I never told you guys about Darren, did I? (Chorus of "No!" from the peanut gallery) Ahhhh, well this is a good one my friends.
*settles in all comfy for story time*
Darren, you see, was a friend of a co-spy worker of mine. While not a spy himself, Darren was vaguely involved in the spy business (no, I can not tell you in what way and allow you to keep your memories so please don't ask) and one of my co-spy worker friends had been working with him here and there for the better part of a year.
At some point, my friend turned to me and asked if I remembered meeting Darren at a spy thing we'd all gone to. I didn't, but she said that it had just occurred to her that Darren and I would totally hit it off and that I should meet him. She told me he was a really good guy and hilarious to boot and that she always enjoyed exchanging emails with him. Also? That he had an accent. (Hello, instant cuteness bonus.)
So a couple of weeks after her declaration we decided to go out for after-spy-work drinks and she invited Darren along to join us.
My friend was right, he was hilarious and friendly and, as I said to her when he excused himself to go to the bathroom, strangely attractive. (As in, he shouldn't be as attractive as he was, he just had that certain something.) We three had a great time and when it was time to head home, we walked my friend to her car (please note at this point that the two of us had only had one drink each and a meal in-between so we were ok to drive at this point. I do not, not, not drink and drive and rarely drive after even one drink. This was an exception.) to say goodbye. As I was telling her I'd see her Monday, I could feel him there behind me. Close. Not uncomfortably or creepily or sexually close, just close. As I said to my co-spy-worker on Monday, it felt like we were already a couple, it was that comfortable. It was a good meeting and I was happily surprised by it.
Co-spy-worker friend gave me his email and I sent an email to the two of them continuing a joke we'd started on the Friday. From there, Darren and I started emailing each other. Funny, mildly flirty, but mainly hilariously funny emails. Dude was intelligent, well read, funny, kind, thoughtful and had a very nice Aussie accent. (Major bonus points.)
We chatted for a few weeks and when I had a particularly stressful spy event, he actually called me at work to check in and make sure I was ok. It was nice.
We weren't flirting, exactly, in our emails, but we kind of were, and when we ran into each other at a spy event, it was like we were old friends. Old friends who had a private joke. And who liked each other. And were flirty around each other. In a professional way. (It's hard to flirt while you're trying to track down rogue spies you know.)
At some point, I realized that there'd been flirting and we were definitely heading towards a good, fun friendship, but that he hadn't asked me any leading questions. You know, about boyfriends or the like. So I talked to my friend. Was he single? Yes. Was she sure? Well, yes. He's had plenty of opportunities to talk about a wife or girlfriend, my friend said, and he never has. There's no wedding ring, no talk of a partner, he's single. He must be.
I figured he was just biding his time, unsure how to go the next step. And he invited co-spy-worker and I to one of his sporting events (to which we, sadly, couldn't go) and I figured this was the start of him asking me out.
So imagine my surprise when I mentioned him to a friend of mine whose husband is involved in the same sport.
Darren X? she says, describing his job and accent.
That's the one, I say, do you know him?
Sure! she says, we met him and his wife a few years ago in the Australia/Canada meetup.
His wife? I say, trying not to break the smile I've pasted on my face.
Yeah, she's lovely. Not in town, but he's moving to where she is in the summer anyway.
At which point I excuse myself and go.... what, cry? Laugh? Yell? Scratch my head?
What I did do was call my friend and tell her the news. She was, if possible, even more confused and shocked than I was.
Then I cried. And allowed myself to be disappointed and hurt and let down and confused. Quite confused. We both were, my co-spy-worker and I. I think she was even angrier than I was, she'd known him longer, had talked to him more, felt utterly lied to.
But it's not as if he did anything wrong, exactly.
He didn't ask me out. He didn't (particularly) flirt. Much. And I suppose you're not obliged to mention your spouse to someone you're working with, but still. It felt so wrong.
I didn't know what to do. Didn't feel like I could confront him, with what exactly? "Damn you for being funny and friendly when all along you had a wife!"
Sure, I felt betrayed and lied to and I was really disappointed. But there really wasn't much I could do. I figured when he sent me the next funny email I'd casually throw something in about his wife and ask him if he was looking forward to the move. Or that maybe I'd just straight up ask him why he didn't wear a ring or talk about her.
But Darren must have heard something from the mutual friend or just psychically guessed something was up because the emails stopped and neither of us have heard from him since.
Which makes it, actually, worse in some ways. Seems like an admission of guilt.
So, there you go. The very brief story of Darren.
I waited a long time to tell this one, several months, in fact. Wanted to tell it neutrally, not angrily or anything.
It was fun while it lasted. Just not so much fun when it all suddenly fell apart. Being mis-lead, intentionally or not, is not a nice feeling.
And that's the story of how I did not end up dating Darren.