I was out the other night with two of my friends. We had dinner at a place in Club Street – which is a restaurant area here in Singapore. We ate at an outside table. These two friends of mine are Russian. One of them is engaged now actually – and is to be wed on the weekend. She and her husband-to-be are good together because they accept, understand and appreciate each other.
I think these are the fundamental requirements of a sound relationship - plus love of course.
So I am confident it will work out well.
I was once again the only bloke at dinner but I didn't mind. I quite liked it in fact. There was much discussion about their wedding plans. It is going to be a big event apparently – more than a hundred guests coming from all over the world but there will only be a few close friends attending from here in Singapore. I am honored to be one of the close friends. The majority of people are coming from overseas.
The bride is Russian.
The groom is Australian.
I like weddings - they are happy events. This one is going to be Black Tie so I get to wear my tuxedo. I have my own tuxedo and I have my own black tie. The tie is not one of those elastic or clip on jobs - it is one that I knot myself.
It takes me a while to tie it properly but it is worth the effort.
All good things require effort.
With the incessant heat and humidity Singapore is not the best place to wear a tuxedo however I have donned one before here and I have survived. I quite like getting dressed up on the odd occasion - but I am normally otherwise a bit of a slob.
I feel most comfortable in jeans and a tee shirt.
The bride-to-be is always immaculately dressed. She is very stylish and is most fashion savvy. She is classy.
It is my belief that elegance is innate. In my mind it has nothing to do with being well dressed. Elegance is in fact refusal and it is sometimes surrender. Charles Dickens once wrote,
"Great men are seldom over-scrupulous in the arrangement of their attire".
Don't judge a book by its cover he is saying.
Good one Charles.
So the talk of weddings led on to discussions of love and romance. Girly stuff. I have seen the bride-to-be petting the future groom on many occasions. She strokes his hand across the table when we are out.
He loves it.
He laps it up.
The song “I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ was the first single released by the Beatles. It was brilliant. The Beatles nailed it with that one because it is what everyone wants really. Holding hands is a public expression of affection. It is an unhidden demonstration of connection. John Lennon wrote the music and he penned the lyrics as well.
Nice one John.
We miss you.
The bride-to-be wanted to hear a romantic moment from me and our other mutual friend did as well. I resisted but they implored me to tell them a love story. So I gave them one.
- A moment that is.
The moment I gave them happened a long time ago - when I was a youth. So that's a really long time ago now. It was a time when I was just traveling around Europe. I was just back-packing about the place. I was flitting here and there – taking myself to wherever I fancied.
I moved on a whimsy.
I was footloose.
I was fancy free.
Those were the days.
They really were.
I told the girls that on this long ago occasion I was in France and it was Summer. I had caught a bus to a little village on the French Riviera. The name of the village was Beaulieu-sur-Mer. I got on the bus at Nice and as I alighted at the village square a girl got on. We passed each other in the doorway and as she stepped up and I stepped down for a split second we locked eyes and we smiled at each other. It was one of those moments where in a single glance souls were instantaneously exchanged.
The Italians call such moments 'colpo di fulminate.' - the thunderbolt. The Italians understand passion. They get it.
Their passion is often entangled with a maelstrom of lust but they do it very well. I have tasted love with an Italian before and it was both a sweet and a fiery fruit.
But that's another story - to be told another day.
Anyway in this singular moment - in Beaulieu-sur-Mer - my chest felt as if it had cracked open. I temporarily lost the capacity to breathe. By the time I realized what had struck me the bus was driving away. I looked up at it departing and this girl - this angel – she turned from her seat at the window and she smiled again and then she gave me a little wave.
I didn't even have time to wave back.
It is one of my life regrets.
As the bus disappeared in the distance the breath whooshed out of my body and everything around me froze for a moment. I felt as if I was looking at her departing through a telescopic camera lens. I was zoomed in all the way and the world around me paused for that tiny span of time between the opening and the closing of the shutter.
I was only planning on staying in Beaulieu-sur-Mer for a couple of days before moving on to Monte Carlo.
However I stayed for a whole week. I spent much of the time waiting at that bus stop.
Hoping to see this girl again.
This complete stranger had stolen my heart in a blink of an eye. She had spellbound me.
Those were seven timeless days filled with Hope.
Then ultimately there was devastation.
I have heard that when you meet the love of your life, time stops - and when it starts up again it moves extra fast to catch up.
This is what it was like.
I never saw her again.
The re-telling of this tale opened up an old wound and I told these friends of mine thus.
The bride-to-be told me that she thought the story was beautiful and her friend nodded in agreement. I replied that it was all just a bit sad.
When I think about it now though I realize that some people flash into and then out of our lives but they can leave imprints on our hearts. I don’t think that it happens very often - however this was one of those moments.
Missed as it was.