Performance Review

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CC Image courtesy of zak mc on Flickr

My boss and I are setting my development objectives for 2016. In my head they go:

1. Get in earlier.

2. Leave at 5.

3. Get a life.

4. GET A BOYFRIEND.  

Which might actually make me leave at 5.

 

That evening…

Through the glass I see him approach. He pushes the door open. I smile, and our eyes meet fleetingly. What a pity, I think, as we set off in the direction of the tube.

Towards the end of dinner conversation had turned to relationships past – or lack thereof. I revisit the subject.

‘Do you find it weird that I haven’t had a boyfriend?’

‘No,’ he says. ‘I mean, it’s unusual. I suppose by 27 most people have–’

‘Had a relationship.’

‘Yeah. Why do you think it is?’

I shrug. ‘I don’t know.’ I laugh. ‘You’re probably in a better position to say!’

He makes as if to speak then stops himself.

‘Go on,’ I say.

‘No. I can’t say that.’

‘What?’

‘No.’

‘What?’

‘Well… it’s obviously not that you’re not desirable. I guess… I don’t know, maybe you haven’t made time for it. You’ve been focused on work?’

I shake my head. ‘That’s a recent thing.’

‘Then… it has to be because you’ve chosen it.’

‘I haven’t,’ I put in quickly.

‘Not chosen it, but I mean you could be with someone so it’s because of your requirements.’

‘Mmm.’

We talk about his relationship history – two serious girlfriends and two Tinder dates. This is number three.

‘Have you been on many dates?’ he says.

‘A few.’

‘What have they been like?’

‘A mixture, some good. But mostly they’ve been…’

‘Bland?’

‘No. It’s weird, you can spend an evening with someone and get on well, but that’s it. You don’t need to see each other again.’

‘Like this evening.’

I turn to look at him. ‘Candid much?! That – that would be a first, appraising a date while you’re on it!’

‘Would it?’

I don’t know if it’s the two G&Ts, my masochistic streak or a desire to expose this whole frustrating situation for what is almost certainly is – a dead end of a date with someone I find very attractive – but something makes me say:

‘Actually, why not? So… what did you make of this evening?’

And he tells me. He’s enjoyed it, enjoyed my company. Good sense of humour, he says, which is important, and I’m self-deprecating. But he thinks I’m quite shy…

And the whole time he’s speaking I’m trying to figure out what the hell it all means. Does he fancy me? Was the ninety excruciating minutes we just spent in the restaurant a false start? Or is this reassurance? Don’t worry, he’s saying, you’re a catch. You’ll find someone. I’m just not that guy.

 

The train pulls into the station.

‘Be in touch,’ he says, rising from his seat.

I force a smile. ‘Yeah.’

 

Half an hour later, I’m sitting on my bed, listening to Adele, contemplating unfriending VP. Every disappointing Tinder date feels like his fault. My phone flashes up with a message. It’s my date, asking if I’ve got home OK. His next question throws me completely.

‘Did you have a good evening?’

I fancied him rotten, I was aching for him to kiss me, I was the most excited I’d been in a long time when he suggested getting dinner. But the dinner…

‘Yes,’ I send back. ‘Did you?’

 

An hour later, we call it a night.

‘Let’s see each other again,’ he says.

CC Image courtesy of LuluP on Flickr

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Brothers In Arms

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CC Image courtesy of LollyKnit on Flickr‘When’s your thing?’ Ryan says.

‘Yeah… I have to go.’

I start putting stuff into my handbag. Phone (no messages), lip gloss, anti-bacterial hand gel – essential dating kit in case I end up in a situation where I have to eat but haven’t had a chance to wash my hands I don’t know why I do this to myself.

I look round. Ryan is still at his desk.

‘Do you want to come?’

He laughs. ‘Yeah.’

I’m not totally against the idea. At least with Ryan in tow I’d be guaranteed some laughs. Plus the guy I’m meeting is bisexual. He might like Ryan best of the party.

‘Text me,’ Ryan says, as he passes my desk.

‘I will.’

 

Earlier that afternoon….

‘I’m not sure I am looking forward to this evening. Christ, a new low.’

‘You have an early start for hiking tomorrow,’ Ryan sends back. ‘Don’t forget.’

‘Do I look like I hike???’

 

I’m usually averse to sending friends updates while a date is still ongoing. The bisexual (I’m sorry – what else can I call him?) has gone to the loo. I fire off a text.

‘Hiking, right? Arghh.’

‘Hiking. Don’t commit to a second drink for the sake of it.’

I don’t see Ryan’s reply until sometime later. I haven’t committed to a second drink. Instead we’re sitting there, nursing empty glasses. Twice I’ve declined my date’s offer of another G&T. Once I’ve indicated I’ll have to make a move soon. A total of zero times has he taken the hint.

‘So… are you an only child?’ he says.

It’s only later, when I’ve extricated myself from the situation and am heading for the tube, that I remember something Ryan once said.

‘If you’re asking each other if you have any brothers or sisters, that’s when you know it’s doomed.’

CC Image courtesy of chicks57 on Flickr

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Single On Ice

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(Continued from The Lie Of The Land)CC Image courtesy of pixxiestails on Flickr

‘You’ll know the right table.  One will just seem… right.’

He goes off to the loo, leaving me to puzzle over this cryptic instruction.  I scan the garden.  There are only a few options.  None, in my opinion is quite right, but one is at least private and fairly quiet.  And since VP is only getting the lower register right now, this strikes me as a good choice.

He comes out.

‘So – er – how are you holding up?’ I say.

‘Yeah, breathing, y’know.’

I laugh.  He might be fucked, but I’m seriously fucked.  Not drunk – I’m only on my first drink.  That was an interesting moment.

 

‘Martini please, a single on ice.’

He shakes his head.  ‘This isn’t going well.’

‘Could there be a bit more judgment please?!’ I say, laughing.

‘I don’t think so.’

 

In the garden, he grills me about Tinder.  I try to change the subject.

‘No, no, we have to go with this for at least twenty minutes.’

I laugh.  ‘Why, because it’s the only thing we have in common?!’

‘Yes.’

‘There’s our mutual friends?’

‘Save them.’

‘For later – another twenty?’

‘Yes.’

 

I learn that I am his second Tinder date.  That the first lunged at him as they were saying goodnight.  I make a mental note: no lunging.  If he’s paying attention, he’ll know not to… ask for a second date then leave me hanging, or monologue in humourless fashion, which I don’t think he could do if he tried.

 (TO BE CONTINUED)

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Ask Me No Questions

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‘I’ve been talking about myself for twenty minutes straight…’

Or ninety. 

‘ …you must be very bored!’

Self-aware and sensitive: what’s not to like?

‘Now, tell me, what makes you tick!?’ 

Oh dear.

‘Dancing…’

The waitress appears with the pudding menu.

And chocolate.  I scan the list: all my favourites are there.

‘As in ‘Strictly’?’

‘In a way – ‘

Charlie‘s eyes light up.  ‘It’s just come to me!  The name of that Italian singer I couldn’t remember…’

Tiramisu?

‘ …Mietta!  How do you feel about pudding?’

My eyes come to rest on the poetry of chocolate fondant (allow twenty minutes).  I think not.