While I was still in the middle of my unhelpful crush on #193, #196 was enduring an unhelpful crush of her own. We took to updating one another with our woes and small triumphs. We opened up to each other and admitted just how batshit crazy, twelve, or otherwise stupid we were feeling about each respective car crash. “Has he e-mailed you back yet?” she’d ask, and I’d feel validated that someone else actually cared, given that the whole saga was starting to bore even me.
On a Saturday night, I organised dinner at a restaurant to say goodbye to a colleague who was leaving. The restaurant was conveniently near my own flat, and the pub we subsequently retired to was conveniently even closer. #196 had no affiliation to my work, but we’d been texting that evening and I invited her to join us at the pub. Despite the recent surge in crush-related communications, we’d only met in person a couple of times, and she warned me that she was already tipsy and liable to be lecherous. We were talking about writing, and crushes and relationships and sex. I said, do you want to know a secret, the last time I was in here I made out with #191, and #196 high-fived me. And then, when everyone else had disappeared outside for a smoke, she said I just want to kiss you right now. So we did.
Did you know that pulling someone in front of all your colleagues doesn’t necessarily qualify as suave?
Closing time and those of us remaining headed to my flat, where I dug out my leftover birthday champagne and #196 drunkenly mauled me and then there was a mass exodus due to a collective feeling that she and I maybe needed some space to ourselves.
In the heat of the moment, she blurted out the L-word, just like #194 who’d freaked me out the previous week, but #196 had already told me that she says stupid things like that when she’s drunk, so I let it go. And in the morning we lay there at great length, talking, it was good. She wasn’t a drunken mess any more and she was entertaining and cool. A song by #193 had been playing in my head and I had been worrying that I was thinking about him too much, and then eventually the song got more distant and I thought no, it’s cool being here.