Written by: Anna King (BMed Sci, 1977)
Melissa Horton-Smith? Oh Mel Smith would go and marry some poor guy with the surname of Horton and opt for a double barrelled surname. Mandy hoped that the poor bloke enjoyed being organised.
So why had she sent an email? Ah, Melissa’s suggestion regarding a ten year reunion. Was it really ten years since they had qualified at Nottingham? Mandy read on, the email was exhaustive in its detail just like Mel’s tennis afternoons at Florence Boot Hall; Mel always arrived with spare balls, water, alcohol hand rub, first aid kit etc.
A date in May was proposed. The arrangements for the meal and get together seemed reasonable enough if you liked to have every minute of your time accounted for. There would be a crèche and activities for children. Mandy dismissed the thought that the activities for the youngsters looked like being more fun – but then she was a teacher. The ‘information that might be of use’ was fascinating. There were ideas for kennels/ catteries, buggy friendly walks, a basket weaving experience and even caravan sites. Caravans? When the whole reunion was based at a hotel?
A glass of wine beckoned.
Mandy looked at the names of the people who had already expressed an interest in attending this event.
Mm, so the high flying Jennifer, top of every class, was now ‘volunteering whilst waiting for the right job opportunity’.
Chris was a teacher like herself.
The gorgeous Amber was now a massage therapist and enjoying dealing with the ‘contours of the human body, rather than those of the land’.
A geography degree hadn’t been of much use to her then.
Matt, who had done that gross thing was married with four children! Mrs Matt must be very accommodating in bed.
Another glass of chardonnay.
Josh, with the irritating laugh, was doing okay in academia.
Mandy suddenly realised how many of the blokes she had slept with. Had it really been so many? She knew now that alcohol could make any man appear to be attractive.
Last on the list was Harry; kind supportive Harry who had been the best house mate ever. He was always there with a bucket and a glass of water for the mornings after and listened, properly listened to her worries and concerns in life. He really had been her best friend at university. She had even forgiven him his habit of being the only person who called her Amanda. On the face of it they came from very different backgrounds, but both they had the experience of negotiating their way through their teens with mothers who drank too much. Similar difficulties had bound them together.
Shame and sadness washed through Mandy as she recalled their last meeting. Her engagement party. Harry stated that Brandon was a drunk and did she really want to end up like her mother, a binge drinker with a string of failed relationships? The truth of the words stung her and the alcohol had fanned her pain and fury. Harry was left in no doubt that she never wanted to see him again. "I care about you too much to say nothing Amanda," were his parting words.
Harry had been right, of course. A sober Brandon was downright boring. Memories whispered back into Mandy’s mind; actually a lot of the things Harry had said to her had been true. He’d pointed out to her that she used alcohol to combat nerves and also to deal with stressful situations. And at the time of her engagement she was heading for being a reincarnation of her mother. How many times had Harry said to her that life might be better sober? And that she might notice more of what was going on around her? At the time she couldn’t see it. And come to think of it she’d never seen Harry drink alcohol. Why hadn’t she noticed at the time?
Teaching had been Mandy’s salvation; it gave her a purpose in life and she enjoyed the work with and for the students.
Alcohol was for Saturdays only and Mandy found that she didn’t ‘need’ a man in her life. It had been hard to learn to cope without regular drink but the struggle had been worth it.
Mandy noticed that Harry was working full time as an addiction counsellor; his mother with her grand ‘gin’ life style would no doubt be very disapproving. She pushed the glass of wine away; Harry deserved an apology. The email was contrite and lengthy. Mandy felt very relieved after she had pressed the ‘send’ button.
Harry replied and said how delighted he was to hear that her life was so successful and of course, he forgave her. It was fantastic that she was only drinking once a week and he was so pleased that she had chosen to live on her own rather than with someone unsuitable. Could they meet up before the re-union? He had missed his friend over the past few years and he would love to spend some time catching up with all of their news and he had an important change in his life in the offing that he would to like share with her.
It would be more than good to have Harry back in her life. He was dependable, reliable and on reflection one of the most caring people that she knew.
Why had she never had sex with him? He wasn’t bad looking.
What was this impending ‘change’ then? No partner mentioned at all. A new job perhaps? Moving house?
The day arrived and Mandy dressed with more care than usual. She had invested in a visit to the hairdresser and some new boots. The warm glow of anticipation made her feel good.
They meet, Mandy smiles broadly. She certainly had missed things at University; Harry is introducing her to his fiancé, Toby.