The Idiot Litmus test 

I have two Idiot Litmus Tests on my dating profile. Both came about unintentionally, but then I realised they made idiots out themselves from the outset, and I left them in.

The first Idiot Litmus test is a song lyric in my profile.

It says “I’ll do graffiti if you sing to me in French.”

It’s from ‘Graffiti’ by Maximo Park – a song I like. When I was creating my profile, I put a song lyric in, because I find when people have the same taste in music as me, we have other things in common.

I think it’s completely reasonable not to recognise that song, because it was fairly obscure when it came out, and that was over 10 years ago.

However underneath that, I’ve put “actually I won’t do graffiti. I’d be too scared of getting in trouble. But I did like dancing to that song when I was younger.”

I think this should make it pretty clear that it’s a song lyric.

I get messages from guys saying “what are we doing here, if romance isn’t dead?” which is the next line in the song, or “Maximo Park! Great band.”

Excellent. Job done.

However, I also get messages like these:

Whenever I see this, I think “No.”

Maybe it’s harsh. I would let them off not recognising the exact song, but they should be able to read basic information.

I need a man who can follow simple instructions.

The other Idiot Litmus test is a photo.

I have 7 photos on my profile. One is photo I took myself. I had just finished doing my makeup before going out, and thought Wow, there is nothing I hate about my face right now. I was pleased with how I looked so I took a photo and uploaded it to my profile.

I hadn’t really thought about my facial expression, until I started receiving endless messages about it. Basically, I just have a neutral expression in this photo, or perhaps I look slightly serious because I’m concentrating. I’m smiling broadly in my other photos.

I get loads of messages saying I look really miserable. I’ve had:

  • “who’s the grinch in photo 2?”
  • “you look like you forgot you still had a butt-plug in and sat down.”
  • “You look mad. Looks like someone is in trouble.”
  • “Why do you look angry in that pic?”
  • “I wonder how many have seen that look in your second photo just prior to dying?”

Normally I can laugh at a photo of myself, but I think, if that’s your opening gambit – your first chance to show who you are and what it would be like to be with you, and the first thing you do is take the piss out of a photo because I’m not smiling enough – FUCK OFF.

I can’t quite put it into words, but somehow being berated for not smiling in every single photo feels a bit misogynistic.

Again – straight on the ‘no pile’.

I thought about removing the photo but I realised it’s actually helpful.

I wouldn’t say you should deliberately put a trick in your profile to catch people out, but if there’s something that ends up separating the wheat from the chaff, it’s not a bad thing.
Which is how The Doctor almost slipped through the net.

A few weeks ago, I was coming home from a wedding reception after midnight when I got a message saying “Hello, I can sing frere jaque in french”.

I thought fuck sake. 

However, I had a look at this guy’s profile.

Hang on a sec!

He had a stethoscope in one of his photos and I realised he was a doctor I had liked a few days earlier. His profile was actually pretty good. He looked handsome and interesting.

I decided to break my own rule and reply the following evening.

We then chatted for about 3 hours, until bed. We talked about the NHS and politics and how we manage our work stress.

He said “do you really like being sung to in French?”

I explained the song lyric, and he said “too obscure for me.”

However, we then talked about music, and apart from Maximo Park, we had pretty similar taste!

I used to play the guitar and sing, and it used to be my life, and he still does both.

I asked him what he likes playing, and he mentioned a few artists, including Beach House, who are one of my favourite discoveries of 2017.

He sent me a video of him playing a Beach House song. It made me really like him, because it was really good and he seems great at the guitar, but also he made a few mistakes in the video and I liked the fact he wasn’t a precious perfectionist.

I sent him a recording of me singing a song I wrote when I was 14, which I recorded a couple of years ago using an app I downloaded. He was positive about it.

It made me totally question my Idiot Litmus Test. I thought it weeded out thick people who didn’t have the same taste in music as me, but he was this bright doctor with similar taste, who even sexily played the guitar and sang.

We arranged to meet that Wednesday. I missed my jive class and he missed judo, as we were both really busy and it seemed like the only option.

He suggested a cocktail bar in London Bridge.

I arrived at London Bridge and he had texted me saying he was waiting ‘at the entrance’. This made me feel irrationally annoyed as London Bridge station has loads of entrances, on completely different streets.

“Which one?” I asked.

“Overground.” He replied.

This irrationally annoyed me even more. I can’t bear it when people say “Overground” when they mean “National Rail”. People think “overground” means any train line that isn’t on the Underground, but actually, the Overground is a specific line on the Underground.

I wondered around London Bridge station, trying to figure where he was. I went into the National Rail part of station, and found several more entrances.

He texted saying “up the escalator near the Shard.”

There are escalators everywhere and the whole thing is next to the Shard.

I said “I think I’m nearly where you are, but I’m not sure!”

“By the Overground.” He repeated.

Fuck sake!

Eventually we found each other. He looked nice – like an Asian George Harrison.

We walked to the cocktail bar and chatted. We talked about how long we had lived in London, and where else we had lived.

As we approached the bar, he said “it’s actually a bar you need a password to get into, and the password is a bit embarrassing.”

“Really!” I said. This was starting to sound cool.

“Yeah, it’s ‘I’m here to get lucky.'” He said.

“Well, if it’s good enough for Pharrell, it’s good enough for me.” I replied.

We arrived at a restaurant that seemed like a pretty unremarkable diner. There was a couple ahead of us, waiting to be seated. When we got to the front, the Doctor said sheepishly said to the waiter “I’m here to get lucky?”

“Ah, follow me!” The waiter said chirpily.

He lead us through the restaurant, into the kitchen, down some stairs, and into a bar in the basement.

It was a really cool small bar, with lots of fairy lights. We found seats at the bar.

“Oh. My God. This is so cool!” I said.

“Do you like it?” He asked.

“I think this is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened.”

We looked at the menus and chose some cocktails. He told me that last time he went there, they had a cocktail called the Donald Trump which was orange and had candy floss on top.

We ordered our drinks. He got his wallet out and said “I’ll get these. You can get the next ones.” For some reason I found this irrationally annoying as well.

We got our drinks and settled into the conversation.

“So, tell me about being a CBT therapist.” He said.

I wasn’t sure where to start. He said the service I work for sounds like a brand of dog food, which I found annoying. But then he said “I can imagine you being good at your job.”

I asked him about being doctor.

He told me he had worked in India for a bit. I said I went to India this year, and we started talking about that.

I was saying what I thought of India (loved it). I said “…it was… so… what’s the word..!”

Throughout the night, I struggled to say things I normally find easy to say, like how I love my job or what I thought of India. Normally, I even find it pretty easy to talk about difficult things – I spend most of my working day doing it. I find it super-easy to talk about easy things. But not with him, even though he was pleasant and personable.

We moved onto music. He seemed sad that I wasn’t playing the guitar anymore, which was very sweet. I promised I would start again, when I move and get my guitar out of storage.

We had a second drink, which I paid for, as promised.

We talked about our families.

I was having a good time. He was good-looking and interesting and cool. I didn’t feel completely relaxed, but I thought it could easily have been a first date thing.

I really liked the bar, and found the whole mystique very exciting, but I have to admit, each of the cocktails I had was not very nice.

Just after we ordered our third drinks (which he wouldn’t let me pay half for, which was sweet) I looked at the time and realised it was just after 10.30pm.

“Woah.” I said. “Time has really flown.” He agreed it had.

I needed to get a train from Marylebone in less than an hour. It would take about 20 minutes to get the tube back there.

I looked at his cocktail, which seemed to be nearly a pint.

“We should probably drink these reasonably quickly.” I said.

He agreed, then said “so, how are you finding dating?”

Let’s not get into this now!

I tried to answer with something honest, mysterious but also quite quick.

I asked him the same question back, while giving his pint glass a meaningful look.

Amazingly, ten minutes later we were leaving the bar.

We walked back to London Bridge and reached the station more quickly than expected. We said a bit of a rushed goodbye.

I managed to get my train from Marylebone.

He texted me saying “Hey Dater Analysis, I had a lovely time and hope you did too.”

I replied “Yes me too! Time really flew! Sorry we didn’t get to say goodbye properly.”

He said “Yeah rushed goodbye, sorry! Would like to meet up again x”

I thought about it the next day. I was definitely up for seeing him again. Although I didn’t feel that comfortable, that could easily have been a first date thing. We had a lot in common, he was handsome and cool.

This was a few days after the date with the Chilean Lecturer. The Chilean was the front-runner, but I was keen to see The Doctor again.

We texted each other the next day, and it felt like we clicked more over text.

But that was a few weeks ago. He texted two weeks ago, saying he wants to meet up again but it will have to be after Christmas. I agreed as I was busy too.

I haven’t heard anything since then. I expect I probably won’t.

So now I don’t know what to think about my Idiot Litmus test.

I think even people I know intimately and have everything in common with – ex-boyfriends, family members and close friends – would say the odd thing that wouldn’t pass an Idiot Litmus test, as I’m sure I wouldn’t.

He actually did have the same taste in music as me, and lots in common with me.

However, at the end of the day, we didn’t get on that well – not as well as I have with people who did recognise the song lyric. And we probably won’t end up seeing each other again.

So maybe it does work!


9 thoughts on “The Idiot Litmus test 

  1. It sounds to me as if there is a bit of a disconnect. In my experience, you can get on well by text for days, weeks or months, and it doesn’t necessarily translate into face to face connection. Several times you mention things that annoyed you, which is not a good sign. With your reference to the song lyric, I think some of those answers were clever and creative – though they didn’t say specifically that they understood it was a song reference, they were clearly trying to say something interesting, which in my book means its a hellofa lot better than ‘hey’. I don’t think there is a litmus test – either music in common or anything else – because the synergy between two people is mysterious and unpredictable. The comments about your non-smiling photo are typical of those directed at women who dare to show ‘resting bitch face’ or in your case, even a neutral expression. I loathe the pressure on women to smile all the time and in your case, you also presented several smiling photos so they have nothing to complain about. I agree that weeding out those men who comment is a good indicator of likely incompatibility!

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