We’ve likely all known a Neil, or been him. The guy you pray you don’t get stuck beside at a dinner, that you avoid at parties because he stands too close or keeps eye contact just that bit too long. Should you be so foolish as to befriend a guy like Neil or, heaven help you, become involved with him, you know somewhere inside yourself that you will never ever get rid of him. No matter how ‘busy’ you become, no matter how many excuses you make or even however rude you are to him, he will not take the hint. He will not go away.
Neil has said that he loves Andrea and he is not giving her up without a fight. His fight is clearly a passive-aggressive one. He has not taken that step over the boundary into stalking territory, something actionable that could be reported and result in a restraining order. He simply turns up in the same public space that Andrea and Lloyd are in, and makes sure he is close to them – too close. And he stares, and makes chitchat, and smiles.
He is driving them crazy. He is unfailingly polite. Their angry responses just roll off him. He is simply dropping into a pub for a pint, or having a meal, or standing in a public street. It is not his fault if they happen to be there as well. His very presence becomes a kind of Chinese water torture – driving you mad simply by being there, never-ending.
My husband and I like Neil a lot, but certainly wouldn’t want to know him. Watching his stealth campaign to get Andrea back is very funny, when it’s happening to fictional people. Whether it’s Andrea telling him she hasn’t loved him in years or Lloyd threatening him, he is unflappable and unrelenting in his presence in their lives.
The anniversary dinner threesome at the bistro was hilarious. Without causing a huge scene, what could Lloyd and Andrea do about someone sitting at the table next to them? Neil was doing nothing wrong. He was simply making conversation with people he knew.
The week’s commentary on relationships was topped off with Mary’s astute summation of the course of love. As Andrea twirled her hair, Mary said “I bet you think that’s cute.” Lloyd said yes, he did. “Two years down the line, you may find yourself fighting the urge to want to break her fingers.” Andrea’s twirling and giggling came to an abrupt halt.