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Rear View Mirror: The Kiss

Cab driver Tony Schumacher on how to eternally regret something – without even doing it

Published on August 30th 2010.


Rear View Mirror: The Kiss

“ARE you alright mate?” I said to the bedraggled, moaning wreck in the mirror (it was my rear view mirror, not the face I see every morning when I crawl out of bed).

He sighed and turned back to the window, resigned to a moment that he would remember all his life. A 'what-if?' ghost that would haunt him whenever he was alone

The shadowy lad on the back seat took his head out of his hands, wiped his wet hair from his face and nodded.

“Sorry mate, yeah I’m fine.”

“If you want me to stop just say.”

“No, I’m okay; I’ve only had a couple of drinks.”

I eyed him suspiciously as he rubbed his face again with both hands and let out another almighty sigh then leaned back in the rear seat and stared at the roof of the car.

“Are you sure you are okay? You’re making me nervous here.”

He looked at me and smiled thinly with a hint of apology.

“I’m really sorry mate, I’ve had a fantastic night and I’ve just gone and made a massive mistake and I can’t believe I’ve been so stupid.”

We stopped at some lights and I watched him as he silently shook his head to himself, his long, wet, curly hair framing his face like malfunctioning curtains at a rundown theatre. The rain hammered against the windscreen and made the outside world look like a Monet painting as my wipers, like my passenger, struggled to cope.

I wavered, my curiosity urging me to jump into his emotions and dig at his story only tempered by my experience of engaging with emotional wrecks at two thirty in the morning.

Curiosity won... again.

“What’s happened?”

He smiled and shook his head sadly and flicked at his dripping fringe again, took a deep breath and said seven of the saddest words I have ever heard in my life...

“I can’t believe I never kissed her.”

The lights changed and as the car moved forward the story moved back...

“I’ve been on a works night out.”

“The old office romance? Trust me, I’ve done it and it only ever leads to problems.”

“We work in a shop.”

“Same principle, it’s great at the beginning, but if things go wrong, which they are wont to do, you will soon find yourself hiding in the bog so you don’t pass on the corridor. Next thing you know you are both in front of your line manager as he or she does their best Jeremy Kyle impersonation, you should be glad things went the way they did.”

He shook his head and stared out of the window, no doubt thinking about how stupid the git in the front was. After a moment he sighed and made eye contact in the mirror.

“It was her leaving do, she’s gone, left the firm.”

“Oh.”

“I've worked with her for two years, been really good mates, I mean like best mates, do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve always liked her more than that though, and I think she has always liked me more than that.But she has a fella.”

“Ah.”

“He’s a tit.”

“They always are.”

“No he is! She tells me about him, he is a lazy get, never works, smokes weed all day, treats her like she is dirt, they never go anywhere they just sit all night in his mum's watching telly.”

He looked back to the window and rested his chin in his hand and shook his head.

“Can’t believe I didn’t kiss her.”

I waited.

“We work together, but we are always with other people, it’s a busy shop but we have loads of fun, she makes me laugh loads, I’m really going to miss her. Tonight we all went out, the last time.”

“Where is she going?”

“She’s got a manager’s job in another place, on the Wirral, closer to where she lives.”

I realised that was why, when I had pulled up, he had jumped into my cab and left the woman he was with standing in the rain. That would have been her, waiting for a Wirral cab to surface out of the Mersey.

“Well the Wirral isn’t too far; can’t you get a job wherever she's gone?”

“It’s a women’s clothes shop, there is no chance.”

I nodded and drove on, we both sat silent listening to the tyres splash through the grooves in the road made by the many others that had passed that way.

I thought about how they had stood waiting, when I had seen them. Sheltering under a shared umbrella, I had assumed they were boyfriend and girlfriend. They had the closeness and easy intimacy that only lovers have in a storm. Drawn together under a nylon maypole, arms linked and shoulders touching, faces inches apart, warm in spite of the cold.

“We all went to a pub straight after work, then for a meal and then to a club...”

“And?”

“It was good, but I felt... I don’t know... really sad, I’d organised the collection and had to give a little speech in the restaurant. But it was only me and her who weren't laughing, in the club we had a few dances and then it was time to go, I’m working tomorrow.”

I imagined how he had probably not wanted the night to end, how he had wanted her to grab him and tell him she had made a mistake, but the fuse of the night had slowly burned away and the bombshell of leaving had finally gone off.

“I got my coat and she said she had to go too, so we ended up walking through town on our own together, that’s why I am soaked.”

“Rain.”

“Yeah, we rung the taxis and stood together waiting, she said she was sorry she was leaving and I told her I didn’t want her to go, we were really close.”

“Close?”

“To kissing, our faces were really close.”

He shook his head and looked at the palm of his hand; he was holding it inches from his face, seeing her face in its place.

“I can’t believe I never kissed her, she was right there, we just stood looking at each other... that close!”

He let out a sigh again and went back to looking at the roof.

“Oh god mate, I feel for you now. Why didn’t you kiss her?”

“I was going to.”

“You should have! Why didn’t you?”

“You turned up!”

Oh no... I’d ruined it; I’d broken the spell as I rolled to a halt. A four wheeled shield that had thwarted Cupid's bow.

It was my turn to sigh.

“Oh no, I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault, its mine, I left it, eighteen months and I waited till the final second... I’m so stupid.”

“Can’t you ring her? Send her a text?”

“It’s gone now.”

He sighed and turned back to the window, resigned to a moment that he would remember all his life. A “what-if?” ghost that would haunt him whenever he was alone.

A lover's lips never tasted, hair never stroked and hands never held.

Just a moment in a rainy city looking into the eyes of someone you loved.

I can’t believe he never kissed her.

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

OJAugust 27th 2010.

The important thing is to seize the moment. You may never have it again. What if you spend all your life waiting for someone who was in your grasp for one minute and then you let them go thinking there would be another time? Eh? What if there never is? As the saying goes, you only get one life and there is no dress rehearsal.

WappingAugust 27th 2010.

That one got me as well. Bastid.

Red ErikAugust 27th 2010.

Ah youth!We've all been there. Wanting to kiss her but not knowing if she wants it or being afraid of the rejection. Now I know that the rejection or the slap in the face doesn't hurt as much as the pain that the "What it?" ghost can inflict, over and over.

On the rankAugust 27th 2010.

I once regretted not going "all the way", but I only had enough money to go so far and then I got booted out. That was a Delta too.

The Big SisAugust 27th 2010.

Aaaargh Tony!!!!

BendyGirlAugust 27th 2010.

*Sniff* *Sob* Tony mate your blogs are having an unfortunate effect on my bodily fluids...they all either make me wet meself laughing or shed a tear....

I shar on my own doorstep and wonAugust 27th 2010.

That should be "shat". Sorry

AnonymousAugust 27th 2010.

I do get out more, to try to forget, to try to ease the pain. But there they are. There is always someone or something there to remind me of what might have been.

I shar on my own doorstep and wonAugust 27th 2010.

I had a very successful relationship with someone who I worked with for years. It was only after we both left the firm that we realised there was nothing to talk about.

Nobby CheesemanAugust 27th 2010.

You need to get out more and stop moping about.

AnonymousAugust 27th 2010.

I have been living a what-if for 15 years now and probably will for 15 more.

Dr. StrabismusAugust 27th 2010.

That lad needs a good spoonful of bromide in his tea.

In my experience...August 27th 2010.

...you should only regret what you have done, not what you haven't done.

NadiaOctober 27th 2010.

Back in old country is big frown at fish packaging plant when man and woman work on night shift together. Is daylight for 23 hours and bitter cold so only potato vodka can warm. But feelings get hot as well as hands and we make many jokes and is difficult to not have romance no when many glasses can be taken in 12 hour shift operating filleting hook?

But such relationship written about here in taxi cab is doomed and why? In Russia we have saying: "Man who does not beat woman, is man who does not care."

AnonymousOctober 27th 2010.

Wise words, we in the west have so much to learn.

Small codpieceDecember 27th 2010.

Nadia, you are a woman after my own heart. Do you have any tips for English man to stay hot?

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