Debbie rolled her eyes theatrically and took a swig of her vodka and Coke.
‘Men!’ she said, putting her drink down on my glass table with an unsteady clatter. ‘They drive me nuts! I thought he was the one, Jo. Things were great at the beginning, but he changed. He went from being romantic and exciting to a monosyllabic couch potato. And to be honest, I’ve peeled potatoes that were more interesting!’
I nodded sympathetically and made the right noises. Deb had kissed more than her share of frogs, and Prince Charming was still proving elusive.
‘I’ve tried speed dating, singles clubs, car maintenance classes,’ she said, ticking them off on the fingers of her left hand. ‘I’m on so many internet dating sites I need a notebook to remember all my passwords. It all seems so contrived. Whatever happened to the natural methods of meeting men? Dances, parties, pubs.’
‘You hate dancing, Deb. You’ve three left feet. And I thought we agreed that all you meet in pubs is men with too much of a soft spot for alcohol. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten about Tony!’
Deb nodded guiltily. ‘Yeah, Teetotal Tony. How could I forget the man who could down half a bottle of whisky before breakfast? So I guess that leaves parties. Why don’t we have a party, Jo? You could invite all those tasty doctors from your hospital. And I expect there are some nice male nurses, too.’
I sighed. It looked like I’d be hosting a party shortly. After all, Debbie’s bedsit was too small for anything more than dinner for two, and even then that was pushing the boundaries. I’d have to broach the subject with Nick, wait till he was in a good mood. He found Debbie a bit overbearing at the best of times, but at least if we had a party her loudness would be diluted by countless other equally loud people. Hopefully.
Within a week we had it all organised. Nick hadn’t been too difficult. I put a poster on the notice board at the hospital, and made sure everyone knew about the event. And I invited everyone else I knew outside of the hospital. Debbie assured me she’d invited absolutely everyone in her address book.
On the day of the party I was expecting Debbie at 4pm to give me a hand with the food. Nothing too extravagant, just a simple buffet supper. She said she’d bring a couple of boxes of bottled lager that she could get cheap courtesy of a friend.
Six o’clock and still no sign of Debbie. I rang her mobile.
‘Sorry, Jo. I’ve had to wait ages to get my nails done. Claire’s just about finished, I should be out of here in ten minutes.’
Nails? I thought, looking down at the stumpy, broken remnants of my own. Even more battered after having grated masses of cheese by hand for sandwich fillings.
Debbie turned up at seven, shortly after the first guests arrived. Leaving her in charge, I nipped upstairs to change into something more respectable than jeans and a curry-stained t-shirt. No time for a shower. Nick had escaped temporarily on the pretext of bleeding his mother’s radiators.
A lot of people must have been bleeding their radiators that Saturday night, for hardly anyone turned up at our party. Nick returned home at nine o’clock to find me and Debbie in the sitting room with Debbie’s colleague, Brenda, who was telling us all about her experience of natural childbirth. Two of the hospital’s female office staff were in the kitchen helping themselves rather liberally to the punch.
Numbers increased slightly as time went on, but there wasn’t so much as a single eligible heterosexual male present. Not a single one.
‘I’m thinking of changing my allegiance,’ murmured Debbie in passing, glancing at three women dancing to the Communards’ greatest hits. ‘At least they’re glad to be gay,’ she added, helping herself from the bottle of vodka which she’d hidden in a cereal packet. Before long Debbie was tipsy enough to join the trio as they danced around the kitchen.
Debbie rang me the following day. ‘Bit of a washout,’ she confirmed. ‘Don’t know what happened to all the men. Are you sure you invited them?’
I felt decidedly miffed. The least she could have done was be politely grateful for my efforts. And a hand with the dishes would have been nice. I would have been glad if she’d taken some of the surplus food. At this rate Nick and I would be eating vol-au-vents for the rest of the week.
By Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015