My ultimate romantic conceit, the scenario my brain presents when it wants to make me feel all squidgy inside and hopeful about life, involves a man from my past appearing out of the blue – at a party, say, or just turning up one day at my workplace – and declaring his undying love for me. It might not be the most adventurous fantasy, as these things go, but what did you expect? I’m a straightforward woman who only desires simple things in this life: money, the missionary position, romances with men I already know, terakyi salmon with sticky rice, and whisky.
My fantasy male appears in my day and night dreams as various incarnations of platonic friends and not-so-platonic acquaintances – who I might (or might not) have had my way with once or twice, in a drunken but dignified manner, but with whom there is still the requisite degree of mystery.
You know who you are.
(Although, I’m open to offers. So long as they’re not from ex-boyfriends, should they happen to be reading, who have had their chance and proved wanting.)
The fantasy scenario, as transcribed from a recent dream, goes something like this:
Party with people. The people mingle. Music. Laughter. Dancing. Boy From The Past enters staring wistfully over at Kate who is looking mighty fine in skin-tight sequined leopard print, drinking cheap fizz from a champagne flute and talking about herself with gay abandon (or, more likely, with an actual gay man, who is usually her companion at such events). Boy From The Past approaches Kate, takes her by the waist and turns her towards him.
Kate: Oh it’s you! How are you? It’s been ages.
BFTP: Yeah, good. Good. Things are good.
Just got engaged.
Kate: Oh. Did you? That’s….
BFTP: Listen, can we go somewhere and talk?
Cut to: Bedroom. Lights are low. Noise from party shakes the thin walls.
BFTP: I’ve been thinking about you.
BFTP: It’s driving me mad. I’ve just proposed to (insert name of fiancé). I don’t know what I’m doing.
Are you listening?
Do you know how many times a day I think about you?
Kate: How many?
Kate laughs, but her heart folds over, like the melty clocks in that Salvador Dali painting everyone had a poster of in the 90s.
Kate: Ah. That’s just enough to flatter without sounding stalkery.
BFTP: I know. (Beat) I think I love you, Katie.
Romantic embrace – potentially leading to sex and a period of heightened drama that includes the break-up of BFTP’s engagement, followed by babies and/or marriage.
Whilst, as you can see, this all sounds idyllic and not a million miles away from situations that occur all over the world, every day, it is important to bear in mind that what I have just relayed is fictional.
Experience tells me, if my dreams were to come true, they would not play out like that.
Reality is usually a disappointment.
For example, there have been several occasions when platonic friends have declared romantic feelings for me (although not, admittedly, recently), and, on all of those occasions, I have FREAKED THE FUCK OUT. By which I mean I have receded into silence, pulled my face into a stiff, admonishing frown, conveyed through my body language that, I’m sorry, it is never going to happen and then swiftly changed the subject and never ever mentioned it again.
In real life, we do not like to have unsolicited affection bestowed upon us, and, even if we do, it is rarely bestowed by the few men who we have fantasised about seeing naked. It’s always the ones we didn’t mean who take us up on the offer.
If the scene I have expertly crafted above were your reality, BFTP would carry on sleeping with his fiancé* out of guilt or – you’ve known him for ages, face it – because he’s just an arsehole like that, or he would have changed his mind by the morning. Or else he’d win you over, but the years would whizz by in a haze of drudgery and you’d wake up one day and there he’d be shriveled and old and riddled with liver spots and your belly would be a crinkly skin sack that you’d disguise with elasticated knickers and you’d wonder why you wasted all your fabulous on domesticity when you could have carried on drinking prosecco with your gay friends and carving a path towards greatness. Which is why it is very important to always follow up fantasies with a healthy dose of realism. And then an alcoholic drink, if the realism makes you need one.
*not that you’d necessarily find out about it. But, contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean it won’t have happened.
**Image by Simon Howden at freedigitalphotos.net