The Single girls’ guide to Tinder…

Today as I sat before my computer, my hope Reader, was to entertain you with some hilarious titbit from my troubled dating life.  I thought I might share with you a recent encounter with a pervert, an oleaginous groper or even better a psychopath.  My hope – it seems- was an extraordinary one, as it appears even societal rejects no longer throw me a cursory glance.

 

Apparently the well has dried up, the water ceases to run deep- worse the barrel can be scraped no more for it is now broken.  I am now locked within the confines of an involuntary period of singledom, with my only day-to day male interaction coming from the hollow and tuneless voice of SIRI.  Ladies and gentlemen I present; the professional single.

 

Fear that I was on course to venture into Life’s dark and shadowy abyss completely solo, was first aroused on a sunny Friday evening.  Spending my working days in Canary Wharf, it is with frequency I encounter its regional charm. Namely water-front, alcohol-centric, two- dimensional vapidity- cleverly disguised as socialising.

 

dating 2

How my Tinder date would go in my head…

 

As I walked past a moving sea of Prosecco drenched, sun revelling, be-suited, cardboard cut outs, I couldn’t help but wish for my own paper-made lover.  For what is life without a generic and flimsy hand to hold?

 

And so I went in search of a hug-bearer, an affection-giver and a spider-killer (on the internet of course).  Choosing Tinder- an app which could easily win the category for, hosting the Web’s most extensive assortment of rogue males.

 

Experience it seems has taught me nothing; having conveniently wiped from my mind’s own hard drive painful recollections of my match.com date, ‘Al.’  Clever ‘Al’ had used a profile picture so old it must have been taken B.C; B.C meaning ‘Before he was ‘Bald’ and ‘Chunky’.

 

real date

Verses the reality of a Tinder date…

 

On Tinder I found myself to be no less luckless in the losing hand of love.  In the record two minutes it took for my profile picture to go live, I found that I had been ‘Super liked.’

 

To the Reader I must stress that the use of superlative here, had the opposite effect of the delirium it was meant to inspire. For, I sensed that my ‘super like’ came from the nimble thumbs of a socially inept, bedroom masturbator.  Who more than likely was incapable of a relationship in the ‘real world.’

 

 

As I stared at the unknown face on my screen, it came as very little surprise the villain before me was dressed as Heath Ledger’s Joker. In truth I expected nothing less. I merely assumed I’d ticked the box which offered matches with nutjobs as an optional extra.

 

 

vampire

Maybe I’m just being too fussy

 

Perhaps all his regular clothes had been in the wash that day, and had we met I would have found that beneath the make-up there lay a passing resemblance to a 90s Brad Pitt.  Either that or he would have come as first date favourite Nosferatu…

 

I won’t even attempt to recount my other Tinder horror story. Which involved moi and a gentleman who thought of himself as a vampire/werewolf hybrid (I kid you not).

 

My hopes of finding a better half, or any kind of half for that matter have now dissolved, rather like a scribbled wish thrown into the mouth of a bubbling volcano.

 

Perhaps I ought to have given that vampire a chance…

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hitting an all time low…

Sadly, I’m now beginning to learn there is truth in the age old adage; ‘all the good ones are taken’.   Though the saying should now be updated to include that all the ‘completely average’ and ‘just about passable’ ones have also been snapped up too. Leaving us poor singletons with a choice more dire than a ‘half off’ Tesco Value chilled cabinet.  I’m dangerously close to stumbling into Carrie Bradshaw territory here, in terms of the ‘whiny bitch Richter scale’ but I am literally so over the legions of pasta-brained male narcissists, posing as the best their sex has to offer. *And Breathe*

‘So what’s his name?’ I hear you ask.  Reader, knowing me, (as you do) to be nothing but an unshakable pillar of discretion, I won’t put this unidentified gentleman on blast by giving such a personal detail away.  However, I will give you enough dirt to satiate your inner voyeur, or at the very least give your tired eyes a well earned five-minute rest from the torrid business of Instagram stalking.

After my hell date with ‘John’ my karmatic guidance system seemed to indicate that there were no new depths for me to plummet to, in the losing game of Love Russian Roulette. Apparently, much like Google Maps and Satellite Navigation devices, the Gods of Karma can also be inaccurate; or in my case completely wrong.

Technically my meeting with ‘Boris’ wasn’t actually an official date, it was more a chance encounter.  We’d met the week before in Starbucks (where else?) after I’d asked him to babysit my MacBook while I visited the restroom.   When I came back we did the whole you’re creative, I’m creative, let’s talk thing, and Boris seemed to be a nice enough sort.  On my bus ride home, I sent him a text asking where I could learn more about his business.  The reply for which came an unduly prolonged, hour and twenty minutes later.  This to me, marked Boris out as a game-player of epic proportions, and immediately my interest in him waned.  Just in case you were wondering, I did not respond to this last text, and heard nothing from Boris for an entire week.  By which point I had sent him to the final resting place for failed paramours; ‘The Island of Lost Men’.  But, our love for over-priced coffee was to reunite us the following Tuesday, and I was left to the torturing tinkering will of the Arabica Gods.

I joined Boris at the table, and being the chipper sort that I am, made light of his week long disappearing act, by asking him ‘which limb he had been in danger of losing’ and ‘if he had managed to find a cure for cancer.’  As Boris laughed along to my bespoke comedy routine, I first told him that I’d love a sip of what had been, in the now empty cup, that sat on the table.  * Crickets * I then said that I’d love a coffee.  * Crickets * By this point, I threw in the towel and bought the bloody drink myself.  After schlepping to the counter and back, Boris was, I believe midway through a business call, okay fine. The call was proceeded by texting and a spell of business calendar organisation; all while I sat in silence at the other end of a table drinking the coffee I payed for.  I flat out told him that the situation was erring on the side of weird and that I really did have better things to do with my day.  To which he responded by asking me to show him pictures of myself (strange I know).  As I scrolled through the pictures on my phone, little did I know that my afternoon was about to get weirder.  It became increasingly and worryingly clear that dear old Boris, was particularly keen to see photographs that captured the image of my body, and not those that captured solely my face. Having now judged Boris to be a pervert, he confirmed my worst fears by making a comment about the virtues of my chest and asking if he could run his fingers through my hair.  Wanting to put a swift end to my stay at Bates Motel, I accepted Boris’s suggestion of ‘going for a walk’.  Which in my head went a little differently, namely with me doing an Usain Bolt.

Our walk contained horrors as yet unknown to me.  Boris trying to hold my hand; me trying my best not to.  Boris demanding a hug from me; me trying my best not to.  The hugging thing was seriously perturbing as the lecherous Boris Kept asking me to hug him over and over again, as apparently I wasn’t doing it ‘right’.  After several thwarted attempts at kissing my neck (revolting I know) Boris asked if I wanted to sit on a wooden stump in a children’s park, you couldn’t make this stuff up.  He then invited himself round to my flat, saying that he could see me tomorrow before his meeting.  Lucky me, just what every woman wants, a complete stranger in her home.  By this point I was more than ready to ditch this bozo and marched off leaving Boris in my wake.  He insisted on waiting with me at the bus stop, owing to the fact that it would be the only way he would get a goodbye kiss.  Realising that his long awaited kiss, would be a ‘no show’, Boris tried to bully me into the promise of lip locking at our next meeting.  Needless to say after waiving goodbye to him from the safety of a moving bus, I never want to see Boris again, despite his undignified texted pleas.

At this point, I’m completely ready to call it a day with men.  Sign me up to be the old lady who wears pink everyday, who lives with a menagerie of animals and whose decomposing body is eventually found to have been grotesquely gnawed at by her gaggle of cats.  Franky it would be less painful…

‘Post Traumatic Wedding Syndrome’

Of late, the ritual of checking my mailbox has become an activity filled with feelings of anxiety and at times trepidation.  The two-week stomach churning wait for an ‘all clear’ medical test result, did not rank highly among my list of ‘life’s top ten fun things to do’.  Nor did an unnecessarily overwrought and frantic spell of obsession, over the arrival of a ‘dream job’ offer that never came.  Thinking that the highs and lows of of my Post-Traumatic stress had reached their apex, the music of Sesame Street playing as my personal theme tune, I sashayed over to the box. Only to encounter an envelope that would make my blood run cold.

 

I knew it was coming, but like so many of life’s vicissitudes I had put it firmly to the back of my mind.   There it lay sandwiched between thoughts of of Tesco’s opening hours, my ageing grandparents and the suitability of a pink fur coat for British spring time.  Left on my living room coffee table, carefully concealed within a shameful assortment of Topshop receipts its existence remained unacknowledged for two days straight… Until of course I decided to open it.  In the most flowery of words and ornate fonts my presence was requested to celebrate the marriage of one of my dearest friends.

 

Weddings are odd little affairs.  On one hand they provide us humans with a neat little ending of sorts, a storybook conclusion to years of dating.  But on the other they give validity to a gnawing and nagging examination of exactly what we’ve been doing with our lives and worse beg the question: ‘Why are you still single?’  Nowhere was my singledom more apparent, than in the invitations address.  Apparently ‘Your’ (meaning ‘my’) company had been requested.  I kept searching for the ‘plus guest’ nod, but apparently we singletons are to be doubly punished.  Not only are we expected to sit by on the Reserve’s Bench, while our closet friends declare their undying devotion to one another before God.  We must do so alone.  Our wedding attire stamped with a Scarlet ‘S’ for single, while all about us whisper of our tragedy and misfortune.

As you may well have gathered, I am expecting the absolute worst.  The mournful glances, the two handed interrogations from gloating couples and best of all having my hand held by well meaning Cloak Room attendants who softly utter the words ‘don’t leave it too late.’  (Yes, that did really happen.)  In order to counter the slings and arrows of being the sacrificial lamb at the centre of an unsolicited pity party, I will be attending the wedding in fancy dress.  No, not as the back end of a pantomime horse, in case you were wondering.  But as the glorious and resplendent Mrs O.  No one does dignity quite like Michelle Obama. I intend to sashay towards my church pew, clothed in a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress (which I don’t own) paired with a Chanel Boy (also a work in progress).  Completing the look with a top note of the other famous Mrs O.  Sunglasses please.

 

Luckily the wedding is not until June, giving me ample time to tick the missing items off my luxury shopping list.  Though already I can hear the demanding and shrill voices of justification; ‘you spent how much on a bag?’ I believe my top rated wedding rebuke is the one that goes something like this: ‘Tom and I used to spend like that, but now we have kids.’  It’s an oldie but nonetheless a goody.

 

I realise I am coming across as somewhat of a ‘Debbie Downer’.  But truly I am happy for my friend.  I’m elated, ecstatic if you will… over the moon, as they say.   I think that is what’s called over egging the custard Coran.  Perhaps you’re right.  Maybe I am a little jelly.  While my poor, miserable, single, self is stuck here calling Harrods to find out when my dream bag is in stock, planning a girl’s holiday and wondering if £1400 is too much for a jacket.  Couples the world over ask ‘why they can’t get their partner to clean the bathroom?’, ‘what happened to their joint account?’  And most pressing of all ‘Who ate the last biscuit?’  Yes, it truly is terrible being single…I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  Now, I’m sure you’d all like to join me in a roast toast… ‘To the bride and groom…’

The Beautiful Black Man and the Beast

 

Without giving too much away, I’m now at the age where the group of friends (call it a pool if you will) I once had in my twenties, has now been whittled down to a puddle subjected to a Sub-Saharan summer’s day.  With the majority of my girlfriends having succumbed to the casualties of marriage and babies, I feel as though I have been left as the proverbial last (wo)man standing.  While I wish my friends nothing but the best, I can’t help but crave to have my own ample slice of the pie we call happiness.

Growing up in a quiet mostly White Middle Class suburb, I, along with my friends, hit life’s key markers.   University, travel, decent(ish) job, but as the token only Black girl in our group I seem to have taken home the coveted prize of also-ran in the game of love Monopoly.

The dearth of ‘Good Black Men’ and its effects on ‘Good Black Women’ is oft spoken about, and has (almost) become part of African Folklore.  Edging out ancient African proverbs espousing the wisdom of ‘de lion’ come new sayings speaking of the pain of ‘de single Black woman’!  Okay, I’m erring on the side of silly but you catch my drift.   To put it plainly; I simply cannot kiss anymore frogs.  The road to becoming someone’s better half has been pathed with rogues and vagabonds.  One experience in particular with a rogue (or was he vagabond?) disturbed me so deeply, I feel that I must share it.

I am certainly not in the habit of man bashing, but in the last few years I have developed a growing awareness of a mutant strain of men.  Their emergence seems directly linked to the popularity of one A$AP Rocky.  The men in question are defined by their aesthetic charms, the fitness of their bodies, the acquisition of stylised designer clothes, the delicate form of their features and to all this they add a generous sprinkling of self-absorption.  Even Narcissus would have to fight to get hold of a mirror in their presence!  Sound familiar at all?  Yes, my date had all the symptoms of one suffering from what I like to call Beautiful Black Man Syndrome.  Disclaimer:  my date, (let’s call him John) artfully concealed his true nature, in our earliest encounters.

I should have known that a romantic liaison with John would have been a miss- step of gargantuan proportions after our first (almost) date. A text sent kindly requesting he meet me at a location closer to my home town (I have no car) and a little further from his, was met with this response verbatim:  ‘I could but, I think it would be cheaper to have drinks here.’  I know right, hardly the stuff fairy tales are made of.  Make no mistake, I made sure that he felt my ire and for obvious reasons I declined his enticing cut price offer.

A later chance meeting in the office kitchen, meant that the wonderful John was able to explain away the many (many) faults of his text.  Inwardly I thought how many single, childless black men, holding a BA and a Masters with their own flat (and own hair) are there left in the world?  Of Course I caved, and I stood in line, like a dummy, for a second helping.

At his suggestion, I agreed, though unwillingly to meet at his local pub.  The pub was part of a chain, nation renowned for their cheap prices and sterile atmospheres.  In short it was the McDonalds of the beverage world. (Oh Coran, Coran, Coran).  A promise was made, that our next date would be of the extravagant/salubrious kind and since I didn’t have a car, John would foot the bill for my taxi home. His offer had all the appearance of what they call a ‘win, win situation’, or so I thought.

The evening began with an explosive and emotional foray into my date’s disappointment at a recent, but unsuccessful job interview.  With scenes rivalling that of a Greek Tragedy, arms flailed about the table as he repeatedly asked me ‘Do you know who they picked?  Do you know who they picked?’  Later he looked me dead in the eyes and uttered the following words: ‘I’m very fragile you know’.  Who doesn’t want a partner who leads with the masculine trait of fragility?  But don’t worry it gets better.  Apparently a great believer in the virtues of self-promotion, John felt no hesitation in telling me of his conviction that he was in fact the ‘total package’ and that though I had seen pictures of his six-pack on Instagram, it was ‘even better’ in real life.  Other high points included him calling me ‘not very bright’ asking me ‘what makes me moist?’ ‘Did I remind him of Jean-Michel Basquiat?’ and the question that every woman wants to hear on a first date ‘do you want to make a baby?’  I won’t even bother mentioning his mid date declaration of: ‘I really want to go and smoke weed’.  Of course I was invited back to his flat to partake of the illegal activity, but I took this final insult as my cue to exit.  My carriage awaited me, or so I thought.  John in the highest (or lowest) form of flakery now asked that since I had gotten paid on that day, and he didn’t get paid until the next month, could I now pay for my taxi home, and he would refund me the cost at a later date. There really are no words.  No like really, there are no words.

I’ve never been one to shy away from a little self-deprecation and though many laughs were had owing to the overwhelmingly bizarre nature of the date, as I settled the fare for my taxi ride home I could not help but feel an intense wave of sadness sweep over me.  Ignoring his obligatory ‘I had such a good time’ evening text it dawned on me that this man, beautiful as he thought he was, felt so comfortable and confident in offering me, this woman, absolutely nothing.  He wanted me to play the role of a sponge, soaked and stained in his own misery, frustration and delusion.  His declaration of fragility, obscured and overshadowed my femininity.  If he as the man in our union had committed himself to weakness, then by default I would have to draw on a strength that would sustain the both of us.  With strength bestowed unwillingly upon me, his natural conclusion was that I of course could fend for myself, hence the self -funded drive home.  My date had decided that he would play the part of one to be objectified, admired and fawned upon.  This would be his sole and meagre contribution to the evening; and in that moment I realised that the roles of Black men and Black women had been cruelly inverted.  He would not provide, nor would he mark himself as a pillar of dependency.  His frailty would be my burden to carry and protect, with his aesthetic raised above on a pedestal for my worship. In short he would take up the woman’s helm and I the man’s.

It was the bitterest of pills to swallow, but I suppose these are the inevitable results of a generation of men parented by MTV.  Clearly they have not yet received the memo that ‘cool’, as far as I’m aware, is a non-tangible asset.  As for me the search goes on…and on…and on.  There will always be a line around the block of frogs waiting to be kissed.  Only next time I’ll be sure they have my cab fare ready.