A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from my mother, the closing line of which was this: "You must ask Tom about his almost-romance with Pippa Middleton. He was doing so well with her and then he blew it!"
Well, I don't know what your reaction would be after reading an email like that, but mine was to find Tom immediately. It was a harder task than you might imagine, seeing as he lives several time zones away in Singapore, but I tried all the usual haunts: Google chat, Facebook chat, Skype, text message. I even sent him a good old email, which all the kids will tell you is so 2008. (Did you know that? That people born after 1989 think email is for fuddy-duddies? I want to grab them by their jeggings-encircled ankles and shout "Letters! We had to write letters in my day! Holding pens! In our hands! Using stamps! And the postal service! Backwards, up a hill, both ways!")
Anyway, I finally found Tom and finagled the story out of him. It goes like this:
Several years ago---I know, I know; I too was disappointed to find out that this was pre-Royal Wedding---Tom attended a 21st dinner party in London, where he found himself seated next to Pippa Middleton. (Tom, it quickly became apparent during the telling of this story, runs in some pretty fancy circles that I didn't know about.)
There was a Great Gatsby theme to this dinner party, the way Tom recalls it; either that, or he was dressed in 1920s tennis garb for some other, more mysterious reason. At any rate, he says, he was wearing white trousers, a crisp white shirt, and a white cravat that night. As an accessory, he was even carrying a wooden tennis racquet. That's us Burnses for you right there, see: we don't do things by halves. We take our parties seriously in this family.
During the dinner, Tom and Pippa were getting on like a house on fire. They were laughing and joking and, if Tom is to be believed, there was a fair bit of flirting going on. (Wouldn't you flirt with a man in a white cravat? I mean, I certainly would. If he wasn't my brother, obviously. Okay, this is getting weird.) As the evening went on, Tom liked Pippa, and Pippa---if all evidence is to be believed---liked Tom.
But Tom also liked the bottomless refills of booze at this party, and this is where it all went horribly wrong. Tom, in his own words, "probably got a little bit too drunk" that night, which I think we can all assume is like Mark Zuckerberg saying he "probably runs a pretty popular website." Or me saying Tim Riggins is "probably an okay thing to look at." Or the pope saying "ehhh, I'm probably kind of Catholic. I guess."
Waking up the next morning, says Tom, he had "hazy memories of the night before" (which I think we can all assume is like......okay, I'm sensing you get it.) Remembering how well he'd been getting on with Pippa just a few hours previously, however, he asked his friend who knew her---wait, time out! This makes me, like, five degrees of separation from Prince Harry!---whether she thought it was worth it for Tom to follow up and get in touch.
"Are you crazy?" asked the friend, aghast. "You spent the last few hours of the party chasing her around the room with your wooden tennis racquet above your head!"
Tom ended the email containing this story with a sad, forlorn little "oops."
Oh, Internet. What could have been, huh? What could have been!