Listen to Your… Chest (Part 3)

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(Continued from Listen to Your… Chest (Part 2))

The following Friday, at a birthday drinks, I told a friend about the guy off Tinder I’d been chatting to for the last year but had never met. I omitted a few salient details and he looked at me like I belonged at the funny farm.

‘You have to meet him,’ he said.

If the past twelve months had shown me anything it was that I definitely didn’t have to meet him, but I wanted to.

That night, waiting for the last train, I texted Neuro. The platform was deserted except for a man in his 60s wearing a shabby raincoat. He came over and alerted me to the fact that I was facing the wrong way so I might miss the train. I thanked him and he asked where I was travelling to, did I have a boyfriend?

‘Yes,’ I heard myself say.

‘Are you meeting him now?’

‘Yes.’

The train arrived and we boarded. He was still talking, nineteen to the dozen, when Neuro replied.

‘Where are you?’ I sent back.

‘Home. U?’

‘I’ve never raped a woman and I’ve never touched a child,’ my neighbour was saying.

‘Ring me!’ I sent back.

He did, just as the train pulled into my station. I took advantage of my tipsy state to announce that we needed to meet. It had been a year. We needed to meet.

‘Come over now.’

‘I can’t. I… I need more notice.’

It was early February. The last time I shaved my legs there were leaves on the trees. But, more to the point, he was a virtual stranger. I wasn’t about to rock up at his flat in the middle of the night.

He suggested the next day.

‘You don’t sound very sure.’

‘Or Sunday?’ he said.

‘Hmm Sunday’s tricky.’

He said he’d be in touch the next day.

 

We never did meet. As I write this, a referral letter from the hospital where Neuro works lies open on the kitchen table. The appointment is for next week…

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Writer’s Block

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Beatrice comes back in. ‘You don’t have to leave.’ CC Image courtesy of kuchingboy on Flickr

‘No, it’s fine,’ I say, reaching for my bag. ‘It’s only… I don’t know what to do!’

‘How did you leave it?’

‘He said he’d be in touch today, to arrange where to meet.’

‘Does he know where you are?’

‘I said I had a thing in Old Street til, like, 8.’

‘And you haven’t heard from him all day?’

‘No.’

‘Hmm.’

 

I should have learnt the first time. Or the second time. Or last night, when he rang…

‘So,’ he says, ‘I’ve ordered food for two, just in case.’

I laugh. We’ve been here before. I say no, he asks why, and I say I’d rather meet for the first time ‘not at one of our flats’.

‘So… bye?’ I say.

‘No!’ He steers the conversation in a different direction.

We leave it that the following evening, after my friend’s birthday party, we’ll meet for a drink. Somewhere public, though he does joke that he’ll book the whole place out.

*

Beatrice, one year older and definitely wiser, tells me what only good friends do. That I’m worth more than this. That he knew I was busy til 8 and he still hasn’t been in touch to make a plan. That I shouldn’t contact him.

 

Wednesday night. I’ve just got into bed. My phone buzzes into life. I recognise the number, partly because of our call history, partly because of the number of times I’ve deleted it from my phone. I let it ring out.

When he calls again, I do a quick Google and install the relevant app.

CC Image courtesy of ant.photos on Flickr

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What I’ve Learnt From Tinder

28 Days Later


The Worst of Times

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CC Image courtesy of Juska Wendland on FlickrA couple of years ago, just after the car crash that was my 26th birthday party, my brother gave me some good advice.

Don’t invite someone you’re dating to a party because it will make it all about them.

When I drew up the guest list for my housewarming, Tom‘s name was conspicuously absent. Obviously. I’d said I didn’t just want something casual and he’d suggested ‘being friends’.

Colleagues featured heavily on the list. Then the usual round-up of friends, my brother, and men I’ve always had a vague crush on but nothing has ever happened with.

It was safe. The latter wouldn’t come; the former would treat it like after-work drinks.

Then Friday happened.

‘Can I invite Tom?’

Beatrice says no. I play the Friday card. Tom is the least of my worries.

I don’t see Tom everyday and feel a jolt in the pit of my stomach. I don’t don my headphones to drown out his voice when he comes over to talk to Ryan. I don’t look up mid-meeting, see him walk past, meet his eye, struck by the sadness of his expression, and spend all afternoon wondering what it means.

Tom doesn’t pass my desk on his way out…

‘Bye,’ I say, with a wave.

… and acknowledge my farewell but keep walking.

CC Image courtesy of Vickilgh's Pictures on Flickr

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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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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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