At the weekend it was my birthday. On the whole I’d had a great day. I spent time with the people I loved. I made sushi. I gave blood. I ate coffee cake. I had my hair cut. And, oh yes, I cried about my ex.
This has been a staple of my life for the past few months. Friends for 6 years, together for 4, and because I could write several articles about ‘us’ (just trying to make sense of it all), for now I’ll just say that we broke up in November.
The months passed.
I cried a lot at Christmas. My friend Livi was required to be a substitute-spoon for me to hug. My brothers made me laugh by making up reasons why they’d never liked him anyway.
After some bad experiences I settled into solitude. Enough was enough. No more talking to strangers online. No more dating websites. No more body builders or stand up comedians or emotionally stunted fuckwits. No more men who pee in front of me or talk about how gross sanitary towels are (seriously, WTF?). No more nights with friends where I want more comfort than they’re able to give.
I stopped seeking romantic attention - and I decided that I would be fine. And I was fine. I was lonely - the kind of loneliness that stems from no human touch, but I still knew I was doing the right thing.
I watched Tanya Davis’ How To Be Alone on repeat. I took myself out on dates. I tried to make my alone-ness a joy. Keeping to my New Year’s Resolution of doing things that scared me, I grabbed every experience I could and said no to nothing.
Feeling stronger than ever. I survived without romantic attention for so long that I forgot what it was like to need it to feel good about myself. I was completely alone, no-one’s eyes on me.
Until last night when 'G' sat down and promptly informed me that he just got out of prison three days ago. I asked him what he had gone to prison for and his answer was 'glassing' a Polish man who had hit his girlfriend.
'I don’t care where you’re from. You don’t hit women.' he stated, drunkenly, telling me how his girlfriend then dumped him when he was inside. I told him he smelled of weed and he said 'That’s probably because I sell it'.
Here I was, sat with a drug dealer who had been convicted of GBH, having him explain his neck tattoos to me. If anything screams rebound (or RUN AWAY NOW), this did.
He told me I was lovely. I told him he was just trying to get into my pants. He asked for a kiss and I offered my cheek, he gave me one on each and then we kissed on the lips.
This article was going to be about rebounds (and maybe a little bragging). I was going to ignore my friends' wishes for privacy and talk about how they are all dealing with their break ups, past and present.
I was going to say at this point that this isn’t really an article about the criminal justice system, the grey area between right and wrong, and my views on all the above. I was going to say that people are fascinating, I love having a story like this to tell and he was a good kisser.
But, a few things happened since I started writing this article. The first is that Drunk Me told G my full name (okay, so that happened before).
The second is that he found me on Facebook and tried to add me.
The third is that I decided to Google him and his criminal activities before accepting.
I found no mention of the glassing he told me about. But I did find an article saying that a man with his name had mugged a teenage girl in the town he lives in.
I also found another article that said a man with his name (and location, again) had been put on the sex offender's register for the molestation of an unconscious drunk woman (which he documented by taking photos, only avoiding a prison sentence because the woman did not want to take the stand).
I checked his friend list on Facebook and sure enough, there was the name of the other man mentioned in the article, his accomplice. Definitely him, no way around it.
I wondered if the other man was the one who had been talking to my friend that night. Then I wondered if she was right when we got home and she burst into tears because she thought her drink had been spiked. I'd passed it off as just having eaten too little and drank too much… Now I feel sick myself.
This isn't just a man with sketchy morals (who defends women in questionable ways, as my drunk brain had reasoned). This is a seriously dangerous person, who, I'm amazed to say, seemed about as unscary as a kitten-turtle when I met him.
This is someone who was wearing a crucifix and told me that Jesus sees the goodness inside you. Someone who asked me to come to the next club with him and his friend (and you have no idea how thankful I am that my friend was so ill that we had to go home instead).
You can't tell. You really can't tell.
And I think it's no coincidence that he appeared when I was at my most drunk, my most vulnerable, my head filled with thoughts of my ex, and on a night out without my usual posse of male friends to protect us.
I can't believe I met someone like that, it feels unreal that those people even exist outside of newspapers. I hugged him when he told me about his girlfriend. I have a picture of us together. Before I found those articles I’d been light-hearted about his actions, laughing about the surreal nature of life and the people you come into contact with.
Now I think the Universe is trying to tell me not to kiss strangers in clubs again.