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Blue Soup

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CC Image courtesy of irucko on Flickr

I see it as a sign of maturity that this year I haven’t invited any romantic prospects to my birthday.

And I see it as a sign of immaturity that I felt the need to share this information with all my close friends.

‘There’s still time,’ Lucy says, in response to my triumphant text.

Perky is more specific. ‘Why don’t you invite that guy?’

I’ve just finished telling her about The Man In Turquoise.

Only Beatrice affirms my decision.

‘Good,’ she says.

‘Yes,’ I say, while wondering how on earth I’m going to find the motivation to make canapés for twenty strictly platonic friends.

Homemade Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onion Canapé

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Sumac (who knew?)

Sumac (who knew?)

You will nearly always fall for the person you didn’t think was your type.

— Dolly Alderton

At dancing the other night I met two guys. One of them you know about; the other was a blast from the past.

The one you know about, The Man In Turquoise, is exactly the kind of guy I can see myself with. A lot of that is probably to do with the fact he likes cooking, cue imagining long evenings spent together getting excited about things like sumac.

The Blast From The Past is a more puzzling kind of crush: the kind of guy you look at and can’t quite explain your interest in. He’s shorter than you and thinner and he has this goofy, toothy smile which is cute, sure, but not really sexy. And he can’t dress and you don’t have the same sense of humour. And when you text to check everything is OK after getting a missed call from him at 1am his reply is barely punctuated. He’s probably not interested and, four cheery chirpy messages later, you still don’t know exactly why you are. And when you tell Beatrice, she says it all sounds just like him because he’s really friendly. And that’s really annoying.

CC Image courtesy of Ed Yourdon on Flickr
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Carbon Copy

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CC Image courtesy of M i x y on Flickr

I hit the forward button and type:

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Beatrice comes back minutes later:

I wondered if you’d react.

Of course I’d bloody react!

Her advice is not to go.

*

Two weeks earlier…

The first thing I see is a status update: he’s leaving the company, leaving London, moving up north. I don’t know what he’s doing there (getting married and having babies probably) and it doesn’t really matter.

 

As the leaving date approaches, I think of him occasionally. It’s sad, the way things have turned out. Given what happened, I can’t but think badly of the guy, and I’d much rather think well of him.

 

The afternoon is busy, my inbox awash with emails. ‘Drinks tomorrow’ is the subject, but it’s the sender’s name which makes me stare. I open the message, read the farewell note to colleagues. He’s sent it to his whole office, and in the ‘CC’ field included just four names.

*

‘Hey!’

I run into Beatrice on the station side of the traffic lights.

‘Hey!’ she says. ‘What are you doing here?!’

‘Oh… I’m just going to a drinks thing before dancing.’

‘Oh! Right!’

‘Yeah. Where are you off to?’

A gallery opening. In fact she’d better go, she’s running late. We say a hurried goodbye.

 

I come to a standstill a hundred yards or so from the pub, make a meal out of turning off my iPod, bundling up the headphones. I check my phone, stow it in my bag, and look for traffic in both directions before crossing.

 

He looks a little awkward, which makes two of us, but pleased. Or relieved? He finds me a chair.

 

‘I think… the last time I saw you,’ he says when people have moved around a bit, and we have less of an audience, ‘was at the summer party.’

‘I remember.’

He laughs, a tad awkward. ‘I think I was very drunk that night.’

‘I think you might’ve been.’

He laughs again. I can’t think of what to say next.

 

A short while later, I get up to go. We hug.

‘Don’t let the man get you down,’ he says, with the same awkward laugh.

I don’t say that with him out of the picture I’ve a marginally better chance of following his advice.

CC Image courtesy of antony.howard on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of ansik on FlickrI number off:

‘I, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – hello!’

We embrace like old friends, the way you do in this kind of crowd though we’ve only met once before. I don’t think of him again until the last dance.

‘I like the colour of your t-shirt!’

‘Thank you!’ he says, turning me. ‘I like…’

I don’t catch what it is that he likes.

 

Later, in the pub, I’m part-way through a bucket of sauvignon blanc. You’d have to be in order to say to the immediate company, ‘I just need to go and speak to that person’, point, and then walk in the direction you’re pointing.

 

The taxi comes to a stop.

‘Tell me your number,’ he says. ‘I’ll remember it.’

I recite the digits, then reach for my purse. ‘Are you sure I can’t–?’

‘No no, we’ll go for drinks sometime.’

‘OK. Can you remember the number?!’

 

‘And he repeated it back to me,’ I tell Gus the next day. ‘That’s weird, right?’

‘That is weird.’ He chuckles. ‘That’s pretty cool.’

‘Yeah. I was like, a lost woman. But, well, I don’t know if he’ll remember it. And,’ I shrug, ‘if he does, he might not use it.’

‘Yeah… but he might.’

CC Image courtesy of John.Karakatsanis on Flickr

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What Do I Know?

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CC Image courtesy of Diamond Hoo Ha Man on FlickrIf an alien landed in London and stole my phone (it’s a big ‘if’ – I’ve got a budget Motorola) it would probably think my surname was Tinder and that I was really good at keeping in touch with my immediate family. It might also wonder why all these conversations reached fever pitch before coming to an abrupt end. It might not know how to operate a mobile phone.

After five Tinder dates in as many weeks I’ve learnt a few things:

  1. Meet. Your chemistry might be electric over text/Whatsapp but if you – or they – fail the acid test in person, that’s that.
  1. Meet on a week night. It’s much easier to curtail a mid-week date if you’re not feeling it…
  1. … which you probably won’t be. Keep your expectations low.
  1. Don’t contact your ex – especially not the one you met on Tinder – immediately after an underwhelming date. Actually don’t contact your ex, period.
  1. Split the tab, unless he absolutely insists. But otherwise, go Dutch. He’ll respect you for it and you won’t feel any guilt when there’s no follow-up. Plus, well, it’s the 21st century – why should the guy pay?
  1. You’ll decide pretty early on if the stranger who just said hello to you outside the tube station is someone you could kiss or get naked with. Whatever the verdict there is no polite way to get out of the ensuing date (see #2).
  1. After a run of average dates you might start to question your ability to know when you really like someone.

The day after date #5 I go dancing and run into an old, newly single acquaintance. He’s wearing turquoise and a broad grin and greets me like an old friend. I spend all of the next day hungover with this big dopey smile on my face.

Trust me, you’ll know.

CC Image courtesy of Pulpolux !!! on Flickr

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