Sunday 20 June 2010

If you can't be with him, be Cupid

 I have to admit that I'm rather a nice girl.  I have never pushed my way through just to get what I want, nor have I ever hurt someone on purpose just because they were standing in the way to where I wanted to get to.
    Although this 'diplomatic' approach wins you friends and makes you trustworthy and loved, it does hurt someone.
    I adore being 'the nice girl' - I wouldn't have it any other way, but in retrospect I've noticed that whilst I try to help others, I seriously damage myself in the process.  I'm not saying that I condone selfishness, but in some cases it does have its advantages.
    Let me explain...

I was half an hour late for work.  This was insanely bad especially since that day a selected few of us were supposed to be going to a conference in the outskirts of London.  Which meant that when I finally arrived at my place of work, everyone was standing outside next to the taxis, arms crossed and tapping their feet impatiently.
    "I'm SO sorry," I say running towards everyone.  "It's a long story which involves my landlady, a spatula and an electric toothbrush," I stop speaking to take in some air, "I know that's no excuse but I'm really really really sorry,"  I smile angelically hoping I'll still be entitled to a Christmas bonus. 
    "That sounds like a perfectly legitimate excuse," Luke mocks with a lopsided smile.
    I melt as I see him.
    Let me introduce you to Luke.  Hmm, where do I begin?  Well, he's perfect.  And that's pretty much the end of the story too.  You ask any girl in the office to describe Luke and it all begins with a girly 'far off look into the distance' sigh followed by "He's yummy," and ending with, "He's coming this way.  Don't make it look obvious that we're staring!"
    I can safely say that I had been in love with Luke for about three months. (And yes, at the time I did think it was proper love.  I even had Mrs Luke Heath written on occasional post-it notes hidden in folders).  Three lovely months of work being a joy to come into every day.  Three lovely months of having the most envied desk in the world - it was right opposite his - and three lovely months of having no confidence or courage whatsoever to ask him out.  

Hannah dragged me into a taxi with her without me even getting a chance to catch my breath from my little sprint. 
    "In here, now!" she yells at me, her surprisingly strong arm pulling me towards the vehicle. 
    "What are you doing?" I ask once I'm seated.
    Hannah's face turns into a childish grin.  She's slapping her hands against her legs and is jumping up and down on her seat like a giddy teenager. 
    "Do you need the loo?" I ask cautiously.  She ignores me with a wave of her hand and a look on her face that says "Stop being silly". 
    "I think Luke might like me," she says.  The words don't register straight away so for about three seconds I just stare at her with a blank look.  But once they're finally digested...I still stare at her with a blank look.
   "Umm...what?" I ask, unsure as of what to do.  I desperately don't want her to know that I may have planned the names of my future children with this man. 
    "Last night at work after you left, Donna was joking around about 'office crushes' and Luke said that when he first started working here he liked three girls," she jumps up and down in her seat again, her black, short hair static now.  "He said," she pauses and swallows followed by an enormous grin, "that he liked Natalie for a bit, Faye and ME," she then starts clapping like some hyperactive seal. 
    My heart sinks a little when I hear that I'm not on his list.
    But then I realise that I started working here after he did so instantly this makes me feel a teeny bit better.
    "I just really like him," Hannah continues.  I follow her gaze out the window where we see Luke walking past us and getting into the other taxi.  He flashes a smile our way and I capture it, even though I now know it's all lost hope.  I look over at Hannah who is still looking out of the window despite the fact that he is nowhere in view. 
    "I really like him," she repeats again with a hazy smile.  It's almost a hurtful smile - as if she likes him so much that her life would shatter without him. 
    Oh dear. 
    I may have planned my wedding with this man, but Hannah has probably already booked the church. 
    The taxi starts moving and I stare out, seeing London roll by. 
    "You have to help me get him," she demands like she's starved for so long.  "You're good at all this manipulation stuff,"
    "Manipulation?!?" I shockingly reply.
    "Persuasion," she corrects herself.  "I meant persuasion,"
    But somehow I don't believe her. 

At the conference I spend the entire time with Hannah jabbing my arm and asking me whether Luke is looking at her.  He doesn't once glance her way but her puppy-dog eyes look so eager that I cannot say no.   "He did about five minutes ago," I whisper a lie hoping that she will leave it alone for a while.  But she doesn't.  In the 1 hour and a half that we are seated in the meeting, I have made two lines worth of notes and most are worthless.  Added with the lateness in the morning, my future at this company was not looking particularly bright.
    I was thankful for the twenty minute break we were given but I barely had any time to take a sip of water before Hannah's tight claw found its away around my arm. 
    "Come with me," she whispers and drags me past everyone. 
    "If you come back late, don't bother coming back at all to the meeting.  Twenty minutes, understand?" the assistant manager yells our way.  I try my best to nod in agreement but Hannah is far too quick and before I could even turn around, I was already around the corner. 

    "I don't want to get fired, Han," I tell her.
    "Oh don't be silly.  You'd never get fired," she pokes her head out to see if anyone is within earshot.  Once she's inspected she leans in,  "I need you to talk to him.  Pretty please can you find out if he actually likes me?" her eyes widen as she pleads and I can't say no.
    I mean, what exactly am I supposed to say - Sorry Hannah but I'm sort of in love with him too so it would be too bizarre to set him up with my friend.
    But I can't say this.
    So I agree.
    Like the idiot that I am.

Back in the meeting room and Luke is talking to Donna and the boss of the company.  I don't want to interrupt so I skirt my way around them hoping that they'll notice me and invite me in the conversation.          
    Hannah has completely disappeared.
    Traitor, I think. 
    The threesome are far too engrossed in an article they read in the paper that morning.  I can hear the words 'fiscal' and 'corruption' but cannot for the life of me work out which topic they're speculating about.  I knew I should have bought The Times instead of Elle that morning.
    "Anyway, I'll leave you to it," the boss says and walks away. 
    Donna turns and notices me loitering like a loner.   "What are you doing?" she demands, eyeing me up and down as if I'm a reckless child who's been playing out for too long. 
    "Nothing!" I shout back rather too quickly. 
    "...right.  Well, I better get the laptops set up.  Fifteen minutes to go," she smiles at the two of us and leaves. 
    Luke moves towards me, that sly smile sweeping my rational thoughts away.  "So," be begins.  "What have you learnt today apart from the fact that 'advertising is good' and 'we should do more of it'?
    I cringe.  "You saw my notes?"
    He nods.  "Fancy getting a coffee?  It doesn't appear to be your day today, does it?"
    I just smile and follow him out into the corridor. 
    "You dashed out quickly last night," he states as we scan the building for coffee machines. 
    "Did I?" I try to think back to the previous night.  Why did I dash out?  And then I remember.  "Oh, my flatmate angered the landlady again.  I had to go and sort it out before we were homeless," I tell him. 
    "Hence the landlady, the spatula and the electric toothbrush this morning?"
    "Oh no.  Today was unrelated to that,"
    He turns his head around and gives me a quizzical look.  "You're a strange little thing, aren't you?" he smiles.  I can feel my cheeks turning a rosy red so I look away, telling myself off for feeling like a lovestruck teenager. 
    Hannah.  I must talk to him about Hannah.
    "It's a shame I left quickly because apparently I missed out on the fun conversations," I smile.
    He raises an eyebrow. 
    "I hear that when you first started to work here you had your eye on three ladies," I nudge him with my elbow. 
    "Can no one keep things to themselves at that bloody place?  Did Donna tell you?  That girl has a big gob,"
    I laugh at his annoyance. 
    "You know, Hannah is a lovely girl," I blurt out hoping it's subtle enough. 
    "She is," his expression gives me nothing.
    "I can't believe you were brave enough to blurt out that you fancied someone right in front of them,"
    He just shrugs and carries on walking.
    "Do you still like her?" I throw at him because there's nothing else I can say.
    "Well," he begins, "I don't think you can truly get over someone completely," he gives me a lopsided smile and we walk on.  "I think she's smart, funny, great company to be around," then turns towards me, "also very attractive.  So I suppose there will always be this magnetism with us,"
    Hearing this does hurt.  I have to admit that.  I'm so happy for Hannah and the fact that the guy she adores seems to adore her back, but listening to this is rather painful.  I have no idea why but I push it further.
    "Wow," I say, swallowing as if I'm trying to keep down the pain of it all.  "I think you and her would make a lovely couple," I smile sweetly, but my mouth is filled with a bitter taste. 
    He says nothing more apart from, "Oh look, coffee," and casually we walk back to the conference room. 

I managed to avoid Hannah's eager prods through the remainder of the meeting and just kept turning around and whispering, "I'll tell you later,"
    Once we were safely cocooned in the taxi, she wasted no time at all in interrogating me. 
    "What did you talk about?  Where did you go?  Was it just the two of you or did Donna come as well?  Did you manage to find out whether he still likes me?  Oh gosh, you didn't tell him I like him, did you?  How long did you talk for?  Will he be working tomorrow?  Can we swap desks just for tomorrow?"
    "Hannah, stop!"
    "Sorry," her mouth has stopped moving, but it's like I can hear her brain working away, asking all these questions and waiting impatiently for answers.
    "He said that he doesn't believe that you can truly get over someone,"
    Hannah's eyes widen further - a feat I didn't think possible. 
    "He said he thinks you're attractive, smart and funny, and he likes your company," I tell her. 
    She lets out a happy yelp and starts jumping in her seat again, although much more this time and is making the taxi sway.
    "Careful, they're going to think we're doing something dodgy in here," I say looking outside to see if anyone has noticed. 
    "I can't believe he likes me," she whispers to herself and sinks in her seat. 

No landlady debacles get in the way the next day so I manage to get to work on time.  I've only seated myself down for two seconds, when again the Hannah claw comes out from nowhere and drags me with full force to the other side of the office. 
    For a second I panic and fear that I may have got the whole conversation with Luke wrong and Hannah has found out that he doesn't like her, but one look at her beaming face erases that thought from my mind.
    "You will never believe what happened last night,"
    I wince at the idea. "I think I can guess.  Please, no details," and I start to walk back to my desk. 
    "Oh, it's nothing like that," she slaps me playfully on the arm (the same arm that has a team of bruises from her inhuman grip).  "We met up for a drink and got talking.  And now we're sort of dating,"
    Her words swirl in my head, washing away any ideas I may have had about Luke and me.  And it hurts. A numbing pain ripples its way through my body - as if my blood has drained away from every organ and is only focussing on cushioning the cracks of my heart.  Everything has changed - I now don't come into work with a crush on someone I work with; I come in every morning with a crush on my best friends' boyfriend.
    "That's fantastic," I say aloud, maybe a tad too enthusiastic.
    "We have you to thank.  You little matchmaker,"
    "Well, I had to be good at something," I joke.  "I'm really happy for you," and that's no lie.  I truly am.    But I can't stop the the niggling feeling deep inside me that's mocking me, "Well done, genius! You just matched your best friend and the guy you're in love with.  Now deal with the pain!"  I could have avoided this entire thing.  I could have kept my mouth shut and just let them find their way naturally.  And here I was, coming to work everyday seeing the guy I liked with another girl.  The girl that I helped him get. 

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