The ink was barely dry.
I’d just slagged off first wives after Jeremy Clarkson’s began claiming they’d got it on behind his second wife’s back. And out of the blue comes an invite... To meet my nemesis, the woman wed to Bloke before me.
I’ve always fretted I might have got him by default. She left him, you see; broke his heart. I’d always fretted it wasn’t totally mended when I eventually came along via Match.com.
And while I am in no doubt that he adores me, I’ve feared he might still hold a candle for the One That Got Away. That if you stuck us both in a room and said choose, he’d pick her. Particularly as he’d never said one nasty thing about First Wife, a talented artist as petite as she was sweet and thoughtful (I still open books of his, find romantic little note penned by her and wish I was nice enough to do such things).
She was ultra-tidy and Miss Organised, he’d sigh in our early days, gazing around at my sentimental clutter and the dust I reckon life is too short to remove.
First Wife sounded a lot like him and not a jot like me. They were peas in a pod; we’re opposites.
Worse, though, he told me she looked like Courtney Cox out of Friends.
That really did it for a bossy, practical Second Wife whose husband’s jeans are too small for her. Courtney ruddy Cox... how do you compete with that?
Too proud to ask his friends and family for their verdict, I’d had to take his word for it and try sneaking surreptitious glances (I didn’t want anyone realising I was scrutinising my predecessor) at an old family photo on his mum and dad’s wall.
In the five years we’ve been an item, my imagination had honed her into a paragon of loveliness. And here was Bloke, telling me Second Wife and her boyfriend were visiting Sheffield and suggesting we all meet.
I was up for it, though. OMG, I was. This was my chance to lay the ghost that had lain beside him for longer than I.
On the day, I fretted about what to wear (he said he knew I would). Then he asked me which shirt, like I knew he would.
Both of us were worrying for different reasons. I don’t know the entirety of his, but feel pretty sure it included squabbling women (maybe one bursting into tears) and him fretting about seeing her new man.
My fears? What if she was miles better than me? What if they fancied each other again? What if he wished he could choose her? One flirtatious glance, one in-joke that excluded the two newbies, just one...
We sallied forth (me in a red dress to look more confident) to find them feeling just as anxious as we. What a leveller insecurity is.
We played nicely, chatting about this and that, avoiding all communal bonds apart from the bizarre fact that both she and I are a bit deaf. It really was fine. It didn’t descend into “did he ever tell you about”... or “does she still do...”
And then we were doing cheek kisses goodbye, accepting their invite to stay sometime (of course, we won’t) and walking out feeling free of the past - and happier with our present.
The first thing I said as we got in the car? She SO doesn’t look like Courtney Cox.