Dying flowers.

Maybe it’s naivety, but one day you begin to realise that there are surprises everywhere in your life that you haven’t seen coming. The very definition of surprise, I guess. Most of the time, we see only what we want to see though. You can read a situation and think that you know what’s going on, but do you really? You might decide one day that you know what you want to do for a living, but if it’s not what you truly want, aren’t you misleading yourself? You can like someone, but you know that there is absolutely no way that they’re ever going to like you back. What if you part of you thinks that they do, are you conning yourself once more?

Perhaps we deceive ourselves because we like to be deceived. We want to believe something to be true so badly in that moment, that we end up kidding ourselves on. If we want something to be true, don’t all of us generally believe it to be true? It turns out that you can fool yourself, and whilst you might think it’s impossible, it’s one of the easiest things of all.

Haven’t we all been misled at some moments in our lives by others? It isn’t always your fault if you get things wrong or misjudge a situation though.

There’s a girl. We meet through work and whilst she’s pretty, there’s no attraction. You can find someone attractive without doing anything about it, right? Both of us, as well as others, have to interact over the next number of months on various different projects. Sometimes we all grab coffee or lunch together, and you realise the more that you enjoy someone’s company, the more time that you spend with them. Our work ends, but the relationship develops over time when we bump into each other randomly. One night in a bar, I’m out with my friends, she’s out with her friends, a lot of which are mutual, and we come across each other again. We hug, we chat, we catch up, and at the end of the night, all of our mutual friends head back to her flat to keep the night going.

It’s a late one and we’re all a little bit worse for wear. A lot of people crash out and I’m invited to stay too, and to sleep in her bed. It’s purely platonic, and I’m happy to accept, and not to have to fork out a fortune on a taxi. Two people in a king size bed, both hugging the opposite edges, we couldn’t have slept further apart. There’s a cuteness to it that makes me smile though, and I sleep.

As is the case after a heavy one, you wake in the middle of the night dehydrated. I get up, knowing that there are bottles of water in the fridge. As I reach the hallway, the front door opens and I smell the perfume before I see the girl. Fuck though, I’m just wearing Calvins. She closes the door and turns around. Hands down, she is the most aesthetically perfect girl that I’ve ever seen in my life. She’s beautiful, mesmerising and dressed to draw eyes in her direction. She’s grinning at me, which is fair given my outfit, and I can’t concentrate. She introduces herself as the flatmate, let’s call her F, and she bravely leans in for a hug. Given my attire, I end up giving the shittest hug in history. It looks like I’ve shot myself in the foot within ten seconds of meeting her. A smile from her and an embarrased grin from me follows, and goodnights are exchanged.

Sleep is difficult, there are butterflies. The morning comes, I get dressed, make coffee for my friend, say my thanks, we hug, and I leave. It turns out that I’ll only see her once more because she has to relocate for work, but she’s not who I’m thinking about. I don’t see the flatmate in the morning but I think about her more than I should. She has eyes that make me shy and has the gentlest whisper of a voice. I resign myself to the fact that I’ll probably never see her again.

A notification pops up on my iPhone the day after, from someone requesting to add me on Facebook but I don’t recognise the name. I click on it and I know immediately who it is. Isn’t it funny how one message can make your day a lot brighter? We don’t interact much though, and I put her out of my mind, tough as it is. I don’t have the courage to ask her out because it’ll be awkward when she says no. I’m 99% sure that she doesn’t like me in that way, but there’s always that 1% that keeps me guessing. You can want who you want, and that’s okay. The problem is that the other person can also want who they want.

Weeks and months pass, and she occasionally crosses my mind.

A night out with the boys isn’t a regular thing, but our calendars finally align and we arrange dinner and drinks. Party of five, three of us married, one soon to be engaged and a single man who sometimes thinks of someone he could never have. The night is suitably raucous, bars follow the restaurant, a nightclub follows the bars. Later, it’s time for a taxi and to head for bed.

The taxi queue is huge and guess who’s in front of me? It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, and at least I’m wearing more clothes this time. We catch up and we’re heading in the same direction, so she offers to drop me off on the way. Only an idiot would say no. We catch up, and before I get to where I need to be, she asks if I’d like to come in for a glass of wine and some food? Again, only an idiot would say no.

Wine is poured and food is ordered. She asks me to stick a film on, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit is in her collection. No brainer, right? We drink, we chat, we laugh. She quotes the film regularly, could she be perfect?

The film progresses, and the doorbell rings just as F and Jessica Rabbit say at the same time, “You don’t know how hard it is being a woman looking the way I do.” She goes to open the door and I whisper the next line, “You don’t know how hard it is being a man looking at a woman, looking the way you do.”

It’s only when she’s at the front door that I notice a photograph of her, a man and a baby.

She returns with the food and I ask about the picture. She looks at me candidly, and tells me that it’s her husband and her son and that both are out of town. She tells me that he cheated on her and that she wants to have her revenge, to get her own back with someone that she’s always liked. No need to worry, I’m only responsible for what I say, not about what you understand, she said.

My appetite is gone on both counts, time to go.

One of the things that I always wanted to happen, will never happen now. Who wants to be that guy? It could have been something that blossomed, but now it’s like dying flowers. It seems that some things that burn bright, burn short.

@TheSamMcLeod

Pretending.

Omertà. Among the Mafia, it’s the code of silence about criminal activity and a refusal to give evidence to the police. It’s a slight variation of the Italian word, umiltà, which means humility. It’s about having rules and solidarity with the people that you’re closest to.

Maybe all of us in our lives have an internal code of conduct. A way of how we want to live, how we want to behave every day, how we want to be perceived by others. Is it just morality? Perhaps it’s intrinsic inside you, something that you know that you have to stick to at all times, no matter what, no questions asked.

Some rules are nowhere near as important as morality, but if you make rules, you have to stick to them. No possibility at all of deviating from them, no matter how much you might want to. Some rules are meant to be broken, but there are also rules that you can’t break. Omertà.

Ladies have a code, right? You can be damn sure that some boys have one too, although, clearly, they all vary between groups of friends, mine included. Some of the rules are serious, some are ridiculous but they’re all adhered to.

If you’re introducing a friend to a girl that you know that he likes, he automatically becomes the best guy on the planet. You talk him up in every single way that you can. It’s always your job to be a good wingman.

It’s unacceptable to try and hit on your friend’s girl, during, or after their relationship. You’re also forbidden from asking her if she has any friends that she can set you up with. Not cool.

It’s your responsibility to tell your friend if you ever discover that his girl is being unfaithful.

If your friend has a girl, you’re always super nice to her every time that you’re in her company. If he asks for your honest opinion on her though, then that’s what he gets. No bullshit, no sugarcoating, no pretence. If we see that girl messing you about and expecting you to do whatever she wants you to, all of the time, a serious conversation will be had.

If your friend is out with a new girl for the first time, and within the first ten minutes he’s not feeling it, you will answer his cry for help text with a call, giving him an excuse to slip away. 100% of the time.

No man hug takes place without a handshake first.

No selfies, even if a pretty girl asks you to take one with her. It’s not happening, they’re strictly forbidden.

If the girl wears sunglasses on top of her head, she’s given a wide berth. Just take them off ladies, we want to see all of you.

Never trust a girl that wears sunglasses on top of her head. It’s not right, just take them off if you’re not wearing them.

Food is never shared, under any circumstances. None of the friends can ever have a sip of anyone else’s beer, but we will buy you your own one.

Neither hamburgers or pizza are ever eaten with any form of cutlery. Ever. Ever ever.

You always offer up the last beer and last slice of pizza, even if you want both.

If two of you walk into a public bathroom at the same time, and there are only three urinals that are free, it’s immediately understood that neither of you takes the middle one. Conversation is a no-no until you both leave.

You do not touch anyone’s laptop or phone to send prank emails or messages. No bueno.

If you go on holiday, definitely do not send us postcards. Offers of duty free are expected though.

Rock, paper, scissors will be used to settle any disagreements about who is right.

If any of us are hanging out and regardless of whether or not the DVD is present, if Die Hard is on TV, it’s getting watched. Best Christmas movie ever.

It’s okay for some or all of us to have that same crush, but we all know the rules. If two or more of us happen to like the same girl, whoever calls dibs first, has dibs.

My best friend is in town for work and we arrange to meet at his hotel for drinks before heading out. I get there just as a message comes through that he’s stuck in a meeting and will be late. No problem, a drink at the bar by myself, it is. A beer in hand and football on the TV, things could be worse. Things are about to get a whole lot better. A girl walks out of the lift, orders a drink and sits down at the bar too. We lock eyes, smile at each other and then I get back to the football. It turns out that she’s into the game as well and also begins to watch. Truth be told, she’s more vocal than I am, which makes me smile and we get chatting. Her friend is running late too, so we spend over an hour talking all sorts of random nonsense to each other. She makes me laugh and smile to the point that I’m not even chasing my friend to see how much longer he’ll be. She’s fantastic company and it doesn’t hurt that she’s super cute. Her friend finally rocks up, so we smile and say our goodbyes with lingering glances. Only then do I realise that I didn’t ask for her number. All I have is her first name and the hotel that she’s staying in, but no one wants to be that creepy guy hanging about all night waiting for her to return.

Shortly after, my friend arrives, apologises, and gets changed quickly. We hug, handshake first though, remember, and we head out. It’s always good to see an old friend and we catch up about everything. We talk shit about sports, what our mutual friends have been getting up to and he tells me about this girl that he’s met. She sounds amazing, but if I ever meet her, she could be subjected to some of the rules. I tell him about the pretty much perfect hour that I just spent with a girl waiting for him and he reminds me of the rules too. It’s just how it is, any of our other friends would think the same. As I don’t have her number, the possibility that anything will happen is highly unlikely though. Drinks go on, long into the night and we leave at closing time. A plan is made, hotel for a quick nightcap and then a taxi for me once we’re done catching up.

We get there and the bar is empty, apart from two girls, sat chatting to the barman. Upon hearing the night porter let us in, they turn round and my friend’s face breaks into a massive smile, at just about the same time as mine. There’s the girl from earlier, how lucky am I? There’s the girl I was telling you about, he says to me. I’m no longer smiling, I’m hoping that she’s not the same girl but I know in my heart that she is.

We get drinks and start talking, but I’m not a big part of the conversation. She looks at me quizzically and you can tell that she’s wondering what’s changed in the space of a few hours, but I can’t tell her. I’m just trying to play it cool now, but that’s not what I want to do. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that there is something between us. He doesn’t click, but then she does as he’s talking to her, she knows. She smiles at me wistfully and I gently shrug. Dibs.

Crushed. I guess that’s why it’s called a crush.

Some things have to remain a secret though. Omertà.

@TheSamMcLeod