I should know better than to watch Grey’s Anatomy. Especially on my own. There’s almost nothing I can do to stop the uncontrollable bawling, and I inevitably end up with eyeliner streaked down my face like a hooker caught in the rain.
That was precisely the case one recent Sunday evening as I sat curled on the sofa, watching two fictional patients who’d not seen each other in 50 years happily reunited in that way that only Hollywood can muster.
The ‘one that got away’ is a rich seam for screenwriters to mine by sheer fact of its universality.
Everyone’s got one: that one person who, in an idle moment, you think about; wonder whether, if things had been different, you might be together now. It could be the person you spent years with; it might be the short but intense fling. Regardless of how or why it ended, and even the person you’re currently with, they’re the one who occasionally wanders around your consciousness.
Mine’s Long Term Ex (frankly, when a chap’s family has a castle, that’s pretty much always going to be the case). We’ve not spoken now in several months, but that doesn’t stop him crossing my mind every so often - usually when I hear a mutually beloved song, or catch a trace of his aftershave when some brushes past me in the street. Even the debacles that ensue when we’ve talked about getting back together haven’t been enough to quell the thoughts.
Of course, when you’re deep in reminiscence, the rose-tinted specs sit firmly on the nose. You remember the day messing about on the boat in the sunshine; the spontaneous diamonds; the in-jokes and daft messages left on post-its in the most peculiar places. You reflect on how happy you were, and how fabulous things would surely be now you’re both a bit wiser.
Of course, back in reality, you know better than to think that’s how it was all the time. You know that were you to get back together, you’d be irritated by his bizarre taste in shoes; that even your not-inconsiderable embarrassment threshold wouldn’t take too many more instances of some frankly mortifying attempts to attract the waiters’ attention in the Salt Yard; that his penchant for total uselessness would get very tiring, very quickly.
But that doesn’t change the fact that, no matter who I’m dating - and probably, whomsoever I end up with - I’ll always have a soft spot for LTE. Human nature dictates that we’ll always wonder about the path not taken; whether the devil we knew is better than those we’re yet to meet.
And, of course, the prospect of our own Hollywood ending is a daydream too tempting to give up on too easily.