First contacts are all-important. I don’t mean first contact with aliens, although the creatures I’m referring to are indeed strange and otherworldly. I mean the first time a man gets in touch to ask you out on a date. The approach speaks volumes.
Most hedge their bets. My ex-husband called my PA, said he wanted to interview me. I was then the editor of a glossy, and it turned out that what he really wanted was to check out the young women in the office; he hadn’t remotely expected to bag me. The Rock Star emailed me, saying, ‘I hear you’ve gone off me.’ I had indeed written that I no longer fancied him. He offered me a free holiday in his villa, no strings attached.
And David? Well, four years ago, he had read a column where I’d tried to get in touch with ex-boyfriends (a few) and ex-friends (dozens), asking why they had dropped me. So David texted: ‘I feel left out. PS I owe you lunch.’
He still had my mobile number, as a few years before that his mum had written to me, saying I should call her son who was having a rough time. She knew I’d had a crush on him in 1983. I duly called and took him out for lunch at Zuma in Knightsbridge. But he was horrible to me: he told me the reason we had never gone out was that I wasn’t his type*. I was married, anyway, if unhappily. David also had a girlfriend, who he said was the love of his life. So that was that. Until the ‘PS I owe you’ text.
Anyway, back to the present. It’s a Sunday and I’m feeling a bit down. The new man has asked me backstage, but there is no way I can get to Australia. Also, he hasn’t been clear. Am I a deluded fan, a press contact, a friend? Like David’s first contact, he was hedging his bets.
And then, out of the blue, on the day that my column about how bad most men are at sex was published, I get this.
‘Good evening, Liz. May I just say your missive today was so funny but maybe a little sad, too. I got your email address from my sister, a reader, who I know sends you the odd message.
‘The reason for me sending this message is because we still owe you for your amazing kindness in getting us into your book signing and talk four years ago, so here is an offer. Would you give me the pleasure of your company one evening? All the choice can be yours: theatre, restaurant or both, in any part of the country you might be in and it will be all on me. You deserve so much happiness and I would like to offer that to you. I will be sad but will understand if you decline. I do hope all is good with you. Regards, Tx’
Well, that is a surprise. I can only recall bits of him: a blazer, smart, the sort who might own a yacht**. He and his sister did indeed turn up to my book signing in a hotel, without tickets, and I said of course they should come in. That night turned out to be wildly embarrassing, as I mentioned in my talk that I’d re-met David only the day before over lunch (Locanda Locatelli; despite the ‘I owe you’, I had still paid), and how much I was still in love with him.
A woman in the audience had immediately gone on to David’s Facebook page and told him I was currently on stage talking about him; that I was excited, I was glowing, and I was saying I still loved him. Why anyone would do that, I have no idea. It meant David knew he was on to a sure thing. That he didn’t even have to try.
But this man, he has not hedged his bets. I wonder if he has held a candle for four years? So I reply, saying dinner would be nice next time I’m in London. He shoots back a reply. Neither of us is playing it cool.
‘Your prompt reply proves how amazing you are. My sister gave me your email address a couple of months ago but it has taken me all this time to get up the nerve to send my invite to you. Please be kind enough to choose your venue and the date and just let me know and I will be there waiting to greet you.’
Hmmm. So, where should we go? The world, it seems, is suddenly my oyster***!
* ie, I was not Filipina
** David, this ship has sailed
*** There will be no oysters, of course. I’m vegan and suddenly very nervous indeed