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Online Dating 19: I still want the clown

I still think about the Clown. I can’t help it. Is that a sad excuse, like ‘my wife doesn’t understand me?’

Perhaps, but it’s true;  I’m wondering if he’s still on the dating site, but I daren’t look and see. I’m wondering if he’s found someone. I’m wondering why I wasn’t enough for him. Like I say, I just can’t help it.

I’ve been looking for excuses to text him. Just an innocent one to see how he’s getting on. Because we’re friends. On Facebook at least.

He never posts anything on Facebook. Online, as in life, he’s maddeningly elusive. Everyone else offers up blandness and photos of jam-smeared babies, whereas he tosses his cape over his shoulder and, grinning, vanishes into the mist.

I want to text him because I need to know that I’m still in his thoughts but I daren’t as I’m seeing Shug. But I can send a friendly ‘how are things’ text, surely?

Normally, I’d ask advice from the Chief but I can’t as he’ll just shout ‘how come you’ve still got that dick’s number?’

So I take the coward’s way out. I can’t make a direct approach, partly out of guilt and partly out of pride, so I do it in a sneaky, roundabout way. I log onto Facebook and post a YouTube video of The Crack of Doom by The Tiger Lillies. His favourite band. That’s all I do. Only this and nothing more. Why are you looking at me like that? Nothing wrong with posting a video on Facebook.

After a few minutes a notification from him duly pops up:’ xxxxxxx likes this.’ How mad I am, sad I am, glad that he ‘likes’ this. I spring up from my desk, happy and excited, simply because I prompted the Clown to think of me. I am so madly crazy for him that this is enough to make me sadly happy. Then, I get another notification. A Facebook e-mail from him.

I almost clutch the laptop to my chest. I read the e-mail and it’s totally innocent: about a Radio 4 programme on Angela Carter and then some circussy stuff he’s doing. I reply, typing so furiously fast I’m falling over words. He replies. An afternoon passes this way and it’s so hard to match his tone and send airy, witty e-mails without cracking and sending , in bold type, italicised, I am obsessed with you.

And what about Shug?

Shug knows about the Clown. He even knows about the Snow Queen trick. However, he doesn’t know that I’ve just spent a day e-mailing him but it’s innocent! We talked about Radio 4. I could  show Shug the contents, but, then, it’s the context that matters.

Why does the Clown have this power over me? After the Snow Queen fiasco I know he’s a dirty ginger liar but he has dragged a lot of feeling to life in me – to mush, perhaps -  when I thought I was done with all that.

After the break-up between me and Terry Boy, and the nuclear winter that followed, I thought I’d never feel anything again. I was immune, and if I could survive Terry then no man would ever be able to hurt me again. My heart is made of stone.

Towards the end of my days with him, I remember taking a bath towel to bed so that I could muffle the sound of my crying. Sharing your bed with a sodden Primark towel, instead of the man you love, can devastate you. I fear Terry has created a monster. With my next boyfriend after Terry I can remember almost challenging him - ‘go on try and hurt me! See if I care! – sure that I would feel nothing as I’d already been through the worst. I would remember clutching the bath towel and sobbing and would grit my teeth and swear never again.

But the bomber will always get through.  The Clown has got through and turned me into a softy girl again. I can’t stand defiant, hands on hips, challenging him to do his worst. He’s brought to life something I thought Terry had long since smothered with a bath towel.  And so that’s why I cling to him: he has brought me back to life. I only feel there is blood running in my veins when I see his blue LED light flash on my Blackberry.

We stopped our e-mails about five pm. He had to go and teach some brats how to totter around on stilts, and I had to get ready for the theatre. Shug had given me tickets to go and see him onstage in High School Musical at the Armadillo. I put on my liquid eyeliner with a trembling hand. I felt guilty.

My dad’s girlfriend was coming with me to the show. Debra had never met Shug, so her first sight of him would be of him striding across the stage, belting out lines in his fake American accent, and wearing electric blue eyeshadow.

The audience was mainly composed of nine-year olds with pom poms and streamers. Some of the younger children actually had booster seats. Since when do theatres dish out booster seats? Debra and I felt a bit overgrown and overdressed.

The lights dimmed and a bunch of fake American children spilled onto the stage, ra-ra-ra-ing and cheering. It’ll be a long night. I sank into my seat, but then Shug made his entrance and I sat up again.

It was so odd to see my boyfriend on stage. I watched him swaggering around, speaking in that funny American accent he had been practising with me. It had sounded silly but up onstage, made up and well-lit, he sounded masterful and cool. Debra nudged me. ‘Darling,’, she whispered, ‘that man just oozes sex.’

Debra was rapt by the performance and kept oohing and ahhing, along with the nine-year olds but I was more concerned with watching Shug up onstage and trying to force the feeling of wonder that I got with the Clown. Why can’t I get it with Shug? He’s doing something exciting and extra-ordinary right now so why can’t I feel it for him instead?

Then, any hopes of feeling awed by Shug were ruined, as the cast all gathered on stage for the finale and began to dance the High School Musical ‘megamix’. Oh God no. Not Shug. But yes, he’s dancing up there with the cheerleaders. Oh no, look, he’s skipping! I ducked my head down and began blindly reading the programme. I can’t watch him do that! Not if I want to sleep with him again.

‘Ohhhhhh!’ giggled Debra, nudging me again. ‘Look what he’s doing up there!’

Afterwards, when Shug had cleaned off his blue eyeshadow, we met him and went onto a party. He brings a glitter into my life, a taste of showbiz, and he has boundless energy and kindness and charm.

But I want The Clown.

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