28 Days Later

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CC Image courtesy of brian glanz on FllickrIn the time that elapses between the journalist asking me out and his forgetting I exist, I turn 28.

The evening of my birthday, my brother rings. I end up telling him about my latest Tinder disappointment.

‘Tinder’s quite a casual way of meeting people,’ he says, ‘so this kind of behaviour is to be expected.’

I remind him that I’ve been on Tinder for more than two years and it’s only in the last few months that this has started happening: a guy asks me out, I suggest a date and then… nothing. The Man from Hampstead, The Man of Phone Sex Fame (admittedly that one was a non-starter), The Man from Euston Station (nothing to do with Tinder but a convenient statistic), the journalist – it’s getting very boring.

And now Viable Prospect. He proclaims meeting up to be a ‘grand idea’ and says he’ll let me know when he’s back in town at the end of the week. Four weeks of radio silence later, I unfriend him, delete his number and resolve, finally, to move on.

CC Image courtesy of 612gr on Flickr

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In a Nutshell

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CC Image courtesy of Jim Surkamp on FlickrTuesday night. Emerging from the tube, I pull out my phone. A new message from a new match. I tap the icon and read:

Good day. Good day?

It takes me a moment to process and another moment to laugh. This is already the most promising Tinder interaction of 2016.

 

As the conversation goes on I realise something incredible: that here is a man who writes longer messages than I do. I’m half-tempted to send Adrien screenshots for all the stick he gives me at work for being verbose. Sam too for that matter: he once told me he only reads the ends of my texts.

 

Saturday, my new correspondent sends through his standard essay. Halfway down:

I’m not so familiar with Tinder etiquette and I’m not sure if we are supposed to exchange X number of messages or words or inches of text first…

If we are, then I think it’s safe to say the threshold has been crossed.

… but I find it very interesting and pleasant talking to you and I have an inkling that we would enjoy chatting in person…’

He asked me out. In a nutshell.

CC Image courtesy of Muffet on Flickr

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Bar Exercises

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CC Image courtesy of viktoriawigenstam on FlickrHe walks away.

‘I used to have a massive crush on him,’ I say to the girl opposite, ‘and then the other day… we matched on Tinder!’

She does fish out of water and points in his direction. ‘Go – go after him!’

I shake my head, smiling, feeling our three-year age gap more than ever. ‘No.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because….’ I shrug. ‘We’ve got nothing in common. It wouldn’t work.’

‘Do you still find him attractive?’

‘Yes.’

Hell yes.

‘Then… look,’ she says, ‘I’m going out with Sam and we’ve got nothing in common. He’s maths, I’m arts, but it works.’

‘Yeah but – you have got things in common. Friends and… you both reel. Whereas, well, when I spoke to that guy just now – we’d run out of things to say!’

‘Maybe he’s shy.’

‘Yeah… yeah, he probably is.’

 

Four years ago I quit my job in the arts and took an administrative role in a start-up. Its offices backed onto a wine bar and when important clients visited, it fell to me to reserve a table there. I would walk the 30 yards or so along the pavement, my hopes rising with every step. Sometimes I’d be wearing my red dress, just long enough to be office-appropriate, and if he was there I’d smile and turn the same colour as it. I confided in a colleague who, like me, couldn’t understand what it was about him. All I knew was that he passed the acid test.

One day, after a bit of flirty emailing, I went round to the bar. He was there and we talked our usual nonsense for a bit. Just as I was about to leave I suggested we go for a drink sometime. He looked a bit awkward. ‘Sure,’ he said. Which I interpreted as enthusiasm.

Fast forward a week and I’m back at the bar. I have a plan. The plan is to give him my number, which I’ve scribbled on a scrap of paper. The plan is to give it to him quickly, casual-like, as if I was passing and it had just occurred to me to do it. The plan is not to chat for a bit, repeat the suggestion of going for a drink then practically put the bit of paper into his hand. That was a red dress day.

Shortly after that I found out he had a girlfriend. Which solved the mystery of what it was that I liked about him.

*

I meet his eye, smile. He smiles back. He’s on his way out – that’s clear from the coat – but we exchange pleasantries and I introduce him to the girl opposite. His friends appear; they’re ready to leave. We kiss on the cheeks.

‘You should come down to the bar more often,’ he says.

Again he kisses me, and walks away.

 

Two days later…

I bring up his profile. Everything about it is wrong: the clichéd phrases, the dodgy grammar, the selfie. I hit the message tab and start writing.

CC Image courtesy of 27147 on Flickr

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Numbers Game

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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.’

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The Friendly Ghost

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CC Image courtesy of State Library Victoria Collections on FlickrOne idle Saturday morning in early May, I’m flicking my way through the Tinder catalogue. This was back when you could see at at a glance if you had any mutual friends and who they were*. Now the way I see it, a ‘good’ mutual friend (i.e. someone you’d be up for dating in their own right) can elevate a ‘maybe’ to an unequivocal YES. This one is definitely a maybe. I flick to the next picture – is that jewellery he’s wearing? We’ve one mutual friend. I tap the icon and their identity is revealed.

I’ve written before about transference, here and here. And now here. I go back one screen, seeing with different eyes. And when we match and he gets in touch, I forgive the typos galore. I even let the earnestness slide for a day or two. A week later he messages again, and then again a month down the line, but I don’t reply. I’ve met a man who can spell, make me laugh and be earnest all in the space of a few words. I’m a lost woman.

 

Wednesday night, I’m queueing for cheap cider with Gus and Ryan. Tristan and some of the others come over, drinks tokens in hand. They’re mostly familiar faces, colleagues I see with varying frequency around the office. All except one. I’d seen him come in with Tristan and since then had been doing a little dance of avoidance. It works well until… it doesn’t.

‘Hi, I’m Casper.’

‘Hi – Anna.’

It’s a weak handshake.

‘How – how do you know Tristan?’

I know how he knows Tristan, but it’s easier this way.

 

Two pitchers of cheap cider later, I find myself next to Tristan. He leans in, even closer than he usually does, and says in a very loud voice:

‘So Anna,’ he starts to laugh, a good-natured, cider-fuelled laugh, ‘I was saying to my friend Casper, you should meet Anna, and–.’

At which point Casper comes into earshot.

‘He’s coming over,’ I say, laughing, ‘so you might want to stop talking about him in the third person.’

Tristan looks totally unphased.

‘I think Tristan’s trying to tell me something about you!’ I say to Casper.

‘Oh OK,’ he says, also laughing. ‘Shall I go then?’

‘Probably best.’

It’s all very good-natured. I turn back to Tristan. ‘You were saying, you said to Casper that he should meet me, and then….’

‘Then he told me you’d already met on Tinder!’

‘It’s true.’

 

Cut to later in the evening. Casper is drinking minis of white wine.

‘I don’t drink beer,’ he tells me.

I examine the label on the bottle. ‘I was supposed to go to a Blossom Hill-themed party the other day, but then I didn’t.’

You can tell I’m really trying.

‘Well, could I buy you a drink sometime?’

‘Ermm,’ I take a swig of cider, ‘thanks but… I’m afraid I’m… otherwise engaged.’

Whatever that means.

CC Image courtesy of Daniel Kulinski on Flickr

*You still can see mutual friends on Tinder, but if you change your Facebook password, you then need to log out and back in to the app in order for them to show on people’s profiles. Am I still using Tinder? Nooo.

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