Helen Fielding’s neurotic Bridget Jones first swanned onto the literary scene — and into the hearts of women everywhere — back in 1996. She wasn’t perfect, she was us. Through all her ups and downs (weight, boys, cigarettes and drinks), we watched, laughed and cheered as Bridget blundered her way through life. When she last made an appearance, in a series of columns Fielding wrote for the Independent, a U.K. newspaper, Bridget gave birth to a son by Daniel Cleaver (shocker!). Cleaver and his rival for Bridget’s affection, Mark Darcy, do make an appearance in the new book, Mad about the Boy, Fielding assures us. But in this outing, Bridget has someone else on her mind , and a new (very public) way of expressing herself…
Tuesday 22 January 2013
133 lbs (still!), number of outfits tried on and thrown on floor 12, tweets sent when supposed to be getting ready 7 (very stupid), though Twitter followers 698 (advantages of liveaction tweeting must be weighed against disadvantages of lateness).
6.30 p.m. Right. Almost ready. Talitha, Jude and Tom are primed about where I am going and standing by to rescue me in case anything goes wrong. Determined not to make same mistake this time and be late. Only thing is, cannot help self from tweeting as I get ready. Is almost as if I have duty to all followers to let them know what I’m doing all the time.
<@JoneseyBJ Which is more important? Look nice or be on time? I mean if it’s an either/or situation?>
Wow — lots of responses and @ mentions:
<@JamesAP27 @JoneseyBJ On time of course. How can you be so vain. That’s so unattractive.>
Humph. Right. We’ll see about him.
<@JoneseyBJ @JamesAP27. Is not vanity but CONCERN for others i.e. not startling or scaring them.>
6.45 p.m. Shit shit, have put waterproof mascara on lips as same Laura Mercier packaging as lipgloss and will not come off. Oh God. Am going to be late with black lips.
7.15 p.m. OK. In minicab now, still rubbing at lips. Have time for a few more tweets.
<@JoneseyBJ Calm assured — in taxi now — receptive responsive Woman of Substance… >
<@JoneseyBJ … goddess of joy and light! *Rasps at cab driver* Nooo! don’t go down f***ing Regent St!>
<@JoneseyBJ *Holds nose, talks in police radio voice* going into the Dean Street Townhouse. Going INTO the Townhouse.>
<@JoneseyBJ Wish me luck. Over and out. Roger.>
<@JoneseyBJ *Whispers* He’s FANTASTIC.>
<@JoneseyBJ There is a lot to be said for the younger man as long as not young enough to be legal grandson.>
<@JoneseyBJ He’s smiling! He’s stood up like a gentleman.>
Roxster was indeed gorgeous, was even more handsome than his photo but, crucially, merry-looking. He looked as if he was going to burst out laughing all the time. “Hellooo.” Was just about to instinctively reach for my phone to tweet when he put his hand on top of mine on my phone…
“I haven’t . . . !” I said insanely.
“Jonesey, you’ve been twatting or twunking all the way here. I’ve been reading it.”
Date with toy boy
Tuesday 22 January 2013 (continued)
I shrank down sheepishly into my coat. Roxster laughed.
“It’s all right. What would you like to drink?”
“White wine, please,” I said sheepishly, instinctively reaching for the phone.
“Very good. And I’m going to have to confiscate this until you’ve settled down.”
He took my phone, put it in his pocket and summoned the waitress, all in one easy movement.
“Is that so you can murder me?” I said, eyeing his pocket with a mixture of arousal and alarm, thinking that if I needed to summon Tom or Talitha I would have to wrestle him to the ground and lunge at it.
“No. I don’t need the phone to murder you. I just don’t want it being tweeted live to the breathless Twitterati.”
As he turned his head I guzzled the spectacle of the fine lines to his profile: straight nose, cheekbones, brows. His eyes were hazel and twinkly. He was so . . . young. His skin was peachy, his teeth white, his hair thick and shiny, slightly too long to be fashionable, brushing his collar. And his lips had that fine white line outlining them that only young people have.
“I like your glasses,” he said as he handed me the wine.
“Thank you,” I said smoothly. (They’re progressive glasses so I can see out of them normally and also read. My idea in wearing them was that he wouldn’t notice I was so old that I needed reading glasses.)
“Can I take them off ?” he said, in a way that made me think he meant . . . clothes.
“OK,” I said. He took them off and put them on the bar, brushing my hand slightly, looking at me.
“You’re much prettier than your photo.”
“Roxster, my photo is of an egg,” I said, slurping at the wine, remembering too late that I was supposed to sit back and let him look at me stroking the stem of the wine glass arousingly.
“Weren’t you worried I might turn out to be a 250-lb cross dresser?”
“Yes. I’ve got eight of my mates planted in the bar to protect me.”
“That’s spooky,” I said, “I’ve got a parade of hit men lined up in all the windows across the street in case you try to murder me and then eat me.”
“Have they all been fartaged ?”
I was just taking a slurp of wine and laughed in the middle, then choked with the wine still in my mouth, and sick started coming up my throat.
“Are you all right?” I waved my hand around. My mouth was a mixture of sick and wine. Roxter gave me a handful of paper napkins. I made my way to the loos, holding the napkins over my mouth. Got inside just in time and spurted the sick/wine into the washbasin, wondering if I should add “Do not be sick in own mouth at start of date” to the Dating Rules.
I washed my mouth out, remembering with relief that there was a kid’s toothbrush somewhere at the bottom of my handbag. And some gum.
When I got out Roxster had found us a table and was looking at his phone.
“I thought I was supposed to be the one who was obsessed with vomit,” he said, without looking up. “I’m just tweeting your followers all about it.”
“Noooo.” He handed me back my phone and started laughing. “Are you all right?” He was laughing so much now he could hardly speak. “Sorry, I just can’t believe you were sick in your own mouth on our first date.”
In the midst of giggling, I realized he had just said “our first date.” And “first” clearly implied that there would be others in spite of sick in-own-mouth.
“Are you going to fart next?” he said, just as the waiter arrived with the menus.
“Shut up, Roxster,” I giggled. I mean, honestly, he did have a mental age of seven, but it was fun because it made me feel so at home. And maybe this was someone who wouldn’t be completely appalled by the bodily functions on display in our household.
As we opened the menus, I realized I didn’t have my glasses any more.
I looked at the blurry letters, panicking. Roxster didn’t notice. He seemed completely overexcited by the food. “Mmm. Mmm. What are you going to have, Jonesey?”
I stared at him like a rabbit caught in headlights.
“Everything all right?”
“I’ve lost my glasses,” I mumbled sheepishly.
“We must have left them on the bar,” he said, getting up. Marvelling at his impressive young physique, I watched him go to where we had been standing, look around, and ask the barman.
“They’re not there,” he said, coming back, looking concerned. “Are they expensive ones?” “No, no, it’s fine,” I lied. (They were expensive ones. And I really liked them.)
“Would you like me to read the menu to you? I could cut up your food for you as well if you like.” He started laughing. “Have to watch out for your teeth.”
“Roxster, this is a very undesirable line of teasing.”
“I know, I know, I’m sorry.”
After he’d read me the menu, I tried to remember the Dating Rules, rubbing my finger delicately up and down the stem of the wine glass, but there didn’t seem to be any point, as Roxster already had my knee between his strapping young thighs.
Realized, even in the midst of excitement, was DETERMINED to find the glasses. Is so easy to let something like that go out of sexual distraction and embarrassment and they were really, really nice glasses.
“I’m just going to look under the bar stool,” I said, when we’d ordered.
“But your knees!”
We both ended up crawling about under the stools. A pair of very young girls, who were sitting where we had been, were very snotty about it. Suddenly felt myself dying with embarrassment at being on a date with a toy boy and forcing him to look under young girls’ legs for my reading glasses.
“There aren’t any glasses, OK?” said one of the girls, staring at me rudely. Roxster rolled his eyes then dived under her knees again, saying, “Just while I’m down here…” and began groping around on the floor. The girls were unamused. Roxster reared up triumphantly, brandishing the glasses.
“Found them,” he said and put them on my nose. “There you are, darling.”
He kissed me pointedly on the lips, gave the girls a look, and led me back to the table while I tried to recover my composure, hoping he couldn’t taste the sick.
Conversation seemed to flow quite effortlessly. His real name is Roxby McDuff and he does work for the eco-charity, met Talitha on the show, and jumped across from Talitha’s Twitter to my Twitter. “So you just, like, follow cougars?”
“I don’t like that expression,” he said. “It implies the hunter, rather than… the hunted.”
My discombobulation must have been obvious, because he added softly, “I like older women. They know what they’re doing a bit more. Have a bit more to say for themselves. How about you? What are you doing out with a younger man off Twitter?”
“I’m just trying to widen my circle,” I said airily.
Roxster looked straight at me, without blinking. “I can certainly help you with that.”
Joy mixed with sick
Tuesday 22 January 2013 (continued)
When it was time to go, we stood awkwardly in the street.
“How are you going to get back?” he said, which instantly made me feel a bit sad, because obviously he wasn’t planning to come back with me, even though obviously I wouldn’t have asked him to. Obviously.
“Taxi?” I said. He looked surprised. Realized I only ever come out into Soho with Talitha, Tom and Jude and we always share a taxi but that that must seem helplessly extravagant to a young person. There were, however, no taxis to be found.
“Do you want me to summon a helicopter, or should we get the tube ? Do you know how to get the tube?”
Of course I do!” I said. But to be honest, it was all unfamiliar, being in the crowds of Soho late at night without the friends. It was quite exciting, though, as Roxster took my arm and led me to Tottenham Court Road tube.
“I’ll see you down,” he said. When we got to the barriers I realized I didn’t have my Oyster card. I tried to pay at the machines, but it was all impossible.
“Come here,” he said, taking out a spare card, swiping me through the barriers and leading me to the right platform. The train was approaching.
“Quick, give me your mobile number,” he said. “Given that I haven’t murdered you.”
I gave it to him really quickly and he typed it in. The doors were opening, people were pouring out. Then quite suddenly, as if from nowhere, Roxster kissed me on the lips. “Mmm, sick,” he said.
“Oh, no! But I brushed my teeth.”
“You brought a toothbrush? Are you always sick on your dates?” Then seeing my horrified expression he laughed and said, “You don’t taste of sick.” People were crushing themselves into the train. He kissed me again, gently, looking at me with his merry hazel eyes, then again this time with the mouth a little open, then delicately finding my tongue with his. This was MUCH better than stupid Leatherjacketman with his sex-crazed—
“Quick, the doors are closing!” He pushed me towards the train and I squeezed in. The doors closed and I watched him as the train pulled out, just standing there, smiling to himself: gorgeous, gorgeous toy boy.
Came up from the tube into Chalk Farm, euphoric and completely overaroused. There was a ping on text. It was from Roxster.
<Have you made it home or are you riding round in circles, confused?>
Texted back: <Help, I’m at Stanmore. Have you got the sick out of your teeth yet?>
No reply. I shouldn’t have put the thing about the sick.
<No, because I can’t find my reading glasses. Are you shortly going to reuse the sicky toothbrush?>
<Just using it. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.>
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Helen Fielding, $30.