“So, I had a cheeky snog on Saturday,” The Intern said first thing this morning, as we clutched cups of tea close in the hope they’d help us to feel less like drowned rats.
“Oooh,” I said, grateful for someone else’s love life to be the focus of attention for once (even though the only attention was mine, as we were the first and only two in the office). “Spill.”
“Well, we were in a bar, and they were on a rugby club night out…”
In my experience, there only tends to be one end to stories which begin that way, but The Intern seemed to have a remarkably well-behaved night.
“He’s tall,” she said, homing in on what is, clearly, a man’s most important attribute (to be fair to her, the girl’s about 5’10” – she’s rather more entitled to be picky about height than I am). “And he has nice arms. And I’ve heard from him a few times already.”
I could hear the slight hesitation in her voice as I turned up the radiator to give my shoes half a chance of drying before home time. “But…? What’s wrong with him? Two heads? Dodgy hair? Wedding ring?”
“His name…” She looked at me sheepishly, clearly expecting me to tell her I was appalled that she could be so shallow and that she should get over herself and just go on the damned date.
Except I didn’t. As one of slightly judgy demeanour, there are all kinds of superficial traits men can have that will cause me to see past their kindess, generosity or intelligence and just Put Me Right Off.
“Oh…? How bad is it?”
She told me. “Which… oh, I don’t know. I suppose it’s not terrible. I just can’t ever imagine myself saying it out loud. And especially not saying it… you know, in the throes of passion… And…” Not faced with the contempt she’d so clearly anticipated, she eased into her stride. “And it’s already shortened. The long version just makes him sound like a 90 year-old, and I don’t think there’s any other way of abbreviating it. Am I being ridiculous?”
“Sort of,” I said, “but if it bothers you, it bothers you. I’m the same with jewellery – you can try to look past it, but it will always irritate you.”
I would have thought that I was one of the few people bothered by such superficialities, but it does seem there are plenty of us out there. I have previously considered the topic of faux pas so bad as to merit the ending of a dalliance. For me they’ve included, in no particular order, vegetarianism (I know. I’m a terrible hypocrite. Deal with it); making terrible career decisions; and Tuesday afternoon coke habits. For others, poor spelling and grammar; negligence in paying council tax; and mediocre sex have all entered the mix.
And The Intern isn’t the only person to have a mental block about bad names. Back in the mists of time, I was sitting in the pub with Nutty Cow, discussing my then-newly embarked upon dalliance with Rugged Scotsman.
“Oh, you can’t date him,” she said, with apparently amazing foresight (yes, yes – he was the one who turned out to be gay). “His name makes him sound like a footballer. Seriously. End it.”
My advice to The Intern thus far has been to date the man. If the name gets too much, use a middle name instead. Or “darling,” which gets round the pesky issue of even having to remember it, thus allowing her to date as many men as the diary can hold. Problem solved. So long as he’s not wearing jewellery. Or gay.