*Names have been changed to avoid an awkward phone call from my ex
Afternoons spent looking around art galleries, dinner in upmarket restaurants and weekends away in European cities – were all part of the allure which fueled my teenage fantasy of dating an older man. A worldly, charming and educated gentlemen to satisfy the 30 year woman, living inside my 19 year old head. It’s a common stage in many teenage girls lives; the feeling of being more mature than our male counterparts. In fact it was my immaturity that led me to believe I was worth more than a McDonald’s Drive Thru at 1am followed by a quick snog in a souped-up Corsa on the way home. It had nothing to do with money but rather the sophistication which I so desperately craved.
That’s when I met Larry.
During my first season working in an Austrian hotel, I became fascinated by a traditionally handsome ski instructor who came to play music in the bar one evening. We hit it off straight away and before long the season had ended and I found myself back in dreary Scotland desperately searching for a cheap flights back to the country I fell hopelessly in love with and to the Lothario who was 12 years my senior.
Over the next few months, I enjoyed countless weekends away to Austria; exploring the country, meeting various distant relatives and embracing what I thought was a much more mature relationship.
During one particular trip, Larry’s boss and his wife invited us to dinner in Innsbruck. They were a lot older than Larry, perhaps in their late 40’s and were very traditional, professional type people. It was a modest, yet classy restaurant where we tucked into a traditional Austrian meal of roast pork and chatted mostly about politics and current affairs; my limited German and lack of knowledge on these subjects meant I had little to offer, however I played the part of the attentive girlfriend well, for a while, until my insecurities of feeling like a child at the adult’s party culminated in several empty bottles of wine on my side of the table.
What happened next is a bit of a blur…
I remember leaving to use the bathroom, when I spotted a giant jar of Gummy Bears on a table by the door, presumably a small offering for the children. I picked up the jar believing that a few sugary sweeties would sober me up a bit and proceeded to walk towards the ladies with it under my arm.
“What are you doing? Please stop!” I suddenly heard from across the restaurant.
It was the waitress who had seemed to be keeping a watchful eye on me for the best part of the evening. I wondered why.
Without so much as a moment’s hesitation I began to run at speed, through the restaurant, knocking down coats and elderly gentleman on my quest to return to “base” (our table) with the jar safely in my possession.
As I sat down, I was probably too drunk to notice the 50 pairs of eyes which were now upon the drunk English girl and the deadly silence which filled the restaurant.
“Who wants a Gummy Bear then?” I asked proudly.
The look of disappointment on Larry’s face is one that I will never forget. Better still, after having my prize jar ceased, I soon fell asleep underneath the table in a pool of my own vomit as the “grown-ups” quickly settled the bill and made their apologies.
At this point, a hamburger from the McDonald’s Drive Thru at 1am would have suited me just fine. But then perhaps even that would have been too sophisticated for silly little girl like me.