Due to a combination of heartbreak and jetlag, I woke up at 3am, the night after Whippersnapper broke up with me. I was lying on my friend’s sofabed, as she had come and rescued me, because I didn’t want to be on my own.
As soon as I opened my eyes, in the dark, and remembered where I was, it hit me that we weren’t together anymore. I lay in the dark crying as quietly as possible for a bit.
I was wide awake, as it felt like lunchtime to me. I thought about the fact I was single again.
I had so many things I wanted to say to Whippersnapper. I wrote a draft message, which I planned to leave a week and then send if it still seemed like a good idea. When I was writing it, I thought this is great, I’m dropping some gentle but pithy truth bombs here, which he won’t be able to disagree with and will hopefully convince him to get back together with me. (A few days later I read it back and immediately deleted it, as it turned out to be the incoherent ramblings of a pissed, sleep-deprived, upset person).
The last line was something about how, if he changed his mind, he should let me know because eventually I would move on, but for a long time, no one would compare to him.
Oooh, that’s a good idea! I thought, as soon as I contemplated people not comparing to him.
I immediately reactivated my profile on OkCupid. I absolutely believed that no one would live up to him, possibly for the rest of my life, but at least flicking through the Argos catalogue of human faces would remind me there were other people out there, and make me feel less lonely.
The fact I had newly reactivated my profile seemed to emit a special signal to the men of OkCupid, and when I got home later that day, I found the messages had come thick and fast.
There was one which I would normally have ignored; I always had rule that I would only respond to messages where the person had clearly read my profile. I’m not sure how useful this rule was, but when you know the guy has clearly copied and pasted the same message to a 100 women, it doesn’t make you feel very special.
This guy had said “excuse me, you seem to have dropped my jaw”. I looked at his profile. He was 26. Another Whippersnapper. He looked quite funny and cocky from his profile. He didn’t look like the kind of guy I would normally fancy.
“Hello.” I replied.
A few messages went back and forth about what we were up to. He made reference to the fact he was a younger man, and I said “So you like an older woman, do you?”
“I sure do.” He replied, with a smiley face emoji.
“What do you like about us?”
“There are no stupid games, older women know what they want. I can go on a date with you, if we like each other then we act on it. Basically I just like maturity.”
“Good answer. I’m quite new to the world of young whippersnappers – previously I’ve dated people my own age or older, but a young 25 year old recently converted me”.
Oh god, it hurts to type about Whippersnapper 1.
“Oh nice! Well I’m sure I can help continue the trend :-). what’re you looking for exactly though? What would I be to you?”
“Good question. What are you looking for?” I deflected. I had no idea. Well, basically I knew what I wanted, which was to marry Whippersnapper 1, but that didn’t seem to be on the menu.
“To be honest, just a casual thing. Not just sex. I want someone I enjoy being around too.” Whippersnapper 2 said.
“That sounds good. I just came out of a relationship so something laid back would be cool.” I replied.
We arranged to meet for a drink that Tuesday. I must admit, although I knew it absolutely had bad idea written all over it, and would definitely, without a doubt, make me miss WS1 more, I was kind proud that it had taken me less than 24 hours to arrange a date with someone else.
The day before the date, I texted WS2 saying “I just thought I’d say, even when it’s clearly a casual thing, I don’t really have sex on the first date. Just to save you doing any unnecessary changing of sheets or body hair admin before tomorrow.”
“Body hair admin, haha! It’s cool I don’t expect sex on a first date anyway haha! Doesn’t mean I won’t find you insanely attractive though :P”. WS2 replied.
Bless him. Maybe this is only 95% a terrible idea.
On the way to the date, my train went through the station where WS1 normally got his train home from work. This was the most excited I had felt all day. As the train pulled into his stop and my heart rate sped up.
I knew it was incredibly unlikely that WS1 would get on. It was probably a bit later than he would normally get on the train. And even if it was exactly the right time, and he even got on my train, the chances of us actually seeing each other were tiny.
Not many people got on.
It was one of those new district line trains, where you can see all the way from one end of the train to the other. In the history of TFL, I don’t think anyone has ever looked up and down a train as nonchalantly but thoroughly as I did that night.
No Whippersnapper 1.
I sighed. A tidal wave of crushing disappointment crashed over me.
I felt really terribly sad for a few minutes, and wanted to cry.
Then I got to Embankment, where I needed to change to the Northern line. As I walked through the station to change trains, I tried to change my mindset and be more positive about the date.
Soon I arrived in Camden, and started walking to the pub.
WS2 texted me saying he had got a bottle of wine. This kind of annoyed me, because I wanted make sure I paced myself and didn’t get too drunk. I was planning to drink halves of cider, slowly, but it would be harder to keep track if he kept topping up my glass (which is exactly what happened). Also, it meant I couldn’t leave after just one drink if I wasn’t having a good time.
I got to the pub a few minutes later.
He had two photos on his profile, that really didn’t look like each other at all. In real life, he looked exactly like the first photo.
He was not bad looking. He was wearing a t-shirt with quite a low V-neck, which wasn’t really my thing. We did some initial, early-date warm-up chat. We talked about the pub we were in, our jobs and what we’d done that day.
He came across as being pretty confident, but just a little like he felt understandably awkward.
We soon settled into the date and relaxed. It seemed to be going ok. We had plenty of things in common, like both liking the TV show Pointless and our taste in music.
Although, he did have a lot of tattoos related to a band I think are completely overrated (possibly I shouldn’t have told him that). He also really, really hated Ed Sheeran and Coldplay. I always find that a bit like being angry at a glass of water or some fresh air.
We made each other laugh and there were no awkward silences. The conversation flowed easily.
I wasn’t sure if I fancied him. It was hard to be objective because I was so distracted by my feelings for WS1. I probably could’ve even gone on a date with… See? I can’t even think of an attractive famous person to use as an example.
However, I think one of the things that made me fancy him slightly less, was that he didn’t seem quite as interested in things I said as I would’ve liked. He definitely was quite interested – he asked me questions and he listened to the answers, but he didn’t ask that many questions. When I was telling a story, it seemed like he was more eager to find out what the theme was going to be so he could think of his own next story, rather than just listening.
We finished the first bottle of wine. I went up to the bar and bought a second one. I remember having some nice chat with the barman about contactless payment. I think he was Italian. I probably fancied him more than WS2.
My memory of the night starts to get a bit more hazy.
I vaguely remember texting my friend at about 9:30, in the toilets, saying “This guy is just so not WS1”.
After this point I just have a slideshow of fleeting images of the night, with no idea what happened in between.
I remember explaining to him what a split infinitive was, and he seemed quite impressed.
“I’m learning loads tonight!” He said.
The next thing I remember, we were on the street and were trying to walk down to the canal. Presumably one or both of us thought it would be romantic. However, every path we thought would take us down to the canal was closed.
I very vaguely remember us being at the station and him saying something about coming back to west London with me, and me saying no thank you.
Next, I remember being on the train and writing a message to WS1, which I never sent, which just said “Oh WS1” (except I wrote his actual first name).
Then I remember being discreetly sick in a corner, at a station where I was changing trains. (It feels important to mention that this was an outdoor station, not an indoor one.)
Then I remember waking up at about 5am, fully clothed, bedroom lights still on.
I checked my phone. WS2 had sent me a message saying “You’re such a tease. You’re all i’m gonna think of now!”
Oh god. Why am I tease?
I hope I didn’t put my hand down his pants at the station or anything.
I felt utterly miserable. It was the day before the anniversary of my ex-boyfriend’s death. Everything always feels really raw around this time. It’s amazing how something happening on a calendar can affect my emotions so much.
As I’d predicted, the date with WS2 just made me miss WS1 even more. I felt so sad. I felt very sorry for myself, thinking it was so unfair that I’d had one boyfriend who died, then the next one had anger management problems, then I fell for WS1 who couldn’t be with me because of his body image problems.
I lay in bed and sobbed my heart out.