To lighten the mood and erase the conversation that has just taken place, I tell him I have theatre tickets for next week and I ask if would he like to come with me. I am resolutely convinced of my power to re-invent us as a fully functioning couple.
With scant interest, he asks what play it is, and I tell him it’s an Indian version of Midsummer Night’s Dream. He pulls a face like I’ve just poured a very hot curry down his trousers, and says his attention span is rather limited and the Bard, therefore, is not someone he can sit through.
While still desperate to repair the situation, I am becoming mildly exasperated. Surely it would be easier to just give up? I question my motives. Maybe it’s the challenge that drives me on. I’ve had men not wanting me before, but for some reason, I want this one more than I ever wanted any of them. And I do want to help him; I doubt he’s ever had someone who really cares about him like I do.
We continue our disjointed dialogue which winds blindly through a complex maze of dark passages and alleyways until it comes to a grinding halt somewhere north of nowhere. It’s like I’m talking Icelandic and he’s answering in Cantonese.
Reverting to my default setting of Jewish mother, I suggest we have something to eat. He admits to being hungry and seems surprised and grateful that I should offer to cook for him, like no-one’s ever done this before.
I try to get him to help me in the kitchen to create some sort of positive dynamic between us, but he doesn’t even know how to slice a mushroom, so I end up doing it all myself.
I rustle up a smoked salmon and avocado starter and make a risotto which he appears to enjoy. At least something has pleased him about tonight. The hostess, sadly… pas beaucoup…
Over dinner, he perks up a bit and talks about his teenage years and how he used to play in a band, but not once during the evening is there any of the lightness of spirit or humorous piquancy of the holiday passing between us.
And then it’s 10.30 p.m. and he says he has to go. He needs his sleep so he asks me to call him a taxi and the minute it arrives, he leaves.
I get a half-hearted hug at the door, do the washing-up and go to bed feeling melancholy and hopeless. The whole emotional investment of the past two weeks seems to be producing no return.
The Pet Shop Boys sing me sleep, their lyrics strangely appropriate to my darkening mood:
When I look back upon my life,
It’s always with a sense of shame
I’ve always been the one to blame…