Oh gosh, it's probably not a good idea to put this down because it's about someone else, and it'll look as if I'm making fun which I'm not and assuredly you'll make fun of me, but there we go. These things happen. I may remove it once you've had your opportunity to laugh at me. Or possibly tell me I'm a hussy. Or something.
I generally go on our *society I'm chairman of* visits, because they're well organised, they get me to places and exhibitions I wouldn't get around to visiting, I do something sociable as well as informative and interesting, often for less money than I could do it by myself, I meet members and make new friends, I see old friends. The Sage rarely comes but usually someone sits beside me on the coach and that's good. I realise that I'm fairly high-profile and so I've made the effort to get to know people which doesn't come naturally (you may find that not likely, but I assure you, I'm not as outgoing in person as in print. Even when I meet bloggers, I'm in my Z persona so it's easier to be relaxed), especially if they come by themselves.
A year or so ago, a nice chap sat with me and we chatted, and that was fine. Since then, he's made a point of sitting with me, and at last month's lecture he booked his place there, as it were. Which was still fine. When we arrived in London, I went off with other friends for coffee and then we met again in the foyer and he asked me what I was doing for lunch and I said, deliberately casually, that I hadn't thought about it and I'd see what I felt like doing. Silly, I should have said I was going with another couple. Anyway, later on while we were going round the first exhibition he suggested we have lunch together. I felt a bit twitchy by this point - I'm a loner really. I like being sociable, but I don't like being obliged. However, okay, I agreed.
When I came out of the exhibition I pottered around the RA shop for a bit and then went down to the entrance hall, where he was waiting for me. We went over the road to the *Queen's Grocer* as he put it and had lunch. He insisted on paying, to my embarrassment, and as I didn't have a lot of cash on me and had meant to pay by card, I couldn't insist on him taking the money so all I could do was thank him and say lunch would be on me next time *sigh*.
We went back, met my friends and had coffee together and then went to the second exhibition. Fortunately, for I like doing things like this alone, I'd booked an audio guide so we didn't stay together. However, and I stayed a longer time in the exhibition than he did, he was waiting for me again and wanted to take me for tea. Fortunately, we met other friends and all sat together, but I found at the end he'd paid for my tea too. No really, I don't care for this. I don't like being under obligations and I like to pay my way. I was so edgy during tea that I chatted to my (female) friend and left her husband to talk to him, and then another couple turned up so the conversation became general. I slept part of the way home, so chatted only intermittently.
As you can imagine, at today's committee meeting I was ribbed considerably. I was completely rueful and good-humoured about it, and admitted that I obviously have a not-at-all secret admirer - this is okay, I want to have friends of course and appreciate the fact that I've reached the age that no one is going to look sidelong at me if some of them are men, because it all gets easier as you get older. I'm not suggesting for one moment that he's going to make any inappropriate move nor even that there's a sexual thing to it (in fact it's that I'm 'safe' that is a lot of my appeal, I recognise). It's just that he is being possessive. I'm embarrassed for his sake more than mine. He's a nice chap and his wife doesn't want to go on day visits, so if he's alone and doesn't know anyone else very well, I'm perfectly happy to have him sit with me. I don't think anyone except committee members would have noticed he was being too attentive.
But I've had to say we'll have lunch together next time, and I don't mind - indeed, I have to buy him lunch. Fortunately, since my friends, for all their teasing, are sympathetic, I know they'll back me up if I ask them to join us for lunch. But it did mar the day somewhat.
No really, it's not always easy being completely adorable.
P.S. - Oh lord, I'm up to 168 unread posts again. I'm sorry if some of them are yours. I'll catch up. I do read you all, as long as I know who you are (that is, all commenters and followers, a lot of others, if I've ever commented the odds are I still read everything you write).