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The Ghosting of Christmas Past

I invented ghosting.  I didn't mean to.  But hindsight suggests that, shamefully, unwittingly, I may have been the original initiator of passive-aggressive let's call this off without actually speaking because I'm not ballsy enough to tell you this isn't working.  I did this first to my childhood best mate.  Come at me, haters.

His name was Jake*.  We'd been friends since we were about 10, when we played tennis at the same club for a couple of summers, but we really bonded when we met again at 16 or 17, both working at a well-known supermarket while pursuing our A Levels at different sixth forms.  Actually, come to think of it, he was doing BTECs, so I should probably have known no good could come of it.  Winky face.

Well, it wasn't, actually, but I have a name-changing convention that I'm gonna stick at, because you can't be too careful when writing an anonymous dating blog whose sum total of readers could fit comfortably into a medium sized provincial chain hotel.  And probably should.  So I've booked the 16th of next month, see you in the Travelodge, Clitheroe. Open up a bar tab, I'll be there by 7pm.

He was half Italian, a specimen of Mediterranean genetic engineering, all big eyes and supermodel hair.  This was the mid-80s, a time during which it was technically legal to pilfer Kohl eyeliner pencils from Woolworths and apply it inexpertly,  to complement the burgundy Tukka boots and Sta-press trousers so pegged that they could have sustained an onslaught of door-to-door gypsies.  He was a few months older than me, and had a car - a Mini older than either of us.  One day when we were out in it, we were overtaken by a wheel, bowling past us on the verge.  "That looks like one of yours," laughed I.  "Shit!  It is!" yelped he.  But I digress.

Wheel incidents aside, we were inseparable.  The evening and weekend supermarket jobs saw us working with dozens of other youngsters, and there were always parties and gigs and nights out to keep us entertained.  We were probably the scourge of the full-time staff, but Daphne, the mother-hen Checkout Manager, loved us, while Judith, her younger, buxom assistant flirted with us shamelessly.  Jake reckoned he'd "got off" with her once at a party, and this may well have been true, but our Store Manager, while adjudicating some dicking around at a staff meeting, proclaimed that Jake was "pretty" but I was "handsome", which felt all right by me.*

*I'm actually not convinced that a man thirty years my senior finding me handsome was such a good judgement call, but let's let that one lie, and get on with the story.

We fell out over a girl once.  A statuesque blonde with eyes of the purest blue, and a mind filthier than a Welsh miner's trousers.  Stupidest subject ever to fight over, given that as a sentient being she was capable of making her own choices, but that was irrelevant to teenage us.  He "won" her, and his prize was a virulent and chronic case of genital warts, thus proving that I am lucky, as well as handsome, even if ultimately less attractive than Jake.

By the time we were in our twenties things were becoming a little more wearing.  We'd been workmates, flatmates, spent plenty of time out on the town together, and the one constant was that Jake set his cap at every girl I knew.  And every one I didn't. It was like a compulsion, shaggius uncontrollis.  It didn't matter whether it was one of my friends (and he tried it on with all of them), a mate's girlfriend, or a girl I was already flirting with; he'd be all over them giving it his best doe-eyed pheromone-laden come hither.  If he couldn't get them to be interested in him then he invariably cock-blocked me.  Every fucking time.  To top it all off, Shannon, my great passion of that era and the unwitting heroine of this post, was subject to full-on 100% Jake nuclear charm assault on a New Year's Eve when they were both staying at my place.  My green-eyed monster had never been more inflamed, so convinced was I that she would be convinced by him, as so many were.

Not long after this, Jake met Laura.  A surprising choice for him, I felt, given she seemed prudish, shrew-like, and sour.  Far from losing interest in her quickly, they became engaged in whirlwind fashion with a wedding date set for the following year.  I had an ominous feeling that Best Man duties would be called for, and a sense of distinct unease about the whole arrangement.  Not least because Jake's Little Head continued to do the thinking for the rest of him. Laura and the impending nuptials were the tedious bulk of his conversation, unless there was a hint of possibility in the room, in which case his personal gusset Geiger counter would be clicking into overload at the prospect of another outing for his purple-headed womb ferret.

Just before Christmas, I cracked.  Jake was heading home at the end of a night out.  Not to Laura; they weren't moving in together for a few months; but, for the third time in as many weeks, he wasn't alone.  In the spirit of the season I should point out that I'm not averse myself to squeezing into someone's narrow chimney stack in order to empty the contents of my bulging sack into and around their stockings.  But then, I wasn't spending every sodding minute droning on about my forthcoming marriage to someone who definitely wasn't the latest giggling athleisure-clad random he was draped around.  Eyerolls and resigned glances were shared with others in the group, as Jake jumped into a taxi, squeezing the unfortunate wart-recipient's bottom as he climbed in behind her.

It was the last time I ever saw him.

To be fair, ghosting him wasn't that difficult.  I just didn't know it was called ghosting.  These were the days before email and mobile phones.  I was moving to another flat a couple of days later, and simply never got in touch again or gave him my new number.  He left messages with others, but, while I'm not proud of it, I cut him from my life and felt better for it.  Bah humbug to the Christmas spirit.  He became the first ghost of Christmas past.

Jake actually sent me a friend request on Facebook a couple of years ago, so I was able to cyber-stalk the fuck out of him and find he is still married to Laura before quietly deleting it.  Who knew?

Clearly, ghosting is horribly immature behaviour, and I'm still ashamed of the way I ended a relationship with a girlfriend a year or two later, by moving house not once, but twice, as she'd tracked me down the first time.  To be fair, we had supposedly brought a formal end to our coupledom prior to that, but Hannah had an endearing yet slightly psycho habit of turning up at the door unannounced.  Or I'd be playing pinball with my flatmate in my local, and look up, startled, to find her standing next to me.  The only solution was to find a new local.  Which meant finding a new flat in another part of town.  I guess she had the last laugh, as she remains the girl that still pops, unannounced, into my head decades later, and has less internet footprint than someone in the witness protection programme, so I've never been able to find out what did happen to her.  I hope she's happy, wherever she is.

I'd like to think that I've grown up a little since then.  I've certainly grown a pair, and developed the ability to have a conversation about why things aren't working, a desire to reach closure if a relationship has to end.  It doesn't mean I haven't had to move house to escape certain death at the hands of a terrifying ex, though.  Perhaps next time I'll write about the passionate South American who broke into my flat in the middle of the night, following a mutually-agreed parting of the ways.  I moved elsewhere shortly afterwards, with great relief, but have often wondered whether the new tenants ever woke to find a bonkers Brazilian standing over their bed, brandishing a knife.  Or whether she turned them into ghosts.  For their sake, I hope not.


Comments

  1. Great story, we've all had a "mate" like Jake tbh in my group of friends we'd have just told him to fuck off or someone would've knocked him out (not me).

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