My Forever After (I)

‘I’ll call you when I leave’, his message reads. I stop squinting at the TFL tube map and divert my attention to more pressing matters – my outfit. My phone rings just as I’m forcing my second leg through a pair of tights. With posture resembling a dog urinating against a tree, I quickly bunny hop towards my phone. My 80 denier tights however refuse to stretch beyond capacity and my big toe breaks free from captivity. ‘Fuck you!’ I shout at my toe in sheer annoyance, as my phone simultaneously stops ringing. Notwithstanding the autumn chill, a gloss of stress-induced perspiration begins to form across my upper lip as I fight to regain composure and dial his number.    

It’s not the underwhelming Midland’s accent that triggers my alarm bells – that, I sort of expected. It’s something else, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. A few minutes into the conversation – the penny finally drops. Beneath the perfectly spoken words of English, I notice the faintest twang of a Pakistani accent. A sense of unease consumes me, as I involuntary recall the two types of Pakistani men that I’ve met from ‘back home’. The backwards Bashir type with the beady eyes and bushy moustache, who affords a woman less freedom than his sweaty balls roaming free from the shackles of underwear, and then of course the pervy Parvez type seducing guitarist whose idea of a perfect first date involves you strutting your stuff in a G-string, whilst he sips his red wine and serenades you… with the explosion in his pants.

 The question was, which of the two would my date be like?

It’s lust at first sight. I shamelessly wolf whistle at his profile picture as I eye up his connection request on LinkedIn. It’s not often that a Brown boy grabs my attention, but this one most certainly has. My curiosity is piqued not by his perfectly groomed beard or dimples, and certainly not by the dodgy boutonniere pinned to his left lapel – it’s his eyes. Reflective of my own, they’re teeming with mischief.

His first message hits my inbox shortly after I accept his connection request. ‘Hey Hey. How are you?’ he casually asks. A master of shutting down conversation on LinkedIn, I momentarily pause to consider my options. Oh, who am I kidding? I laugh. I’m fully aware that my pervert levels exceed the national average, and this pretty boy has my full attention. I shoot back a reply with the intention of being smoother than cream cheese on his bagel, however, my tranquil ocean of romance is quickly disrupted by the mean girl that lives within. She butterfly strokes her way to the surface at speeds that would put Michael Phelps’ achievements to shame. Taking possession of my (not so) delicate fingers, she forces me to shower him with sarcasm instead. Sighing heavily, I patiently wait for him to run for the hills. Pretty boy however is full of surprises – he seems to comfortably give as good as he gets. He is it seems, a rare combination of hot and witty.

It’s no surprise then that I agree to meet him a few weeks later. I play the obligatory internal game of ‘hmm… is this a date or just a friendly meet up?’ because of course – we’re LinkedIn contacts. I settle on: I really don’t care. It’s early October and I’m just coming out of dating hibernation. I’m an autumn to early spring dater. By Easter, you’re most likely to find my dates buried under my patio. Pretty boy Ahmed is a bit of Midland’s eye candy at most – you know, just to flex my dating muscles.

It’s the day of our meeting and I carefully select my outfit – a black ‘safe’ dress, paired with sparkly boots to tone down the ‘dressed for a funeral’ look – it’s too soon to kill him, I remind myself. Hearing his voice has put me on edge, and I’m now wondering whether I’ll meet a backwards Bashir or pervy Parvez. I give myself a little pep talk to see this date through, but I’m more than prepared for disaster.

My gloomy mood unexpectedly lifts as I reach the underground exit and spot him in the crowd. My pervert levels begin to rise like the tides of a deadly tsunami, as my eyes sinfully linger over his body like a moth in a flood light. ‘Forgive me lord, for I’m about to sin’ I mutter under my breath, as he walks towards me like a lamb to the slaughter.

Almost immediately, I put my foot in it. ‘You weren’t born in this country, were you?’ I ask, with an air of suspicion. ‘No, I came here as a child’ he says, glancing sideways at me as though I’m a halfwit for asking. ‘So where shall I take you then?’ he changes the topic. ‘Chicken Cottage?’ his eyes flood with mischief. ‘Sure… if you want to die’ I mockingly retort, half meaning it.

As Ahmed and I take our seats at the Lebanese restaurant, I notice the male server hovering around him with puppy eyes. Sticking to him like shit to a shovel, I sense that I’m a thorn in his newly aroused flesh. I take the hint and excuse myself to wash my hands, whilst he makes the most of my absence. ‘I want to sit on his lap’ I say as I return to my seat, pointing to the overweight male entertainer. ‘He gives me the Santa vibe’ I add, looking tenderly at the tubby old man. Ahmed throws his head back and cackles like a witch, as he promises to get me Santa’s number before we leave.

‘So, you have a problem with dating younger men?’ he asks curiously whilst folding his right sleeve up to his elbow. He is exactly 364 days younger than me. We have a problem with men full stop – you arrogant little knobheads whispers the mean little girl in my ear. Say it! Say it! she insists. ‘Well, I’m trying to get over the mental block’ I say carefully. ‘Though, I almost didn’t date my ex, as I thought he was three months younger than me’ I add, unnecessarily. Hah! and what a blessing that would have been… tell him that we’d unplug the little shit’s life support machine to charge our phone, she volunteers again. My internal chatter is jerked to a halt as we are interrupted by the server who returns to take our order. ‘My brother and I are ready to order now’ I tell him with a smile. Ahmed blushes, knowing exactly what I’m playing at…

‘He was alright you know…’ I tell my mum that night. She gives me that knowing look as I try to keep a straight face. ‘You think I don’t know you? what did you say to him?!’, she demands. ‘I swear… ok… I told him that I wanted to take him to a male strip show and see naked men with him’.  I bite my lip in anticipation of the profanities that will follow, but to my surprise, she silently buries her head in her hands. ‘Well…’ I say tentatively, ‘at least I didn’t say the word penis…’. Deeply offended, my sister intervenes: ‘err… hold on a minute. You’re not going to a strip show without me’. Throwing caution to the wind, she continues. ‘We’ll take mum too… she can have a lap dance from the Black Stallion… he had a big one’ she chuckles, knowing full well that she has just pushed the final button. ‘SHUT UPPPPPPP badmashon (trouble-makers)’ my mum finally explodes, no doubt wondering where on earth she had gone wrong with us.

The following day, Ahmed and I exchange messages. In conversation, I mention that my mum gave me a telling off for some of the things that I said to him the night before. ‘Your mum??? Why did you tell your mum about me???’ he shoots back. ‘Err… because I tell my mum stuff?’ I say, utterly confused. ‘Ok… you got me worried, because I’m not looking to settle down’ he says, just as I’m boarding my train and lose the signal. Oh, he did not just say that I fume. The bloody cheek of that village idiot – the Midland’s moron!!!! I scroll through our entire conversation trying to figure out what on earth gave him the impression that I WANTED TO MARRY HIM!!! Abso-fucking-lutely nothing! I don’t rest until I catch the signal again and fire off a ragey response: ‘Right…  and you thought I was sitting here in a wedding lehnga (dress) waiting to marry you??? Dude – please’.    

That night, he apologises and explains that he freaked out. I accept his apology – albeit reluctantly. I explain that unless he is Salman Khan, I have no interest in marrying him. ‘Still friends?’ he asks. ‘Yep – without benefits’ I add, just to be clear.

 It doesn’t take long for me to completely lose interest in pretty boy. His communication skills are utterly atrocious, and his vocabulary appears not to extend beyond ‘hey hey’, ‘haha’, ‘lol, joker’, ‘whoop’, ‘oops’, and ‘sure thing’. A short while after our first date, I simply delete his number without a fuss.     

‘Hey Hey’ he says a few weeks later. I roll my eyes, wishing that I had just murdered him instead. ‘Why did we stop talking?’ he asks. ‘Because, I have better conversation with a six-year-old’ I say, matter-of-factly. ‘Oops’ he says, beginning to infuriate me. Despite my refusal, he insists on meeting to smooth things over – bitch please, we’d rather staple our tits to the carpet the mean girl whispers in my ear whilst painting her nails. Eventually though, I agree to a second meeting – and I’m not entirely sure why.

What could this human version of period cramps possibly do to change my mind about him?

How does he become one of the most important people in my life?

… and the only man I’ve ever said ‘I love you’ to.

Until next time…

The Accidental Lawyer

X  

My White In Shining Armour (Part IV)

‘I’m not ready to see him’ I say out loud, as I anxiously pace up and down the 3.6m x 7.4m newly renovated living room. Naturally, I start to think of every reason why this is a bad idea. Dishes. He probably doesn’t rinse his bloody dishes. Unrinsed dishes drip drying in soapsuds have just got to be the ultimate deal-breaker for a Brown girl. Panic seeps through my veins as I realise that I don’t even know what sort of music he listens to – clearly not the ‘90s Bollywood cheese, I sigh. My mind fucks me sideways as I picture him spending his evenings sitting in an armchair listening to Elton John’s Candle in the Wind. His Minton’s bone China dessert plate is carefully embellished with only the finest organic dark chocolate orange, whilst his premium silk napkin slowly teases his paper thin lips. I see him deeply analysing the citrus tang from the ripe Valencian oranges soaring over the base notes of the 70% dark chocolate that leisurely melts in his mouth… Dear God… why am I here?! I momentarily pause my internal livestream to share my meltdown with my friend Seema. ‘My heart is literally about to stop’ I tell her. ‘Take a deep breath’ she calmly instructs. Just then, I receive his message – he has arrived.


For the backstory: see here (part I), here (part II) and here (part III).


It’s coming up to two years and Harry is slowly becoming a distant memory. I’ve convinced myself that any connection I felt with him was all in my head, and I’m more than okay to just leave it at that. We chat briefly over LinkedIn during the summer because his client has an immigration issue that he wants to discuss. I wear my professional hat with ease, not once thinking about who I am talking to. That chapter is closed. Well… that’s what I thought.

Our paths cross again merely three months later. Another work related chat. This time however, we’re edging on friendly. He tells me about his new job as a lecturer at a well-known law school in the Midlands. I on the other hand, think it’s both appropriate and necessary to tell him about my law lecturer that wore his jeans so tight that I’m still haunted by the sight of his ‘package’. ‘Noted’ he says with a hint of amusement. I just can’t stop myself can I?! Before I have a chance to reprimand myself, he does the unthinkable – he asks me if I’m still drooling over Salman Khan. Wait. Let’s pause here for a moment. If by now, you don’t know that I absolutely LOVE SALMAN KHAN, then slap yourself with a wet fish. Hard. My love for the one and only Khan is often abused by those closest to me (aka my stupid sister) with ‘If you love Salman Khan do X’. Yes, I bloody well just do it.

I’d have been pleasantly surprised if a Brown guy remembered my love for Salman Khan. But a gora (White guy)… two years later?! Not one to miss an opportunity to talk about the love of my life, I pour my heart out to Harry and tell him how my poor baby received a five year sentence for poaching a rare antelope – twenty bloody years ago!! Harry of course has done his homework, as he is aware that Salman Khan was released just two days later. Smooth bastard I think, as I grin ear-to-ear. Harry remembers other things too: my obsession with Christmas, my passion for human trafficking cases, and… my late night confession where I admitted that I visualise myself murdering my love interest… oops

A day later, Harry and I move our conversation over to WhatsApp. I immediately check out his display pic. He looks different. I take note of the light stubble caressing his face. His hair is clipped on the sides and shorter on top – perhaps a new style to manage the emerging silver strands. Slender as an axe rod, his long neck makes my vampire fangs sing with sweet joy. Two years on, this guy is still without a doubt, the hottest man I’ve laid eyes on.

A week later I’m in the Midlands for an event at the NEC Birmingham. Harry lives close by, but I don’t tell him that I’m visiting until very late in the day. It seems that he has a lot going on in his life right now, and in any event, I’m not mentally prepared to see him yet. That night though, I’m taken by surprise as he asks me whether the quote on my display pic was about us – it’s about having a rare connection with someone that sparks your soul. Admittedly, my transparency doesn’t extend to this sort of talk – I quickly become guarded. I don’t answer his question, but instead ask: ‘do you think we have a rare connection Harry?’. He doesn’t want to answer either it seems. ‘I don’t know… I am drawn to you… but I’m also scared of your murderous side’, he says, trying to lighten the mood. As I ponder over this weird conversation we are having, he sends another message before going silent ‘yes’. Our connection feels like an elephant in the room and so I decide to admit that it has me somewhat confused. It defies logic and my lawyer brain simply can’t handle the mind fuck.


Harry then addresses the Rhino in the room. He won’t get married again or have any more children. He says he knows it’s something I will want and he doesn’t want to hurt me. I have mixed feelings about this. There are at least four reasons why he and I simply can’t happen, irrespective of his views on marriage. Individually, these reasons are big enough for me to not go there, let alone deal with them collectively. If I’m being really honest with myself, I don’t want to be married – at all, but I definitely want children. However, I haven’t quite figured out how to do this without upsetting those closest to me. The reality of course is that I can’t rule out marriage at this stage, even if the thought does make me want to throw up a little in my mouth. Panic sets in as I realise that he and I really shouldn’t be speaking – it’s a fucking disaster. What the hell was I thinking?! I ask myself. I’m neither interested in getting hurt, nor am I willing to hurt another. I decide to do the adult thing and tell him that we should call it a day. He agrees. His final message to me ends with ‘look me up when you’ve buried him. Harry x’. I collect my thoughts as I purposefully rise from my bed, slowly walking out of the front door. Looking upwards, I address him directly: ‘that was a cruel fucking joke God. I’m not impressed’ I turn around and storm back in, slamming the apartment door like an unhappy teenager. I reach for my Sophie Kinsella book: ‘I Owe U’ and hit Ctrl+Alt+Del on the world around me.

A week later, life is back to normal. I’ve booked a spontaneous trip to Albania. Many of my clients have been trafficked there, so I decide now is the time to check it out. My crazy interpreter Julie, who has become more like family over the years agrees to travel with me. I want to check out the North of Albania – where the alleged blood feuds take place. It’s a few days before my departure and I find myself sitting in the living room at 2am thinking about Harry. Something has been bugging me… I look at his display pic, more specifically at his neck – and I find myself getting increasingly annoyed at him. So I do what any normal adult would do at 2am in the morning. I send him a WhatsApp voice note.

‘Look me up when you’ve buried him. What does that even mean?! Do you ACTUALLY think I’ll be looking you up when I have OLD SAGGY BOOBS?!?!’ I shriek, assaulting my own ears. When I’m done ranting, I tell him that I’m going to Albania. Not one to stand in the way of my own imagination running wild, I’ve convinced myself that I’ll either be kidnapped in the North of Albania or shot by a ghostly looking fat hairy old man in a white vest, trying to enforce Kanun law. ‘Now that I’m here, I should just tell you some important stuff in case I die out there’ I say, with a hint of my usual drama. You’d be forgiven for thinking I was about to say something romantic. No. I take the opportunity to tell him about all the bad stuff I’ve done in life, like spitting in my cousin’s abusive sister-in-law’s tea, and even the accidental witchcraft I did on someone – I may have ruined their life in the process– oops. Nine minutes later as I offload my final demons, I say goodbye. I remind him not to reply to my message because put simply, I like to have the last say. Maybe it’s just a woman thing.

I wake up the next morning having swiftly forgotten about my antics from the night before. I have a message on WhatsApp. Fuck. You idiot, I scold myself as I realise who it’s from. I can’t even blame it on alcohol. Hold on. Why did he reply?! Typical man – can’t take simple instructions. I realise it’s too late now, so I take a deep breath and assess the damage: ‘I was listening to your dulcet tones whilst brushing my teeth… discussing necks, witchcraft… and boobs. Don’t delete it. I want to listen to it again on the train. I’ve buttoned up my jacket at the neck, you vampire’. Oh fucking kill me now I cry out loud. Saggy boobs?! Really woman, what a fucking image to give a guy! I sigh in despair as my cheeks flush red.


We’ve done it again. We’re back in the room with the elephant and rhino slowly suffocating us. This time, two days later, he cracks first. I’m not annoyed at what he is saying, but rather how it is said – like a dick swab. The following morning, I receive a message from him – so it’s a rather hot photo of him in a white shirt, with a message wishing me a safe flight to Albania. I overpower the dirty little pervert in me and fire off an angry message instead ‘are you drunk again?!’. ‘No, I thought I was just being cute’ he responds playfully. The bitch in me however has awoken: ‘cute would be you jumping off a cliff’… and that is the last I hear of him.

This time, not speaking with Harry is easy. He’s actually pissed me off. I consider running him over in a metallic red Range Rover Evoke, and getting the girls to bury him under my patio. If the existing bodies are nudged to a 45 degree angle, I’m certain we can free up some space to accommodate his 6’4 frame. After much thought, I let him live – only because he has children.

The house warming gifts I ordered for Harry two years ago are still residing under my bed. Now, they’re starting to feel like a thorn in the flesh. When I return from Albania (alive and well as it so happens) I decide to throw the gifts away. Bin bag in hand, I take them out and throw them onto my bed. The guilt of throwing away the photo frame with the names of his children however overwhelms me – I can’t do it, even if I am pissed off at him. As I’m assessing my options, I realise that I know where he works. I decide to send the frame to him – he knows from our earlier conversations that I’m holding on to something from two years ago. I pack the unopened frame for delivery, marking it from the elephant in the room. I decide that the other two items, including the personalised hammer can be binned without guilt. But wait. A deeply satisfying evil grin slowly spreads across my face as I have an unprovoked eureka moment. I unpack the hammer from its original packaging and hold it up. I imagine the shock on his face when he receives this at work with a personalised message: ‘Harry, fucking up since 1981’. Two years ago, the intention behind the purchase was simple – I wanted to balance out the ‘nice’ gift with something a little batshit crazy- after all, you can’t be too nice to a man… but now, it just seems so fitting. ‘Mr Nice Guy will shit his pants’, I laugh out loud as my black heart spins like a jubilant ballerina. I’m not surprised when I eventually receive a thank you message, but this time I don’t engage in unnecessary conversation and Ctrl+Alt+Del him from my thoughts.

A few months have passed since we fell out and I’m busy doing what I love – collecting horror stories through my dating adventures. Standing in front of my bedroom mirror one night, with my hairbrush in hand, I notice how much my hair has grown since… I last saw Harry. I’ve not thought about him for a while but I now feel the sudden urge to see him. Shut up I tell myself as I head back downstairs. Planting my bottom on my two seater sofa, I reach for my phone. I have a message from Harry.

Once I’ve lifted my jaw off the floor, I read the message. I learn that he’ll be coming down to London next month and, he wants to meet – or as he puts it: ‘you owe me a drink for that hammer’. My stubborn lawyer brain jumps into action – no fucking way are you seeing him. My heart however tells my head to go fuck itself… and so I reply ‘bring that hammer with you’.

As it turns out, we don’t wait for a month. We meet the following week. What happens when we come face to face? Is he everything I’ve made him out to be in my head? Or just another dick swab… well… I suppose that’s a story for another time.

The Accidental Lawyer

x

My White In Shining Armour (Part III)

If you haven’t read Parts I and II, you can find them in the ‘LinkedIn dates’ section or here: Part I & Part II

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

x

My White In Shining Armour (Part II)

My heart sinks as I look at my reflection in the mirror… “why the fuck do you look so shit?” I scold myself, as I wipe away the eyeliner that had escaped my eyes. I stick my face under the hand dryer in a lame attempt to warm up my bright red Rudolph nose. “Right, game face on bitch, you’ve got this.. if all else fails, just scare him”

If you missed Part I, catch up here.

I’d developed a bit of an obsession with sweet ‘karak’ tea in Qatar, and the smooth bastard located the Chapatti and Karak branch in Knightsbridge and suggested meeting there for tea.

In the days running up to our meeting, we continued chatting over LinkedIn. I quite liked that we hadn’t exchanged numbers yet. Weirdly, I was really looking forward to meeting this gora (White guy).

A few nights before we met, he sent me what he described as a “kind of a gay selfie” he’d taken after a drink.. Fuck right off Harry, that is so not you!! I thought, as I sat down to analyse every last pixel of this grayscale image that had landed in my Linkey inbox. Harry not only looked good, he looked extremely fucking hot. I’m talking Bradley Cooper type hotness – who by the way looks very much like our Bollywood hunk Hritek Roshan, don’t you think?! Yum! Anyway, where the hell was the posh boy with the grandad flattened hair?! The evidence in whole before me suggested that Harry was a nice guy – so naturally he ought to have a face like Shrek. My lawyer brain simply couldn’t handle the mind fuck and so I convinced myself that he’d look nothing like that in person. I mean really, what was this a Disney princess movie?!

I warned Harry before we met that I was directionally challenged, so I would try to leave early to allow myself sufficient time to get lost. He said that he was staying close to the station and if I wanted, I could meet him there and we could walk down together. Hmm… I immediately became suspicious and my imagination started running wild. Maybe all the charm was an act and he was in fact a serial killer!! How would I escape? Would my death stare be enough to scare him? Would that flying kick I was so convinced that I was capable of actually materialise?! I wasn’t sure a karak tea was worth dying over, so I said I’d meet him directly at the tea shop, just in case that flying kick of mine failed me.

On the morning of our meeting, it suddenly occurred to me – was this a date or was it two professionals simply meeting for a tea and a chat? The lines were slightly blurred so I decided to dress safe, and wear a black casual dress that didn’t shout ‘too much effort’. As if the same thoughts were going through his head, by 3pm I started receiving several messages – “so, is this a date then?” said the first. I laughed. Well, at least he was being honest and not playing it cool like I was. “I guess so?” I replied. “How am I allowed to greet you?” he enquired. I wondered why he asked, was it because I was Muslim and he was afraid I’d slap him if he went in for a kiss, hug or handshake? Or did he think my dad would be following me with an axe? I sent him a Youtube video of an Indian touching the feet of an elder person and said that was my preferred way of being greeted. He laughed and pointed out that he was my senior. Instead, he told me that he planned to go in for a single kiss to the cheek.. Why was he sounding nervous? I was convinced that it was because he looked like Shrek in real life. I didn’t mind though, Shrek had kind of grown on me.

It was a bitterly cold December night. I parked my car at the station and headed towards the train. I wasn’t at all nervous about meeting Harry, dates didn’t phase me. I was more worried about getting lost and being late. As I came out of the station, I turned on my Google Maps and as expected, started walking in the wrong direction for 7-8 minutes before I realised that the ETA to my destination had increased by several minutes. The cold was getting to me. I could feel that my nose was starting to resemble that of Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer. My eyes were watering, and I could feel that I was starting to look a real mess. I hoped he was running late so I could fix myself up before he arrived.

I eventually found the location and made my way in. I had barely caught my breath before the waitress pointed me towards a table with a big smile. How did she know who I was here to see? Of course she knew. The other guests were all Arabs. Harry stood out like a sore thumb. With a blurred vision I approached him as he stood up to greet me, a kiss on the cheek, just as he had planned. “Wow, you’re tall” are the only words that came out of my usually jabbering mouth. He awkwardly thanked me. My head was exploding with internal chatter: no really, how is he so tall? Why does he NOT look like Shrek? Are his lips thinner than mine?! Is that Black he is wearing? Fuck fuck fuck, why do I look like shit?! Is my nose still red? Yes, those lips are definitely thinner than mine. Wait.. did my frozen heart just skip a beat? His eyes… oh his fucking eyes..

I excused myself quicker than a man switching off the porno when his wife walks in. I headed straight for the ladies. I locked myself in and let out a laugh. I looked a real mess, had the damage been done? I started thinking of an action plan as I washed the germs off my hands that I had no doubt picked up on the train. I internally barked orders to myself: Right, eyes and nose. Fix those eyes and warm up your nose. Don’t take too long or he’ll think you’re taking a dump!  Once I had managed to release my head from under the hand dryer, I readjusted my poker face. As I made my way out, I was prepared. I would unleash the fiery Leo at the first sign of arrogance and have him running for the hills.

 As I walked back eyeing him up suspiciously, Harry looked at me, and said “look, I’m just going to admit, you’ve got me all nervous”. Oh. Well I’m glad he can’t hear my internal chatter. “Just the way I like it” I grinned, making myself comfortable.

“So what does your dad do?” was his opening question. I mean really, who asks that kind of a question on a first date… unless you’re a Brown aunty?! I answered with a straight face, trying not to laugh. He was clearly very nervous. He’d ask a question and cross his arms. Jaw tightly locked, his lips would compress. I watched in fascination as his paper thin lips vanished altogether. He displayed classic signs of defensiveness and anxiety… but why was this beautiful creature so anxious?

He had a Dunchenne smile, one that conveyed a sense of sincerity. His eyes were intense and this made me nervous. This feeling was almost alien to me. I was aware that I had begun fidgeting with my hair, but I hoped that my poker face was still in play.   

As our sweet karak tea arrived, he eased up a little. We talked about a lot of random things. He mentioned in passing that his retired parents had sold up and lived on a boat. I instinctively felt a little sad for them. I imagined an elderly couple struggling to pay their bills so felt they would sell their moderately sized house and downgrade to a ‘Rosy and Jim’ type boat. I hoped that they had decent showering facilities at least, as hygiene was important.

The topic moved on to alcohol. I told him that growing up I didn’t drink for religious reasons, but as an adult it was out of choice. I was a bit of rule-breaker, so would take sips of alcohol here and there. I soon realised that it was bitter and disgusting and I was quite okay not drinking. Harry tentatively suggested that we go for a drink, and if I wanted, I could take a sip of his drink. Walking into a bar or pub was no longer a problem for me. I’d been plenty of times, and quite happily sat down with a diet coke or red bull, so I agreed.

With eyes widened like a 5 year old in a candy shop, I walked through Knightsbridge eyeing up every shop window for its Christmas display. Harry on the other hand focused on finding a suitable pub or bar. I probably ought to have been a little more focused on this handsome creature, but heck, I loved Christmas and everything about it! Harry I’m afraid, would have to wait until I’d had my moment.

We soon arrived at a pub. Oh boy, it looked grimy. Standing outside, I started wondering if I still had my anti-bacterial cleaning wipes in my bag. As though he had read my mind, deciding the place was not suitable, Harry said “no, I wouldn’t do that to you”. God definitely created this man on a Sunday. Instead, we went for a long walk and he eventually walked me to the station where we hugged and parted ways..

As far as first dates go… I think that would pass as kind of okay… right?

Would I see him again? Would I break my maximum 3 dates rule? Or would this all go tits up? Stay tuned to find out what happened next..

The Accidental Lawyer

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My White In Shining Armour (Part I)

Ladies, before you raise your COVID-19 self-isolated unplucked eyebrows at me, hear me out okay. I’m no Linkey whore. I, like many others detest the unwanted attention received on LinkedIn, but sometimes, you just connect with a stranger that you thought you’d have nothing in common with..

<Rewind to October 2017>

My long hours in the office had taken over my life. The problem was that I absolutely loved what I did. I’d spent the preceding four years specialising in law relating to Modern Slavery. My clients, survivors of human trafficking, were like my family; I was fiercely protective of them and so justified every additional hour spent in the office. My dating life was non-existent, and my social life had begun to suffer.  

I earned myself a well-deserved solo break and was soon travelling to Qatar. Amidst the chaos, my phone buzzed. A LinkedIn connection request, nothing out of the ordinary. I had a quick peek at the requester’s profile – White male barrister, meh, another hoity toity barrister I thought. Fine, I accepted the request. He pinged through the usual polite “thanks for connecting” message, and I sent my usual yawn-induced “pleasure to connect” response.

His profile photo.. well, it was the sort you would expect from a posh barrister. Taken from afar, it seemed as though an Indian grandad had pat his head far too many times and flattened his hair. He was smartly dressed, with a half-assed smile and he’d probably used a Sepia filter to give his photo the old-school feel, you know, like a posh boy. Not that I was actively looking for a man, but he really wasn’t my type.

Having grown up in East London predominantly around Asian and Black people, culturally, for many years, I could never ‘fit in’ with the White folks. I didn’t drink, the clubbing scene at university was my worst nightmare, I followed a halal diet (yes, get that bloody pork away from me!), and if you spoke to me about the theatre I’d probably stab myself in the eye. Finding the cultural balance between the East and West took its sweet time, and it’s only in the last few years that I have felt that I truly am comfortable with both. I mean, I still don’t get the obsession with wine and cheese.. but I’ll let that one slide..

Now it’s not that White guys aren’t my type, I mean just look at Bradley Cooper. That man is sex on legs! Religious differences aside, I think the issue is that I’m too Asian for White guys. When I’m mad I swear in Punjabi, sometimes even in my sleep. Will a White guy be willing to learn every rude word in Punjabi, so he knows what I’m saying when I’m mad at him?  Will he really get the culture, and be okay with it? Will he tolerate my obsession with Bollywood movies? Does he really want to spend his weekends with me watching ‘90s Bollywood flicks whilst I repeat every damn dialogue because I’ve already watched the movie 264 times?! Yeah, I thought not.

Well, this is what happened next.

Scrolling through my LinkedIn feed, I saw a post from this guy, Harry. It was related to his area of work, ‘what would you do in X scenario’ – one of the options was to ‘call your dad’ – that is exactly what I would do, so I gave his post a little like and thought nothing more of it.

Not long after, I received message from Harry. A thank you for liking his post, followed by a very thoughtful message that showed he had taken the time to read my profile. He asked about my work, its challenges, and acknowledged how hard it must be. He was neither perverted, nor hoity toity. He was that weird thing that we don’t see enough of these days…. A gentleman. There was something weird about this creature, he just brightened up my day.

So when he mentioned that very same day that he would be travelling to London soon and asked whether I’d like to meet for a drink, I didn’t think “knob head” and ignore him. Instead, I told him that I didn’t really drink alcohol, but in any event, I was flying out to Qatar, and maybe we could meet for a coffee on my return. I wasn’t sure if I meant it, I was being polite, but if he remembered to message in a few weeks, I probably would.

A few days later, I had a message from Harry asking if I’d arrived safely. I spent the rest of my holiday in regular contact with him. Harry wasn’t exactly Mr Funny. I mean, I wasn’t sure if he could even read a joke on the back of a penguin bar with conviction, but he was really charming. The doughnut also didn’t realise that I received LinkedIn alerts every time he clicked on my profile – and that was frequent!  But I didn’t mind. Posh boy was clearly technologically challenged, and that in itself was a little endearing…

To be continued..

The Accidental Lawyer

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