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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‘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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CC Image courtesy of K. Yasuhara on Flickr

I hear from Perky who has just cracked and texted the guy she’s been waiting to hear from.

‘Don’t judge me!’

How can I?  I’m exhausted and instead of doing the sensible thing and crashing out on the sofa and ‘watching a film’, I’m baking.  Why am I baking?  Because with one eye on the scales, there’s only so much time I can spend staring at my phone.

‘Bother.’

I’ve added the flour before the butter and melted chocolate, which reminds me of a post I wrote.  The first ever post, in fact.  Like I said back then, it’s because my mind is elsewhere, thinking of the person I hope will eat these.  It’s not VP because VP isn’t in London.  It’s not Tristan either.

*

‘Try one!’

‘Ooh thank you!’  Colleague takes a piece.  ‘Yum!  Did you make these last night?!’

‘Yep.’

‘What’s in it?’

I hear a familiar step.  The man responsible for my re-writing the rulebook on baking walks past.  Our eyes meet for a moment before he turns the corner, out of sight.

‘Was that…?’

‘Yep.’  I lower my voice.  ‘Could you do me a favour and in a moment say how delicious it is or something?!’

She rolls her eyes.  He comes into earshot.

‘What’s in it?’

‘White chocolate, and cranberries…’

‘Mmm it’s delicious!’

She’s a bloody good actress.  The tub is still in my hands.  He glances at it as he walks past, cafetiere in hand.

‘If I’d thought faster I could have given him one!’ I say, doing a little skip on the spot.

Colleague gives me a pitying look.

‘OK, OK,’ I say, gathering up my things, ‘I’m going to lunch.’

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‘… and then I’m meeting my man!’CC Image courtesy of coop925 on Flickr

I shriek.  ‘What?!  And… WHAT?!!!’

Perky grins.

 

Five minutes later, we’re sitting in a cafe.

‘What can I get you?’

I look up at the waiter ‘Could we have a couple of minutes please?’

Or, like, fifty?

‘You were saying?’

Just before Christmas, Perky’s onetime university crush and sometime tennis partner, asked her out.   I’m vacillating, between dutifully excited, and wondering why I haven’t yet made a voodoo doll of Nice Guy.

 

The following week, I see her at a party.  She’s not her usual perky self.

‘He wants to take a break.’

‘Oh I’m sorry.  What did he say?’

‘That he wants to go off travelling.  He brought it up at the Sexual Health Clinic of all places!  Awkward!’

‘’Scuse me?  What were you doing there?!’

‘Getting tested.’

I’m lost for words.

‘You actually do that?!’

‘Of course.’

‘Before doing anything?’

‘Yes.’

‘How did he react when you asked him?’

‘Well it was over text, luv.  I didn’t ask him to his face!’

My face must be a picture.  ‘Blimey.  Well, good for you!  You’re an inspiration!’

‘Thanks darling.’

***

‘A friend asked a guy she was seeing to get tested before she slept with him.  How would you react if a girl asked you to do that?’

The guy, who I reckon I know just about well enough to canvas his opinion on this point, appears lost for words.

I prompt, ‘I imagine you’d have to be really into her….’

He’s no closer to speech.  I’m starting to think I’ve misjudged the degree of acquaintance between us.

‘… or do you find the girls offer up the goods quickly enough…?’

Eventually he says,

‘How would I react?  I – I honestly don’t know.  To be honest, it hasn’t happened, but then, I don’t have that much going on on the dating front!’

I laugh.  ‘Join the club!’

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CC Image courtesy of colemama on FlickrBeatrice greets me.  ‘I’ve got an app for you!’

‘Tinder.’

‘You know about it?’

***

Tuesday: coffee with Rachel.

‘I’m seeing someone,’ she says, ‘and yeah, it’s going well.’

‘Yay!  Where’s he from?  How did you meet?’

She smiles.  ‘Well… have you heard of Tinder?’

***

There’s this app you have to try!’ Perky says, over a midweek pizza.

‘Is it-?’

‘Tinder!  One of my colleagues went on four dates last week – all with guys she met on it, and all really nice apparently!  She’s seeing one of them again!’

***

So come Thursday, I’m somewhat Tindered out (if it’s not already a verb, it soon will be).

‘Yes,’ I say to Beatrice.  ‘Impossible not to.’

‘You should try it.  I mean, there are a lot of duff ones.  You have to wade through a huge amount of dead wood…’

Lovely.

‘… but it’s worth persevering – I think.’

 

The following morning, I get a message.  It’s from Beatrice, telling me she’s ‘matched’ with a friend of a friend who she always thought was out of her league.

‘You should try it!’

So, Friday lunchtime, I install the app.  Friday evening, still unable to adjust the age settings, I’m starting to feel like a trigger-happy Mrs. Robinson.  Saturday, I wake to find a message from the guy I accidentally liked en route to the Settings page; I roll over and go back to sleep.

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