The night in with my ex

Inspired by Sarah’s bargain charity finds, I decided to spend my day on the hunt for a thrifty little number for Donna’s wedding. Unfortunately, Sunday was not the best day for this, as most of the charity shops were closed. Wandered into few boutiques as well and I’ve bought this gorgeous purple dress that’s got a cinched waist and is quite flitty on the bottom. Kind of like a fifties style, with this scooped neckline that cuts from shoulder to shoulder.

As it wasn’t a second hand bargain, I paid way too much, so not taking off the tags for a while. Need to really have a think about whether or not I need a new dress.

When I got back to the flat, I found Goatee. Bag of groceries on the counter and head in the fridge. (As in Goatee rummaging through the fridge, not a human head sitting in a fridge.)

‘I know full well you don’t cook. Or shop for food properly,’ he says as he holds up a half eaten carton of salted caramel ice cream.

I argued that that was in the freezer when I got here, but he called my bluff and asked if that was my breakfast.

Throwing my shopping on the bed, I asked of his plans.

‘Sunday dinner for two,’ he says sliding a bottle of red my way.

His lovely wife is away helping with her elderly mum, then she’s in London for the rest of the week for work. ‘That’s the real reason she gave you the keys to the gallery flat,’ he says as he tosses some chicken breasts in a marinade thing. ‘She was doing me a favour. Trying to give me the opportunity to have the house to my self.’

‘Ah. So time to wander around in your pants and build stuff, without me intruding,’ I said as I poured two healthy measures.

‘You know me too well,’ he laughed.

We finished a bottle just in time for dinner to be finished: roast chicken breasts, sprouts and caramelised sweet potatoes. The flat is quite large and more like a loft than a bedsit. It had been a one bedroom with a pokey hall dividing everything. Goatee refurbed it himself. Now it’s a large opened planned space with a bed tucked behind rolling screens, a small settee and armchair by a wood stove fireplace, and a large kitchen bar with stools that doubles as a table. Along one side are grand old Georgian windows that lift from floor to ceiling. The whole room is white with white soft furnishings, and splashes of primary colour here and there. It’s open so they can move the furniture out and use it for gallery space if needed. And it’s typical Goatee quality workmanship. Superb.

Over dinner he tells me he wishes he’s been a joiner, or some sort of craftsman. But, in his family that sort of apprenticeship would have never been tolerated. He’s already the black sheep for his youthful shenanigans and for working in the trades (if running an art gallery your wife bought you is the trades) but at least he’s in the cultural sector which can be passed off as a patron of the arts.

I’m always surprised when Goatee talks about the stuffiness of his family. The times I’ve met them, they have been such wonderful people. I became quite friendly with his brother, and I’m kind of sad that friendship ended when my relationship with Goatee did. I sincerely think he likes to play poor little rich boy — likes the attention.

We also talked about Giles a bit. Goatee knows of his family, ‘Pretentious bunch who wear their rank on their sleeve.’ But he didn’t know Giles personally, just through circles. ‘From what I understand, he’s the disappointment in the family. Always getting bailed out of a predicament,’ he said. Not too surprising if you ask me.

We moved to the settee and had warm fudge cake with cream and a bit of whiskey. Goatee had always tried to get me into whiskey, but I can only barely tolerate it. We stayed up late chatting about art and literature and business and London and Scotland and everything that interested us but wasn’t personal. We talked in a way I don’t think we ever had previously. When we dated, everything always seemed eskewed. He was rescuing me from some drama, my knight. Or I was trying to figure out how I landed in his life. But last night, I felt like more than an equal. I felt like we were peers.

He put some jazz on his iPad, and I laid on the bed listening to him talk about the difference between Chicago and New Orleans jazz, and I talked about my brief life crashing on sofas in Louisiana.

I woke up this morning when a car honked. Goatee was asleep on the settee and I was already late. Fifteen minutes to get from my door to the train station via the underground, then over an hour on the train, then a bus to the office. I was looking at a two hour commute, and that wouldn’t even get me in before 9.30. And I overslept and had a wine and whiskey headache and thought about just saying ‘fuck it, I’ll get in when I get in.’ But with my luck, Giles would actually show up on time for the Monday morning meeting…for once.

I woke up Goatee and told him he needed to go. I had to get ready for work. He stretched and went into the kitchen to make some tea, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll drive you.’ He said.

‘All the way to Dundee?’ I asked as I searched through my bag for clean underwear.

‘I’m the one who kept you up all night. It’s the least I can do. Toast?’

I’m now at my desk typing this on my phone. Giles still isn’t here and I bet he won’t turn up until late today or tomorrow. I shouldn’t have rushed into work. I could have had a lie in and a proper breakfast with
Goatee. He makes amazing crepes. Did I chose the wrong man all those years ago? I guess it doesn’t matter. He’s married and happy.

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