Lost For Words

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CC Image courtesy of tnssofres on Flickr‘What do you write about?’

‘Err…. ermm… errrr….’

This is me, one Wednesday night back in January. Two cocktails down and a nice software engineer is asking me about my writing. I might complain that none of the men I go on dates with seem to be remotely interested in my life, but it’s a damn sight more complicated when they are.

‘What do you write about?’ ‘What sort of thing do you write?’ ‘Is it fiction?’

And I am lost for words.

I explained this dilemma to a male friend the other day.

‘Why don’t you just tell them?’ he says.

‘Because… it would take a very confident guy not to run for the hills, wouldn’t it?’

‘But don’t you want to date someone very confident?’

There’s a pause.

‘Yeah I s’pose.’

‘So what have you got to lose?’ He starts to laugh. ‘You can begin your next post, ‘Last night I decided to be honest…’.

I join in laughing. So this is what it would be like, discussing the blog openly with a clever, funny, attractive man. And it’s not so bad.

CC Image courtesy of Det.Logan on Flickr

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What to Expect From Dating in Your 20s

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CC Image courtesy of The Shared Experience on Flickr

You will meet The One, the love of your life, the man you want to marry. Then a few weeks later, by which time you’ll have the order of his profile pictures by heart and all your friends will know his star sign – a few weeks later you’ll unexpectedly run into the guy and wonder what strong drugs you were on.

You will install every dating app known to man. After several weeks of Hinge-ing and Happn-ing you’ll start to wonder if the cute, sun-kissed guys on your screen actually exist… before remembering that cute and sun-kissed isn’t your type.

You will occasionally meet nice, attractive people the old-fashioned way – through friends. Nothing will happen with them either.

A painful experience of unrequited love in your early 20s will teach you precisely nothing.

If you don’t mind paying for his drinks you’re probably in love. If you keep the receipts in a box on your bedside table…

CC Image courtesy of stevendepolo on Flickr

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Then I Kissed Her

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CC Image courtesy of blockpartypress on Flickr

They’ve spent the last five hours laughing and talking and walking. Now they are standing before the tube map.

‘You want to take the Piccadilly line,’ she says, tracing the route, ‘then change.’

‘Which way are you going?’

‘The other way.’ She points. ‘South.’

‘OK, so, this was fun.’

‘Yes.’

They hug.

‘I’d like to see you again,’ he says.

‘That would be nice.’

‘OK… so… I’m going to kiss you.’

She smiles. ‘OK.’

They kiss.

‘I’d like to see you again,’ he says. ‘When are you next free?’

‘Errr… erm… I’ve got something next Saturday… I’ve got things next Thursday, Friday and Saturday but… sometime after that? Can I let you–?’

‘Yes. I want to see you again, for drinks this time.’

‘OK.’

They kiss again briefly.

‘Bye.’

‘Bye.’

CC Image courtesy of foreverdigital on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of Debs (ò‿ó)♪ on FlickrBeatrice has just texted to say she’s got a Tinder date lined up.

‘He’s a ginger version of Rob,’ she says, ‘so that might be a problem.’

‘I think Ginger Rob is par for the course,’ I send back. ‘I’ve spent the last eight months looking for a doppelganger of Viable Prospect.’

I go upstairs to get ready. My top needs ironing and I’m contemplating washing my hair in the vain hope it will come out looking entirely different. Longer and more bouncy.

I put away the ironing board, transfer essential items to my evening bag. There’s ten minutes until I need to leave, enough time to reply to a couple of messages.

At the top right of the screen, a small number two, in red. Reminders, no doubt, of invitations unanswered. I click on the icon and feel my stomach drop.

 

Two days earlier…

Beatrice shifts in her chair. ‘It’s embarrassing.’

‘It’s not!’

I tell her about the time I almost went to see someone for the same reason. ‘But I knew a therapist couldn’t tell me what I needed to know – only he could do that. So I messaged him, and, when he stopped replying, I was finally able to move on.’

‘Do you still think about him?’

I shrug. ‘I guess I compare people to him. But I know now he doesn’t want to be with me, and it’s invaluable, knowing that.’

 

I stare at the screen a moment.

‘Fuck you!’ I say with a half-laugh. ‘Fuck you!’ I get up, pace the room. ‘You are not fucking doing this. You’ve fucking ruined enough of my fucking life already. You are not ruining my evening.’ I grab my coat and bag. ‘I am going to have a fabulous night.’

 

‘Do you want another drink?’ My date gestures towards the menu. ‘Or do you want to dance or… do you just want to get out of here?’

He’s already told me he’s not a very good dancer.

‘Err… out of here?’

‘So,’ he says, once we’re outside, ‘your place or mine?

I suppress a smile. ‘Err… yeah, that’s what I meant earlier by I think we want different things.’

‘Ah.’

 

Tubing home, my thoughts drift to another first date. We didn’t want the same things either.

CC Image courtesy of nehavish on Flickr

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The Chips Are Down

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CC Image courtesy of Riebart on Flickr‘Do you do chips?’

‘I’m afraid not.’ The barmaid shows me a menu. ‘We do pizza, and bruschetta…’

I’m slightly regretting choosing the Islington venue. The walk from the tube – all twenty minutes of it – might have taken me down some of London’s prettiest streets but the pub at the end of it thinks bruschetta is an acceptable substitute for chips. Clutching my gin and tonic I make my way upstairs.

The event is due to start any minute and the participants are all standing around talking to each other, which puzzles me. What I like about the speed dating concept is that you have a finite amount of time with each person. If you don’t click, it’s four minutes of small talk, and if you do, you match via the Original Dating app and… who knows? (Who indeed?) But the point is I don’t want to meet these men beforehand, run out of things to say and then be faced with the prospect of a four-minute ‘date’.

We take our seats, the women that is. (As is traditional in speed dating, if a phenomenon less than twenty years old can be said to have traditions, it is the men who rotate.) Lee sits down opposite me, introduces himself. We’ve already exhausted small talk when the host announces that our first four minutes is about to begin. This, I think to myself, is going to be a long night.

But it isn’t. In the break, I chat to one of the other girls in the loo. She’s also pleasantly surprised. No thunderbolts, we agree, but everyone is really nice. It’s the kind of event that reassures you there are nice people out there; it’s just a question of meeting someone you click with. Which is an argument in favour of going to more than one event. Several of my ‘dates’ have done just that. Rob tells me about his experience of Literary Speed Dating, where you bring a book and have to talk about it. I’d worry that it would attract pretentious types and intellectual snobs but Rob just likes books. And I quite like Rob.

CC Image courtesy of Boston Public Library on Flickr

The girl in the loo makes another good point: that it can be hard to tell after just four minutes. We’ve all been given sheets to complete with peoples’ names, speed dating numbers and a verdict (‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘friend’). Some of the guys aren’t bothering to fill it out and I can kinda see why. You remember the names of people you like without an aide memoire.

Or do you? I dry my hands, pick up my bag. I could leave through the bar or go upstairs and say goodbye, perhaps swap numbers. That might be a bit weird though.

Everyone’s now downstairs, which does away with the need to make a decision.

‘I’m gonna head, but it was really nice to meet you!’ I say, tapping her on the shoulder.

‘Anna! It was! Here, let me give you my number – we should do something sometime!’

I grin and fish for pen and paper. She looks puzzled and pulls out her phone. ‘Or… give me yours.’

I recite the digits.

‘This is terrible,’ I say, ‘but… I’m so sorry, was it… Rachel?’

She laughs. ‘Steph. I’ll text you.’

‘Great.’

I pass Rob on the way out, exchange farewells. I’m still not sure, which the cynic in me says is probably a no.

CC Image courtesy of Family O'Abe on Flickr

Find out more about Original Dating speed dating events in Islington and places that serve chips here.

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