I don’t often get ill, but when I do I usually spend a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and thinking about how much I’ll appreciate not being ill once my body does the honourable thing and gets better. I had a sore throat a few weeks back. So, quite ill, not really ill, let’s just say I didn’t require ‘round the clock care’. I’m also quite an anxious person; I think pains in my chest or arms are the beginnings of a heart attack, or immediately think that a pain in my head is a tumour. I’ve stopped Googling my symptoms altogether because the Internet and I always come up with the same diagnosis and it’s always the worst-case scenario, like Cancer. I’m usually wrong, sure, but don’t be so quick to judge me; great minds think a-like, meaning my knowledge is on par with the Internet, which last time I counted is somewhere in the region of vast.
I also get anxious about taking medication, or as the scaremongering media like to call them, ‘drugs’ (I don’t really even like taking the softer stuff like Soothers or Berocca, I could go on… plasters, that sort of thing) and with this in mind I knew I’d have to soldier on with my weekend unaided. This would have been fine, but for the first time in three years I had a double-whammy-weekend, which is what I call it when I have plans both on the Friday and the Saturday night – never good. I’ve even heard of some people having plans on all three of the weekend days but I can only think that this is some sort of attempt at what experts call ‘attention seeking’.
Friday was thanksgiving with one of my oldest friends and his girlfriend who is an American. She’s bloody good at persuading people to do things, I mean not only has she managed to snag herself a charming Brit, she’s also convinced him and the rest of his friends, or as she affectionately refers to us, ‘sheeple’, to celebrate an exclusively American event. Some might see this as a great trait to have, being persuasive, but I think you’ll agree there’s a fine line between being persuasive and a complete control freak. How much is she straddling this line? You be the judge.
Because of the throat I’d decided it would be idiotic to take booze along, which again would’ve been fine, but inevitably there would be a handful of people I didn’t know in attendance. I walked to Charing Cross to meet a few of my friends who were also going and once we’d successfully achieved the meet, some of us formed a splinter group with the objective of finding a shop that sold cards to show that we cared. (Just in case taking an hour-long train to Kent wasn’t evidence enough to close the case). The shop didn’t sell thanksgiving cards and they weren’t prepared to make one, even after I strongly suggested they try. Controversially, some people had bought ‘train snacks’ even though they knew full well there would be food provided. I tried tutting, but that failed to stop them chowing down on their W H Smith meal deals. What annoyed me more is that it’s not even really a meal - a sandwich, a packet of crisps and a Ribena, all I’ll say is I’ve never seen that served in a restaurant.
Fast forward two hours and they’re eating again and our American host couldn’t fathom that I wasn’t drinking and persuaded me to have a beer, and I did (How does she do it?). We sat in a circle split perfectly into a Venn diagram of people who knew the persuasive yank from work and those who knew her on account of her romancing our friend and her in the middle, the common link persuading us again. This time she was making us play a game where we went round the circle, telling each other what we were thankful for. She firmly denied it was a game but eventually gave up trying to persuade me on this one, 1-0! I thought. Some people said they couldn’t think of anything and to ‘come back to them’ knowing full well we’d forget. I panicked and said I was thankful to be there and I can’t help but think it came off sarcastic, especially in light of the game/not a game incident that had just occurred.
As nights do, things wound down and people started peeling off with their various excuses mostly involving Saturday plans. I wasn’t the only one with a double-whammy-weekend I said out loud and received more than a few knowing nods from those left in the room. I’ve never been the last person at an event before so I didn’t quite know what to do with myself when the second to last guest left. Me saying things like, “I’ve got another party tomorrow”, her yawning and asking “how do you get home from here?” I went for one final throw of the proverbial dice and asked what they were up to tomorrow, to which she replied, “I’m not sure” before talking about how it was time for bed; a clear indication she couldn’t wait for me to leave. So I left, and the yank got her way, making it 1 a piece.
Saturday came around — it was a nineties fancy dress party, where people go along and pretend to be something they’re not, so just any other night out for me. I did however put the effort in and went full on nineties as per the instructions on the invite. Not everyone took to my costume, and made unhelpful comments all based around the theme of ‘the wrong decade’. I have to hold my hands up, I did misfire, but none of this mattered as luckily it was overshadowed by a guy who had decided it would be appropriate in the 21st Century, to ‘black up’. To be fair to him the party was set in the 20th Century but I stopped shouting that on his behalf when he was marched upstairs and forced to wash it off in the sink.
Anyway, I wasn’t taking much notice of my critics, I’d been mulling over the previous night and thought how unfair it was that someone always got their own way, and of course I’m talking about that meddling yank. So while the other carefree revellers enjoyed the party, I plotted and then carried out my revenge.
I called her; “Why don’t you come to the party” I said, “It’s not fancy dress.” I lied. She said she couldn’t wait. Neither could I. Not only had I beaten the yank at her own game by persuading her to come to the party – but I couldn’t wait to see her face when she turned up oblivious to the nineties world she was about to enter and the scornful looks from people who would ostracise her for not ‘making an effort’. She was about to have a very uncomfortable evening indeed. If the thankfulness ‘activity’ wasn’t a game, the double-whammy-weekend certainly was, and I think you’ll agree there was only one winner (me… 2-1).
Tom Taylor works in television. Ever heard of it?