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?

CC Image courtesy of matthew.hickey on Flickr

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The Moment I Knew

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CC Image courtesy of noodlepie on FlickrEvery time I try to play Mrs. Dalloway and have people round for dinner, it goes wrong. Last time I was mid break-up, though I didn’t know it for sure until the other party knocked on the front door, wine bottle in hand. I opened it, he crossed the threshold and kissed me on the cheek. And that was when I knew. I’d gone for the lips – that was what we did. I pretended not to notice or care and led him through to the sitting room. I couldn’t look at him though, and didn’t really know what I was saying as I introduced him to one of my best friends and her other half. The first chance I got I escaped to the kitchen and remained there for as much of the evening as possible.

So this time I invite couples. Safe, right? Wrong.

‘I don’t want to sound like someone with Asperger’s,’ I say to Gus at the desk opposite, ‘as in, I’m aware that the real tragedy here is that the couple is having issues…’

That’s not the real tragedy.

‘…and not that I don’t know how many crisps to order!’

That’s not the real tragedy either. No, the real tragedy as Neighbour wouldn’t hesitate to point out at great length is that millions of people around the world have no food at all. And I’m fretting about the guest list for a dinner party.

Gus looks sympathetic.

 

That night I get in late, too late to make the pudding for the following evening as planned. There’s a text on my phone from Neighbour, unanswered, and a draft reply, unsent. I consider the draft a while, move the sentences around, but it’s no good. This isn’t like one of my work marketing emails: it’s not the phrasing that’s wrong, it’s the medium. I delete the whole thing and dash off a question in its place.

Ten minutes later I’m sitting on Neighbour’s sofa, politely listening to his flatmate talking about farming practices in Australia – or pretending to while actually wondering if Neighbour can sense what’s coming. A short while later the flatmate goes up to bed. I turn to my neighbour – in every sense of the word – take a deep breath and begin.

CC Image courtesy of tubb on Flickr

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Back To The Future

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CC Image courtesy of 96dpi on FlickrI’m sitting on the train, bound for a New Year’s Eve party, and for some reason I’m reading old texts from VP. I say ‘for some reason’; it’s probably because I know that tonight VP is just 11 miles away. On finding this out I did something I’ve never done before: alone, at home, I cracked open a bottle of Martini and had a drink.

So I’m reading old texts from VP, from the top. I’ve got as far as the one where I’m telling him about an evening I spent with Perky who incidentally I’m en route to meet before going together to the aforementioned party. Perky’s been a saint recently, fielding endless messages from yours truly containing scintillating bulletins such as:

Tinder tells me VP is in London.

It’s a wonder she hasn’t blocked my number.

So I’m sitting there, reading, when something happens. Something I’ve been hoping for ever since a certain conversation took place in early October but which I didn’t really believe would ever happen.

VP’s messages, six months old, are before my eyes, when up pops… a new message. And suddenly we’re back there: back to holding my phone like it’s a piece of fine bone china, so that I don’t accidentally hit the message bubble, open the window, allow the message to show as ‘read’ before the ink is dry on the page. Back to staring at my phone with the most ridiculous grin on my face, wondering what it means, what to do next.

‘It makes me angry,’ Perky says, when I tell her. ‘He still hasn’t done anything.’

Tell me about it.

And when Karl comes on to me around 2am at the party, I cut my losses and tell him too. He knows about VP, whereas my neighbour – the main reason I don’t feel entirely comfortable making out with Karl in the hallway, or anywhere for that matter – is as yet undisclosed information.

‘You’re the ball of wool,’ Karl says.

‘Huh?’

Even without the four glasses of prosecco coursing through my veins, I don’t think I’d catch his drift.

‘What do you mean?’

‘You’re the ball of wool, and he’s the kitten in this scenario.’

I know he’s right.

‘How do I not be the ball of wool?’

‘You have to not care.’

‘Hmm.’

Like that’s gonna happen.

CC Image courtesy of Alicakes* on Flickr

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Mr. Chips: Part II

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(Continued from Mr. Chips: Part I)CC Image courtesy of the green gables on Flickr

We’ve had probably two conversations over the course of the three-year period I’ve been living in my flat, excluding the sporadic texts he sends asking if he can use our parking space.

The first was walking between the electric gate and his front door, when he attempted to persuade me to attend the upcoming street party. The sociopath-recluse in me wanted nothing to do with it, but after three different neighbours took it upon themselves to ‘check’ I was going, I didn’t feel like I had a choice. The second conversation took place at the party itself. I can’t remember the details but I do remember him saying something a bit catty about the neighbours who hadn’t put in an appearance. I defended them on the grounds they might have other plans, or be tired – either way, weekends are precious, and it wasn’t for us to judge them. That speech, uncharacteristic on my part, must have gone down a treat.

I also remember being a bit dazzled by him. He could talk to anyone, which I find incredibly attractive, and seemed genuinely interested in what they had to say, which is rare. And because I was dazzled I put him in the category of ‘couldn’t possibly be interested’.

 

I smile. ‘Hey!’

I think I know his name, but I’m not 100% sure.

He asks where I’ve been, offers me a chip.

‘Is it organic?’ I say with a grin.

‘Organic, Fairtrade, you name it….’

We joke all the way to his door, and over the threshold.

CC Image courtesy of silentinfinite on Flickr

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Mr. Chips: Part I

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‘You’ll meet someone when you least expect it.’CC Image courtesy of electricnerve on Flickr

I laugh. ‘I’m always expecting it though!’

I’m half-joking. I might not always be expecting it, but I am always looking for it. Tonight, for instance, it’s Perky’s Christmas party: 50% guys I know and don’t fancy, 25% guys who don’t fancy me back, 20% unknown entities and 5% blood relatives (off-limits, whatever you might have read on here recently). By 2am a really nice couple is trying to help me get with ‘Cream Jumper’ (yes, I’m aware of how desperate that sounds), one of the 25%. Fortunately the cab, taking the three of us south, arrives before I do anything stupid/embarrassing. We chatter all the way, about the psychology of the likes of Cream Jumper (a famous flirt)… to be honest, that’s the only part of the conversation I can remember, but it’s really fun, and when the cab pulls up yards from my flat, I’m feeling happy and relaxed.

‘Thank you,’ I say, hopping out. ‘Good night!’ I close the door and the cab pulls away.

‘Anna!’

I look round to see my next-door neighbour, standing on the pavement, holding one of those horrible yellow takeaway boxes. Here is what I know about him:

1. He works in finance.

2. He’s charming.

3. I fancy him.

(TO BE CONTINUED) 

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