The Everyman ComethThis was our second date. She was late.
I was just cursing myself for spoiling my immaculate appearance by putting my sleeve in a puddle of beer when I saw him looking at me. I was immediately worried - it's rarely a good sign. When a man you don't know looks at you meaningfully in an English pub, it nearly always poses a risk of sex or violence. A good looking man, well-dressed, but casual. Couldn't actually tell you his hair colour or any, well, distinguishing features.
He moved along the bar towards me, relaxed, asmused, almost sauntering. Before I had the time to be frightened, his large, beautifully manicured hand was resting firmly on my arm. He spoke in a low tone, no one else could hear him.
"Remember me? No?" I shook my head, still terrified, waiting for the threat, the proposal. "Don't worry, he smiled, I'm not going to hit you or," he began to laugh, "hit on you." Hilarity appeared to get the better of him for a moment. It took him several seconds to regain his composure. "Lets start at the beginning then shall we?" he said, his thin smile broadening into a big grin. "Remember those sweet beautiful, unattainable girls you went to school with? Remember Michelle? Ah yes! That crush in the fourth year. Remember she had a boyfriend who was seventeen and had a motorbike? That's right, now we're getting somewhere!
"And what about Angela? Women will never look like that to you again. You'd dawdle after lectures, you'd go for coffee, as you talked she'd laugh. That laugh! Then inexplicably, out of nowhere she's cold, disinterested. She tells you there's someone else. Who do you think that was? The guy who turned up late at parties, who snogged her all night, nursed his own lager and said nothing? Oh and here I am again, your first wife's second husband. I'm dependable, I'm not prone to your moods, I always remember to bathe. I'm good around the house. Even your kids like me - I'm not 'totally sad', I don't embarrass them with my choice of trousers."
I looked desperately towards the door, hoping that my date would finally turn up and allow me to escape my tormentor. "Don't worry he snapped, she'll come. But I don't think you two will ever really hit it off, you see it's me she loves. She should have given me my space, understood how sensitive I was. There'll never be another."
I couldn't have believed that he could get any closer, but there he was, his chiselled features, inches from my dishevelled ones. I could see his perfect teeth, I would have smelled his breath, had it smelled of anything. "You see my friend, women like many flavours of ice-cream, but when it comes to men - they only need one - Vanilla!".
And with that he was gone. I looked down at the card he had given me: "Jan-Eric Vanilla" it said, "Ladies' companion."