The Definition Of Insanity

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CC Image courtesy of Stigs on FlickrThere are some people whose messages give you that feeling.  Butterflies.  Their name appears on the screen and you don’t open it right away.  Instead you use the fact it’s there, waiting for you, as leverage, to make you do some chore you’ve been putting off.  As you unload the dishwasher, or make lunch for the following day, you try not to think about it.  The message will disappoint; it always does.

 

It’s inevitable that when I go back on Tinder, Viable Prospect crosses my mind.  Imagine, I think to myself of an evening, if he got back in touch.  I would… ignore it.  Yes, that’s what I’d do.  It’s only a fleeting thought, I mean, why would he contact me?  How would he even know I was back on it?  Unless he was browsing his chat history and saw I’d recently been ‘active’ (shudder).  But people don’t do that.  I dismiss the thought.

 

Mid-week, I’m kicking back on the sofa, editing a post probably.  Or stalking Matthew.  More likely stalking Matthew.  I see my phone flashing white and swipe the screen.

There he is, in all his blue-eyed, bright-smiled, typo-free glory. Being witty, damn him.

Last time I held out twenty-four hours before replying – a Christmas miracle.  I also told myself that if he hadn’t suggested meeting up after two weeks, I would leave it.  Which I did.

I last all of ten minutes – ten minutes, for Christ’s sake! – before writing back.

Each time I hear from the guy I think maybe, just maybe, he’ll ask me out.  He doesn’t.  Not for a moment do I seriously believe I won’t reply.  That’s not true.  In the seconds immediately after reading each message, feeling that familiar wave of disappointment, I swear off the whole thing.  Even as I type the words, I’m hating him, hating myself for my complete lack of self-discipline.  How many other women are caught in his web?  To be fair, most are probably asleep.  It’s gone 1am and I’ve just been told I’m weird/attractive.  Which is enough to make me smile into my pillow.

Charming, blue-eyed, bright-smiled Viable Prospect thinks I’m weird/attractive.

I might be both, or neither, but I’m definitely a fool.

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‘You’re welcome to get changed at mine beforehand if you’d rather not travel in white tie.’

CC Image courtesy of The Bees Knees Daily on Flickr

It was too long, Anna felt, but the redrafting had become ridiculous.

He sent back, ‘I’m just figuring out how to get to London, and will let you know once I’ve decided.’

Then that last, adorable sentence.  She smiles on reading it, the tell-tale grin of someone who should be working, but whose attention has strayed.

She sits a moment, chin resting on her hand, looking out of the window.  It’s funny that he wants to know.  Black tie, and it might be the bow tie, or a cummerbund.  Can you wear a cummerbund with white tie?  She thinks not.  A handkerchief then, or a button hole?  The idea of it makes her laugh.

The sound of a step brings her back to the present.  It’s Gus, at the photocopier.  He smiles.  ‘Hey.’

 

It’s bright sun outside, almost a summer’s day.  She walks in the direction of the gardens, where the beds are a riot of colour.

Flowers perhaps.  He might present her with a bouquet.  For all she knows that’s what they do on the continent.

Sophie thought that made a difference.  ‘I think it’s even harder to know, if he’s German.’

Anna laughed.  ‘Are you just saying what I want to hear?’

‘Yes.’

There was only one thing she couldn’t explain away and so it gave her hope.  Three times Johann had issued an invitation, to a dinner in London.  Twice in person and a third time when she had written to thank him for a ball.  The cynic in her said it was probably because they were low on numbers, but still, she would only push it with someone she… but perhaps that was just her.

Then there was Freddie.

‘Someone left a red towel here – would that be yours?’

The quaint turn of phrase had made her smile.

‘It’s not mine I’m afraid.  I’m sure someone will contact Freddie if it’s precious – I’ve let him know you’ve got it.’

Why had she said that?  It would surely have made him think… but not to worry.  Tonight it would be clear.  She would be friendly and open.  And Freddie almost certainly wouldn’t be there.

 

He’s one of the last to arrive.  The sight of him makes her nervous and she doesn’t see – or if she does, she doesn’t register it – but kisses him, on the cheeks, her arm at an awkward angle.

‘These are for you,’ he says, stepping back.  ‘Navy is a difficult colour to match!’

She can feel her face growing hot.  ‘Thank you – they’re beautiful.’

Deep blue anenomes with velvety black centres, bluebells, and white tulips.

‘It’s a tradition back home.  You always bring flowers that match your partner’s dress.’

‘Aaw.’  Their scent is light and sweet.  ‘Thank you.’

She hugs him, kisses him again on the cheek.

 

‘All girls like flowers.’

Anna half-turns in her seat, smiling.

‘We saw your flowers, and were just saying, all girls like to be given flowers.’

It’s a passenger across the aisle.  Anna looks down at the bouquet.  ‘I thought so, when I heard you mention flowers.’

‘Are they from your boyfriend?’ says the girl beside him.

‘No.’  She explains, about it being a tradition.

‘Your future boyfriend.’

‘No,’ she says again, smiling.

 

The sky is brightening as she walks home from the bus stop.  The streets are deserted and she starts to dance, flowers in hand.  At her gate, she looks up and notices the wave-like structure of the roof, silhouetted black against the sky: a deep, beautiful blue.

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Perfect Strangers

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CC Image courtesy of ketrin1407 on FlickrMatthew’s reply is, of course, perfect.  He would have loved to have come, but can’t because of a clash (family commitments, aw).  He would however love to meet up.

Of all the men I contact, he’s the only one to say this.  Nice Guy and Swiss National are non-committal in a ‘thanks and have a nice life’ kind of a way.  Benedict being Benedict is effusive in his regrets…

He begins by suggesting I drop by where he works for a drink on the way home, then tells me he’s just moved to my neighbourhood so we must meet up soon, and sends me his mobile number for ease of contact. Coming from any other man, this medley of attentions would have had me dancing naked down Oxford Street.  But Benedict, like I said, is Benedict, and in Narnia they do things differently.

 

I don’t reply to Matthew’s message until my birthday a.k.a. The Apocalypse has been and gone.  The balance of my mind has been restored, and I’m probably a little bit more cynical about love stuff than I was twenty-four hours before.

 

There’s a scene in Sex & The City, where Carrie is running to a first date.  She bumps into her ex on the sidewalk.

‘I had a baby!’ he says.

‘I have a date!’

Awkward.

Small talk ensues.

‘Good to see you,’ she says, looking up at him.

‘You too.  We should get together and have coffee sometime, and catch up.’

‘Yeah, great!  OK we’ll do that.’

As Carrie walks away, the voiceover comes in: there is the type of date you can’t wait to keep, and the type of date you both know you’ll never keep.

 

Part of me – the cynical, pessimistic part that’s big on self-preservation – reckons that ‘meeting up’ with Matthew is like Aidan and Carrie’s coffee: it will never happen.  And with that in mind, I reply, saying it would be great to catch up, perhaps one night after work, and to let me know when would be good for him.

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That Girl

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CC Image courtesy of Jastrow on Flickr

‘ “Are you just looking for sex, maybe?”  Just like that!  It was… shaming.’

Tristan shakes his head.  ‘Sorry about this.’

I laugh.  ‘Oh don’t mind me!’

I’m riveted.

Ryan recaps for the benefit of his newest audience member.  ‘We’d been chatting for a while when he asked why I was on the site – was I looking for something serious?  And when I said no, he said ‘are you just looking for sex, maybe?’  Maybe?!  I just felt he was being so… judgmental.’

Tristan and I exchange grins.

‘I mean, this is OKCupid.  I’m obviously not looking for the love of my life.’

‘No,’ I say.

No?

‘And if I was just looking for sex, I’d go on Grindr.’

There’s a general murmur of assent.  I’m considering canvassing opinions on the online dating question, when Tristan speaks.

‘I tried online dating once, before I met Holly.  I went on a couple of dates, and what surprised me most was how… normal the people were.’

We laugh.

‘But now all my friends seem to be on Tinder.’

‘Yeah,’ I say.  ‘But actually I think the people on there are weirder.’  I laugh.  ‘Not that I’m saying your friends are weird!’

‘They are quite weird.’

‘Yeah, well, my weird friends are on it too!’

I’m on it, but I keep this to myself.

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Gus, silent until now, speaks.  ‘Isn’t it linked to your Facebook account?  That’s a bit scary.’

‘No surnames though,’ I say, striving for the tone of an objective outsider.

‘That’s fine,’ Tristan says, ‘if your name’s something generic, like Tom, but if you’re called Tristan…!’

I laugh.  ‘Yeah you’re screwed.’

He goes on.  ‘The impression I get, is that the girls on it are really keen…’

I remain poker-faced.

‘… and the guys, they’re a bit older, often professionals, and they sound interested to start with, but there’s rarely a second date.’

So not unlike real life then, though I don’t say as much.

At this point, we’re joined by two girls.  One of them, a pretty brunette, tries to engage Gus in conversation, but he’s busy doing something on his phone.

 

We were introduced the other day, at his desk.  I thought he was hot, in a rugged, arty kind-of-a-way, crouched at his computer, writing copy.

When he enters the kitchen, I don’t immediately recognize him.  For one, he’s tall, taller than me.  For another, he has a disarming smile which makes me for a moment forget what I’m doing there; which, when we end up using adjacent microwaves, makes me nervous of speaking; which might be why I don’t admit to being on Tinder, or say anything to suggest cynicism or lack of dating success.

Opnamedatum: 2009-05-04

There’s a lull round the table.  Tristan, who seems to be the dominant member of the group, breaks the silence.

‘Any progress with getting funding for your PhD, Gus?’

Oh God.

Gus looks up from his phone, stretches.  ‘No.’

‘Where do you want to do it?’ the brunette asks.

‘Well… ideally I’d like to do it at Oxford.’

Tristan smiles.  ‘Wouldn’t we all!’

‘But anywhere that’ll have me really.’

There’s a pause.

‘What would it be in?’ I say.

‘English Lit.’

Kill me now.

Someone asks what area specifically, and he goes into a bit more detail.  I want to say something clever, but fear or ignorance stops me.  Or perhaps it’s neither.  Perhaps it’s that I can see the way the brunette looks at him, the reverent, adoring glances, and I don’t want to be that girl.

 

Back at my desk, I run a quick Facebook search.  He comes up.  I scroll down, see something that suggests a girlfriend, and put the phone away.  I don’t want to be that girl either.

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2013: The High (and Low) Lights

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CC Image courtesy of hoangnt on FlickrFor me, the best part of blogging, aside from writing the wretched stuff, is hearing that someone enjoyed a post.  So today, because I figured I deserve a holiday, I’m posting the best bits of 2013 according to you, my beloved (and for many of you I mean that quite literally – be worried) readers.

 

First up is Bright Star, a favourite of James’, in which I explain to Toby why I like Joe’s flatmate

‘He’s funny,’ I say.

Or rather he thinks I’m funny, which is much more important.

A grilling from Sandwich comes a close second.

‘I thought you were great friends.’

He actually said great chums, but it wouldn’t do to alienate readers.

 

Glossing over the surprised tone with which he said it, Flatmate pronounced No Sex and the City to be ‘quite witty’:

‘He doesn’t believe in sex before marriage,’ I say.

‘Oh God.’

‘He’s kinda the problem.’

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New Initiative made Lucy laugh out loud, twice:

Beatrice is Tinder-happy…

When they can spell, even if not attractive, I continyue writing.’

And learning to spell, presumably.

… whilst MBE is feeling increasingly cynical about the whole thing.

I’m bored of openers like ‘How are you?’ (bored), ‘Any exciting plans for the weekend?’ (no, I prefer boring plans), ‘what are up to this evening?’ (I’m not going to sleep with you just because we live three miles apart) – and the rest.

 

A compliment from my harshest critic always makes my day.  My mother’s top 3 for the year:

Story of My Life, in which Beatrice and I join stalking forces.

Flatmate gives me a dose of reality On The Couch.

And,

Love Poetry, in which I fancy a gay man.  Like you’ve never done the same thing.

 

So there you have it.  Written (fittingly) proof that this writer is neurotic, needy, insecure, and in dire need of validation and praise.  And that’s just the writing.

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