My boss and I are setting my development objectives for 2016. In my head they go:
1. Get in earlier.
2. Leave at 5.
3. Get a life.
4. GET A BOYFRIEND.
Which might actually make me leave at 5.
Through the glass I see him approach. He pushes the door open. I smile, and our eyes meet fleetingly. What a pity, I think, as we set off in the direction of the tube.
Towards the end of dinner conversation had turned to relationships past – or lack thereof. I revisit the subject.
‘Do you find it weird that I haven’t had a boyfriend?’
‘No,’ he says. ‘I mean, it’s unusual. I suppose by 27 most people have–’
‘Had a relationship.’
‘Yeah. Why do you think it is?’
I shrug. ‘I don’t know.’ I laugh. ‘You’re probably in a better position to say!’
He makes as if to speak then stops himself.
‘Go on,’ I say.
‘No. I can’t say that.’
‘Well… it’s obviously not that you’re not desirable. I guess… I don’t know, maybe you haven’t made time for it. You’ve been focused on work?’
I shake my head. ‘That’s a recent thing.’
‘Then… it has to be because you’ve chosen it.’
‘I haven’t,’ I put in quickly.
‘Not chosen it, but I mean you could be with someone so it’s because of your requirements.’
We talk about his relationship history – two serious girlfriends and two Tinder dates. This is number three.
‘Have you been on many dates?’ he says.
‘What have they been like?’
‘A mixture, some good. But mostly they’ve been…’
‘No. It’s weird, you can spend an evening with someone and get on well, but that’s it. You don’t need to see each other again.’
‘Like this evening.’
I turn to look at him. ‘Candid much?! That – that would be a first, appraising a date while you’re on it!’
I don’t know if it’s the two G&Ts, my masochistic streak or a desire to expose this whole frustrating situation for what is almost certainly is – a dead end of a date with someone I find very attractive – but something makes me say:
‘Actually, why not? So… what did you make of this evening?’
And he tells me. He’s enjoyed it, enjoyed my company. Good sense of humour, he says, which is important, and I’m self-deprecating. But he thinks I’m quite shy…
And the whole time he’s speaking I’m trying to figure out what the hell it all means. Does he fancy me? Was the ninety excruciating minutes we just spent in the restaurant a false start? Or is this reassurance? Don’t worry, he’s saying, you’re a catch. You’ll find someone. I’m just not that guy.
The train pulls into the station.
‘Be in touch,’ he says, rising from his seat.
I force a smile. ‘Yeah.’
Half an hour later, I’m sitting on my bed, listening to Adele, contemplating unfriending VP. Every disappointing Tinder date feels like his fault. My phone flashes up with a message. It’s my date, asking if I’ve got home OK. His next question throws me completely.
‘Did you have a good evening?’
I fancied him rotten, I was aching for him to kiss me, I was the most excited I’d been in a long time when he suggested getting dinner. But the dinner…
‘Yes,’ I send back. ‘Did you?’
An hour later, we call it a night.
‘Let’s see each other again,’ he says.
What I Did For Love
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps