The Birth Of Love

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CC Image courtesy of DBradshaw on FlickrFriday night, which once upon a time meant PARTY!! And which nowadays means alcohol with Tristan and Co followed by an almost-desperate-verging-on-furious Tinder marathon in a bid to get a date for Saturday night.


I’m not even looking at the pictures.


Why aren’t I getting any matches??!! Let’s try a different approach.

No no no no no no y-no, no, no…

***Break for food***


Except for last Friday. That was different. For one, I was working from home, which meant a day off from Unrequited Love. Secondly, Tinder got kind of interesting. That can only mean one thing of course: people come up who I KNOW and FANCY.

First is Nick, which is an exciting moment. I consider my response for all of like three seconds. The only reason for not ‘liking’ him is ego (read: stupidity) i.e. I strongly suspect (read: know) he won’t ‘like’ me. But as he’ll never know my verdict for sure if he doesn’t ‘like’ me, I swipe right. I wait for a few seconds – nothing – before telling myself he probably just hasn’t got to me yet. It’s not that he doesn’t fancy me.

I resume no-ing. I’m on a roll! So much so that his picture is already spinning off the screen when I realise – that was Karl. Oops. Or is it oops? My mother would say it was fate, so I go with that, like I do everytime I accidentally swipe left.


Later that evening I find myself on Nick’s Facebook profile, which takes me to lots of interesting articles. I wind up reading Stendhal’s theory on the birth of love, which funnily enough doesn’t involve Tinder. Stendhal’s analogy is fascinating and beautiful. You should read it in full but in essence he’s saying we fall in love with the perfect idea we have of someone rather than the reality. Which sounds about right.

CC Image courtesy of Clio20 on Flickr

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‘Can I hold it?’CC Image courtesy of Let Ideas Compete on Flickr

I laugh.  ‘Sure.’

Lucy takes the phone, weighs it in her hand.  ‘It feels… expensive.’

Tesco’s finest!

‘It’s not – but it’s good!’

Except for when it’s bad and rings people I’ve spent all weekend resisting the urge to text.

She reads from the screen.  ‘Good reply by the way.  His message, it’s strange.’

I laugh.  ‘How so? I mean, I think so too, but… why?’

‘Well, if I get a call from someone I’m not expecting to hear from, I’d just text something like, ‘Hey, sorry I missed your call, what’s up?’

I don’t think Nick’s ever said ‘what’s up?’ in his life.

‘But he’s said,’ she adopts a suave tone, ‘“I had fun dancing, dot dot dot”, in that voice.’

We laugh.

‘And I thought the days of stupid text analysis were over!’  I say, taking the phone.  ‘Anyway, he hasn’t replied.’

Some things never change.

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CC Image courtesy of sean dreilinger on Flickr‘I shouldn’t contact Nick, should I?’

‘Nick?  Who’s Nick?’

I know how Rachel feels; it’s hard to keep track sometimes.

‘The guy I mentioned on the phone earlier?’

‘Oh – right.  Probably not, no.’

She’s right of course.  This is a man with the world at his feet.  I might as well pursue Linford Christie for all the good it will do me.


The party’s winding down.  I get my bag and coat, check my phone.

Four new messages, from Beatrice, Rachel, my brother, and… Linford Christie.

I stare a moment, laugh, and open it.

Sorry I missed your call.  I had fun dancing

‘What the…?!’

It takes me a moment to find the call log on my new phone, but when I do, there he is.  10 hours ago: Nick.  Shit.

I send back an apology, blame my new not-so-smart phone for having a mind of its own, and concur.  I also enjoyed dancing; the route to getting there, not so much.

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CC Image courtesy of JotaEse92 on Flickr(Continued from Egg Flip: Part I)

Nick’s heading off.

‘Well… are you in London for the weekend?’ I say.

He doesn’t bite.  He does tell me of his weekend plans.  The chat is flirty and fun and there are a few of those truly great moments where you’re both laughing at something which isn’t all that funny and your eyes meet, and it’s like… yep.

‘Do you like my bag?’ he says.

‘“Emotional baggage”,’ I read and laugh.  ‘It’s cool.  Where’s it from?’

‘Where I work.’  He shows me the quirky label which it came with.  ‘It’s almost worth having just for the label.’

I laugh.  ‘I bought something the other day just because I loved the box it came in.  Sometimes the packaging is more exciting than the object itself!  Like, one of my most prized possessions is an egg carton…’

I’m not weird.

He smiles.  ‘Proust could probably write a book about that.’


‘An egg carton – Proust could probably make something of that.’


‘Yeah well, it’s an empty one, so that’s probably even more meaningful!’

We laugh.

‘So,’ he says, ‘do you have anymore reeling coming up?’

I tell him I’m going to a ball in a couple of weeks’ time – actually it’s in Oxford.

‘Ah. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to that one.  I’ve been for the past couple of years….’

‘You should come,’ I say.  ‘There’ll be dancing!’

And bugger all subtlety on my part if tonight is anything to go by.


He must dash.  We kiss on the cheeks.

‘Nice to see you,’ I say.

‘Thank you for the dance.’

Wrong answer.

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CC Image courtesy of baking_in_pearls on FlickrThe first thing I do when I get in, after making myself a cup of coffee, defrosting a pain au chocolat, and making some toast – the first thing I do is Google ‘egg box Proust’.



It’s a girl I know from reeling.  She’s Oxford-based, so I’m a little surprised to see her here.  We kiss on the cheeks, exchange pleasantries.  I look over at her partner, and my stomach flips.


Nick smiles back.  ‘Hello.’

I look away and back.  Our eyes meet.  He’s wearing a white shirt, slightly open at the neck, sleeves rolled up to the elbows.  He’s taller than I remember, and looks older, more confident.  The dance begins, which is lucky: you can’t ogle whilst moving at speed.

I’m accosted by one of the organisers.  Will I dance the next with a beginner?  Of course, I say, immediately regretting my words.  What if Nick asks me?  I’m not letting a repeat of last time happen.  Too late, I’m being introduced to my partner.  The next moment, Nick appears.

‘Are you dancing this one?’

‘Yes,’ I say, ‘but – I’m afraid I have a partner – but – another one….’

‘Oh!  So do I – sorry, I meant, shall we form a set?  But – yes, another one….’

‘Oh, right, sorry!  Yes!’

The dance begins, and quickly falls apart.  I switch to teaching mode, guiding people around the floor.  Nick learns fast; it’s impressive.

My partner thanks me.  We’re chatting about salsa, his dance of choice, when the next reel is announced.  It’s one of my favorites.

‘Do you mind,’ he says, ‘again?’

What do you say to that?  Well actually there’s a guy here I’ve immortalised in print who I’d quite like to dance with.  He hasn’t asked me yet but, well, he might.

‘No!’ I say. ‘That would be–.’

Nick appears, as if out of nowhere.  ‘Would you like to dance this one?’


‘Errr… err…’

An awkward few seconds later, I’ve conveyed the fact that I’m taken, and Nick goes on his way.

I want to scream and shout, energy which I channel into the dance.  Come the end of it, Beatrice and I hold a summit meeting in the corner.  She tells me I mustn’t let a repeat of the ball happen; I must ask Nick to dance.

The last reel is about to begin.  I hover on the sidelines with a few other girls, avoiding making eye contact with anyone.  Nick comes back in, and I drift in his general direction.  Not particularly subtle, but I’ve decided the time for subtlety is long gone.  I feel a hand on my arm, and turn to see a sweet-looking girl.

‘Would you like a partner?’

The next moment, Nick appears – he’s good at that.

‘Would you like to dance?’ he says, blushing.

Hell yeah.

We take our places in the set.

‘You might have to remind me how this one goes,’ he says.

‘I can do that.’

He gets it in a flash.

‘How’s Oxford?’ I say.

‘Good!’  He smiles.  ‘Is the short answer!’

Silence ensues.  I’m starting to think that the time for subtlety is never gone; that I put Nick in a position where he felt obliged to ask me to dance; that he might not have wanted this.  I decide to back off, easier said than done when you’re dancing with the guy.

I’m about to speak again – the whole backing off thing, not going so well – when he says,

‘How’s London?’

‘Good!  Too!  Actually, it’s OK.  I’ve just started a new role – the people are nice but the work’s not the most interesting.’

A bit like what I’m saying.  I button it; the dance goes on.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried dancing in a flirty yet detached way.  It’s not easy, and in the end I give up on the detached element.

The numbering goes wrong part way through, and I correct it.

‘Perfect!’ he says.

I grin, as much at the compliment as the fact that he knew to give it, knew that what I’d done wasn’t easy – that I’d done it at all!  The guy’s only reeled once before.  I’m slightly awestruck.

‘Thank you, I really enjoyed that!’ he says, with the final chord.  ‘I think that’s one of the best!”

‘Yes, it’s a good one!’ I say.  ‘And, thank you!  You’re obviously… a dancer.  The numbering and stuff…’

‘Well – I don’t know.’  He shrugs.  ‘But – I do love dancing!’

I think of a line I read in a blog post the other day.

He must dance, not necessarily very well, but with joy, and with me, often.

I thought at the time that I didn’t entirely agree with the sentiment, but now I’m not so sure.

The night ends with a polka, which we dance, and a poem, which we mock with almost equal enthusiasm.  Then he leaves my side, and I go through to the bar.  Part of me thinks he’ll come and find me, but whether out of politeness or something more, I can’t be sure.

Salsa accosts me, drink in hand.  Dance chat ensues.  The minutes pass.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see Nick approach, jacket and scarf on over his white shirt.  We’ve been here before, except that this time Salsa leaves us to it.


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