After my failed attempt to woo a work colleague, I decided it was time to get back on the metaphorical dating horse – that seaside donkey turned unbroken stallion.
With steely resolve I rushed to ‘get back out there’. Interesting, as ‘getting out there’ actually entailed sitting in my darkened flat, scrolling through the profiles on match.com. Still, I was covering more ground – why go out and speak to a couple of women, when I could just as easily carpet-bomb the digital world with ‘winks’. No one reciprocated however, and before long the smiley emoticon took on a sinister disposition – it’s ghoulish yellow face mocking my lack of success.
Perhaps, I was not deploying my wink correctly. As I typed ‘match.com wink…’ into Google, the autocorrect suggested ‘…etiquette’. It seemed I was far from alone in my confusion. A cursory search revealed there were no rules, as such. One commentator offered the rather bland advice: ‘if she winks at you, she probably won’t want to be winked back at in return’. Her recommendation was to email instead. The double-wink, I noted: deal-breaker.
The evening was slipping away so, in order to expedite matters, I switched to ‘photos only’ mode. It brought to mind an article I read that said ‘men are visual creatures’ – a benign way of saying that we are shallow. Nevertheless, I noticed they didn’t offer a ‘personalities only’ option.
I explained all of this to my friend Beth, in the pub.
“Sorry, run that by me again,” she said.
“Ok, so I have this method where I wink at about fifteen or twenty women, I then leave it, say, half an hour – then send them my message.”
“Yeah, I’ve got it all ready. It’s a cut and paste job, but it’s all the same, right?”
She looked down at her phone.
“What does it say?”
“Hey there, how’s it going?”
“No, that’s it, it’s my opening gambit – I did consider using a bit of text speak to seem younger, you know? Maybe spell how’s with a Z, or something.”
“That is the lamest thing I have ever heard. Couldn’t you at least try to make it sound like it was for them?”
“It is for them.”
“It’s for all of them.”
“Sure, I see what you mean. Anyway, it’s fine, I did make a breakthrough.”
The lady in question was called ‘Allouette_912’, a charming name for a bookish brunette. She wasn’t smiling in her profile picture, nor was she pouting in a studied bathroom-mirror pose.
The background was stark, as was her penetrating gaze.
After several winks and views, we exchanged emails. My profile was full of what I deemed to be cultural classics. McCabe and Mrs Miller is my favourite film, I opined. Not really a Western – it’s actually a love story, shot whilst Warren Beatty and Julie Christie were a real-life couple. She thought it was sweet, I brushed over the fact that Beatty was bedding half of Hollywood at the time – no need to sully the reference, I thought.
In our exchange Allouette_912 alluded to everything from Sartre to Saul Bellow, needless to say, I kept Wikipedia open in another window – picking out salient points to shoot back at her. She had read everything on my ‘pretentious reads’ Amazon wish-list. Incredible. I tried my best to keep up – see, when you play the game of tomes, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.
Over the next few nights we messaged over Skype. She worked as a freelance writer, her work was her passion. Me, I was on auto-pilot. To offset this, I attempted to portray myself as a renegade – a noble man raging against the corporate machine. Naturally, it didn’t stack up:
“Why don’t you just leave?” she asked.
“I would,” (I added two exclamation marks, then removed them) “but the pension plan is great.”
A minute passed. No response was forthcoming, so I added ‘lol’.
Still nothing, so I threw in a smiley emoticon – the one with the rolling head. This was followed by the moody emo-man with the hair-flick.
The pencil icon paused a moment then continued. At this point, it was easier to go forward than back – I hit the ‘big happy sun’ – the nuclear option. It flashed up like an Aztec god, fixing me with it’s maniacal grin.
“Hey, gotta go,” Allouette_912 said.
“Sure, chat later?”
I left my answer un-emoted, doesn’t matter – I think she had already logged off.