“I’m calling in a wingman favour.”
I was desperate: it’s not often I invoke the code of wingman, but I had gotten myself into a predicament from which I saw no escape.
At least, not without covering fire.
Wingman already had an evening planned – though nothing he couldn’t easily escape from (a first date or funeral or something).
His willingness to assist was not surprising: He had long ago proven his worthiness to be a wingman – either that, or after my “kamikaze wingman from the Melbourne days”, I had such low expectations for wingmen that their duties were easy to meet.
In any case, his reactivity was appreciated.
The whole predicament was impossible to detail within the constraints of text message. “No time to explain: just tell me you can be at Chez Prune tonight at 8pm.”
In short, 2 weeks earlier I ‘d met a young French girl at drinks in a dingy place in the 10th called Xeme. She worked at an international company I was freelancing with, and bore more than a little resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence.
The night had been nothing if not efficient: short discussion in bar in front of colleagues; evacuated quickly to a hip neighbouring cocktail bar, Syndicat, and whisked back to mine.
In fact, efficient was perhaps all it was, as by 6am she awoke startled, told me she was late for brunch and fled (though not before I forced her to leave her number on a post-it note).
We were both busy the next week, or at least she seemed to be, though by Thursday it was hard to ignore the grinding feeling of being ignored. A week later my work birthday drinks came and went, but alas she couldn’t make it.
By the third-week mark, ever the optimist I still held out hope. And one Tuesday morning, it was duly rewarded.
She’d sent me an email, responding privately to the group email invite to the birthday from days earlier. “Sorry I couldn’t make it, I was in Germany: but we should try to catch up.”
“Excellent!! Tonight or tomorrow?” I immediately wrote back, not wishing to betray my excitement.
“Wednesday is good.” And so the date was set.
With Wednesday afternoon upon me, I wrote “Jennifer” an SMS to confirm.
“Okay for 8pm tonight by the canal.”
Given this was basically just a formality text, I was a little surprised by the response.
“What? Was this for me?”
“No.” I fired back sarcastically, and then, with slow-dawning horror, realised the email had not come from the French Jennifer Lawrence look-alike at all.
Instead, I suddenly realised, I now had a date with a German woman from the company’s legal team.
And, being now 6pm, it was too late to cancel or postpone with any politesse.
And thus I called Wingman for backup.
The plan was to make like the apparent date was anything but: in fact, I would let on, the plan all along would be to join numerous friends (okay, friend) for a “casual apero” by the canal. It was the best cover story I could think up.
We met at the “canalside institution” Chez Prune at 8pm. On the dot (me knowing a thing or two about German punctuality). I loathe this bar, and for this reason it’s always unfortunately foremost in my mind when I need to suggest meeting places by the canal.)
By 8:25, two things were apparent. Firstly, I had had no reason to be worried: she was good company and drank beer by the pint.
And secondly, at any moment my wingman was going to turn up and awkwardly crash my date…