It had all started so well. One of my old university mates is in town, and we have arranged to have a morning coffee together. Her hotel isn’t very far from my home. I am really pleased to see her after all these years.
She is late. Of course she is. Anyway, I am not in a rush, so I don’t really mind. There she is. I waive and smile. She looks a bit dishevelled. She is upset, I can tell.
“- What is going on?”
“- How do you find your way in London? All the streets have the same names, with different extensions: close, garden, villa, and so on, and so forth…”
“- Oh, I am sorry you got lost.”
I am not sorry at all. Come on, it is not that difficult, is it? Surely she can read a map? After all, she is an educated lady.
We order a cappuccino. This is my favourite coffee place in the area. It doesn’t belong to a chain and is run by a lovely couple. I come here almost every morning.
When her cappuccino arrives, she is not happy. It is too milky, you see. I wish I could bury my head in the sand and escape somewhere really far. She has it redone. What a bossyboots!
“- How can you survive here? When are you going back to France? You know, there is such a thing as economic patriotism. You have been trained in France, you need to come back!”
I hadn’t realised that I was going to get a good old-fashioned lecture.
I try to change subject.
“- Well, we are all British now. How about you? How is C, (her boyfriend)?”
Wrong question. Silly me.
“- Oh, we broke up a few months ago.”
“- I am sorry to hear this.”
I am a bit sorry for her, but not that much. She is clearly a pain in the neck. We haven’t seen each other for the best part of a decade, and here she is, lecturing me. I totally understand the guy. And she hasn’t even asked how I am.
“- And I have had a few health issues.”
Here we go again. It is all about her.
You don’t want to know the details. Suffice to say, she gave them to me and it was a case of too much information.
Sadly, I slowly come to the conclusion that we don’t have much in common any more. I feel like she is in need of a good therapist, and I can’t really help. I have barely managed to say anything anyway. I just nod and smile, and eventually, I stand up.
“- Well, it was lovely to see you!”
I can’t believe I said this. That’s clearly a lie. I am becoming more British by the minute. I really belong here.
“- And you too…Please think of what I told you. You need to go back! Don’t waste your talents! ”
Chances are, I will not see her again within the next ten years. No need to say anything, right? I let it slide. I would like to snap back, but I don’t.
I walk on my own, glad to be rid of her. What a difference 10 years make! Have you had such experiences? Am I a bad person?
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London