I have narrowly avoided making a fool of myself. 2011 had started promisingly enough. Sometime after midnight on the first day of the New Year I was intrigued to see a text message from Cristo. I was even more intrigued by the message itself:
“Happy New Year. Have an amazing one. Luv Cristo”
What could it all mean? Was he drunk? Had he sent it in error to me whilst befuddled instead of to someone else? After all, he had not mentioned me by name. I spent quite some time composing a message in reply. I needed to keep the tone light lest he shamefacedly admitted in the morning that he had made a mistake. So I thanked him and pointed out that his had been the only greetings I had received and everyone else had forgotten me. But how to end it? I would not dream of writing ‘LUV’. ‘Love’ was also out of the question and ‘love from’ was far too formal. In the end I settled on adding a solitary x next to the diminutive of my own name. My female friends often ended their text messages thus and as such it could not be construed as a binding declaration of affection on my part. I sent the text and switched off my mobile until the morning.
When next I switched on my mobile a text from Cristo awaited me. I did not need to open it fully to be able to read the opening line:
“Wouldn’t 4get u in a m.”.
However drunken Cristo had been on New Year’s Eve he must have sobered up by now and there could be no doubting that the message was meant for me. But why had he taken so long to express his true feelings? Admittedly the last time he had come around to my flat there were signs that he was beginning to regard me as more than just a friend. What I had thought would take a mere 10 minutes he had spun into an hour and a half and seemed reluctant to leave. He also said he wanted to give me a copy of the keys to his flat in case he ever locked himself out. I also noticed that his pupils were clearly dilated and his body was leaned closely towards mine. I thought the language in the text did seem rather soppy but then again I had never seen him act romantically towards anyone.
I decided not to reply to his second text but to wait until the next day. I still had not determined what to write when I spied him in the front garden making a telephone call on his mobile. I checked my landline. There was a message but it was from the Aviatrix. As I was running late for Hampton Court Palace, I had no time to waste on texting him and rushed to get ready. In the hall the dressmaker was opening the front door to a grey haired woman and a young boy:
“I am sorry to trouble you”, the grey haired woman explained to the dressmaker, “But my son, Cristo, isn’t answering his door.”
I walked passed them, noting the woman and wondering whether I would ever be introduced to her in the future. I guessed that the boy must be her grandson and Cristo’s nephew.
Only when it was almost time to leave Hampton Court did I switch on my mobile and read Cristo’s text message in full:
“Wouldn’t forget u in a million years. I Am in Spain 4New Year getting some warmth. Hope thinks ok with u. Spk soon.”
Spain? I mused. How could he be in Spain when I had seen him in the garden earlier that day. Slowly it dawned on me that Cristo was short for Christobel, an old school friend, not Montecristo my unrequited love. It really was not such a good start to the New Year after all.