In a Nutshell

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CC Image courtesy of Jim Surkamp on FlickrTuesday night. Emerging from the tube, I pull out my phone. A new message from a new match. I tap the icon and read:

Good day. Good day?

It takes me a moment to process and another moment to laugh. This is already the most promising Tinder interaction of 2016.

 

As the conversation goes on I realise something incredible: that here is a man who writes longer messages than I do. I’m half-tempted to send Adrien screenshots for all the stick he gives me at work for being verbose. Sam too for that matter: he once told me he only reads the ends of my texts.

 

Saturday, my new correspondent sends through his standard essay. Halfway down:

I’m not so familiar with Tinder etiquette and I’m not sure if we are supposed to exchange X number of messages or words or inches of text first…

If we are, then I think it’s safe to say the threshold has been crossed.

… but I find it very interesting and pleasant talking to you and I have an inkling that we would enjoy chatting in person…’

He asked me out. In a nutshell.

CC Image courtesy of Muffet on Flickr

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Baggage Reclaim

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wigan2Rush hour at Euston station: not my usual habitat. I’d attended a dance class the night before in Angel and, distracted by the attentions of my favourite partner, had left without my favourite cardigan. So I was on a mission to reclaim it.

He comes through the same entrance that I did. Seeing me he does an odd little pivot, diverting his course in my direction.

‘That was very… something,’ I say, laughing.

He smiles. We exchange greetings.

‘You’ve been getting around a lot lately!’ I say, immediately regretting my turn of phrase.

He’d messaged me in January, saying he owed me dinner and asking when I was around. I’d learnt he’d recently spent time in India, Scotland and the north of England. And when I’d seen him in the autumn, he’d been on the brink of leaving for Japan.

‘Yes,’ he says, ‘I’ve been to Wigan today.’

I laugh. ‘That’s not quite what I meant!’

He doesn’t say anything, only smiles.

‘But OK, how was Wigan?’

The train comes; as we board, he tells me about Wigan. I listen, half-smiling, to his wry, intelligent words.

After letting him know I was around in February – and resisting the urge to specify the 14th – I’d heard nothing further from the man.

The train pulls into the platform at Angel.

‘See you soon,’ I say, as the doors open.

‘See you soon.’

We both know what that means.

CC Image courtesy of notmydayjobphotography on Flickr

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What I Did For Love

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CC Image courtesy of Nicobobinus on Flickr

‘Do you listen to podcasts?’ Beatrice says.

‘No. Why?’

‘I heard one the other day I think you’d really like.’

She goes on to recite the story of a woman who crossed the Atlantic (one-way ticket) to declare her love for the guy who had just dumped her over web chat.

On arrival at the airport a customs agent asks her:

‘How long are you going to be in the country?’

Standard question. Except it’s not – to her this is the million dollar question.

She starts sobbing then pours out the whole story to this complete stranger.

‘Is that crazy?’ she winds up.

The customs agent looks her in the eye and says: ‘You gotta do what you gotta do for love.’

 

I’d already made the decision. Facebook told me he was going so I was going. I had blisters on the soles of my feet from a recent holiday, I was exhausted and I had a first date with someone quite promising – also from Tinder – lined up for later in the day. But I was going.

 

‘There’s a faulty lift at Hampstead station,’ a voice comes over the speakers. ‘Passengers for the Christmas Fair, we recommend leaving the train here.’

There’s a collective groan from inside the carriage. Strained looking parents move to lift prams onto the platform.

Outside I start walking. My blisters have other ideas. I catch a bus. It’s on diversion. We file off, join the crowds moving snail-pace up the hill. I wonder how many other people have no idea what they’re doing here.

 

My Tinder date knows I’m in Hampstead. ‘I have to put in a brief appearance’, is how I phrased it, ‘after which I’m all yours (should you want me).’

‘Straight to the point,’ he sends back.

 

But for the next hour I’m alone, lost in a sea of faces, scanning fruitlessly for a spark of recognition.

 

It comes – a guy I met at a party recently and liked.

 

‘Who here is single?’ I say to the hostess.

She scans the room. ‘No one, sorry.’

 

We speak briefly before going our separate ways.

 

The tube station comes into view. I loiter outside. It’ll be dark in an hour or so and the plan for the date was a wander. I glance again at my phone. Nothing. Eventually I text him. ‘Shall we fix on a time and place?’

‘Are you in Hampstead?’

‘Yes, but escaping as fast as humanly possible. It’s ridiculously crowded.’

‘Cramming two dates into one day huh?’

I feel a twinge of guilt. He couldn’t know why I’m here.

He goes on: ‘Where do you fancy meeting?’ Then: ‘If it ain’t good timing we could rearrange to sometime in the week.’

Guilt gives way to irritation. I keep walking, past the tube station, onto the next one, as we propose various meeting places. When, again, he suggests rescheduling, I go with it.

 

Later that evening, we’re chatting on WhatsApp. He asks how long I’ve been on Tinder. I tell him.

‘Good God,’  he says. ‘Has it brought you any joy?’

A bit.’

‘Lead to anything substantial?’

I hesitate. ‘Not really.’
CC Image courtesy of dhammza on Flickr

Listen to the full podcast here.

 

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Then I Kissed Her

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CC Image courtesy of blockpartypress on Flickr

They’ve spent the last five hours laughing and talking and walking. Now they are standing before the tube map.

‘You want to take the Piccadilly line,’ she says, tracing the route, ‘then change.’

‘Which way are you going?’

‘The other way.’ She points. ‘South.’

‘OK, so, this was fun.’

‘Yes.’

They hug.

‘I’d like to see you again,’ he says.

‘That would be nice.’

‘OK… so… I’m going to kiss you.’

She smiles. ‘OK.’

They kiss.

‘I’d like to see you again,’ he says. ‘When are you next free?’

‘Errr… erm… I’ve got something next Saturday… I’ve got things next Thursday, Friday and Saturday but… sometime after that? Can I let you–?’

‘Yes. I want to see you again, for drinks this time.’

‘OK.’

They kiss again briefly.

‘Bye.’

‘Bye.’

CC Image courtesy of foreverdigital on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of comedy_nose on FlickrBasically you’re fucked, is the gist of the Wikihow article, ‘How to get over a crush on your coworker’.

Friday I go into work with a slight hangover and a firm resolution. The night before was the work summer party, which meant two hours of trying not to make eye contact with either Tristan or Tobias. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it was.

I keep my eyes fixed on the screen as Tristan chats to a couple of colleagues sitting close by. I hear him say he’ll get his exam results that evening, but don’t look up. I am not going to end up in one of those conversations with him where we’re laughing so much we can’t breathe. I am–

‘Anna.’ He’s coming over. ‘Hey. So, did you go to the club afterwards?’

‘Yes.’

‘You did?!’

‘Yes.’

‘Amazing!’

He puts out his hand to high five me and meets limp fingers. If this whole not meeting him halfway thing is supposed to make me feel better, it isn’t working.

I think he’s about to leave but then he steers the conversation in a different direction. Minutes later we’re laughing so much there’s no point trying to continue and he does leave.

Later that night I’m on a train homeward bound, catching up on phone admin. The message I sent Tristan the night before asking if he was still at the party is before my eyes. A thought occurs to me and I start typing. Moments later, a reply: he passed his exams with flying colours and is out celebrating. I send back congratulations, stow my phone away and stare out of the train window, feeling my eyes prick with tears.

CC Image courtesy of image munky on Flickr

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