This is actually the first draft of something I threw together this afternoon but something I shall work on in the future as there isplenty of room for improvement. Normally I try to show moods rather than tell them. The events in this passage are partly true but all characters have been made up. Its about a typical single girl finding herself caught up in one of those scenarios involving couples and strangers. She's fairly confident but there always seems to be somebody around who will make
It isn’t much cop for Louise to be the single. All her friends were settled or settling down with boyfriends. She thought she was perfectly normal and that men were stupid for not noticing her. However right now she is feeling two sizes smaller than usual. If Bridget Jones thought she had problems she ought to spend a day in her shoes. Right at this moment of time Louise is sitting at the end of a table in an Indian restaurant trying to suppress the wave of humiliation that has just filled her body. It is her friend, Dottie’s birthday and she is celebrating by inviting everyone out to this meal. Louise hates meals, parties and wedding receptions. She doesn’t have a gay best friend like Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw. She has to come to these things alone. Sit at tables with an empty place next to her. Get slobbered on by perverted uncles and smelly old men. Being the single one was no fun. But all these scenarios are not a patch on what she has just experienced...
Louise has to work Saturdays and arrived late to the meal. This drew attention on her immediately and she had to sit on the only empty chair available. Thankfully Tom had been invited. Tom was the other single one of Dottie’s friends. In fact Dottie had made numerous attempts to fix them both up in the past but Louise wasn’t interested. Tom is a nice guy but he didn’t light her candle so to speak. It was still a relief to have a friend next to her though. She glanced around the table to see if anyone else was familiar. They were all work colleagues of Dottie’s. Everyone except the couple sat next to Louise on the left hand side of the table. Louise gulped in fear. Carol and her long-term-partner-who-won’t-ever-propose-even-though-its-been-ten-years were sat there. Carol was a nice enough girl but she had a massive chip on her shoulder when it came to Louise and her single life style. Louise may hate being the single one but she makes sure she has a good time. She is always out with friends. Carol always found a way to make her feel two foot small and tonight was another one of those occasions.
After everyone ordered their baltis, kormas and chicken masalas, Louise asked for a vindaloo. Dottie yelled across from the other end of the table,
‘What are you having Lou?’ and of course everyone at the table shot looks in Louise’s direction. She grinned.
‘Vindaloo. I’m being hardcore tonight’ and she laughed her hearty wine fuelled cackle. The guests all joined in with the laughter.
‘Can you eat a vindaloo?’ Dottie exclaimed in surprise. Louise picked up the menu and pointed at it with her polished finger tip, ‘it's got 3 chillies next to it and so has the Jalfrezi. I had the Jalfrezi last time and it was fine so I’m going to risk the vindaloo!’ She replied. The table all continued with their conversations and then the poppadoms arrived.
Eating popadoms is a tricky business. Louise didn’t care, she was here to enjoy herself and it wasn’t like she was here to impress anyone. She spooned chutney and onions onto a piece, piling it high and squeezed the whole thing into her mouth. The last thing she could risk was letting a bit of mango drip onto her white halter neck top. As they tucked into their starters Louise was letting the wine do all the talking and she had the table in fits of laughter with her wacky stories and witty sarcasm. From the corner of her eye she noticed Carol breaking off pieces of poppadom and putting the tiny pieces into her mouth daintily without any garnish on them. Her partner, Dave was happily working his way through his share oblivious to the dirty looks from his disgusted girl friend.
Eventually the Indian waiters dressed in black trousers and white shirts appeared with a shiny trolley covered in dishes filled with all kinds of meats and spices. The smells filled the air between Louise and the other people at the table. They all grinned in excitement. Once everyone had been served with the right dish numerous people gathered round Louise’s vindaloo to try it. Louise insisted it would be too hot for them if they can’t manage anything hotter than a korma but they ignored her and dipped bits of nann bread into the sauce then proceeded to run around the table screaming for water. Louise could feel Carol’s fierce brown eyes on her as she put her first forkful of rice and vindaloo into her mouth. Everyone was watching but Carol’s eyes were as intense as the frown on her face. Louise could feel the heat of the ground chillies and spices fill her mouth, it was red hot but not so hot she needed to shriek like the others. She proceeded to chew, nodding her head and making ‘mm’ sounds.
‘This is fantastic’ she grinned. Everybody around the table looked at her in disbelief but gave her a round of applause for being so tough. The meal continued and a conversation was brought up about Louise’s single status. That horrible topic that people insisted on bringing up to make her feel uncomfortable. She knew they meant well but it was frustrating all the same. Just because they were with people now didn’t mean it was compulsory that she was to date someone.
‘So nobody on the scene at the moment Louise?’ Carol asked even though she’d had this conversation with Dottie only a few days earlier. Louise put down her fork, unable to finish the mountain of food on her plate. She felt some slight discomfort, not from the curry but because of Carol.
‘No, nobody special. Went on a date the other week but it was a no go.’ She took a sip of red wine and smiled bravely waiting for a response.
‘You had a date? Well that’s something. Did you go out for a meal?’ Carol raised her glass to hide her brown glossed smirk. Her partner Dave just sat there, chewing on his last piece of chicken.
‘No. Just a drink, he was very nice and all but not my type.’ Carol put her glass down and looked at Louise with those sharp eyes of hers.
‘Well I’m not surprised you’re single. I mean I was watching you shovel those poppadoms into your mouth in an unladylike fashion and then you order silly things like Vindaloo!’ she snapped. The table stopped their conversations and all eyes were on Louise who was clutching her glass of red wine for support. ‘No offence or anything but no man wants to date a vulgar eater.’ Louise could feel these comments sting her in the heart. Her cheeks flushed with anger and embarrassment.
So here she is, sitting at a long table with all eyes on her, anticipating her response to a shocking comment. Louise wants to throw a spiteful comment right back at Dottie’s friend. She wanted to ask her if Dave was ever going to propose or was she going to leave him like she keeps saying. She wanted to point out how boring Carol’s life must be if she constantly worries what people think of her. She couldn’t muster the courage to do it though. She may be feeling angry and stupid right now but how can she be so rude back? There are all these people and more to the point it isn’t in her nature to be nasty.
Louise felt frustrated with the situation. Yet again she was going to have to be the girl who is ‘too nice’ according to her friends. Last Christmas somebody bought her a self help book called ‘Why Men Love Bitches’. She refuses to read that thing. If they’re not telling her she’s too nice she’s being told to play along with ‘The Rules’ of dating. That was another book she got for Christmas. Louise didn’t believe in playing silly mind games in order to win the heart of some bloke. In fact she feels sorry for any man who ends up with these self help book reading, rule playing women.
So she took a deep breath, looked Carol in the eye and said, ‘I’m not here to impress anyone this evening Carol. I’m here to be myself and have fun and help Dottie enjoy her birthday’.