A Slice of Disappointment
July 3, 2011 § 5 Comments
A divorced, broken man who had been left by his wife came to tea with me a while ago. We had sat next to each other four times at various mutual friends’ suppers. We had talked animatedly about our shared experience: divorce. Comparing notes. Laughing. Sympathising.
I did not fancy him though I liked him. His shirts were a bit loud and he was thinner than me which is always a no-no as I don’t want to feel even fatter than I already feel and be bigger than a man. But my older sister who has never married but has more success than me with plenty of (inadequate) men hitting on her – she lives in a country where men date women in a way they don’t over here – maintains that you cannot write someone off, fancying-wise, till you have met them three times. I was prepared to give it more than that.
He rang and said he was coming to the town where I live. One of his children is at college here. He suggested tea. I said, a bit chaotic with children all around, maybe supper? He again said, tea. Weird, I thought, but I said, Fine.
It was a very hot day. He arrived with a white cardboard cake box. It looked as if it might be an upmarket Raymond Blanc-type tart. It augured well.
I opened the box. It was a coffee and walnut cake; more farm-shop-posing-as-home-made and a whole deal less organic than its ruffled icing implied. I noticed a little ingredients label on the side with a list of e-numbers the length of a ruler. That was nothing compared to the fact that one slice was already missing.
He looked a bit embarrassed, though not quite embarrassed enough, and offered a barely audible apology.
I didn’t feel I knew him well enough to ask where the slice had gone. He didn’t look like the type who would have been overcome in the car with hunger and unable to keep his hands off it. It was a mystery.
And I didn’t know what to feel?
Flattered, that I was obviously the laid-back, creative, boho, interesting type for whom presents such as whole cakes, or cakes in the round, were too bourgeois for words?
Insulted, that I was such a trifle that he could off-load on me a cake with no slice and pass it off as a present?
In my twenties, I had never managed to be an expensive girl. I was not once the type men took to really smart restaurants or clothes shops and paid for. No, I was, more, the type they took to Pizza Express and when the bill came informed me we were going Dutch and was still expected to sleep with them. The cake with no slice chimed well with that old image of myself.
Perhaps more interesting and less scratched record was speculation as to the fate of the missing slice?
I’ve had family and friends puzzling over it for weeks and we’re none the wiser.
He never did contact me again.