A typical lunchtime.
"Oh hey, baby girl. How's it going?" Rob says, walking over to our group of friends and dumping his lunch tray down in the nearest available seat.
"Good, thanks," I reply, grinning. He leaves and then returns with a drink for both of us. It's instinctive that he picks up my favourite flavour because it's his too.
His face is bright with his usual comfortable smile. His voice is laced with his usual tone colour: flirty. He doesn't mean to it be. There's just something in his makeup that just won't let him have a normal conversation. There's no 'off' button. He drops innuendos as frequently as others drop 'f' bombs, smiling cheekily and raising his eyebrows at the recipient of his attentions, until they blush. Conversation is almost as easy as breathing and any pause or silence is as comfortable as a winter blanket.
I take in his physical attributes without even noting them now: tall, with the strong shoulders of a sportsman, dark hair and eyes. He's one of those people who used to irritate me, as an awkward looking young teenager – he can wear pretty much everything and carry it off. I'd never met anyone who could wear a t-shirt in luminescent orange before I'd met Rob. At the same time, he's not model-looking. If you lined up all of my male friends, you wouldn't pick him out as the most attractive.
My theory is that his personality is reflected by his outer appearance. I've never been able to figure out if he's faking or not but his confidence is sky high and he has the most ridiculously wonderful way of making everyone he's around feel brilliant, even if what he's saying to someone appears awful.
Nina: [worried looking, pale faced, shaking] I'm seriously scared about this exam. I'm going to fail.
Rob: Stop being an idiot. [A serious look]
... and instantly, she feels better and aces that paper, without him even having to assure her. She know, at least somewhere under the surface, believes in herself that little bit more. That's his magic.
He makes me laugh with his words and his actions, sometimes with just his facial expressions. He has a particular face that reminds me more than anything of a duck and, the minute that appears, I'm gone. He has no shame either – if something potentially embarrassing needs to be done, he's there, not giving a damn what anyone thinks. It's one of the things that inspires me – he's the only person who ever managed to get through to me that I'm not competing against anyone else; my best is awesome, definitely good enough.
He eats like an absolute monster, shovelling it in in a way that should be unattractive. Somehow, I forgive him his lack of manners. He flits between the people he's talking to like a coquettish ingénue or the host of a celebrity party. He ignores you while he talks to the others because, when he's blocking you out, he's intensely focusing on his current conversation – Rob makes everyone feel worth something, even if they do temporarily feel crap beforehand. When he does talk to me, however, he's enthusiastic. He drapes his arms lazily around the edge of my chair and gestures with his free hand to emphasis his words, leaning forward when he gets really into it.
His frequent topics? Philosophy, sport, music, politics, computer games and – most often than not, when he's drunk – gossip.
And me? I'm the only girl who's "one of the guys" – and you know what? I don't mind... mostly. "Bros before hoes" after all.