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Juliet and I had arranged to have dinner together, at a new Soho restaurant.  Juliet had read about its opening and decided we had to eat there as soon as possible. She wasn't able to get reservations until a month after it opened - neither of us is famous.


In the weeks before our meal, as we carried on as usual,  but it had began to dawn on me; Juliet and I weren't going to work as a couple.  We were too different, we had nothing in common; Juliet is a very attractive blonde but she’s also boring.  Her endless talk of celebrity gossip, soap operas and reality TV shows was grating on me.  It's one thing to have an attractive girlfriend but I'm not the type of man who can just sit back and bask in her glow, I've got to find my girlfriend interesting.


The closer we got to our meal, the more I realised that I had to end our relationship.  It was going nowhere.  I couldn't end it all before our meal because Juliet was so excited about it, but as soon afterwards I had to.


The night of our meal came.  We'd arranged to meet at the restaurant and as usual Juliet was late.  Not late enough to miss our table but late enough to keep me waiting, which annoyed me.  She wore this bright pink dress, which emphasised her sun bed tan; suddenly I was very embarrassed by her.


At the bar, as we endlessly waited to be seated, Juliet chatted away about some new reality TV program.  I had spent a busy day at work and I simply wanted to relax.  Ideally I would have gone home and vegetated in front of a video, with a beer or two.  Instead here I was with Juliet in a very expensive restaurant.


When we finally reached our table Juliet had moved onto talking about her friend, Donna, who had finally got her boyfriend to propose to her.  Over our starters, which though tasty were very small, Juliet told me all the details of Donna's wedding - even though they'd only been engaged a week she had planned everything down to the place settings.  It was at that moment I knew that if we carried on any longer we would hurt each other.  Juliet was beautiful but we had to have more in common than just my attraction to her.


Over the main course, only slightly larger portions then our starters, I took a deep breath and said, jumping in with both feet:


"Look, Juliet, there's something we need to talk about..."


"Harry," she said cutting me off. "I've got to say something first."


What had she in mind, a holiday together, moving in together, another thing to be done only as a couple?  I felt my heart sink.


"Sure," I said.


Avoiding my eyes she said:


"I've been thinking a lot about me and you, us, and I know we're not great together. You like all this highbrow stuff and I'm more a Hello and soaps girl.  When we went to the theatre I was bored stiff, even with that hunky bloke from Casualty in it, you loved it.  Sex is great but I'm not that stupid, I know there's got to be more.  Sorry Harry, I don't think we're right for each other...  I think we should break-up."


I felt a wave of relief washing through me. Without realising it Juliet had let me off the hook and given me an escape route all at the same time. I almost let out a sigh of relief.


“Sorry," I said without realising it.


"You are?"  Her whole face lit up as she looked at me.


"Yes, how couldn't I be," every word was digging me in deeper but I couldn't be a total bastard to her.  She had those big, beautiful, blue eyes turned onto me.


"You really care about it?"


"Of course, how couldn't I, you're a lovely person."  I wanted a way out, but I was getting in deeper and deeper.


"I thought you didn't care that was why I was going to break up with you.  I really care about you but I thought you didn't care about me.  But you do and that's great. You’ve made me really happy.  Harry, thank you.  I know we can make a go of it, if we really work at it."


My heart sank.  I was trapped.  Whatever way I turned I was going to be a complete bastard. I wanted to stand up and walked out of the restaurant, but I couldn't.  I'd agreed to pay the bill and I knew she couldn't afford it on her own.


"I know after tonight everything is going to be different, as long as we work at it," Juliet said, almost gushing her words.


"That's nice," I said, then took a large drink of the overpriced wine.



Drew Payne

April 2003