This is the next installment of a piece I wrote about online dating when I was single and neck deep in the process. On re-reading I realise what a depressing experience it was for me. The first was the creepy one! Others who love the process may disagree (either way please feel free to share!)
Then there was the nervous one. He had a pupil that strayed at his nose as if drawn by a magnet. It had a mind of its own, darted around while he talked. And talk he did, endlessly. All about his job, as an engineer for an architectural company named after a clutch of people. Acronyms and technical words spilled out as if he had swallowed a manual. At some point he noticed my attention wane. Caught out on a glance to the tables behind wondering what they were talking about. It had to be more interesting than this.
Then I heard it. Not quite able to believe what was said.
“I got the test results today, one year cancer free.”
So there I was; a recipient of great news on behalf of a stranger. Thrown by his candour and comfort around the ‘C’ word I stuttered “Congratulations”. I let him talk; exorcise his malignant woes unsure of what to say or do.
He offered another drink. I didn’t dare look at his eyes, afraid what one was telling the other. Somehow “sure” came out.
Chastisements came out, ones you arm yourself with while dating.
* There’s more to it than just looks.
* It’s what’s inside that counts.
* Just give him a chance.
I wanted to live in that world. Be that good a person. But that was not the case. I thought this instead and felt guilty after each one –
* If you don’t fancy them then what’s the point?
* I need more than just a nice guy.
* Within two minutes you know. You bloody know.
A frantic text to a friend was of little help. The reply was a smiley face with a tongue stuck out. This was not the time for emoticons. Did she not realise I was desperate? I told her so with a red faced smiley with eyebrows dipped low into a V.
He set the drink down, a goblet full of wine barely contained within the brim. Okay we can move on I reasoned, to more date friendly subjects.
“Only a year ago they told me I might die.”
It was a statement with no reasonable response. I nodded, conceded the floor. The tannins slid down. I made lists; to do, wish and shopping. What seemed like hours passed, my life becoming more organised by the minute. I glanced at my phone, two hours and ten minutes in with no sign of stopping. He saw me look and stopped, one eye darting as if in an argument with the other.
“So, what about you? What do you do?”
Next time it’s the arrogant one…