Recently I encountered a new experience. It has to do with internet dating, and also with doing ‘the right thing’.
A prospective hottie had messaged me on a ‘highbrow’ dating site. As I refuse to pay for my oats by principle, I opted instead to ‘research’ (stalk) him, on the interweb. It was easy – he was a tree surgeon and had his own site. Da-dah!
I email him:
“Hi, sorry to ‘stalk’ you (excuse the pun) but I don’t pay. It’s Zowee from the site. You messaged me. Let’s meet.”
This was on August 19, around the time of my birthday crisis: Better get some men in (preferably in wholesale quantities) in case my eggs have finally had it.
It wasn’t so easy to pin this cat down, and what followed was an exchange spanning a month; an exchange with no raunchy frills. A failed string of opportunities for dates – he was busy, and I couldn’t quite be arsed either.
One day I awoke with a fresh whiff of aplomb, and decided it was time to either meet this mystery man or close him down. It had been too long, and I fancied a new man to go with a new start, having just moved house. You know – someone to keep me warm over winter.
The email – “So……..shall we meet up this week?”
Bingo. He bites. Wednesday. Perfect. We were to meet in the pub at the end of my road.
Now for those of you who don’t know the unspoken laws of internet dating, they go a bit like this:
1. Never flirt too much before you meet and quash all expectations – you did not meet them in your natural habitat therefore it is likely they do not belong to your species.
2. You have not heard their voice nor seen the mechanics of their face (or faces). They could have a voice like a helium pump, or an unfortunate grimace reminiscent of an invite to the morgue.
So I get ready very casually – no sweat, no expectations. He texts. Alarm! He is early. I am not dressed yet.
He tells me he will be outside having a ‘snout’, which causes me to deftly exchange the voice I have created for him in my head from a somewhat middle-class jolly gent, to a gruff builder.
I arrive at the pub ten minutes later. I spot him in an alluring enclave.
*ABSOLUTELY BLOODY GORGEOUS*
A sort of mixture of these people.
I grab him instinctively then stand smiling at his beautiful open face, before we get riocha and head outside, where we spend several hours getting to know one another.
And whilst he is not disinteresting, I give my mind permission to wander underneath his shirt, where it nestles down for the night. His mind is wandering too, but not beneath my singlet. Perhaps his head is in the clouds, having spent so many years sitting atop of trees. We talk of family, music, and the fact he thinks I look like Melinda Messenger…
Are those alarm bells I hear ringing? Because although we are getting on adequately enough, something isn’t quite right. He is slow to react in some ways, or perhaps the face isn’t matching the words coming out of it. I don’t know.
What I do know is that as internet dates go this is an instant hit, but it’s unlikely to become an overnight success….
The end of the evening arrives. I walk him to his bike whereupon he dons a fluorescent tabard and sticks a flashing red light in his perky back pocket. We hug. We do not kiss. He says he enjoyed himself, and we should do it again. I agree. We set on Saturday. I am to attend his friend’s birthday drinks.
Back at home I relay the evening to my landlady.
It’s the ‘something missing’ bit I just can’t grasp, but we decide that as nothing actually went wrong, it was a positive experience, and Saturday shall be the day of reckoning………
There is no communication between me and treeman until Saturday, when he informs me that he will not be firing on all cylinders due to a heavy razzle the night before.
This is fine with me, so long as one cylinder is still firing…
Before I know it, Saturday is here and I am disembarking the bus and heading straight into him and his friends outside the den of inequity.
God, I fancy him. Truly. As in, “phwoargh, I don’t ‘alf fancy you”. But something tells me this is not going to be an easy ride…..
His friends are spritely, intelligent and up for it. The night unfurls, but he is not being up close and personal. I’m pretty sure it’s not a case of being hung up on the ex, closeted or asexual, but what is this ledge that keeps me grappling at his edges?
I decide to tackle him head on and tell him that I cannot quite grasp his essence. He seems to concur, and says that he finds me ‘vague’.
Still, the date continues. He is not a natural decision maker, so we ‘jointly’ decide that we’ll go back to his, get off our heads and prance about to John Legend. It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough. Happy in the knowledge that shortly I would have this beast entirely to myself, we trot back downstairs to his friends.
Suddenly I feel like I’ve completely lost him.
Like he is on the land waving me off as I wibble horizon-bound in a broken paddle-boat for one.
I tell him I feel like I’m waiting, but not knowing what for.
And he says,
“Don’t wait for me. Whatever you do don’t wait for me”.
A man after my own heart – or not, as the case is rapidly turning out. We go to leave, finally, but on the way out he insists on buying me a spritzer.
Then he drops the curtain, and I finally see what’s behind the night’s uncertainty.
He looks me straight in the eyes. And he says,
“The thing is, I don’t think I fancy you”.
There is an absolute stunned silence from me; my mouth aghast, my chest puffed up like an albatross.
“WHAT?!!” I near-stammer. “No one has EVER said that to me before!”
My instinct is to slam down the spritzer and run, but he carries on the conversation. He explains that although he is still not exactly sure whether he fancies me or not, he is not the type to get his rocks off with the wrong girl. We decide to go to his house, get drunker, and get our rocks off anyway.
He goes in the booze shop to get wine. I dally about on the pavement, not exactly pleased with myself, but excited about the unknown experience ahead. In the shop I can see him darting about in a confused, frenzied manner. Suddenly he ejects himself back out onto the pavement, empty-handed. He grabs me square-on:
“Look, this isn’t a good idea. This isn’t going to happen. I don’t fancy you, it’s no slur on you, it’s what it is. It’s just not going to happen.”
I wrestle frantically with my ego in this honest situation. And somehow I reason with my better self and tell him that it’s okay. I get it, you see: fancying people, it’s all about gene pools.
In another unexpected twist to the evening, he puts his arms around me and we flag down a cab. He’ll drop me off at mine then go his separate way.
And no sooner have we got in the back, than he’s kissing me. Strong, meaningful kisses in the back of a swerving cab. We kiss. I pull away. The taxi swerves. We kiss again. Getting more passionate, his sleek tree-dwelling masterful hands squeeze my thigh.
Could it be magic now?
No. For though he is vagrantly flouting his earlier message to me, we are now at my front door. And the landlady isn’t in. And wouldn’t it be fun to get high and run around like naked children, blessing forgotten corners with the fluids of love?
No. He is staying put. In the cab. He is going home.
“Even after all that?” I reason, feeling chemistry between us at last.
“Yep”. Says he.
He just doesn’t fancy me that much.
I get out of the taxicab and semi-slam the door.
But I feel far from negative. Although it seems events were somehow in the wrong order, the overriding essence of this experience has been extremely positive.
He has done the right thing.
When I said no one has ever looked me in the face and told me they don’t fancy me, it’s the truth. But it’s likely that others should have walked away instead of going my way for the sake of it.
I felt relief from my mis-fired ponderings as to why we weren’t quite hitting it off. Not an easy truth to deliver, but the right thing to do. And now he has swiftly departed from my life, but left me with a divine humility.
It wasn’t the right thing for me, either, but I wanted all of the candy in the cookie-jar. I would have eaten my fill and several other women’s too, had we gone back to his.
And though my jar is now empty, doing the right thing has given me a day without a sore head and a renewed belief that not all humans are complicated, ingenuous self-obsessed creatures of the dark. Sometimes, they have the integrity and self-respect to follow their higher beliefs, their truer path (sometimes they don’t fancy me, of course).
Easy to be an all-singing, all-dancing mantrap. Nice for a change to climb down from my man-branch and look at the pile of little twigs I’ve made below. Sift through them, turf some out, and start afresh, with a clear conscience in the knowledge that some things are really not meant to be.
Too often the ‘right thing’ is staring us in the face but we ignore it and do the wrong thing anyway. The easy thing; the instant gratifier – the cheeseburger, the not-going-running, the staying in our job because it pays the stupid bills, the staying with our stupid wife because she pays the stupid bills.
I wanted someone to keep me warm over winter; instead, I can keep warm with the calm, glowing reassurance that I am doing the right thing. And until the time is right, there is no good reason for him, or anyone else for that matter, to be in my tree….