The kiss first appeared a few days after the second date. I was out with the lads in Dublin city and was pleasantly surprised to see a text from Kate.
1017pm Hiya. Hope you are having a good time with the boys!
Touched that a pretty girl had thought of me I bashed out a quick response, making sure Shane couldn’t see because texting a girl back straight away was a sin in his books (the ABC of Attraction, The Game, Why you are not getting laid). I didn’t see the harm.
1019pm Great Yeah. How are you getting on?
1021pm Over in Jills having a few glasses of wine. Girly night in. You going out out?
1045pm Looks like it. Lads wanna hit Coppers.
1103pm Oh there will be lots of nice girls there…
Coppers. Common perception has it that all you have to do is pay an entrance fee, buy a drink and wait at the bar for some randy single to present her-self to you. Don’t be deceived – it’s not a strip club and the only thing guaranteed in Coppers is hearing Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and having beer spilt on your shirt. I’m just saying.
I texted Kate in the taxi home. I was alone with beer on my shirt.
345am Other girls..pfft. I only have eyes for you
I woke early the next morning with a sense of nagging unease. I checked my sent items and cringed when I saw my message with its soppy sentiment and telling time delay. I lay in the bed ruing another girl gone. Then my phone burped. I ceased upon it with a haste that belied my weariness. It was Kate.
906am Aww. That’s so sweet X
Another date was arranged and soon we were meeting once, twice, maybe three times a week. By her side I felt proud, delighted and a little uneasy. Men stared at her as she walked down the street. She was petite, slim, with ample breasts and, as a friend put it, an ass that could cause car crashes. In between dates were texts loaded with lols and kisses.
Summer came about and Kate went off on a long arranged 5 week holiday with her old college crew, leaving me behind in Ireland. All going well I was going to join her for a weekend in late summer. In the meantime I was determined to keep communication positive. We texted nearly every day and talked once a week. Soon I felt comfortable enough to book my flights. Three days after, the texts dried up. I began to worry about her. All I wanted was reassurance that she was alive and having a terrible time without me. Then I received this text;
525pm Hi there! Sorry for late reply – Wild time here with old college gang. Hope you’re doing okay. Sun splitting the rocks here. Chat soon : )
Hi there? Chat soon? 🙂 ? There was a lot about that message I didn’t like, chiefly, she dropped the x, a long standing staple of our messages. It was a comfort, a reassurance, a little warmth. The absence of that character was the opposite of all those nice things, especially when I recalled that half of her college gang were male and no doubt ogling at her in her bikini. There was something up and not just their pricks. And what exactly did she mean by a ‘wild time’?
A few days later this came…
623pm One of the lads, James and I going to break away from the gang to visit a little fishing village for a few days. Enjoy the donkey derby
What I should have done is cancelled my flight, texted; ‘Here –You can go and jump,’ rounded up the gang for a session in Coppers, kissed a stranger and never spoke to her again. Kate, I mean, not the girl in Coppers. Instead, I persisted with a crazed need to be extremely positive about everything.
640pm The Donkey Derby was the best one ever. Enjoy the fishing village X
801pm Hi Kate. Listening to Pulp here. Remember that gig? Best ever X
741pm Nice photo on facebook. Is James d muscly guy you have your arms around? Been doing a bit of working out myself. You probably won’t recognise me when I get out there.X
This pride sapping approach continued until a week before the holidays. Eventually I broke and began to raise my concerns;
800am Are you sure you don’t mind me coming out?
830pm Yes. You need to stop asking me that. Of course I want you out here
840pm Why have you dropped the kiss?
1100pm Sorry I hadn’t noticed. Nite
1115pm Nite X
1125pm Oops x
She wasn’t even in the city the night I arrived. She texted some excuses that I really wanted to believe. Our meeting was underwhelming, awkward and orchestrated by Kate so that it took place in full view of the male cohort of her crew. I had hoped we would get a room together in a hotel but no, we were in a dorm room in a hostel. I was polite and made a good impression with her college crew. I was also relieved to hear James had a girlfriend back home and the few days in the fishing village never happened. I tried to cling to every positive but was only feeding denial.
When I think back I don’t recall the beautiful plazas, churches or sandy beaches. I think of strained silences, half-hearted intimacy and waiting for the chop. I held my tongue.
As the sun rose on my last morning the myriad streets belonged to the street cleaners and sombre old folk answering the church bell’s call. She walked me towards the bus depot.
‘Did you enjoy your weekend?’
‘Why do you ask?’
‘It’s just, at times, you didn’t seem to.’
‘And why do you think that is?’
‘Okay. I know you really wanted the luxury of a hotel but the hostel wasn’t so bad hey?’
‘That’s not the point.’
‘Well. What is it then?’
I let her have it.
She needed that to happen so she could feel okay about dumping me. My rant was cut short when we had to locate the correct bus bay. As the engine rattled to life she told me we should break up because rhubarb, mushroom and some other bollocks. I sighed and shrugged. We hugged. I staggered onto the bus which ferried me to the airport. Onwards and upwards I suppose.