‘I’m in a Facebook organised vigilante group that hunts down pickpockets on the Metro.’
So began my latest foray into dating.
It’s been more than a year since I last mustered even a hint of enthusiasm for it. Goddam you all the way to Hell, Covid-19 ^shakes tiny fist at the heavens^. I finally arrived at a point, six months in to this crazy situation, where even I, a huge fan of solitude, was deeply craving an enormous bear hug. Like, an all-encompassing, totally-enveloping, buried-under-the-armpit, squeeze-the-life-outta-ya, kiss-the-top-of-your-head hug. I knew something was up when, sitting with a friend chatting over brunch, I couldn’t stop staring over her shoulder at a guy in the doorway of the bar. He had beautiful arms. Big, beautiful, perfect-for-hugging arms. The rest of him? Oh yeah, that was good too. But those arms. I signed up that afternoon.
I quite surprised myself this time by trying a couple of different, recommended apps and hanging in there for a whopping five weeks.
But trying to unearth that elusive creature, the tolerable other that you could potentially have around on the day-to-day, like most things in life, requires discipline. I admire hugely, those who look at dating as a project and work through the endless chaff methodically to arrive at the wheat. One lung full of chaff dust and I am usually outta there. Five weeks felt like a lifetime.
After the vigilante, who, by the way, also likes to go to conspiracy theory conferences for sport, I had a date with a guy who seemed chunky in his photos. When he arrived, it was evident he weighed half of me, but the chat was pretty good, so you know, we had a couple of glasses of wine. We moved to a different place for one last glass and as we arrived at the terrace table, I sat opposite-not-next-to him. Bearing in mind it was a *first date, there was little spark and we are in the middle of a GLOBAL PANDEMIC, I was more than a little surprised when he asked without a hint of irony, ‘Why the distance?’. It suddenly felt like we were a couple of several years having some problems. Thank all the Gods for government-sanctioned social distancing requirements. No inventive excuses needed. He wanted to kiss me. I wondered if he had the same daredevil attitude to condoms. I hadn’t even told him about my **dubious immunity.
I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been so different to dating any other time. Apart from the masks, endless apocalypse chat and the antibodies certificates. There were some familiar faces online, some new ones (apparently due to increased separations caused by a forced sharing of space for six months) and the inevitable gaggle of weirdos.
A profile picture of a guy bound and gagged on the floor of a wooded area. A still from a movie, granted, but Jesus Christ… Talking of which, a priest (apparently). Timothy, well, Timothy you can see above. A guy whose blurb read, ‘allergic to frivolity and consumerism. I keep 32 dental pieces. Able to fly underwater. No criminal record.’, a photo of a guy pointing a rifle directly into the camera and lovely, naked Eric (pictured); a man who seemed to have a serious problem keeping his clothes on.
There were a few, professional looking, black and white photos of Eric in various states of undress. In this one, he’d wandered into the forest where his pants exploded off, leaving him in only a mangled jockstrap and in the ensuing chaos, he’d got tangled up in his shirt. My personal favourite was the one where poor Eric must have been so dirty after work one day that he couldn’t even be bothered to take his shirt and tie off before getting in the shower, where his trousers fell down, he got the horn and decided to gently touch the tiles with the tip of his semi-erect penis, visible through his wet dad pants. Eric had written nothing in his bio. Maybe he was explaining his life through the medium of mime. One thing I did know, is that I could never date Eric, HELL no. I imagined the horror of popping to the bathroom and coming back to find him starkers, straddling an ornamental potted bush.
But, it’s not been all bad. I have one last contact to meet; and the absolutely best thing? Meeting a guy who was on the periphery of my social circle during my London days. We are absolutely certain that we bumped into each other back then, because apparently, this small world is the size of a golf ball. He’s totally adorable and we are in touch as friends. And I got my hug.
We both have antibodies.
*I don’t have any strict rules about first dates, I really don’t, but there has to be at least some chispas.
**dubious, only because no one knows if antibodies are forever.