It’s Monday morning. Lucy’s been in Kenya for less than a week, but in a statistically impossible twist of fate she’s already met a cute boy, had a whirlwind few days with him, and agreed to go away with him next weekend. If you’re just joining us now you probably don’t believe a word of this, so it’s probably best if you catch up from the beginning here first, or read last week’s post at Part 4 – Coupling.
After a totally bullshit night’s sleep the previous day (being in the same bed as Brad was just too damn thrilling for her to be able to relax), she passed out early and was woken only by the call to prayer from the nearby mosque at 5-o-fucking-clock in the morning. Lucy’s usually pretty tolerant of other people’s religious beliefs, but when their right to practice freedom of worship starts to interfere with her right to have 8 straight hours of sleep, her patience is going to start wearing thin pretty bloody quickly.
But a text from Brad first thing in the morning soon puts the smile back on her face.
Lucy is well: giddily, wonderfully well. And even more so because the sun is shining, and Brad is now in her life, and even though they met approximately twelve seconds ago, they’ve already begun to fall wildly for each other.
Even the thought of Brad all gunged up with snot doesn’t put her off. Lucy’s got it baaaaad. Fuck. This is dangerous territory.
Lucy’s like a child looking forward to Christmas at the thought of her first weekend away in Kenya with this sexy man, but even in her hyper delirious state she can’t fail to notice the glaring your/you’re error. I mean, he’s cute AF, and smells better than the freshly cut lawn outside a bakery, but even so, can she really date a guy who doesn’t know the difference? But maybe it’ll be ok: she’ll get used to it, or maybe he can be taught. How soon is too soon to start with the English lessons anyway?
She decides to leave it for now, especially since he’s being too damn adorable for words.
Anna is Brad’s sporty brunette friend that he met on a Tinder date a few months back. Lucy’s been feeling a little threatened ever since she met her: she’s vivacious and gorgeous and the fact that they met on Tinder means that clearly they must have fancied each other a teensy bit, even if they never hooked up. What if Brad still fancies her now?
But of course it’s remarkable how, as soon as you hear a comment like this, suddenly you find yourself warming to a person after all. Isn’t Anna lovely? thinks Lucy. They’re going to be such great friends.
Even though it’s been less than 24 hours, Lucy’s falling over herself to see Brad again. She needs to see him, touch him, make sure he’s real, never let him go… (Oh get a fucking grip, woman, calm yourself, for crying out loud! This is the fastest way to make him run a mile!)
So she (calmly) suggests that he might like to stop by her place on his way home from work. It’s only just round the corner, after all. It’d almost be rude not to.
Next weekend is Brad’s birthday. Anna’s suggested that a few of them go away to Lake Naivasha, a peaceful retreat just a few hours’ drive from the city where they can stay in a fancy boutique lodge and see wildlife including giraffes (yay!) and hippos. Lucy’s determined to make the most of her stay in the country and travel as much as possible, so of course she’s up for this. If Anna and the rest of their gang are there too, then great. But if no one else comes, and she and Brad accidentally end up on a romantic weekend away…. well, she won’t be complaining.
She wonders if it’s inappropriate to hope that the gang all come down with a tropical illness between now and Friday.
Some people might think it’s completely batshit bonkers to consider going away for the weekend with a man you’ve met just four days ago, but those people are clearly miserable cunts who can fuck the fuck off. Life’s too short, and Lucy’s stay here is even shorter. Time to grab onto opportunities with both grubby little hands and deal with any possible consequences later. Or as they frequently say out here, #TIA, This Is Africa. Where normal rules simply don’t apply.
It’s still Lucy’s first week in her new job, so she doesn’t have a great deal to do. This means that, happily, she can spend the morning chatting to Brad without worrying about not pulling her weight.
Her new boss may disagree, but let’s not trouble ourselves too much about that.
Lucy tried as hard as she could, really she did. She winced and gritted her teeth at his your/you’re cockups for a hell of a long time – to be frank, she probably deserves some sort of fucking medal for the way she kept it together as long as she did, but it would take the patience of a saint to keep quiet any longer, and we all know that patience is not exactly Lucy’s strongest quality. It’s for the best though, she reasons, Brad’s going to have to learn to love her grammar nerdiness, so he might as well find out about it sooner rather than later. And besides, the earlier she starts training him the better. He seems like a bright bloke, she’s sure he’ll learn soon enough. He might even thank her for it, one day.
Lucy’s blind optimism hasn’t worked out yet, but there’s a first time for everything.
Award-winning handling, Lucy thinks. Throw him a compliment, turn it into a competition, and he’ll never even notice she was correcting him. Plus, now the challenge is out there, she basically has licence to point out every error he ever makes until the End Of Time.
Which is what she’d probably do anyway, but it’s nice to have permission.
Yeah yeah, blame the computer. Of course Lucy doesn’t believe that for a second, but she’ll humour him anyway. Doesn’t want to scare him off too soon.
Too soon? She’s aware this is a TERRIBLE thing to say to a new date, but she really can’t bear the fact that Brad smokes. Lucy’s so repulsed by the stench of cigarette smoke that she’s never even had a single drag of one. Even when she was a teenager, and the bitchy cool girls were trying to goad her into trying smoking in the woods behind the science block, and she knew that if she did it would open a door to a magical world in which she’d be allowed to hang out with the older boys, she still turned them down. At thirteen Lucy was grimly aware that she’d never be cool, not even taking up smoking would change that, so there was no point in trying. And today pub beer gardens still make her nauseous, and if she gets stuck walking behind a smoker on the street she’ll literally run to overtake them to avoid being caught downwind, and if she gets into a lift with someone returning from a fag break she’ll usually get straight out again and wait for the next one.
So for Lucy to date a smoker is kind of a big deal. She really has got it bad. Again, fuck.
Brad, in his wisdom, decides to completely ignore the comment. Wise decision, well done Brad.
Instead, he changes the subject.
Lucy waits, nervously, while Brad, alone in his room across the other side of the city, puts her name into the internet.
Lucy couldn’t have hoped for a better response. Lucky and proud? What a glorious magical dreamboat this man is! Of course she’s about 95% certain that this dreaminess won’t last: as soon as her crazy starts coming through he’s bound to turn tail and run faster than Lucy’s mascara in the first ten minutes of Up. But she’s determined to do her best to enjoy it for as long as possible.
Lucy goes back to work, but Brad clearly continues to stalk away, because a little while later he finds her Facebook account.
Lucy has a weird phobia of being friends on Facebook with men she’s involved with. When The Ex added her after their second date she pretended she hadn’t seen it for six months and then quietly deleted the request, and it then took them two years to finally become Facebook official (mostly because when she did later add him, he rejected her like a petulant child, and that pretty much sums up their whole relationship). It’s not that Lucy has anything to hide, like most people’s her Facebook feed is just the usual jumble of smug holiday photos and random rants about work and the weather. She just feels that Facebook encourages stalking, which leads to misunderstandings, insecurity, and jumping to conclusions. She knows that her inner crazy anxious bitch would come right out to play if she could see other girls posting flirty messages on Brad’s page, so she prefers to protect her sanity and stay out of it.
Not to mention the fact that,
if when this all goes tits up in a few weeks, she will then have to navigate the post-break up Facebook trauma: trying to pretend to be gracious in defeat, yes of course we’re still friends, and then suffering the intense agony of seeing him popping up all over her timeline, doubtless with some pretty yet vacuous new girl at his side, which would lead inevitably to her stalking him late at night, nausea rising in her throat as she tries to find out who this bitch is and what she has that Lucy doesn’t, before eventually having a Stage 4 meltdown and burning down the entire internet just to get away from it all. No, it’s much better to keep social media out of relationships, at least in the beginning.
Just the first ten years or so.
Even without being her friend, however, Brad can see a few old profile pictures. He sends her a screen grab of one in which she’s wearing a fancy-dress Viking costume with an angry warlike expression on her face.
If Brad likes angry women waving weapons, then all he needs to do is carry on smoking and she’s sure she can oblige.
Lucy’s loving Brad’s emoji game. Winky faces, heart eyes, blushing smiles and blowing kisses – this is a man who’s really not afraid to express his feelings in graphic form.
She hopes that reminding him about her condom supply will encourage him to be graphic in other areas this evening too.
But before they can get round to that part, there’s the terrifying prospect of having to cook him dinner.
Lucy’s hardly a Michelin-starred chef, but if this is what Brad wants for dinner, well this she can definitely rustle up. With pleasure and a pretentious garnish on top like in all the best restaurants.
Later that afternoon, Lucy’s trying to be a technological whizz and make the SIM card from her ancient work-issued Nokia phone fit into her old iPhone. Because this is a big and important event, she shares the exciting news with Brad.
What’s so astonishing about all of this is that Lucy feels entirely able to be herself around Brad: to be nerdy about grammar, to be independent and scrappy, and yet remarkably none of it puts him off. Some men seem to be only interested in pretty, high-maintenance girls who look good and demand the earth, which makes them appear valuable, so that in turn the guy feels big and important, the manly provider of vital manly things. This is not a role Lucy will ever be able to fill, so to find a guy who genuinely seems to be inspired by her strong personality, instead of emasculated, is nothing short of a goddam fucking miracle.
And what’s even more miraculous is that none of this is freaking Lucy out in the slightest. She always feared that deep down she’s one of these fucked-up girls who’s only ever attracted to unavailable men, and is subconsciously put off by the ones that like her. And yet, here is Brad, being all available and lovely, and she’s not put off in the slightest. Even when he says things like this:
It’s honestly the weirdest thing. When guys have been too keen in the past, Lucy’s always found it a turn-off. There’s a kind of insecure feeling that if they are that keen on her, there must be something wrong with them. And some women subconsciously go for unavailable men because it’s a sure-fire way to ensure you never have to get too involved, meaning you’ll never really get hurt. Meanwhile the ones that are taken become more desirable precisely because they are taken – after all, it’s human nature to want what you can’t have. And so Lucy has secretly begun to fear that she is one of these women and will never meet someone, because she always falls for guys she can’t have, and the ones she can have, well, those ones she doesn’t want. It’s always been an impossible Catch-22.
Next time: Brad comes over for dinner, and has a confession…