1…MY LEFT BOOB is bigger than my right. My left foot is wider than my right. My right eye is smaller than my left and so it goes on, ad infinitum…in fact, if you care to look close enough - although I wouldn’t recommend it - my left buttock is definitely more, shall we say, rounded than its sister. So, any way you look at me, the left is always going to be slightly larger/longer/wider than the right. I’m amazed I don’t topple over – to the left of course.
The indisputable balancing logistics of the Weeble were probably developed solely with someone like me in mind. Because I’m sure I’m not alone. No, I know I’m not alone – this is not a paranoid thing or thing to become paranoid about. I’ve seen it in articles – almost everyone in the world – that’s everyone, mind – is unbalanced. And by that I don’t mean unhinged, I mean simply – unsymmetrical. Or is it insymmetrical? Or a-symmetrical?
Anyway, these thoughts do nothing to assuage my wholly symmetrical state of mind this Monday morning as I head towards my desk with the full-blown determination of someone who, only twelve hours previously, was unceremoniously dumped in the bathroom (shared).
‘Good weekend?’ Carly asks as I drop my handbag into the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet.
I snort and flick the computer screen on. Then I sigh – inordinately deeply and clearly far too intensely to warrant any kind of ignorance. Not least on Carly’s part as she repeats her opening query.
‘You okay Lise?’ She tentatively peers around the side of her own screen at me.
I nod. Slowly at first and then faster and heavier if that’s possible, until I must look like one of those dogs in the back of a car and Carly pulls herself around to my side of our shared desk, still seated in her chair (ergonomic – last years’ ‘bonus’ from the Board) and curls an arm around my shoulders.
‘Trent?’ She asks.
I nod on, eyes focussed on the aqua floor tiles we both spent an eternity trying to persuade our boss to purchase three years ago. I still can’t feel any tears coming. Where the hell are they? I’ve just been dumped… it’s pissing it down outside, it’s Monday morning, my Visa bill arrived and next door’s cat had left a string of muddy paw prints all over the bonnet of my car after I’d spent all day Sunday washing it (before the dumping of course). How could I not be having a bloody good bawl by now?
‘Hey, he has the stupidest name in the world anyway….’ Carly helps. ‘Sometimes I can’t even admit I work with someone whose boyfriend was named after a northern town and-or-river. Oh – and that bridge!’ She squeezes my arm a bit and I know she’s trying to make me laugh. She always does. Not try to I mean, she just does make me laugh. And then I’m immediately thrown into thinking maybe I’m a latent lesbian because I’m letting the indisputably beautiful Carly hold me to her cleavage and whisper how ridiculous she thought my boyfriend… ex-boyfriend is. Was. Was!
‘Thanks C.’ I say, manoeuvring away a bit so that if anyone walks by us they won’t think they’ve just stepped onto the set for another Electric Blue comeback – no pun intended.
‘Ok, so what’d he do this time, Lise? Hmm?’
Now, how to phrase it.
Trent asked me to vacate from his life?
It’s not Me – it’s Him?
Trent wants to see exactly how many more fishes there really are in the sea?
‘He dumped me.’
Carly takes in a sharp intake of breath and her mouth remains, unattractively, opened.
‘No way!’ She whispers imploringly.
‘Way.’ I try a thin smile which makes me feel like a duck.
‘No!’ She repeats – as if somehow repetitive chanting may alter the current state of equilibrium and re-form me into one half of the perfect couple I believed we were. However brief.
‘But you’re so …. So…. Lovely.’
My duck face reappears and I nod a thin thanks to my colleague-slash-friend.
‘But… why? Lise? What did he say? I hope he had the bloody good guts to do it to your face…’
‘Oh he did. Kind of. Sort of. His reflection told me.’
‘We were in the bathroom. He was standing behind me…. I was brushing my teeth…’
‘Oh God how undignified! I hope he waited until you’d at least wiped your mouth before he… before the…. Before.’ Carly’s face pinks slightly at her almost-gaff.
I sigh and nod. He had. He’d stood there waiting like a father waits for his child to Get A Move On before he’d launched into his ridiculous parting speech.
‘Lisa,’ He’d begun - and I knew then that there was trouble a-brewin’ – he only ever calls me Lisa if he’s got a bone to pick or a point to make or a peg or two he needs to bring me down.
‘Hmm?’ I’d replied, wiping the foamy mess from my lips and staring back at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. God he looked worried. There were frown lines going all over the place. He hadn’t burnt the bloody roast had he? I’d told him exactly how many minutes it had needed, how it had to be turned round in the oven halfway through and how the roasties should be cut diagonally twice for optimum effect and crunchiness. I’d explained how the carrots should be put in the boiling water first and allowed to cook for a few minutes before the broccoli was put in, because of their differing densities and cooking times…. He couldn’t have…. Could he? How could he have got something so mind-crushingly simple……
‘I need to say something, Lise…. can you listen to me for a minute?’
Realising I’d been mentally condemning the most gorgeous, sensitive, kind, understanding man in the universe, I spun about to face him and lifted my arms ready to wind round his neck when he held them away and placed them back to my sides, holding my hands down.
‘This …just …isn’t feeling right…..’ He started.
‘You… what?’ I mirrored his frowns. ‘What isn’t?’ what the hell had he been doing in that kitchen whist I’d been up here soaking my cares and worries away, surrounded by little ivory candles (four each end of the bath) and a herbal soak – which he’d insisted I have whilst he got on with the Sunday lunch…. What was he going on about?
He let go of my hands then and waved his about a bit. Then a lot. First in a couple of semi-circles and then a ‘whole thing’ motion like he’d been practising for charades and he was going to do The Sound of Music and not split it up into words or syllables.
‘This… this…. Us Thing. The whole thing. I don’t feel comfortable anymore. Lise. I’m sorry.’ He dropped his head and his arms simultaneously.
I gaped. I know I did because I turned my face away from his in feigned melodrama and noticed it in the mirror and just then I realised it was probably the first time I’d seen what I look like when I’m dumped. Incredulous springs to mind. Which I was. I mean, I was only expecting him to say the chicken (free range of course) was a bit burnt – either that or the gravy had gone lumpy. This was a slightly bigger fess. The gravy could have been strained after all. No, this was much, much bigger. In fact I’d have received it better had he done a ‘sounds like’ motion at the beginning. This all felt a tad abrupt to me. I hadn’t even had time to catch my breath or had a wild stab at what it was he wanted to talk to me about.
‘Okay...’ I heard myself saying.
Into a silent, still bathroom. Yup – still in the bathroom…very.
‘Okay?’ Trent repeated. ‘Just Okay?’
‘What do you want me to say?’ I tried to meet his eyes but he dropped his.
‘Well… don’t you want to know why? At least?’
‘Okay….’ I didn’t really. I’d much rather not – than know. It was probably bound to be something I’d done, or not done. Or something like that. At least if I didn’t know I wouldn’t have to try and revise anything within my psyche that didn’t quite ‘fit’ this particular relationship. It wasn’t me… or him. It just wasn’t ‘us’. We didn’t fit. That was all.
‘It’s not you….’ I could hear him saying as I was trying to sort the whole thing out myself (thank you) in my own way and my own head. ‘It’s me really…. I just don’t…’
‘I know’ I cut in. ‘It’s not a problem… it’s fine.’
‘Well it’s not really, Lise – can’t you just listen to what I have to say?’
‘It’s just I don’t feel ready for this kind of thing – this whole….’ Again he did the Whole Thing arms action movement to emphasise his point. ‘It’s just a bit too much… to much like – permanent.’
‘Permanent.’ I repeated. And checked in the mirror again,. Hmm – the incredulous look was back again. ‘Isn’t that how relationships are supposed to go?’
‘I don’t want it to feel permanent, Lise, it’s too soon. I want it still to be fun – to be reckless and carefree like it was at the start…’
‘We were mostly pissed at the start, Trent, that’s what made it fun and carefree… we weren’t sober!’
‘But I thought it would always be like that and now you’ve even started giving me full instructions on how to make a sodding roast dinner – it makes me feel like you’re my mum and I don’t want it to start feeling like I’m shagging my mum!’
Of course, as should always happen at a juncture such as this, Jess, fellow lodger and nosey parker extraordinaire, happened to walk across the landing and did a double-take as she passed the bathroom door – wide open still – and the bathroom door mirrored her mouth. Really, there was a lot of gaping going on today.
I had the distinct feeling that this moment was going to be something Jess and I would be touching on again later as we curled up in front of The Antiques Roadshow and gave points for the best look of utter disbelief that their Car Boot vase was worth a small king’s ransom, actually.
‘Okay,’ I said for the …wait a minute… one, two, three - Fourth time.
‘Right.’ Trent said, pushing his thick blonde hair off his furrowed brow (not so much furrowed now, actually) and turned to leave.
‘What about lunch?’ I tried, feeling that something really bad was going to happen inside my chest if he turned right away and I saw his back begin to leave the room.
He spun back round again and look at me with, what I’d come to possessively think of as my look of incredulity.
‘You what?’ he said.
‘Lunch?’ I swallowed.
‘You what?’ he repeated. Again, a lot of repetition going on.
‘Um… it would be a shame.. to …. Um. I mean, after all the trouble you’ve gone to…..’
‘Right.’ He said, not moving.
‘No. Lise. No. I’m okay thanks – you and Jess have it. I’m going to do what every guy does when they’ve just split up with their girlfriend and get pissed in the pub with their mates.’
‘But you dumped me!’ I almost spat.
‘And your point is?’
‘Um……’ I wasn’t sure I really had one. Why should he be upset?
‘I’m still allowed to be upset you know, Lise, it’s not always all about you you know!’
I watched him leave the bathroom and amble slowly and a bit sadly I’d say, down the stairs towards the front door. As he lifted his jacket from the end of the banister, he looked back up at me briefly and then turned and pushed the picture in the hallway off it’s axis so that it swung dangerously to the right. I frowned. What the hell did he do that for? Was that his repressed way of smacking me round the face?
Because it felt like it.