Little things

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CC Image courtesy of Pensiero on FlickrIt was such a little thing

When you came and sat beside me

But I felt safe

And quiet

And like I didn’t have to speak

You didn’t speak

At first

Only smiled

A small, secretive smile

And stole a glance

 

Your question

When it came

Was simple and kind

My mind a mess with yes and no

And everything in between

You could have made me feel small

And low

 

At the end of the evening

I went out onto the balcony

And found you there

Two empty chairs

I took the one to my left

And saw your mouth twitch

CC Image courtesy of NCM3 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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Saturday Night Fever

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CC Image courtesy of pedrosimoes7 on Flickr

Everyday for about a year I woke to the same piece of dating advice. Written in pencil on a scrap of lined paper blue-tacked to my bedroom wall, it read:

If you’re attracted to a guy who isn’t pursuing you, DON’T EVER BE AROUND HIM. It’s masochistic.

At some point, perhaps because I thought it had done its work or because it didn’t meet my stringent standards for interior décor, I took it down.

 

Saturday night…

‘Did he invite you?’

I laugh. ‘No… no, it’s never that simple.’*

Beatrice smiles. ‘No. So, what, he said, ‘I’m going to this thing, you should come’?’

‘Nooo…’

What had he said exactly? He’d said: ‘I might be going to this ball. All Latin and ballroom dancing.’ Then a smiley face.

Cue puzzled face. He ‘might’ be going so, what, I ‘might’ turn up and find he wasn’t there? I recalled a guy friend’s insight into male dating behaviours (‘there are no hidden meanings’), waited a few days, then replied in a similarly ambivalent fashion.

 

By some miracle we are both in the same place at the same time on Saturday night, dancing. Well, he’s dancing. I’m sitting on the sidelines with Beatrice.

‘So, what do you think?’ I say. ‘Does he fancy me?’

‘Do you fancy him?’

‘Yes.’

‘Right. Well… why don’t you suggest going for a drink and see what happens?’

I stare, then spout the usual guff about how it should come from him.

‘Yeah, but what have you got to lose?’

 

Apparently nothing because an hour later I’m sitting opposite the guy in a pub, laughing more than I have in months. Then we’re walking to the bus stop. Then we’re saying goodnight.

 

And the next morning I’m contemplating reinstating the scrap of lined paper.

CC Image courtesy of Dr Stephen Dann on Flickr

*For the record, I am aware that sometimes it is that simple.

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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.’

CC Image courtesy of John.Karakatsanis on Flickr

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Hard To Find

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4858397745_fed336e4beBored of hiya, hey! and every other variation in the book, I decide to take matters into my own hands. I did it once before and depending on how you look at it, the outcome was pretty damn good. I went on the best dates of my life, laughed a lot and discovered what is now my favourite band. All of which would never have happened if I hadn’t… listened to Beatrice.

So I do a repeat: I send short messages to attractive prospects on Tinder and OkCupid written in the spirit of the kinds of messages I would like to receive. No heys, hiyas or how are yous (don’t care). And if they don’t reply in kind, I leave it.

Which is how, one Wednesday night, I come to be swapping messages with an attractive, witty lawyer who bears more than a passing resemblance to Karl and Neighboursomeone’s got a type. He also has a similar response time to my arch-nemesis, but like I said he’s attractive, witty and has a job, so what can you expect?

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