“Dating is a numbers game” declared Chad astutely as the taxi wound its way past the wreck of Didcot power station. “At first I never understood that you had to lie during the dating phase, they say be yourself………….. never be yourself”. Taking in my American colleague, his round glasses and fast developing neck wattle, I could do little but agree. He said he missed the outdoors living in London, that he had grown up in Arizona, still had a kid there. The arid scrub of the southwest, its mesas and impossibly wide vistas were now replaced for him by a two bedroom flat in Pimlico . The man had left his wife behind. Had a new girl, a Latvian “Very flexible” he proclaimed without encouragement.
The Mercedes sped on through the countryside. Cows filled the fields, bucolic pasture surrounded us and I felt slightly absurd in my suit as the city lost its grip. I had once been to Arizona too I ventured. There was a place I visited, a retirement community called ‘Alamo’. I told Chad how it amused me that instead of a foreign army the old people were holding out against time, dug in to armchairs against an onslaught of seconds, minutes, hours. He considered this for a moment but was largely uninterested. Instead after a slightly wild corner He proceeded to tell me about the new Ferrari he had test driven on Park Lane. We were only a few miles from the science park now. I reflected on my own growing up in Suffolk, how I would walk everywhere in bare feet. How I loved the hot grass in the summer, the washed out sandy tracks, I thought of my father in the throws of midlife crisis. The exciting pick up from school in the green sports car. On a Saturday afternoon how we would leave from the huge wrought iron gates with him in his new leather jacket and Bruce Springsteen blaring without irony from the speaker system. If only the Boss had known that he would be young at least twice.
The journey was over. As we stepped out the cab I felt the sun on my face and smiled. What glory days! Chad smiled too and why the hell not?