Chocs Away!

In which The Author sends a Valentine card

As my regular readers will know, I’ve been keen on one of the girls in work for some time. Our planned outing to Avebury didn’t come off last autumn (see “‘What Do You Want’ – ‘Information!’“). Yasmine had hurt her knee and couldn’t walk far without causing herself further injury. We were hoping to reschedule it some time in the spring.
However, before that came the ideal opportunity for me to try and make my feelings apparent – Valentine’s Day.
Let me state this now: I hate Valentine’s Day. I don’t even get fucking junk mail through the door on 14 February. Not a sausage.
I made some slightly pornographic Valentine’s cards about ten years ago, and distributed them to my friends as a joke. (Jayne B. has still got the one I sent her on her pinboard in the kitchen.)
I gave my last one to Loopy Lizzy, who worked in Kitty Flynn’s, a few years ago. She wasn’t amused at all, and I avoided the place for a while until she finished working there. The last time I saw her was in Dempsey’s, the night of the William Burges book launch at Cardiff Castle (see ‘Adventures in the Book Trade (Part 12)‘). She gave me a nasty look while I was at the bar, I slunk away with my paper, and we haven’t seen each other since. That was the last time I sent a Valentine’s card!
Valentine’s Day is nothing more a conspiracy dreamed up by a cabal of devil-worshipping florists, confectioners and stationers to extract money from blokes like me who are too shy to ask girls out directly. But this year, it gave me the perfect opportunity to show Yasmine I was serious about her.
I bought a nice card, which said ‘From a Secret Admirer’, and kept it in my locker for about three weeks. I told Mike A., Sarah B. and Clare L.what I was planning to do. They all said, ‘Be careful’ – largely because Yasmine’s an extremely moody girl and you can never tell from day to day whether she’s going to be all sweetness and light, or a total bunny-boiler.
And then the perfect opportunity presented itself, out of the blue. On the first Saturday of the Six Nations, the Daily Telegraph printed a voucher for a free box of chocolates from Thorntons. I decided to take advantage of the offer. It was a decent selection of milk, plain and white chocolates, and I was looking forward to scoffing the lot over the weekend.
Then it occurred to me – Yasmine is a chocoholic, and I thought it would probably be a nice gesture if I gave them to her along with the card. I kept the chocolates at home until Friday, when I took them into work and hid them in my locker. Yasmine was on holiday for most of last week, so I didn’t know what frame of mind she’d be in until I saw her on Friday.
On Friday, she was in full Psycho Bint mode. She hardly said a word to me all day, but when we were finishing for the day, she seemed to be pretty cheerful. I decided to grasp the nettle while I was in the staff room. I wrote her name on the envelope, sellotaped the card to the Thorntons bag, and left it on the counter downstairs on my way home.
The touchpaper was lit, and I was retiring to a safe distance: would there be a spark, fireworks, or just a damp squib?
When I got to work on Saturday, Yasmine was talking to Security Mike, arguing about the mysterious envelope. I overheard her say, ‘It’s not my birthday until October!’
The card was unopened and the box hadn’t been touched. I was surprised she hadn’t asked the others if they recognized the writing on the envelope. Clare asked me what had happened when she arrived.
I said, ‘She thinks someone was winding her up.’
When I went downstairs later to get some elastic bands, the packet was shoved under the counter, still untouched. Yasmine didn’t even make eye contact with me all day. Had she guessed who the ‘secret admirer’ really was? Was she telling me in no uncertain terms that I’d wasted my time? I spoke to Clare later on.
‘Tell Yasmine that she doesn’t have to open the card if she doesn’t want it – but she can at least enjoy the chocolates.’
Clare said, ‘Shall I tell her you said that?’
I said, ‘No, just give her that message.’
And when we left that night, Yasmine still hadn’t said a word to me all day. But as we walked to the station, Clare told me that the chocolates had vanished from under the counter.
Why do I bother? Next time I get a free box of chocolates, I am going to scoff the lot myself. Bloody women!
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