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Suzanne Beecher

Dear Reader,

Why do I think things always have to have a purpose?

Every time I think about doing something, before I begin, I feel the need to qualify it. "What purpose will this serve?" If I can't file it in a respectable, worthwhile category, I tell myself that I shouldn't be wasting my time and I should move on to something else.

But clearly some of my best ideas come to me when I'm doing something "just because" with no real purpose behind it. Why am I writing this? Oops, there I go again searching for a purpose.

Signing off, with no intention or purpose in least for now.

Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.

Suzanne Beecher

P. S.?This week we're giving away 10 copies of the book The Three of Us: A Novel?by Ore Agbaje-Williams.?Click here?to enter for your chance to win.?

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(continued from Thursday)

Then, Can you feel it when I do this? she said whilst pulling. No, no not at all, I said smiling, and lifted the braid out of her hand. Fascinating, she said, then winked at me. By the time the second event came around my husband had been promoted and people shook his hand as we walked in, nodded and smiled, raised half empty glasses of alcohol.

People bothered to ask my name and he introduced me as his better half. We discussed it later in the car home because I told him he sounded Caucasian when he did that and he found that insulting, then I called him racist and he didn't like that either. His boss' wife had been replaced by a different woman at this function, who was Indian and had a slit going up the leg of her dress. She and I became allies, and she let me have a few cigarettes when she found me outside getting some 'fresh air'. I told her about the previous wife and she laughed, then told me a similar story about the boss, about how he'd asked her to wear a Native American head tie and that she'd had to explain that she wasn't Native American. He'd said, I thought all Indians were Indians – a poor attempt at an apology. It's fine though, she said whilst blowing out smoke, we split up last week. I came tonight as a favour.

I pull out the dress, it's long and a deep red colour, with a slit up the front. If I'm honest I took a mental photo of the boss' second ex-wife's dress that night and searched for three days straight to find it online. I knew I would look better in it. Temi takes it out of my hands and laughs. Are you serious? You're going to make this your poor tasteless husband drool. Droooooool. Her phone rings then and she walks over to the mirror and puts the dress in front of herself as she picks up the call. For what? she says. No, Samuel. Yeah, Adam, that's what I said.

Whatever, forget it. You are single now, ok? Yes I have been drinking, why, haven't you? Oh come on, you were so drunk that you fell asleep at the restaurant! I left you there because my Uber was outside? Yeah yeah okay I could have woken you up but those late charges add up you know. My signal is bad blah blah. She hangs up, and finds me pretending to look at the clothes in my closet like I've never seen them before. Ask me, she says. I shrug comedically, as though I don't know what she's talking about. Ask me, she says again, looking at herself in the mirror with the dress held up against her body. Okay, I say – how could you leave a drunk man asleep at a restaurant on a date and not tell me? She laughs as she puts the dress back. Honestly? It was so embarrassing. He was actually intelligent, he might have even been as good looking as me, but he drank like a fish. She shakes her head as I laugh, and then it dawns on me. Temi doesn't go Dutch. Who paid? She drags her eyes from my clothes to me, low and irritated, then draws them back to the clothes again. I don't think you understand, he drank a lot. Like five glasses of wine and two beers. And he even tried some of my cocktail. Then he had the audacity to say I should have woken him up! The only thing I should have done is send him an invoice! That restaurant had three Michelin stars and he had been bragging about how much money he made so I ordered the Dover Sole! I never should have even picked up his call. When someone ghosts you after a few dates, you have to get – the – message. She pinches two of her fingers together when she says this. I like seeing her excitable like this – I know that she actually enjoys when dates go badly because then it means she has a story to tell me. When even was this date? Like three days ago. She has clearly been saving this story. So wait, why did he call 'today'? Oh! She says, turning to face me as she walks over and puts the dress back – he wanted 'me' to apologise. Imagine it takes you three days to pluck up small-small courage to call me and it's to ask me to say sorry. And I was like for what Adam? For what? She shakes her head. Hold on, I say, so you do know what his name is. Yeah. So why did you call him Samuel? Ha, she says, running her hands along the sleeve of one of my old jumpers. Then she walks over to the middle of the room where her wine glass is and sips from it, smiling at me.

Sometimes I get jealous listening to her stories. They are full of chaos and one-liners and people who seem cartoonish and contrived but are somehow real. Whenever she tells them – always with a drink in hand – I am completely rapt. She says that I look like I wish I was her, and sometimes I wish I was, even if just to have the stories to tell, and the ability to still live the life that meant I experienced them. Back at university when I used to date like Temi, for light entertainment, we used to compare bad dates, sending ratings and one-word reviews to each other.

T&S, as in Trinny and Susannah was the phrase used to describe a man who had clearly dressed in the dark. David, or Goliath, was for men who were either a lot smaller or a lot larger than the available pictures of them we found on Facebook suggested. Magician was for men who wore black turtle necks with black blazers and looked like they might pull a dove or an endless line of tied handkerchiefs out of their pockets. My favourite was probably RRR (reduce, reuse, recycle): men who were incredibly pleasing to look at but spoke purely in phrases used by footballers in post-match interviews like, At the end of the day, or We got the job done out there tonight, or the most commonly used phrase that Temi and I would hear at the end of a date when we were saying goodnight but the man thought things were going well and that we should get a drink elsewhere: It's early doors.

We used to dedicate entire lunch dates to swapping stories, but now I sit and listen to hers instead. The last stories I told her were about my husband, when we had just started dating. Of course he didn't put his tongue down my throat when he first kissed me, but he tried later, on the third date. There were some texts he sent me that were embarrassing to receive, let alone for him to have written and decided to send. Once he arrived half an hour early to pick me up for a date and was irritated when I wasn't ready. I was napping, I told Temi when we were on Skype the next day, and she spluttered, some of the water she was drinking splashing onto the lens of her laptop camera. She wiped it off with the sleeve of her jumper and covered her mouth as she laughed. You were napping? Yes! I was tired. He called me just as I was hitting the sweet spot in my nap. But when were you going to get ready? She said. When I woke up. And when were you going to wake up? I don't know, maybe when he arrived. She laughed, And he looks like the type to wait too. Then she said that honestly men are as stupid as the heterosexual monogamy that forces us to be with them. It was one of those things she said as a passing comment, but I still thought about it afterwards, like I thought about everything she said. Between the two of us she was the one who had the street smarts, who knew what men were like because of her brothers, the various men she dated and the men she turned down. Up until the day I got married I had doubts about the relationship because I knew Temi didn't fully approve. She didn't understand how I had gone from laughing at him with her to taking his last name. Even though we've now been married for three years Temi still questions me, him, the whole thing. Some of her questions I have answers to, but others sit in the back of my mind, reappearing just when I think I have everything under control.

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