Against Type

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Sumac (who knew?)

Sumac (who knew?)

You will nearly always fall for the person you didn’t think was your type.

— Dolly Alderton

At dancing the other night I met two guys. One of them you know about; the other was a blast from the past.

The one you know about, The Man In Turquoise, is exactly the kind of guy I can see myself with. A lot of that is probably to do with the fact he likes cooking, cue imagining long evenings spent together getting excited about things like sumac.

The Blast From The Past is a more puzzling kind of crush: the kind of guy you look at and can’t quite explain your interest in. He’s shorter than you and thinner and he has this goofy, toothy smile which is cute, sure, but not really sexy. And he can’t dress and you don’t have the same sense of humour. And when you text to check everything is OK after getting a missed call from him at 1am his reply is barely punctuated. He’s probably not interested and, four cheery chirpy messages later, you still don’t know exactly why you are. And when you tell Beatrice, she says it all sounds just like him because he’s really friendly. And that’s really annoying.

CC Image courtesy of Ed Yourdon on Flickr
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Tell Me

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CC Image courtesy of Eole on Flickr

‘Tell me’

You would say.

You said it there

On the white sofa

My favourite line

 

Tell me

Like an order

Barked

Fierce

Soft

And I would put my thoughts in order ready to

Tell you.

 

‘Tell me’

I might be straddling you on the sofa

Or playing with the straw

Of the drink you bought me

Searching for the words

With which to

Tell you.

 

‘Tell me’

My favourite command

And you would listen

 

For a while.

CC Image courtesy of edge714 on Flickr

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Back For Good

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CC Image courtesy of Ross_Angus on FlickrI don’t know if it’s because Lucy says she doesn’t think I’ve heard the last of him. Or because Attractive Witty Lawyer doesn’t rock my world and when Fred Astaire kisses me on the Overground I’m not really sure I’m feeling it. Or because I’m reading Love In The Time of Cholera which basically says it’s OK to devote your entire life to someone who might have forgotten you exist.

Or because I’m currently on a plane bound for a city which can’t help but make me think of him. He’s not there anymore – he’s back in London. He didn’t tell me; I read it on Facebook. For a week I was down in the dumps before picking myself up and… going to his place of work.

I’d been meaning to check out the dance classes for a while. And when I say a while I mean getting on for three years. And it just so happened that they took place every Saturday in the building where VP was working.

The chances of running into the guy were close to nil. I suppose… it will sound silly (and I do think Gabriel Garcia Márquez is partly to blame), I wanted to walk where he’d walked, go where he’d gone before me. Is that weird? Maybe, but at the same time I was dancing again and that could only be a good thing. He’d made me dance once before and now here I was again, dancing. And who knew where it would lead?

CC Image courtesy of fd on Flickr

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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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‘… and I remain not in love.’CC Image courtesy of furibond on Flickr

This is the bad news. But we’re only 15 minutes into a 45-minute conversation. I’m not feeling great, obviously, and he’s sounding increasingly uncertain to the point that he wants to tell me – he does tell me that he’s confused in his own feelings. He really likes me, and tells me so several times. He thinks I’m witty and beautiful. If I can’t do what we’re doing could I find a way to being friends at some point? But no, he says in answer to his own question, you’ve said no to friends.

The idea of being friends with someone I fancy as much as I do VP makes me shudder. I can barely refrain from kissing him when we are together and it’s OK for me to do so; the idea of making polite chit-chat over herbal tea doesn’t bear thinking about. No, this has to be a clean break, for now anyway. Perhaps, I find myself thinking, when I’m happily married to Tristan with three children, and the back catalogue of Country Life in the downstairs loo (joke), I would be able to see VP. But even I know that’s a terrible idea. We were never friends. I love the way he kisses me, the way he invades my personal space, how he says ‘tell me’ when I begin a story, at once fierce and gentle. The things I love about him are what lovers do, not friends.

So I say no to friends. And no when he asks if we could speak again soon.

‘Do you think at some point in the future,’ he says, ‘when you’ve got five kids and you’re incredibly wealthy… and successful… and happy, we might be able to have a peppermint tea together?’

What is it with him and herbal tea?! He doesn’t even like tea! And neither do I.

‘That’s a lot of hypotheticals,’ I say, again thinking of Tristan. ‘I don’t know… maybe….’

This is when I start thinking about how to shut down the conversation without resorting to When Harry Met Sally sound bites. And I’m assuming from his mutterings that he’s doing the same thing. There’s a pause, then he says in a different tone of voice, clear and precise:

‘I’m moving back to London.’

I half-laugh. ‘What?’

‘Early next year.’

He tells me about the new job and his plans for the intervening months. I let him speak, prompting with the occasional question. I don’t know why he’s telling me, or what to feel.

 

A short while later and again I’m casting about for suitable parting words.

‘We’ll see…’ I begin. The sentence peters out.

‘Yes, see you.’

He must have misheard, must have thought I said ‘I’ll see you’. I want to put him right, I want honesty and truth to carry through right to the end. But I stop myself. Perhaps this way is better, a white lie.

CC Image courtesy of robin_why on Flickr

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