The Interval

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A couple managed to form a relationship through coincidences caused by ear wax and fruit flies. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT WILL REALLY SURPRISE YOU.

You can pinpoint the beginning of their relationship to an incident in early June 2004, outside the building they both worked in.

As he walked past her in the street, she perceived that he winked at her flirtatiously.  This was incorrect.  A fruit fly had landed in his left eye right at the very point when he smiled to acknowledge her presence.  A pessimist might have suspected as much – an insect, a stray piece of grit — but she was a determinedly optimistic kind of woman who had long ago decided he was, at worst, a “non-creepy, ‘okay’” sort of person and at best very amusing company.

A week later, he bumped into her in the stairwell and thought she called him “my darling” as she passed.  This, again, was a poor reading of the available data.  She had actually said she was off to see the new facilities manager, Mike Darling, then laughed airily at how ridiculous it sounded.  (He made many similar mistakes around this time.  He was told by his GP a few weeks later that he had impacted ear wax in his right ear, to the extent that he had only 40% hearing on that side of his head.  He was told he really should have called at the surgery sooner – “It’s one of our simplest procedures, Mr Holton”, the doctor had said).

Bouyed up by these apparent successes, both began to flirt with each other more without beginning to think why they were doing it.  Neither seemed keen to speculate on the fact that they weren’t prime material - she a middle-aged, single mother, he in his mid-thirties and recently jilted by a failed actress girlfriend who felt he was paying his own ordinary job more attention than her ailing career.  It didn’t seem to matter to him that his new interest was too old, blonde, brassy and stern for his usual tastes, nor did it occur to her (much) that he seemed wimpy, foppish, wet behind the ears and hesitant.  Both enjoyed the little adrenalin injections the spell of attention gave them too much.

Nor were they keen to let the momentum fizzle out, so when she scheduled a private meeting with him about a matter she was clearly pretending to be dumb about, literally dusting off her red mini-skirt and lipgloss to do so, then claimed that the matter was so complicated it probably warranted in-depth discussion in The Half Moon pub, he played along with the strereotypical scenario. He also hugely enjoyed the reward, more so than he’d ever imagined he would.

The affair continued that way for six months or so.  I would guess this must be near the maximum lifespan for incompatible relationships forged by fruit flies and ear wax.  For the most part, they enjoyed dancing to each other’s ridiculous records, rubbing their groins to rhythms they’d never moved to before, but the fun ended after a row at her sister’s birthday party about a subject so mundane that nobody else can remember what triggered the argument, just the sheer noise, the promise of final straws and really overs.

In years to come both would look back on the relationship as one of the most enjoyably uncomplicated periods of their lives.  Both still sometimes get the photo snaps out in their separate homes on quiet evenings and laugh to themselves affectionately, sealing them back in an album with increasingly loose binding that’s rendered safe for regular, regret-free viewing.  

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