Posts Tagged ‘dating’

She’s a neatly-dressed woman, not young. I see her sitting on the same park bench every Saturday, at two. I can’t say exactly when my orbit became synchronised with hers, or why I persist with it now. I could always walk another way to the station. Indeed, I don’t need to walk to the station at all any more. It’s just a habit: catch the train into town, coffee in the corner café. And now her.

What’s most striking is her serene aura. She’s never lost in her phone, like most of us are these days. Sometimes she’s reading a paperback, sometimes she’s feeding the birds. But most of the time she sits and looks out across the parkland, and the pretty little lake. I’ve never spoken to her, not even caught her eye. I walk past, take the train into town, and that’s it.

At first, I was curious. You don’t see many women out on their own. I’ve read that the Internet has turned all the men into perverts. Or at least it’s convinced all the women that all the men are perverts. I don’t want her thinking that about me. But I’m wondering if she ever thinks about me at all, is curious about me, like I’m curious about her, this guy who walks by, every Saturday at two.

I’m not so old I can’t remember the urgent allure of girls, nor the lengths I went to to be with one. You could sit down next to a girl on a park bench in those days and say hello without her calling the cops – well, maybe not the same bench, but the bench opposite, perhaps. Was it that we were all so much younger, and trusting then, still working out what was the right way to enter into the full bloom of being? And somewhere along the way, something went wrong and turned us all into paranoid strangers, fearful of one another.

It was never about sex for me. I wouldn’t have admitted that to other guys, though – guys whose woman-talk never rose above the level of whether so-and-so was a good shag. They didn’t mean it, by the way. Well, not all of them did. That kind of talk used to embarrass me. And now? Well, now the prize would be someone to share a coffee with, someone to come home with, kick off our shoes, make dinner together, and watch TV.

She’s wearing a white shirt-dress today, looks summery and cool, looks like she’s waiting for someone, actually. That’s most likely it. At two-o-five, when I’ve gone by, this guy comes up, and they stroll off arm in arm. Except you wouldn’t arrange a date for two-o-five, would you? It would be two, on the dot. Or am I just over thinking things?

In truth, I don’t know how it goes any more. I met my wife of twenty-five years at work. I can’t remember which of us spoke first. It just sort of happened. It seemed to happen more easily back then. Now it doesn’t. Now you have to go on the Internet and sell yourself. But if you’ve nothing to sell, what then? I was no looker to begin with, and age has hardly improved things. But is that the best way to make a first impression, anyway?

I’ve wondered about saying hello. I mean, that’s still okay, isn’t it? I say hello to other people when I’m out walking, and they say hello back. It’s polite. It’s like saying: I’m a nice person, and you can trust me. And it usually comes with a smile, and you can tell a lot about a person that way. But it needs a bit of eye contact first, and she’s never scanning for it. Her eyes are always in her book, or watching the birds, or admiring the view. So as simple a thing as that might sound, saying hello, it never actually works out.

It would be best to break the habit, I suppose. It’s getting so my Saturday afternoons begin with the tingly anticipation of seeing her in the park, then it all falls flat, and what used to be a pleasant distraction in town suddenly isn’t any more. The train ride, the coffee, maybe a mooch in a bookshop, these things used to be a way of dodging the loneliness. But now they seem only to highlight it, and bring to the fore an aching desire to fix it.

I’m not saying she’s the right person. I mean, who knows? I’d have to talk to her first. But at least the fact I’m attracted to her is a start. Right? Plus, she might be lonely, too, and these Saturday afternoons on a park bench are her way of dealing with that. Maybe she’d like nothing more than for someone to hello. She just never gives that impression. Indeed, that air of serenity speaks of a rock-solid self-containment, and maybe that’s what I’m attracted by – that what she possesses most is the very thing I lack in myself.

Anyway, here we are again, Saturday at two. She must have noticed me. That’s what people do, they recognise patterns. She sits there, same time, same day, and this same guy comes walking by. And if she was at all curious about me, she’d be looking to make eye contact, if only to sound me out as harmless. So, perhaps today’s the day. Here we go: I give her a glance, an opening, so to speak, like I always do. It’s for her to respond, now. I can do no more but, once again, she doesn’t seem to notice me, so I look away, weigh once more the ache in my gut, and ride the train into town.

So,… coffee, in the corner café. I’d thought I was done with all this teenage stuff. I’d thought I was happy on my own, but it turns out I’m still looking for completion in the body and the soul of another, and all that crap. And worse, I also know myself by now, that I’m trapped in this groove, unable to veer left or right to dodge the hurt. And the only way this will work itself out is when I walk by one Saturday, and she’s no longer there. Then I’ll be that free man again, drinking coffee, alone, flicking on his damned phone, but all of that, at least, without this ache in his gut.

Or maybe, just maybe, next Saturday, at two,…

Header image adapted from: here

Footer image adapted from: here

Read Full Post »

man writing - gustave caillebot - 1885My thanks to fellow blogger Bottledworder for this idea – I beg her forgiveness for borrowing it. We bloggers can sometimes have very high ideals about what it is we’re writing for, that we’re slaves to our art – or something – but when we look at our blog stats, at what’s the most popular material we’ve written, we can sometimes be brought down to earth with a bump. In my own case, while this blog at times gets lost with its head in the clouds, readers are more interested in my thoughts on how to get rid of verrucas with tea-tree oil and exterminating headlice with vinegar.

While I may be a little careless when it comes to predicting popular blogging topics, I am of course grateful for the occasional, if inadvertent, bullseye, or my hundred hits a day would be more like ten. But being a staid old married man, I’m perhaps forgetting one other thing that really piques the interest of the reader – the judicious tagging of which might just boost my stats even more – namely Romance, and Dating!

So in the interest of shameless self promotion, and with tongue planted firmly in cheek, here goes.

We’ll have to imagine for a moment I am a single man, that the good Lady Graeme has decided to abandon me to the company of my mistress-laptop, and run away with a less socially retarded non-writer, therefore plunging me squarely back “out there”. With the scene thus neatly set, what advice would I give to ladies of a certain age who might be contemplating dating someone like me?

Hmm,.. let me see,…


That’s the simple answer.

But let’s say for argument’s sake, the lady is very determined, very sure of herself, and perhaps irrationally hung up on the romantic idea of hanging out with a woolly minded writer-type. It may even be that my helplessness in social matters, and the holes in my stockings, arouses her maternal instincts – and yes I do need a bit of looking after, to say nothing of the occasional bit of feminine sympathy. But I might remind the lady that I was never much of a looker, even in my youth, to which she might point out that I still have all my own teeth, and can walk unaided – things that are considered attractive attributes in later life, apparently. She might point out that I’m also financially solvent and, since giving up the whiskey, on account of intermittent bouts of anosmia, I no longer snore. Nor am I violent or abusive – indeed I’m quite passive, to the extent of not being fully “there”.

Put like that I sound like rather a docile mate, that a night in bed with me would guarantee, if nothing else, a very sound sleep. And unless the lady in question were also completely self contained in her stimuli – say an avid reader, lover of jigsaws, devoted mother and follower of soap opera – she would probably be bored stiff, as I rarely give much attention to anyone who is not a fictional character.

In dating the older male writer, you see, you have to realise you’re not dealing with the full shilling. Our feet are not planted firmly in the real world at all. If the fridge is empty and a trip to Tescos looming, the priority for the writer will be the story first – food later. When the story is finished and hunger calls, the shops are usually shut, and the only solution is to go to bed.

But as I hinted earlier, bed is not what it used to be. Did I once hunger for the more intimate delights? I vaguely recall that I did, and frequently, but for an older writer, bed is more a place for – well – sleep and dreams. Where once the size and quality of the mattress were of little interest, and certainly a poor second to other “bed-minded” matters, I’m afraid now the parameters of the mattress are of primary concern. The Princess was not exaggerating about that pea!

Do you like late nights? No, I’m not talking about going out and dancing until the small hours. I’m talking about sitting, curled up with my mistress-laptop, lost in a thread of my story, or even battering out nonsense like this, losing track of time as I hone my thoughts – because I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t even know what he thinks until he’s written it down, and redrafted it a dozen times. I’ll curl up at 10:00 p.m., thinking to tidy up a few spurious commas, and suddenly it’s 2:00 am. Then I’m tiptoeing to bed in pitch dark, trying not wake the house, and usually failing on the home straight when I stub my toe on the corner of the bed-post.

Other men sitting alone at night with their laptops find plenty to tickle their fancies, I’m told, leaving their women to raise their brows in stern dismay and not a little disgust. Me? I have other distractions, more vital and less transient, because I can only accurately paint my heroines if I can imagine myself in love with them. Therefore, the real life lady in my life must be prepared to be for ever cuckolded by imaginary mistresses.

I’m not totally neglectful. I might take her out at the weekends for shopping and lunch, but in the cafe she’ll look up, mid-sentence to find me absently stirring my coffee, my gaze fixed in the distance, having heard not a word she’s said. I am, in all probability, thinking of another woman – just not a real one. Always it’s the same. I will be for ever unfaithful to my mates in this, so you’d better get used it.

She’ll need to be particularly forgiving then, and not for ever jumping to the conclusion that if I appear out of sorts it’s because I’m upset with her. More often my upsets rise from the creative side of my life, their causes a mystery.

You might be thinking by now that life with a writerly type isn’t sounding so romantic, and you’d be right, or do you think the fame and fortune I am undoubtedly courting with all this introverted creativity makes it worth your while? I mean money is money, after all, and a nice sports car and a villa in Tuscany would be ample compensation for being saddled with a neglectful chump of a mate like me. I’m not saying you wouldn’t deserve these things – indeed you probably would, if only for putting up with me, and I would gladly gift them to you, were I able, but actually, you see, I don’t make anything from my writing – nothing at all! I have the day-job, the nine to five, an old car and a modest pension building up. In that sense I am quite ordinary, and Tusacan villas are out of my league. A week away with me would most likely involve the Lake District, and rain.

I am, it seems, quite mad!

Would it help if I told you what I wanted from a woman, what I needed the most? Probably not, so, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, here goes:I’d like a quiet kind of loving, undemonstrative, but true – a thing to stand the test of time. And an easy going companionship is a must, plus an independence of spirit and the realisation that I cannot make you happy, that you need to be happy in yourself first, for only then could you be happy being with me.

Is there such a woman, I wonder? Of course there is.

But just the one.

And I’m already married to her.

Read Full Post »