Hands up who has read Valley of the Dolls? It’s one of my favourite books, and those of you who have read it will hopefully appreciate the gravity of the situation when I say I have found my Lyon Burke. I have had my suspicions for a while, but I think it’s pretty much confirmed. I was at a wedding at the weekend with a lot of mutual friends. There is one person who is pretty much this:
“…Lyon keeps blinding you with that smile and it fools you at first. You think he’s friendly. But you can never get really close to him. No one could. Deep down Mr. B’s a little in awe of Lyon, and not just because of looks or manner. Lyon delivers. You watch, Lyon Burke will own this town one day… But after a while you realize you don’t know what he’s really like – and what he thinks of you, or of anyone. What I mean is, he seems to like everyone equally. So you get the feeling that maybe deep down he doesn’t care about anyone or anything – except his work. For that, he’ll do anything. But whatever you think about him, you still wind up adoring him.” – Miss Steinberg on Lyon Burke
My Lyon is like that. He’s mercurial and frustrating and impenetrable. Just when I think I’m over it, he draws me back in with some disarmingly sweet comment about ferrets or candyfloss that seems so unlike the normal machismo that you can’t help but feel there are hidden depths. Except there aren’t. You know the kind of person who spends all their time being “frank and honest” except they basically say they’re being honest to cover up all the lies they tell? That’s him. He could make a corkscrew look like a poker.
He does work hard. I’ll give him that. He works long hours and deserves his salary. But he has a slightly broken #yolo switch. By which I mean “live every second like it’s your last!” is a mantra that he uses to excuse his often outrageous behaviour. We don’t see each other very often. Thankfully, he lives at the other end of the country. When we do see each other, things get… complicated.
He knows exactly how to manipulate things. He’s never without some woman gazing doe-eyed up at him, and he sharks like it’s his purpose in life. Then he, on occasion, has a slump or gets rejected and it’s time to find a fallback. That’s usually me, if I’m there. Regardless of my relationship status. All that matters is that I’m giving him attention.
“That bird knows his power. He operates on those looks. There’s not a wasted movement.” – Kevin Gillmore on Lyon Burke
“From what I’ve heard about him, the only ring you’ll get is one through your nose.” – Allen Cooper on Lyon Burke
“No wasted moments. Yes, I guess that would be appropriate. I never made a move without a premeditated reason.” – Lyon being honest about his past self.
So after a year of silence where he didn’t even say one word to me, it was back to service as usual at the wedding. I tried to be angry with him. I tried. I was determined before I went, that I was over with it, done with it, and that I didn’t need his affection or approval to exist. But he is my Lyon, so of course I do.
I’m not even an Anne. I’m a bit like her, I suppose, but I’m more of a Neely. Underneath. I’m selfish and reckless and pretty much a Lyon with the safety on. The time we spend together is terrifying and wonderful. He’s usually drunk, so his brand of lies kicks up a notch to the wilful and deviant. It’s entertaining. He’s always reinventing himself. That’s why he doesn’t talk to me for months at a time – I don’t usually fit the image of the man-about-town he likes to project. If he was a stick of rock, he’d read LAD all the way through. Y’know, lad with seven a’s and a pint in each hand.
He’s so ridiculously arrogant and very uncompromising. His view of the world is the only valid one. His way is the best. He is everything I have been taught to dislike about myself. For that reason alone he is like catnip to me. And of course he knows it. That’s why he comes to me.
The other night he was all hearts and flowers. He likes me. He wants me. He misses me. But he can’t ever be the cookie cutter boyfriend type. He was weirdly sincere, but I could barely hear him over the sound of my bullshit meter going off the charts. Seriously, if I had a pocket Sneakoscope it would explode within ten feet of him.
I know all this. He was trying to sweet talk me into all sorts of things, and he went to bed disappointed and alone, as did I. The next morning before I left, we ran into each other and of course he played it cool. He laughed off his drunkenness, said he didn’t remember much after a certain time. But I think he remembers. He’s accustomed to alcohol. His tolerance is stupidly high. I’ve seen him a lot drunker than he was with me under the stars. He remembers. Mostly, I know he remembers because he called me by a pet name I told him not to use, twice, in the space of three minutes. Clumsily, and coldly, he stuck the knife in as we hugged goodbye on this round of the ongoing battle.
And two days afterwards, though I am waiting impatiently for wedding pictures and happily thinking about the weekend, really I’m once again in the Pit of Despair with a lisping albino, strapped to a rack of my own making, that sucks away yet more of my life as I obsess about this latest development. Ugh. It would be a trainwreck. I know this. Dizzying highs and ridiculous lows. He’d destroy me. I don’t even want to change him. I like him the way he is. That’s so disturbing. I like the way he calls me ‘woman’ and tells me to shut up. Maybe I’m an Anne after all.
Even though I know he was playing me, and I know it deep in my soul, I can’t stop wishing he was serious. Right now he’s not thinking about me, he’s not talking about me, he’s not worried about me. He’ll be planning the next conquest and the next round of silvertongue seduction. Feverish desperation has me in its grasp, and every time I see him I try and fail to be aloof and unconcerned. I think about his teeth on my neck and I crumble. I’m doomed, and I leave you with the depressing thought of Anne’s friend and boss:
“If I know you as well as I think I do, a little of Lyon is better than no Lyon at all.” – Henry Bellamy.
PS, I wrote down what I could remember of his drunken ramblings and I have just the character in mind for them… it was beyond tempting to post it on Facebook and see what fallout there was. But I resisted.