As a teenager, I was convinced that I had the innate gift or being able to tell if a romantically involved couple had what I originally termed “it”. Now, in my late thirties, I’m fairly confident in saying I don’t and did not exactly have a definition of what “it” was – just that I could identify it. Case in point: the Floof and her boyfriend had “it” and they got back together about a week after breaking up because God told them to do so.

They’re now married, so I was 100% correct. Of course I was. I was also becoming something of an expert, I told myself, in telling if somebody fancied somebody else. I knew the signs and I knew how to respond. It was never going to happen to me – naturally – but I was absolutely certain that I was born a relationship expert and would be able to use my limerence virtuosity to help any and all others.

Because it wasn’t going to happen to me.

Seven years later…

I’d just been to an audition with my hot single friend who I kissed on stage. Neither of us were particularly keen on the play or knew who the playwright was, but an audition’s an audition, and the rationale was that if we’d played lovers before, we could do so again.

“I don’t know about you,” she said as we made our way through the very dark streets of suburban North London, “but I’m not sure that play is very realistic about relationships. I mean, he’s with her for his whole life, but he’s not happy about it.”
“It happens.”
“I know, but it wouldn’t to people who know better. I mean, not to me. I’ve had a few… well, they’re not really relationships but they’re…”

There was a pause in which we looked at each other and both realised what she meant.

“…I mean, they’re with people who aren’t my age and I’m 27 and that makes things…”

Another pause.

“How old are you?”
“I’m 22,” I answered truthfully. “It’s my birthday next month. When we did The Cherry Orchard I was 21. I turned 22 just before the first dress.”
“That’s the sort of guy I’d go for, really, someone who’s 22. Maybe an actor with messy dark hair. Someone tall and funny, you know? Someone who’s got ‘it’?”
“Ah, well, I hope you find one!” I said cheerily.

Relationship expert right here.

Two months later…

I’d just been to an audition with my hot single friend who I kissed on stage. Our director chose a play which could, in no way at all, be done on the shoestring budget our company has. We all liked it, but I knew in my head that it couldn’t be done. I would have wanted to play the dinosaur, however, had we gone for it.

“I don’t know about you,” she said as we made our way through the very dark streets of suburban North London, “but I’m not sure Monty’s giving us anything to read for that doesn’t end up with us being cast as lovers.”
“It worked in The Cherry Orchard,” I pointed out as we got onto the night bus.
“I know, and it’s good we got to kiss. Maybe we’ve got…”
“Yes. I don’t know, maybe they’ll accelerate and the next show will have us having sex live on stage or something!”
“Well, wouldn’t that be something?” I marvelled.

Last month I finally hit upon the fact that I should have come out with something like

Well, I’d be down for doing that, but of course I’d want to rehearse a fair few times with you first. Just to make sure we get the dialogue right.

something I didn’t say

but instead I came out with

Well, wouldn’t that be something?

something I actually did say

which didn’t quite have the same gravitas.

Neither of us got cast in either play; we didn’t go to the reading for The Comedy of Errors the following week. I ended up being in the first one anyway, but only went to rehearsal twice due to the fact that I had two lines.

We later got recruited into another company. During our performance of The Marriage of Figaro, we held hands while waiting on the bench. We sat together in the dressing room during the interminably long Plautus “realisation” our director Gareth put on. We hugged, we kissed. H, the stalwart, came to every show. I got hugs from her too.

My friend suggested we met for drinks again soon. I said that would be nice. I sill don’t know what “drinks” meant.

One year later…

I was completely blind to the beautiful woman who was laughing at my terrible jokes while I served her at Waterstone’s. I also didn’t really do anything about the pretty blonde who kept following me around during the entire Danish youth camp. One particularly randy friend told me that we were flirting and had “it”, but I didn’t know what “it” was.

My ‘phone pinged when I was just finishing off some shopping in town. It was her, inviting me to her thirtieth birthday party. I said I’d go, but in the end couldn’t. This time, I suggested we met for drinks.

We didn’t. We sent each other playful, suggestive messages on Facebook. I asked her outright once on MSN what it was like to have sex on one’s period. She gave an answer and then said it would be fun for me to find out.

“Yes, it’d be interesting!” I said.

Ladies and gentlemen, your relationship expert.