Not so much an embarrassing memory which, in previous posts, have been brief events where I've ballsed up hideously, strutting around a nightclub with toilet paper dangling from my jeans, or phoning the police to warn them of a rogue fox out for a midnight walk.
This Tell was more a period of several months back at the turn of this century when I completely ruined any romantic dalliance between me and a lovely lady from work, a lady I really, really liked who, it transpired, wasn't so repulsed by me that she would spontaneously vomit or voluntarily shut down her entire menstrual cycle forever just in case I got close enough for us to reproduce.
Her name - here, at least - was Gwendolyn, and she was magnificently attractive. She never wore make-up, something that didn't dawn on me at first but eventually became apparent. Her features were so delicate and naturally good looking that she never had to wear any warpaint, and it didn't affect her femininity one jot. She was tall too, annoyingly a smidge taller than myself, with round, voluptuous curves.
We had recently started temping at an ineffectual exam board when, a few days in, one of the staff in HR mass-emailed all the temps to sign some dull forms in her office. In a matter of seconds, this list became a frenzied 'Reply to All' where all the temps who didn't care about their day-to-day jobs (93% of us) introduced themselves. It didn't take long for one of them to demand a get together in a nearby pub and, that night, I went.
It was there that I first met Gwendolyn, the moment I thought 'Pretty', then very quickly reasoned that I didn't have a hope in hell. I met some of the other temps that night; an Australian called Dave, a small guy called Russ, a sweet lady called Sally, and a raving simpleton also called Dave who had a thing for monkeys and thus became Monkey Dave. Only Monkey Dave and I lasted the course that first night, staying til chucking out time and bonding over the fact that for our mid-twenties, we all had shit jobs and no direction in life.
And from such inauspicious beginnings, strange things happened. We all saw rather a lot of each other, particularly on our Wednesday night drinks, ensuring completely redundant Thursdays. Gwendolyn was becoming a firm favourite of mine, what with her being very attractive and not recoiling from me. On our next Wednesday night out, I drunkenly yelled, 'So have you got a boyfriend, Gwen?' to which she informed me somewhat gingerly that she'd recently split up with him. In genuine bemusement, I replied that he was the Mother of all Idiots and completely deluded, which caused Russ sitting nearby to interject to ask me how my day was.
Things got better, and before long, I only went to my job so I could spend all day emailing Gwen and, occasionally, Monkey Dave and the others. Sometimes somebody gave me some work to do. For a crap job, it was bliss. Then, one night, Gwen and I sneaked off to grab a bite to eat alone, except I had been spiked (by her) with some ghastly blue drink, the name of which eludes me now [UPDATE: Aftershock], although I know it as 'Truth Serum.'
For some reason, over my salad (I was too ashamed to order something filling in front of her), I admitted to Gwen that I'd had a one night stand the weekend before.
I'm not sure why I told her. In fairness, I had been telling everyone that a post-Darwinian miracle had occurred in Ealing with a large Irish nurse, and my drunken angle may have been to somehow appeal to her with a 'Get It Now before my sexboat sails'. However, she just looked vaguely disturbed.
But that wasn't the tell. Oh no. A Tell, to the non-poker players out there or anyone living in a small shed in Argyll, is a detectable change in a player's behaviour that gives clues to that player's assessment of their hand. Or, in my English, simply letting it be known what you've got.
And what I'd got was a strong dose of the Likes. I had been perplexed as to how to go about letting Gwen know my true feelings for her. I was younger then, and dumber. No-one told me about subtleties like eye contact, smiling, and a casual yet cheeky confidence. A few more post-work 'dates', and I was getting more and more worked up. What do I do? How do I do it?
So to cut a very long story short, we went out, I got more drunk than her (again) and, in a bar in Soho, I put my bottle of beer on the table and TOLD her.
'Gwen, I really, really like you.'
As my friend Ed summed up perfectly, we were playing poker and I showed her my cards for no reason.
Gwendolyn squirmed. She did smile though, and I got a pat on the back, a thank you, and never saw her again. Well, not in a post-work date sense, anyway. So I bit the bullet, realised that when I have a whole football team of sons (I'll probably have to adopt), all my bedtime stories will end with the line, 'And they all kept their mouths FIRMLY FUCKING SHUT. The end.'
Embarrassing, slightly. Pathetically idiotic, certainly. But the real regret - as this post should really be filed under - finally came crashing into my head a few weeks later. Gwen was about to leave for a year-long trip round the world. We all continued to hang out for our Wednesday drinks, Gwen now carefully avoiding me while I did likewise thanks to my old friends Shame and Guilt. Meanwhile, at work, I was befriended by a really cute, Kelly Brook voluptuous Indian girl called Meeta.
But Meeta liked me and was about as subtle as a brick elephant, and I started to panic. I panicked mainly because laying all your sexual cards out on the table can backfire, as I had recently discovered, removing all seduction and adding lots of advantage taking. So too was the balance of power, for wont of a better phrase, as I had it all, whereas Meeta had bequeathed all hers to me, and that responsibility scared the hell out of me, what with me being apparently male and all.
But more importantly, I panicked because Meeta was a self-harmer, and had the literal scars to prove it, all the way up her left arm. She needed a rock in her life to support her, and that couldn't be me. I was incredibly keen to sleep with her, but knowing how fragile she was, I couldn't in all good consciousness take that for granted.
And I didn't. I ignored Meeta's drunk 2am calls, and kept things casual and aloof at work, yet in that great sexual minefield, this was a sex rag to a horny bull and I was becoming her Gwendolyn. Meanwhile, Gwendolyn was gearing up for her year abroad and out most nights. I spent one evening with Meeta as she'd dragged me out 'to chat', but I invariably insisted we go see the group, who were drinking nearby. God only knows how this looked to Gwen when I turned up with Meeta, but Gwen didn't seem to care. In fact, she left that night pretty quickly.
Eventually, she left the country altogether, and work then became a wait for Gwen's emails from Asia. Then one day, I received an email from a girl at work, a girl who I knew as a confidante of this guy, Russ. She casually let it slip that Russ had fancied Gwendolyn like mad, yet he was always being frustrated by some guy always in the way ~ Me.
I had no idea he even felt like that. Apparently, he had been torn to shreds when he found out that Gwen and I had spent evenings together in bars and in restaurants. Suddenly, his friendly Monday morning emails to me that suddenly stopped one day all made sense; he had been fishing for information, that shortarsed Elton John lookalike.
But what this girl went on to say broke my brain in two. Apparently, way back when we'd all first met in that pub, Gwen was keen on both Russ and me yet between the two, I had been furlongs ahead.
Much better odds.
Far more fanciable.
In with a real chance.
Finally ahead in something, for the first time in my useless fucking life.
And then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like 'I like you.'
So Gwen and Russ eventually got it on all thanks to me, writhing and entwined in unbridled passion. I'm left with an extremely keen woman who falls into depressive states and tries to kill herself and, a few months later, I end up with a gorgeous French woman - mainly thanks to my new tactic of being aloof and keeping my mouth shut.
But this is heavily abridged (believe it or not) and deliberately lighthearted. Discovering that Gwen actually liked me all along was utterly phenomenal. Then, realising that I'd fucked up the biggest feminine opportunity of my life was like having my plane hijacked on the first day of an amazing holiday and getting killed by a hijacker.
So I pined for Britain. I stared at my ceiling at 5am in the morning. Friends demanded I cheer the fuck up. I lost weight. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach for ruining at the very least an unforgettable night with a woman I was wild about.
About a year later, having finally calmed down and entering into my final metamorphosis of Most Whinging Bastard on the planet, I found myself so ravenously hungry I actually went into a McDonalds to buy a Big Mac. Post-transaction, I walked to a table to very literally insert the burger into my mouth when, dangerously in front of me, was Gwendolyn, and with a man far more suited to her, one of those tall, dark and handsome types. As I recall, she was feeding him chips, one arm resting on his broad shoulder.
I paused, mouth open, burger static. In a vicious instant, my hunger speedily subsided like an erection during Prime Minister's Question Time. Scarlet with embarrassment, I crept into a far corner of the McDonalds and, with my back to the whole place, forced down the now unwanted bun whilst I prayed I wouldn't be spotted.
When I did manage to dispose of my burger gut-wise, I turned to see the place Gwen-less, as things have been ever since. And this is a good thing. There are people, places, and words that some people never need to come across again, lest they explode in paroxysms of shame.
The moral of this lesson? McDonalds will always end in tears.
And keep your mouths FIRMLY FUCKING SHUT.