A serial monogamist, I’ve always gone for the same type: blonde, fit and extremely good-looking. If you put my last three boyfriends in a line up, as well as resembling a casting call for Vikings, it would be difficult to tell them apart, and scientists searching for a cure for male pattern baldness would want some of their DNA. But recently I thought, where has dating good-looking men got you? So, when an overweight, balding Welsh man started romancing me, I let him. Look how shallow you aren’t! I congratulated myself. You are an equal-opportunities kind of woman.
We didn’t have much to talk about, it’s true, he was more the silent type: which can hint at hidden depths but is also sometimes a sign your man’s not the smartest tool in the tool shed. And unlike the Vikings, he did seem to be a bit of a hypochondriac, complaining about the least little ache and pain, as well as reluctant to put his hand in his pocket for anything (I thought that was the Scots, but aren’t they almost the same people, where is Wales, anyway?). However, he was great one for cuddles, and kisses on the forehead, for messaging me every day and telling me he thought I was beautiful – and who wouldn’t love that? Unfortunately, he was sending the exact same messages, right down to the capital X kisses, to his OTHER GIRLFRIEND.
Now, I’ve always thought that people are innately good. That even the grumpiest, most irritating old man is really just a sweetheart having an off day. Sunshine and lollipops and everyone getting on (even exes, eventually) has always been my mantra because, astonishingly, in the course of my entire life nothing really awful has ever happened to me – meaning I’ve been inoculated against the world’s evil, making me easy pickings for this bad man.
The first time he touched me, a pat on the hand, I was crying. My marriage and life had fallen apart and I must have reeked of eau de pathetic with the possibility of a large cash settlement. Bad men can smell vulnerability. They lurk, looking a little beaten up by life themselves, and women feel sorry for them. Women are kind.
Bad men, even excellent liars, often inadvertently speak the truth because their conscience bothers them so much. “I don’t want you to think I’m a bad person, he said = I’m a bad person, and “I don’t want people to say I took advantage of you” = I’m taking advantage of you. Maybe his Welsh accent prevented me hearing what he was really saying. Kiwi women love a colonial burr. It calls to our settler blood and stops our ears.
On Monday, his other girlfriend and I met for the first time after a mutual friend overheard our three names being mentioned in a sentence and thought “now that’s a sequence that doesn’t occur naturally.” She is lovely. We compared notes and pennies began to drop. We both felt sick. I was actually sick, and wiping my mouth with the back of my hand, tasted my own disgust. For the last three months, we’d been in the same relationship without knowing. He’d pursued me, convinced me he was falling for me, and it was all a lie, a wonderful game. He was a predator. Behind those blue eyes, there was either nothing there, or something you really didn’t want to see.
He might have seemed a bit of a thickie, but you had to take your hat off to the organisational capabilities and time-management skills required to juggle two girlfriends in a small town, sleep with them sometimes within 12 hours of each other without either of them meeting or the brunette finding the blondes’ hairs (I’m a shedder) about your person; not to mention booking airfares to see one while lying to the other about where you went. No wonder he bought our jewellery from the same store, he must have been exhausted. No wonder every time he dumped either of us, by text, he’d say he was stressed. I’m surprised he didn’t have a bloody heart attack.
“If he could do it to someone like you, I don’t feel like such a moron,” she said. I felt the same, with a side of incandescent rage. We had been played, made fools of. We drove to his house, the last two people he ever expected to see together. I’d heard the Welsh were musical and the sound his slapped face made was almost percussive. “What is your life like?!” asked my friend Rebecca. What, indeed. A tragedy? A comedy? A series of unfortunate events? Still, I’ve learnt my lesson. Nothing but good-looking men from here on.