A rare treat for you all today; a scene from Parma Violet Tea (the movie). In this gentle vignette I cannot say how frequently 'nothing happens'. But I suspect it is more than twice.
So, let me tell you about Senor Boldon. I met him online at mismatch.com. We exchanged emails for several weeks. His messages had an endearing and almost erotic economy to them. (I am rather eccentric, I find grumpy and morose men terribly attractive). He would always 'sign off' with a sweetly reticent 'night, night you'. Senor Boldon was my first ever experience of interweb dating. Many have argued he should have been my last.
After many, many emails and texts the bounder started mooting a possible meeting. Face to face. In the flesh. In person. Naively it never occurred to me up until that point that we would meet. Textual intercourse is all well and good, but at some point, you actually have a 'date'. That came as something of a dizzying shock to me. But, I really liked him and so agreed (nervously) to meet. This is the scene of our 'first date'.
So, the setting of this romantic assignation is a dingy Northern pub on a gloomy, drizzly Tuesday afternoon. A shaven haired man has burrowed himself into the darkest corner of the room. He is scowling intently into the middle distance. He is dressed entirely in black. Other than this troubled soul and a lone, brassy, gum-chewing barmaid, the place is completely deserted.
Suddenly, a creature of rare and unearthly beauty floats into the room. Sorry, I couldn't help myself there! I'll start again. Suddenly the door of the pub opens and a jittery girl dressed casually in jeans, a cardigan and ballet pumps tentatively enters.
SB (rising uncertainly from his murky lair): Err, are you Miss Underscore?
Miss Underscore (squinting, is this really Senor Boldon, he looks so much older than anticipated) Yes, yes. Senor Boldon, I presume. (I did indeed always call him that).
SB: Drink? Gin I expect?
Miss U: No. Lemonade. Driving.
SB: I thought you were within walking distance.
Miss U: (Self-consciously running hands through hair, ability to speak in coherent sentences completely gone) Ah. I am. Raining though. Hair. Frizz. Leo Sayer. Nightmare.
(Senor Boldon skulks to the bar and returns with drinks.)
SB: So. This is it then? At last.
Miss U: Yes.
( A silence so leaden and deathly ensues that it is possible to hear baby mice snoring in their nests beneath the bare floorboards.)
SB: Am I what you expected?
Miss U: Yes. (pause) Me?
SB: I suppose so.
(Suddenly Senor Boldon's phone rings.)
SB: Aw fuck. Sorry, I have to take this. It's work, I should really be there now. We're being audited. Hello. What? The McFlurry machine. Errr. . . switch it off and then switch it back on again. If that doesn't work bang it with something heavy. (He hangs up, clearly irritated)
Miss U: You were saying. . .
(Phone rings again.)
SB: (gruffly). Hello. Fucking hell. Gherkin sell by dates? For Christ's sake I don't know. Sort it out will you. I'm busy.
Miss U: This seems to be a bad time? Do you need to get back?
SB: No, no. . . where were we . .
Phone rings again.
SB: Jesus fucking Christ. Hello, (through gritted teeth), no, I have no idea what our projected sales are for Filet O' Fish next year. (Furiously hangs up, takes long drink of beer and glares at no one in particular).
More silence ensues. Along with the baby mice snoring it is also now possible to hear the beating of a hummingbird's wings on the east bank of the Mississippi River.
Miss U: (Desperately searching for witty anecdote) I saw Nick Cave in a hairnet once.
SB: (Incredulously) You saw what?
(Senor Boldon's phone beeps. A text message.)
SB: Holy mother of God, what now? Hang on. Oh, it's my brother.
Miss U: Which one, sane or insane?
SB: Sane. Most of the time. It's Rochester. The one in down South. I told you about him, didn't I?
Senor Boldon puts on his glasses to read the message and groans.
Miss U: Bad news?
SB: His missus has just chucked him out. He's been having an affair. Jesus. (he shakes his head)
Miss U: (indignantly) What a cunt! Didn't you tell me his wife had just had a baby?
SB: (wearily) Aye.
Miss U: You have a most peculiar family. Your other brother is the sociopathic policeman, isn't he?
SB: Aye. He's a twat. I had a drink with him last night, as it goes. He just sat there, in silence, grinning at me like an idiot, like some kind of masturbating monkey. I felt like punching him.
(More silence. It is now possible to hear the polar ice caps melting. Very, very slowly.)
SB: Listen, I'd better go. It's been nice meeting you, Miss Underscore.
( Our socially inept characters walk dejectedly out of the pub and into the car park. Neither looks at the other. )
Miss U: (sadly) Oh God. I am sorry. I am terrible at this.
SB (rather tenderly) Fuck. Don't feel bad. I don't think I'm any better.
(After weeks of fluttery anticipation, the meeting has come and gone, and the time for parting has arrived. There is a barely detectable sexual tremor in the air, as our characters look intently at each other for the first time.)
Miss U (rattled, fumbling clumsily with car keys and almost tearful) Well, OK, bye then.
Miss Underscore arrives home. She sadly walks to the kitchen window and looks out on the rain slicked trees looming in the darkening evening. Her phone beeps. The display shows 'Senor Boldon'. She opens the message.
'That was an odd moment in the car park. Did you sense it? I really wanted to kiss you. You are incredibly sensual. Shall we try this again?'