Dinner For Twoby Mike Gayle
Dave Harding's got a wonderful wife, a beautiful home, and a job he could do in his sleep...
So no one is more surprised than Dave when he hears his own biological clock start ticking. Loudly. Unfortunately, his better half, Izzy, has no nine-month plan for fat ankles or a credit line at Baby Gap. With even worse timing, the music magazine Dave writes/b>
Dave Harding's got a wonderful wife, a beautiful home, and a job he could do in his sleep...
So no one is more surprised than Dave when he hears his own biological clock start ticking. Loudly. Unfortunately, his better half, Izzy, has no nine-month plan for fat ankles or a credit line at Baby Gap. With even worse timing, the music magazine Dave writes for folds. Desperate for work, he's forced to become an advice columnist for a teen magazine.
But he's about to get a serious wake-up call.
Wading through letter after letter of adolescent angst is the last thing Dave wants to do, especially since he could use some help dealing with his own. But one letter is about to make all his little problems disappear and replace them with one big one.
The letter is from a teenage girl named Nicola. But she doesn't need advice about boys, or friends, or the latest fads. She's looking for her father, whom she's never met. She's looking for a man to call Dad.
She's looking for Dave.
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Read an Excerpt
Apparently (at least, so she told me) it all happened because her best friend Keisha had to stay behind after school for hockey practice. Usually she hated going home on her own because it was lonely. But that day she didn't even notice Keisha wasn't there because of Brendan Casey. Her obsession with him had developed to the point where she'd begun to semi-stalk him, watching him at lunchtime in the canteen, or positioning herself next to the classroom windows during English with Mr Kelly on Tuesday afternoons when Brendan's year had games because it was possible if she squinted really hard to just about make out his silhouette on the football pitch.
That day she'd determined that she was going to speak to him for the first time. Having thought about it a great deal she decided that the best way to do this was to be in his general proximity, smile at him a great deal and hope beyond hope that a conversation would spontaneously evolve out of nothing like some sort of conversational "Big Bang" theory. The moment the end-of-school bell rang she'd raced out to the school's main entrance and waited.
She followed Brendan and his friends to the gates without being detected which was more difficult than she'd anticipated. Brendan and his friends didn't walk anywhere fast, and each time they stopped she had to bend down and fiddle with her laces, or rummage in her bag, or sometimes she simply stood still and gazed into the mid-distance as if she were looking for inspiration. Eventually, her persistence paid off: the boys made it out of the gates and up the path to the bus stop. She positioned herself directly behind Brendan, a place that up until this moment she could only have ever imagined in her wildest dreams. Brendan, however, didn't pay her the slightest bit of attention no matter how much she smiled in his direction.
As the number 23A arrived and the double-decker opened its doors, the orderly queue disintegrated into a free-for-all and she was pushed to the back. By the time she got on Brendan and his friends had disappeared upstairs. She followed them but by the time she got there the top deck was full. She sighed, and made her way back downstairs.
Ten minutes later when the bus reached her stop she was so angry as she got off that she wanted to scream. She didn't, of course. As she stormed down the road she decided she wasn't even going to look back for a last glance at Brendan. Her resolve however melted as she imagined his face pressed up against the window, his eyes searching for her. She turned, but couldn't see him and she hated herself for seeing hope where there was none. She hated herself for being so obviously devoid of self-respect.
It started to rain and she decided she was going to change that she was going to take control of her life and the first thing that she was going to do was change her mood by treating herself to something nice. She checked her Hello Kitty purse to see how much she had left ©2.70. Unsure exactly how she was going to treat herself, she wandered into the newsagent at the top of her road and found herself drawn towards the magazine racks. This was what she wanted.
She wanted a magazine that understood her feelings.
A magazine that understood her better than she understood herself.
A magazine that could simply make her feel better about being her.
She scanned the titles aimed at her age group: Smash Hits, Mizz, 19, TV Hits, Top of the Pops, Teen Scene, J17, Bliss, Sugar and Looks and she immediately felt better. It was as if they were friends all desperately vying for her attention. She knew she had to choose carefully. She couldn't afford to be disappointed. All of the covers looked the same: beautiful young girls or pop stars with flawless skin and perfectly proportioned features smiling serenely. As for the content, she could barely tell them apart: fashion, makeup, pop interviews, features about boys, features about friends.
After a few moments she made her choice. Teen Scene: "the magazine for girls with go." It was 10p cheaper than the others; she liked the purple eye-shadow the cover girl was wearing and hoped that they might say which brand it was inside; it had cover-mounted stick-on tattoos which although she considered a little bit babyish she thought might be a laugh; and it had the best advice column, "Ask Adam." Her friends laughed at the girls who wrote in to advice columns, but she knew that when it came to boys, she was as clueless as the girls in the letters. She loved problem pages: they made her feel she wasn't alone in the world. That she wasn't weird. That all the thoughts and fears that roamed around inside her head could be solved by "Dear Pam," "Ask Adam," "Getting Personal with Dr Mallory," "Boy Talk with Stephen," and "Crisis Confidential with Dear Anne." The list was endless. But "Ask Adam" was the best.
She picked up the magazine and went to pay for it. The man behind the counter scanned the barcode, the till beeped, she gave him the exact money and left.
Chaos theory states that something as simple as a butterfly flapping its wings millions of years ago could have changed world events. Well, if that's so then for me, Dave Harding, a happily married music journalist, that was the moment at which a butterfly soared into the air and chaos theory became chaos practice.
Copyright © 2002 by Mike Gayle
Meet the Author
Mike Gayle is the author of the British bestsellers Turning Thirty, Mr. Commitment, and My Legendary Girlfriend. He's also a freelance journalist and a former advice columnist. He lives in England.
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I found my first Mike Gayle book (Turning Thirty) waiting for a connecting flight at Heathrow a few years back. It was the best 6-hour layover I have had. I swear he knows me an all of my friends personally. Gayle is funny, poignant and never preachy. His writing style is similar to Nick Hornby; maturing brit hipsters talking about their lives and loves without the typical macho bravado. But, where Hornby seems to be trying very hard these days, to write /WELL/, Mike Gayle is relaxed and conversational. His story telling keeps getting better. Dinner for Two is a terrific read about negotiating the gray areas in a relationship. The theme is that it¿s not easy but it is worth the effort. Sure, this book isn¿t going to change your life or win the Pulitzer but you won¿t regret the time you spent enjoying it. There are a lot of male British authors writing in this style, many more than American authors, but Gayle is hands down my favorite.
In London, thirty-one years old Dave Harding is a music journalist for Louder magazine, a publication that boasts that its audience is ¿people who live for music¿ while his beloved wife Izzy works at Femme Magazine. He likes his work there so is a bit taken back when the magazine folds. Through a friend Jenny, Izzy gets Dave a job as an agony aunt at Teen Scene. Dave provides relationship and other advice to mostly adolescent girls. Leery when he first started because he took himself seriously as a music critic, Dave soon realizes he is enjoying the advice column. However, as Izzy recovers from a miscarriage, Dave believes his biological clock is running down and needs a baby to feel fulfilled. Everything changes when thirteen-year-old Nicola sends him a letter at teen Scene insisting that he is not her agony uncle, but her biological father. He quickly believes she is right, but agonizes how to tell Izzy still healing from her miscarriage as he is terrified by how the woman who he loves with all his heart will react. This lighthearted relationship drama stars a sensitive male who loves his wife so much that everyone knows it. Dave¿s need not to hurt the already battered Izzy actually leads to mistrust and doubt as his good intentions towards his spouse and his newly discovered teenage child backfires until the ladies come to the rescue. Mike Gayle furbishes a fine tale starring characters readers will cherish especially fumbling nurturing and loving Dave. Harriet Klausner
I just got done reading this book over the past 2 days in hardback. I wasn't sure if I would like it when I began but was quickly hooked. It's written in semi-diary form and is absolutely fabulous. I would recommend this to anyone- I think it appeals to a wide variety of people.