What Did His Friends Have To Say About It?

Where do I even begin?

So much was said…I am going to try to illuminate you as to the general flavour of the comments I received from Jack’s friends.  There were two distinct types of remarks – those who just wanted to make fun and be crude, and those of Jack’s friends who seemed to want to offer some advice on the situation.

Perhaps I should begin with Jamal, as I have already mentioned him in another post. What did Jamal have to say about Jack and me? Very early on Jamal started teasing Jack about me. Then Jamal started teasing me about Jack.  Every time he appeared he would call me over to him, and then lead me to Jack.  Jamal was forever taunting me in a mild way about having a crush on Jack, I don’t know what he was saying to Jack but I can only imagine it was ten times worse.

Jamal made himself a pain in the neck!  He kept on and on trying to arrange for Jack and me to be together.  Jamal was always there hinting that Jack and I really wanted to be alone.  At first it was funny, but then it became really annoying and embarrassing.  I felt like we were all back at school.

Then Jack moved into the flat I was sharing already with Ella and Dean.  Can you imagine Jamal’s reaction?  Jamal was a frequent visitor.  When he saw that Jack and I had neighbouring rooms, he was highly amused.  I know this is going to sound completely daft…well it is, plain and simple, Jamal kept teasing Jack in front of other friends…”Jack has been drilling a hole in the wall so that he can watch Mel when she is undressing.”

Jamal was a super lad in himself.  He was extremely gregarious and popular with people of all ages.  He looked smart, he was always wearing a tailored suit or a cashmere sweater and a pair of his trendy spectacles.  He was smooth, he was slick.  He had constant laughter in his voice.  Jamal was clever and capable and confidant.  He really looked up to Jack.  Jack encouraged Jamal and gave him great advice.

Jamal’s jovial gregarious nature made his constant taunting Jack about me palatable to everyone.  It is hard to not laugh along with someone who is laughing constantly.  But he just kept on adding fuel to a fire that was burning steadily.  There were others who were not as tame in their use of expressions as Jamal was.

Damian was one – I can’t bear to think of what Damian said and did.  He thought the world of Jack.  But I had known Damian long before either he or I met Jack.  Damian and I had been friends since we were fourteen.  He was the King of sarcasm.  Damian was cruel to both Jack and me…and he would not stop.  I kept on receiving messages from him.  I saw Damian almost every day and he always had something to say.  He was merciless.  Hugh Sanders was another.  Hugh was relentless.  These silly men spread rumours like an infectious rash.

Now…after Jack and I had sat down and had that cup of tea…what did his friends have to say?

Jack’s “friends” knew there was something different.  I am not going to repeat what Jamal, Damian and Hugh interpreted the change of atmosphere between Jack and I to indicate.  I am still annoyed at what they said directly to Jack and I, but also the way they involved scores of others in their ongoing comedy commentary on what happened between us.  I do not want to think about let alone publish how incredibly rude and crude some of what was said about Jack and I was.

I am going to tell you about some of Jack’s quieter more sensible friends.

First of all, Bernard. Benny, we all called him, or Granddad, because he always took that tone when offering advice.  Benny was the opposite in temperament to Jack.  Benny was mild and quiet and modest.  Although Jack could get on Benny’s nerves, he did love Jack.  Benny had also been a great friend to me since I had moved to London. Benny took me out for dinner a lot, took me to the theatre and invited me to parties.  We were frequently at the Royal Albert Hall which we both adored.  Benny decided he would have a word with me about Jack, during that week after the conversation between Jack and I had taken place.  Benny told me that Jack was wonderful but that he was like a kid in the playground.  Benny warned me that Jack was going to hurt me, because he had not grown up yet.

Then there was Tom.  Tom, was another quiet one.  Tom also spoke to me that week. Tom was quite direct asking me if Jack and I were together.  I denied it of course.  Tom rolled his eyes and remarked that Jack is such an idiot.  I don’t know what prompted that.  Tom told me it will take a strong woman to be able to put up with Jack’s immaturity.

singer.jpgThen there was a famous director who Jack had worked with and admired a lot.  Sylvan threw amazing parties and was delighted to jump up on stage and sing or play any instrument that was handy.  Sylvan called me.  It was such an odd phone call.  Sylvan had a very strong accent and I struggled to make out everything he was saying on the phone. There seemed to be a point where he was congratulating me, and then, before I managed to enquire why Sylvan thought I needed congratulating, he started giving me advice about Jack.  Sylvan said he had never know Jack more in love, but that Jack was like a child.  He told me that it would take a woman like me to make a man out of Jack.  I am not sure what on earth that meant.  It was so bizarre I felt I was going to gag with laughter because I could not understand why Sylvan was calling me to say all of this.

Frankly, I was fed up of hearing what everyone else had to say.  I wanted to speak with Jack again directly.  I wanted to find out if there was any possibility he was contributing to the rumours I was hearing and ask him to make sure he strenuously denied anything was happening.  And I wanted to do it in a way that made it clear to Jack that I was not against something happening, but that he and I needed to build some kind of friendship first before there was any possibility of that happening.  Much as I was fond of Jack…I did not trust him, how could I trust my feelings with him?

Do you remember the Friday night when I was with Ella, I found out that Jack and Hugh and other friends and workmates of theirs had been out for a drink using money that people had bet on how long it would be before Jack and I started sleeping together.  I was really mad about that, and I wanted to speak to Jack about that.  I prepared myself and thought about exactly what to say.

A young man who had recently moved to London named Brian saw me on the bus on Saturday morning when I was heading into town.  I had worked with Brian on a project in Devon years before and remembered him.  Brian was pleased to find someone who knew who he was.  Brian had been out for drinks with the same group as Jack and Hugh.  Brian hardly knew a soul in London, so it made sense for him to be tagging along with new workmates when he was invited to go out for a drink.

I should not have asked Brian so many questions.  In his innocence and ignorance, Brian told me everything I wanted to know.  He told me what was said and who it was said by. Although I felt enraged, I kept myself very calm while drawing more and more out of Brian.  Of course my main interest was what did Jack say?  Brian clearly had little respect or admiration for Jack.  He made it very clear that Jack had made claims about what had happened between he and I that were not true at all.  I told Brian that these claims were completely untrue.  Brian was rather sweet and said he had doubted what he had heard anyway.  I then told Brian that I was sick of false rumours and didn’t know what to do about them.

cocktail.jpgI asked Brian if he had had any plans for that day.  He didn’t.  He told me his schedule for the weekend was completely blank. He was just going to potter around galleries or museums in central London.  I was going to meet some friends, but I was very early.  I had wanted to get out of the flat before I saw Jack, which is why I had chosen the hour long bus ride into the center of London rather than the tube.   I asked Brian if he wanted to grab a drink or a bite to eat.  Brian let me pour out my heart about what had been happening with Jack.  Ending a light lunch with a cocktail, in a moment of madness and in response to him being so kind and empathetic, I did something I should not have.  Brian laughed and thanked me.  I immediately apologised.  Brian then said to me everything was cool. He looked thoughtful, and then he came out with an idea…an idea which I kissshould have rejected. His suggestion was basically to fight fire with fire.  So he pulled out his phone and then standing real close to me, with his arm round me, he took a selfie of the two of us.  He posted it straight onto his Instagram account.

He then made it very clear that as far as he was concerned, I should not have to put up with Jack or anyone else making up false rumours about me.  He said I should take a bit more control of the situation and I should confront Jack about everything I had heard.  When I left Brian to go and meet my friends, I thanked him for being a great listening ear and apologised again about kissing him.  He said “it never happened.” and then immediately waved his phone in the air and added, “or did it?

I could not be sure I knew entirely what Brian meant by that, so I looked at him with a serious gaze and confessed, “I do think I actually love Jack, but I am just really mad at him at the moment.”

Brian replied, “Well, I think he’s a fool. But I’m not a woman. I think it’s fairly obvious that if you didn’t care about him then you wouldn’t care about what everyone was sayingYou definitely need to talk to him.

So that was that…after hearing from my close friends all week and Jack’s close friends, it was Brian, who hardly knew Jack or me, who helped me make my mind up that I had to have another conversation with my flatmate Jack.

 

This post is part of a series I am thinking of calling “STORM IN A TEA-CUP”:

 

 

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/your-daily-word-prompt-illuminate-september-7th-2018/

FOWC with Fandango — Schedule

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/rash/

 

 

 

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What Did Ella Have To Say About It?

I don’t think I have introduced Ella to you yet.  Ella and her husband Dean were living in the same flat as Jack and I and two other flatmates.

Ella was a great flatmate.  She was bubbly and cheerful and very popular.  She made huge pizzas and loved having lots of friends over to eat and play table football.  She had four brothers, so she was used to being around lots of male company.  I could never have lived in a flat with four men without Ella being there.  They respected Ella.

She also worked in the same complex of offices and studios and huge storage areas as our flatmate Jack and so she saw him frequently each day around their work site.  I knew she heard what was being said in the foyer, the canteen and throughout the offices.  She had told me once or twice about some news about Jack and I had spread like wildfire through the departments.  Very wisely, she did not tell me anything until I specifically asked her to.

I tried hard not to let rumours or comments from friends effect my behaviour towards to my flatmate (we are calling him Jack Barnes, in case you missed that).  When I did briefly see him at home in our flat, he was only lovely to me, asking me how my day had been, what were my plans for the weekend, offering me a drink, complimenting me on my dress or hair in his rather clumsy fashion.

It felt like he was really trying hard to maintain the new good will that had developed.  There was no hint of anything he’d want to hide from me.  He was cheery, affable, gregarious.  Nothing to indicate that behind my back he was contributing to rumours about him and I.

I was upset, but I hid it from him.  I did not feel hearing rumours from others outside the flat was a reason to authorize me to treat Jack any differently. I arranged to be out every evening so that I did not see Jack.  Over the next few days, I heard more rumours and saw more photos and comments that others showed me on their social media sites.  I also received enquiries everyday, from friends and workmates, some kindly expressed, as to whether there was any any truth in the rumours they were hearing.  I could understand some of my friends and workmates asking.  It was the sheer number of enquiries that made the situation intense.

I was very careful with my words.  I told everyone who deserved some sort of answer, “Jack and I sat down to talk about the unhappy atmosphere that we have had in our flat which had all been due to the pressure we both felt because of rumours about the two of us.  We are both trying to ignore what is being said about us and try to make sure there is a better atmosphere in the flat.  There is nothing more to tell.”

Close friends continued to report to me that Jack was enjoying the speculation and public attention he was receiving because people thought that he and I were now “together”.

On the Friday evening after Jack and I had talked openly over a cup of tea, Ella and I were in the flat alone.  The boys were all out.  Whilst sipping mojitos, we chatted about everything that had been happening.  Ella declared how glad she was now that Jack and I were friends because what was happening between us was effecting the whole flat.

Now I had the opportunity to question Ella to gain an insight into how Jack was dealing with the rumours that were flourishing due to our new found ease.  I decided to ask Ella if she had heard rumours at work during the past week suggesting that Jack and I were now involved romantically.

Ella shrugged her shoulders, “Men say such stupid things Mel.  I ignore most of what they say.  They have been talking about the two of you since before Jack moved in here.  They are stupid.  As soon as he moved in, most of the guys started to bet on how long it would take before the two of you started sleeping together.  I’ve been telling them they are all losers and that he has no chance with you.

Ella, what about him?  What does he say?  Does he try to stop this?

Ha! He is not going to try to stop it.  He absolutely loves it!  He loves attention.  He is flattered that everyone thinks you like him.  He loves being the main topic of conversation day after day.”

woman cryingI was not expecting that.  Tears started to trickle immediately down my face.  Ella was clearly not comfortable with my tears.

You know he is a complete idiot.  But he is an idiot who is kind of insecure, that’s why he needs attention.  He would absolutely love to be loved by a woman like you.  He knows that he does not deserve you, that you are out of his league.  But it makes him feel great that people connect the two of you together.  He wished there were some truth in these rumours, which is why he keeps lapping them up while they are popular.”

I tried to stop my tears and absorb everything she had said to me.  “So, people are actually betting on how long it will take me to sleep with him.  That is truly pathetic.”

Ella’s expression suddenly became very serious.  “Mel, you need to know something.  Do you know where Jack is tonight?

I think he said he was going out for drinks with some friends from work.

Yes, but it’s bad.  I mean you are really not going to like this.  Hugh Sanders – you know what Hugh is like – claimed to have won the bet.  He took the money which everyone had put in a jar or tin and they were keeping in one of the kitchens.  I don’t know how much there was exactly, but well over £100.  He is using it to buy drinks for any of the guys who wanted to go out tonight.”

Hearing those words made me shudder with disbelief.  “I have not slept with him.  Ella, I sat down and had a cup of tea with him.”

I didn’t think you had Mel, although even if you had, that’s none of our business really.  We just want you both to be happy.  The point is there are a lot, a lot of people who think that the two of you are sleeping together now that you are acting like you are best friends outside of the flat.”

But we have not spent much tome together at all.”

smiling (2)Enough time for scores of photos to appear of the two of you together Mel.  I know you are just trying to be nice to each other. but the two of you are in all these photos full of smiles towards each other.  Of course everyone is getting excited.”

I was feeling rather sick but knew that Ella was right, “But why has Jack allowed Hugh Sanders and others believe that I have slept with him?

Jack didn’t want to lose face in front of everyone.  Hugh was winding him up so much, Jack didn’t say anything at all, but Hugh took that as confirmation.”

I felt really angry.  This was so so wrong.

couple and jealousyHugh is mad with jealousy.  He has been winding Jack up for weeks.  Hugh has fancied you for a couple of years, but knows you are not interested in him.   He hates seeing you and Jack happy together.”

Hugh Sanders had asked me out a couple of times actually.  I only said no because I was convinced it would be disastrous and he would forever make fun of me after it all went sour.  My reasons were solid.  I had been at parties and at dinner with groups of friends with him and it was obvious he had a soft spot for me.  The reason I did not respond to him was that I was so overwhelmed by the intensity of his sarcasm and the critical tone he used when talking about everyone else.  I like a bit of gentle sarcasm, I have grown up in Liverpool on a solid diet of sarcasm, but not the type that destroys another person’s confidence.  If I had spent time with him, I would have withered up.  He would have despised me because I would have recoiled from him.

Do you have any idea how confused I was hearing all this about Jack and Hugh and their workmates?

sharing tea.jpgMy flatmate Jack – on his own, was undeniably “my cup of tea” and he had the potential to make me extremely happy.  I knew I could very easily fall in love with him, if only I was allowed by the rest of the world to actually spend some time with him.  On paper, he was everything I admired and felt attracted to.  But in the context of what he either said about me or allowed to be said about me in order to receive attention from his colleagues and fans, he had the potential to crush me.

If it was not for everything I had heard during that week that followed, maybe that cup of tea with Jack would have very much led to me falling in love with him.

All of this was playing on my mind, and emotions were burning within me. Emotions that caused me to do something rather strange during the weekend at the end of that week. What did I do?  I will tell you in another post.

Well…we have come quite a way…

Catch up with Jack and Caramel at your leisure:

FOWC with Fandango — Question

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/06/your-daily-word-prompt-authorize-september-6th-2018/