Humour is very important to me, I have it in abundance and of course expect to find oodles in any potential Mrs Marcello.
One tactic I use when trawling dating profiles is to remark on humorous aspects of the pictures. I try to find one unusual aspect, no matter how slight and unload a tsunami of mirth all over it. Always start with a joke, as they say.
In Bryony’s case, it was related to one of the obligatory “adventure holiday” shots. She was in a line up against what appeared to be some kind of volcanic landscape. All of the figures were obscured by poor lighting and layers of winter clothing – not as useful as a beach shot (in assessment terms) but it did convey a certain zesty spirit. I liked it. In the background lurked a hairy man.
“Hey Bryony, the profile’s ok. I noticed you captured the abominable snowman in one of your holiday snaps. Looks like the kind of thing they find amongst ‘lost footage'”
I remember relaying that particular humdinger to my friend Beth.
“Good god,” she said, “how are you even getting dates?”
“You also said ‘the profile’s ok‘. Can’t you try to sound a bit more enthusiastic?”
“What can I say, I’m coasting.”
I was actually rather offended but to show it would only have spurred Beth on.
Nevertheless, Bryony responded riffing on the same theme – buoyed on by my success we exchanged a couple more ‘monster’ related emails before arranging a date.
We met in a tourist pub on the Strand. I was prepping my stock travelling anecdotes when she entered. The first thing I noticed about her were her eyes – not in a nice way, in fact in a rather disturbing way. On her profile, she stated that she was twenty-nine. In lieu of documentary evidence I had no choice but to believe her however she had the eyes (or more precisely, the eye-bags) of a much older woman.
We had of course crossed the Rubicon so I started the chatter. Being an HR maverick, I am used to trivial small-talk with new people, namely job applicants. I like to think of this as my forte and always commence with an ice-breaker.
“How did you get here?” I asked.
“The tube, it was only two stops.”
Not the most explosive of openers but certainly fit for purpose.
After our first drink, I raised the matter of the dark stranger in the photo and she laughed – encouraged, I went on to explore every facet of this rather meagre joke. Still applying an interview-like approach, I engaged in more listening than talking – active listening they call it, a dynamic name for what is essentially just nodding along.
Bryony ordered a couple more drinks and paid by card.
I pretended not to notice as she used an entire forearm and part of her shoulder to shield the reader.
There appeared to be an elaborate, almost theatrical air to this move, clearly this was her custom.
I pondered a moment on the obvious – for women every first date is a potential criminal mastermind. Bryony was only being prudent, I really couldn’t blame her.
Despite not being ruled out as an identity-thief, we agreed to meet again. Outside, Bryony said goodbye then paused. I knew that moment well, it was the snogging-pause – the window during which all is permissible. My heart quickened.
Steeling myself for the surge, I prepared to unleash the shock and awe of the goodnight kiss.