12. Lunch with the Girls

How’s your nephew getting on Liz?” Said Louise, peeling the plastic off a duck wrap.

“Sam says it’s the best thing he’s ever done. They’re really proud of him. Says he’s really growing into a man. He’s going to Germany next month.” Says Liz.

“You know that driver, Tony?” Asked Louise. “Well, he was in the army and I overheard him talking to Steve about the brothels in Germany. They’ll make him into a man.”

“They really should have brothels for women you know. It’s totally sexist.” Said Liz, just before she stretched open her mouth to accommodate a mouthful of tuna mayo on brown.

“What would be the point of that?” I reply, picking off some manky looking lettuce from my chicken salad. “You’d still get dolled up for it. You should just buy a toy instead. Get it exactly when you want. Guaranteed every time. Save you the bother of a bloke.”

Liz does that clicky finger point thing at Louise.

“It’s not that I don’t want a boyfriend.” Louise says. “It’s just that I can’t find anyone decent. All the men I seem to meet are all complete bastards. I mean, what kind of man asks whether you’re on your period before they come over? Tom never once stayed the night when I was on.”

img_3021-1 “The kind that are only after one thing.” Said Liz

She helps herself to one of Louise’s low-calorie prawn-flavoured crisps shaped like little shells and sucks it. “Red flag. Literally!”

“They’re not all like that. You two are doing ok. Why can’t I find a nice man who just wants to come round for his tea once or twice a week, and stay over? All I want is a cinema trip or meal out sometimes. Maybe a dog walk at the weekend. That’s not asking much. He can still do all his man stuff. Beer and computer games or cars or whatever. It’s not like I want the whole marriage and kids thing.” Said Louise. “I’ll even go round to his mums for Sunday lunch if he wants.”

“You have to go to where the men are. The football or the rugby or a gig. It’s harder now we’re older. They think we’re desperate for kids. Do you want to have a drink on Friday?” Said Liz. Louise’s phone pings and she takes it out of her coat pocket. “Oh sorry, I can’t.” Said Liz “I said I’d pick him up from darts. We could try that new sports bar next time City are playing if you like.” She adds, taking another one of Louise’s prawn shells.

“Anyway.” I continue. “You don’t even have to go to one of those dirty old man shops anymore. There’s a shop in London where men aren’t even allowed in unless they’re with a woman.”

“Isn’t that reverse sexism?” Asks Louise.

“I guess.” Said Liz. “It must be legal though. Did I ever tell you about my mate Sall’s mum and dad? Her dad wanted to go to one of those nudist places and her mum didn’t want to go but she gave in cos he’d had that brain tumour and life is for living and all that. Anyway, she met another bloke there, and she left Sally’s dad for him. Her dad was then banned from the naturist place because single men weren’t allowed.”

“That’s harsh.” I said. “Ironic though, seeing as it was his idea in the first place.”

“I want to a Dita Von Teese book signing in Waterstones.” I said. “You’d have thought there’d be loads of men there but there. weren’t. We were told we could have two minutes each with her and she was there signing for about two hours so I guess there were 100-120 people there. I only saw like three men in the queue. They turned away loads of people though. She had security guards and everything.”

“I’d love to see her live. Said Louise

“Me too.” I said

“What did you say to her?” Asked Louise.

“I kind of just babbled about how much if a fan I was. It was stupid really. I’d been waiting for over two hours already, before she came out, so I should have practiced what I wanted to say.”

“This sandwich is a bit rank.” Said Louise.

“Yeah, mine’s a bit shit. Let’s not go there again.” I said.

“Mine’s av-er-age. Bread’s a bit dry actually and the tuna’s watery and it’s too salty.” Said Liz

“So anyway, are you going to get one then?” I said.

“I might. I never even thought of going online.” Louise says.

“They’re all silicon these days. Soft and a bit squidgy. Lovely colours. Not that hard plastic anymore. That’s long gone. And, get this.” I pause for effect.

“What?” Louise says.

“Yoo. Ess. Bee.” I pronounce the letters deliberately. “No batteries.”

“Ever ready” Liz says.

“Exactly.” I say in a terrible scouse accent.

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