date horror stories – and I loved it. It gave us plenty to laugh about. Needless to say, when I casually tried to mention that I’d had a decent date with a nice guy, it raised some eyebrows. The third degree grilling was amplified when they noticed that I awkwardly blushed when answering their questions – of course the girls were not intending to let this one go. It was good to know that my friends were not at all phased by the fact that he was White, or that he had children. The more pressing issue I hear you ask? His foreskin. Yes, foreskin.
Muslim men are circumcised, so this hangy little foreskin thing has been the subject of much amusement for Muslim women around the world for many years…. okay, or maybe just for us. I mean, how does the ‘head’ just ‘pop out’ of the foreskin?? Does it make a popping sound *pop*? There are plenty of questions to be asked! My personal issue with it has been more to do with hygiene – do you pull it back when you pee? How do you clean it? I’d imagine you wouldn’t take a baby bottle brush to it?
Anyway, my third degree grilling led to obvious WhatsApp jokes from my friends that night, one of which was their ridiculous pitch to my mother as to why I should be allowed to marry a gora with foreskin and children. The message itself was cringe but hilarious, so as you do, I scribbled over the really cringe stuff (i.e. reference to his foreskin and children!) and sent Harry a screenshot of the torture I was facing. To my utter horror, he managed to read through the scribbles and learnt that we had been discussing his foreskin! I think that moment probably makes it in the top three most embarrassing moments of my life. He was gracious enough to laugh it off though, and make me feel like less of a moron than I clearly was.
We spent the Christmas break exchanging messages and photos of our families. Harry was visiting his parents with his children. This is when I learnt that I had no reason to feel sad for his parents; the ‘Rosy and Jim’ boat that I had imagined his poor and elderly parents to live on, was in fact, a super yacht. I told Harry that I had imagined it to be a Rosy and Jim boat, but didn’t quite go as far as admitting how theatrical my imagination had been.
We had planned to meet in the New Year. In exchange for me cooking him a meal, he was willing to teach me how to ride a bicycle and sit through a Bollywood movie with me. I wasn’t quite sure that this gora could handle the spice in my cooking, but I was willing to watch him suffer. In anticipation of our next meeting, I ordered him some gifts – a personalised photo frame with the names of his children, and to balance out the ‘nice’ gesture, a personalised hammer to remind him that I often threatened him with murder.
Now, as often happens, shit hits the fan just when you start getting comfortable. I’d always known that Harry was carrying a lot of emotional baggage, particularly around the separation from his children. He was an amazing father, and in many ways his relationship with them reminded me of my own father – a man that would do absolutely anything for his children. Over the next few days it became clear that this wasn’t Ryanair 10kg emotional hand luggage, Harry was carrying Air India First Class 40kg emotional checked baggage – plus 8kg hand luggage!
You see, we were never meant to happen for more reasons than one. We were just two people chatting about work over LinkedIn (fuck you LinkedIn, fuck you!!) and perhaps, playing with fire. Neither of us were ‘looking’ but we found something special. So special that we couldn’t handle it in the end.
And just like that, it ended quicker than it had begun. His personalised gifts arrived a couple of days after our last conversation. I found the unopened packages a home under my bed. 2018 had started on a real shitty note. Just as well that I didn’t bother with a New Year’s Keto diet then I thought, as I reached for my packet of Munchies chocolate.
Now and then, when thinking of that gora, I’d tell myself to throw away the gifts that were sheltered under my bed. That way, I’d have no reason to think of him again. After all, I was a master of blocking out memories of people that were no longer in my life. The only reason I’d think of him was because of those stupid gifts, I convinced myself. Not because I cared.. But how could I throw away something with the names of someone’s children? Not just someone – Harry’s children.
Well.. either these gifts would end up with me in my old age nursing home, or maybe, as my intuition told me, our paths would cross again some day.. Maybe.
The Accidental Lawyer