Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Andrea Needham

Carpe Diem

Too old, too fat, too interested in cars, bare-chested photograph. What’s that all about? Ah, this one looks better.
Right age, slim and smiling, likes walking and gardening. And golf. Well, you can’t have everything. Let’s try it.
Two weeks later, the Burnt Fox in Brighton. Anna preferred cheap, hated waiters pulling out chairs and shaking out napkins. She’d rather eat chips on the seafront but hadn’t dared say so.
“Madam?” A ferrety waiter simpered at her. “Can I help you?”
“Oh, no, thanks. I’m just waiting for someone.” Why wasn’t he here?
“Anna?” She looked round. A man bearing a very vague resemblance to the photograph. His dazzling smile failed to distract her from his fashion victim glasses and pointy shoes. Oh, bloody hell.
“Mark?” More a cry of despair than a question. The waiter smirked, led them to a table, pulled out Anna’s chair and shook her napkin into her lap.
“I didn’t recognise you. You don’t look like your photo.”
“Well, that was taken a year or two back,” he said. A year or two? He’d claimed to be forty but couldn’t be far off fifty, not to mention several sizes bigger than advertised.
Fortunately he liked to talk, so she didn’t have to. She sat staring at his bulging buttons in quiet desperation.
A man came in. A bit scruffy, slightly out of place. Uncomfortable. He spoke to a waiter, and was pointed towards a thin blonde woman in a tight red suit. She was texting, her long pink nails clicking on the keys like a tapdancing mouse.
The man greeted her, and a flash of distaste crossed her face before she arranged her features into a tight smile and tilted her cheek to accept his kiss. He sat down awkwardly and picked up the menu.
Anna ordered omelette and chips. She’d told him she didn’t eat meat, but he’d claimed this place did great vegetarian food. Mark leaned over and poked her in the stomach.
“Better watch those chips, eh?” he said. ‘You can bloody talk’, she thought, as he ordered a steak.
Across the restaurant, silence. The woman texted, the man stared out of the window. He glanced at Anna and raised his eyebrows. She rolled her eyes in return.
She couldn’t bear any more golf stories, told him she was going to the toilet.
“Don’t be long!” Mark said. He had tomato ketchup on his chin. She noticed the man standing up. His date ignored him.
Outside the toilets, out of sight.
“Internet dating?” Anna asked.
“Blind date. My mate set me up. Bloody idiot”. She noticed the mud on his trousers. Maybe he liked gardening.
“Do you think they’d be well suited?” she asked.
“Who? Oh, them? Yeah, probably. I hate places like this”.
Could she do it? Did she dare? She did.
“Shall we leave them to it?”
The man stared at her for a few seconds, then giggled. She liked men who giggled. She pulled him towards the kitchen. A torrent of protest from the chefs, but Anna could see the emergency exit, and damn it, she was going out of it. The alarm shrilled as they emerged into the car park.
Anna turned to the still nameless man.
“Chips OK?” she asked.

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