#nofilter

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CC Image courtesy of oddsock on FlickrI discovered the filter function on OkCupid the other day.

I was having brunch with Tristan, Tristan’s girlfriend (don’t ask), Ryan and a couple of others, who were incidentally also a couple. Conversation turned to dating.

‘How did you two meet?’ Tristan says to The Couple.

They laugh. ‘OkCupid,’ they say, at the exact same time.

‘Yeah, when I applied the filters that really mattered to me,’ the girl says, looking fondly at the residue, ‘you were the only one left!’

The residue smiles. I frown. Filters? That’s only available on the paid option, no?

No, so the following evening, remembering this conversation, I start filtering like a SWIMMING POOL, trying not to think about how much time I’ve wasted scrolling through unsuitable profiles.

Single, straight, at least 5’10” (my height), university-educated non-smokers – that’s all I’m asking for. Oh and in the interests box I put the name of my favourite band, believing – perhaps mistakenly – that there’s a much greater chance I’ll hit it off with a fellow fan. I start scrolling through the results. One guy catches my eye.

There should be a name for it, when you’ve seen someone on every online dating platform going, you’ve consistently ‘liked’ them because, y’know, they’ve got great bone structure, are funny and like all the same music and books as you. And they’ve been consistently unresponsive. This time I copy and paste his interests section for when I feel like browsing Spotify for new music, before returning to the search results.

I continue scrolling down, only to be met with the words that there are no more results and that I might want to consider revising my criteria. The band gets the axe and, what the hell, alcoholism and smoking – they have a certain charm, right?

A short while later I find myself back on a familiar profile: a chain-smoking heteroflexible* divorced father of two who lives on the wrong side of the Channel. And who I’m pretty sure I’ve already spoken to.

CC Image courtesy of [Rossco]:[www.rgstrachan.com] on Flickr

*Defined on Urban Dictionary as ‘I’m straight but shit happens’.

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The Fall

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‘He told me to move,’ Ryan says. ‘He said, ‘I want to talk to Anna’.’

‘Oh!’

I look over at the man who supposedly wants to talk to me. This is surely what my mother and flatmate would call a clear sign of… not interest – that wouldn’t fit in the circumstances – but something. I pick up my things and go over to him.

Once seated I become the sole focus of his attention. It’s wonderful. We talk about everything: pets, smoking, Woody Allen films, Cate Blanchett, online dating

‘You’re on Tinder?’ he says, surprised.

‘Yes, well, everyone is – aren’t they?’

‘Well, I’m not, but I’m married…’

 

The previous autumn there was a leaving drinks for one of our colleagues. Cheesecake was served.

‘Who made it?’ I say, taking a slice.

Tobias‘s wife.’

 

‘What?!’

Colleague looks disbelieving when I tell her. Her funky dairy-free diet doesn’t permit cheesecake, but even harder to digest is the news that Tobias – elegant, stylish Tobias – has a wife.

 

For six months or so after finding this out I was invincible. No matter that his gaze made me weak at the knees or that we crossed paths in the kitchen too often for it to be a coincidence. The guy had a wife, and one who baked decent cheesecake at that.

I was invincible when he told Ryan to move in the pub so he could talk to me; when he brought in a DVD of one of the films we’d talked about for me to borrow; when he told me about his family’s history of divorce, about his father’s second marriage to a much younger woman. I was even invincible when he offered to relieve me of some of my workload.

Then, one day, he came over to talk to Gus at the neighbouring desk.

He has a strange way of walking: hurried, impatient, not quite graceful. His hair sticks up a bit at the back and his eyes have this intense, brooding expression.

I look up from what I’m doing and meet his gaze. And that’s when it happens. I fall. Fuck, do I fall.

CC Image courtesy of Kheel Center, Cornell University on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of LollyKnit on Flickr‘When’s your thing?’ Ryan says.

‘Yeah… I have to go.’

I start putting stuff into my handbag. Phone (no messages), lip gloss, anti-bacterial hand gel – essential dating kit in case I end up in a situation where I have to eat but haven’t had a chance to wash my hands I don’t know why I do this to myself.

I look round. Ryan is still at his desk.

‘Do you want to come?’

He laughs. ‘Yeah.’

I’m not totally against the idea. At least with Ryan in tow I’d be guaranteed some laughs. Plus the guy I’m meeting is bisexual. He might like Ryan best of the party.

‘Text me,’ Ryan says, as he passes my desk.

‘I will.’

 

Earlier that afternoon….

‘I’m not sure I am looking forward to this evening. Christ, a new low.’

‘You have an early start for hiking tomorrow,’ Ryan sends back. ‘Don’t forget.’

‘Do I look like I hike???’

 

I’m usually averse to sending friends updates while a date is still ongoing. The bisexual (I’m sorry – what else can I call him?) has gone to the loo. I fire off a text.

‘Hiking, right? Arghh.’

‘Hiking. Don’t commit to a second drink for the sake of it.’

I don’t see Ryan’s reply until sometime later. I haven’t committed to a second drink. Instead we’re sitting there, nursing empty glasses. Twice I’ve declined my date’s offer of another G&T. Once I’ve indicated I’ll have to make a move soon. A total of zero times has he taken the hint.

‘So… are you an only child?’ he says.

It’s only later, when I’ve extricated myself from the situation and am heading for the tube, that I remember something Ryan once said.

‘If you’re asking each other if you have any brothers or sisters, that’s when you know it’s doomed.’

CC Image courtesy of chicks57 on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of Steven Leonti on Flickr‘Hi Anna!’

I look round, searching for the speaker. ‘Hi Tristan.’ He probably has a question about work. ‘How are you?’

‘Good,’ he says. ‘What’s in the box?’

‘Oh, just lunch.’ I hesitate then go over to where he’s sitting. ‘Look!’ I hold out my paint-spattered hands. ‘I did legal graffiti last night! It does come off – but I didn’t try very hard!’

He laughs. ‘Illegal graffiti?’

‘No no, legal graffiti.’

Tobias is listening now.

‘Ahh.’ Tristan smiles. ‘You can call it reeling, y’know?’

I give him a look. ‘Yeah, that’s what we do in the church. It’s funny, they never notice afterwards. They’re too busy–.’

‘Church?’

‘That’s where we reel.’

‘Were you reeling or praying?’ Tobias says.

‘Neither!’

Tristan looks surprised. ‘You were actually doing graffiti?’

‘Yes!’

‘Where?’

‘There’s a tunnel, near Waterloo, where it’s legal.’

‘What did you draw? I imagine with your painting and drawing…’

I don’t remember having ever told Tristan I paint and draw.

‘… you’d be good at it.’

‘Hmm it’s difficult…’

My companion kept telling me to hold the nozzle close to the wall and the spray can vertical, neither of which I succeeded in doing.

‘… and, well, most of the spray cans didn’t work.’

Tristan grins. ‘It sounds like an artisan date.’

I laugh. ‘I think that would happen at Pain Quotidien.’

Our audience has expanded to include the rest of Tristan’s team. I can feel myself growing red.

‘Yeah well… I better go,’ I say, starting to move away. The next question will probably relate to who I was with. Adrien, Gus and Ryan know all the grisly details about my dating life and Tobias knows some of them but I’ve always been silent on the subject with Tristan. Perhaps because the others can be relied upon to keep him informed of any developments (he often greets me with, ‘How was your date? Adrien/Ryan said…’). Or perhaps because I don’t want him thinking there’s anyone but him. And I’m not sure there is.

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CC Image courtesy of Not enough megapixels on Flickr(Continued from Something New)

‘How did you leave it?’ Beatrice says, over cornbread and poached eggs the next day. ‘Was it awkward?’

‘Oh,’ I screw up my face, ‘we hugged and he said ‘see you very shortly’ but with an infinitesimal hesitation between ‘you’ and ‘very’ which makes me think I won’t be seeing him again… ever!’

‘How do you feel about it?’

‘Oh… I mean, in my gut I probably know we’re not the best fit, but he’s really hot!’ I laugh. ‘I dunno, I’d like to go on a date with him just to see but it probably won’t happen.’

 

Partly because he’s really hot, and partly because Sarah assures me he’s not a douche, I drop Olly a line. Tennis had come up in conversation so I offer myself up as an opponent.

*

Ryan shakes his head.

‘I know, I know!’ I say. ‘I’m not sure what I was thinking. I guess… I didn’t think I’d be hearing back from him so it didn’t matter!’

I laugh; Ryan groans.

‘I’m going to have to find my tennis racket, and buy some tracksuit bottoms…’

Of the pairs that I own, one has a hole in the crotch and the others stop just north of my ankles – not a good look.

‘Also,’ I scratch my head, ‘my hearing’s not very good at the moment – I think it’s my cold – so I won’t be able to hear anything he’s saying from the other end of the court!’

Which is when Ryan says it’s like something out of Miranda.

I laugh. ‘I know.’

I turn back to my computer, thinking at least my breasts don’t clap.

CC Image courtesy of jovike on Flickr

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