Chapter 5: Man's Best Friend
The average person reading these dating tales of woe might ask, “Why do it?”, or have similar thoughts of “Christ, she must be desperate”. The thing is though; you don’t, and won’t, understand, unless you’ve done it. To quote from one of my all-time favourite books, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Let’s go back a bit. Not long after I signed up for online dating (due to living in the village of tumbleweed); one of my best friends came to visit me for the weekend. We had a right old girlie catch up, sitting in our comfiest clothes, slippers etc. and had knocked back a fair few glasses of various alcoholic beverages, when I suggested to her that she sign up too. You see, my friend had been single for about a millennium. She had also been very unlucky in love, and was under the assumption that she would die an old maid. My suggestion was met with a firm “No”, and other similar communications like “you must be mad” and “never in a million years”. I reasoned with my friend, on the grounds of “what have you got to lose?” and “go onnnnn, just tryyy it”… and she eventually relented. I set about constructing her profile for her; she answered the questions, I just wrote the blurb.
The following day my friend bade me farewell, and only a couple of hours later she got in touch to say she had received 3 messages! She was sick with fear and wanted to delete her account. “Don’t be so ridiculous” and “man up” were some of my responses, if I recall. She had received one message from a bloke she was vaguely interested in, so I suggested she meet him for coffee, in the middle of the day, and if he was a disaster she could just say she needed to get some shopping done.
This was just under 18 months ago and my friend is happily in love, engaged, and living with the bloke. This is what keeps me going. The thought that there might, just might, be someone out there for me too.
After the whole “Fireman Sam” debacle I was naturally somewhat put off by any new fellas, so hid my profile for a couple of months. When I felt ready to face the lion’s den again, I started chatting to Neil. Neil had a beard, liked snow-boarding, mountain biking, and he had a dog. Joy! An animal lover! Being an animal lover myself, I could just picture the scene; Neil and I, somewhere up a snowy mountain, in a log cabin by a roaring fire, with his dog and his beard. Mmmm, how romantic…
I spoke to Neil online and on the phone for the usual few weeks before we arranged to meet. He had already expressed how much he loved his dog, so I suggested for our first meeting it might be nice to take the dog for a walk, plus it would be in a lovely woodland setting, and ever so romantic (in my head).
When Neil arrived at our pre-arranged meeting point (public car park in my village, again) he had on a pair of dark aviator shades, which I found somewhat disconcerting as I couldn’t see his eyes. I’m a strong believer in the eyes being a window to the soul, so perhaps that was why we never really clicked. It might have also been to do with the fact that as soon as we had said our “hellos”, the dog ran off faster than a speeding bullet, leaving Neil chasing after him, and me wondering in bewilderment whether to chase after Neil, chasing the dog, or stand and wait for them to return. I chose the latter.
We set about on our walk… the dog needed a crap. Neil dutifully picked it up in a doggie bag, but because there were no bins nearby, had to carry the poopy bag all the way with us on the walk. Perhaps if he hadn’t swung the bag between us the whole way, I might have been able to ignore the particularly ripe offering that his four-legged friend had produced.
The dog needed another crap. Another swingy, poopy bag.
And another! Christ almighty. I’m a dog lover, but this would have been distracting to anyone! Finally we ended our walk, dog crap went into the relevant bin, and we sourced a cup of tea and piece of cake from the village café. The conversation might have been ok, if it hadn’t been interrupted by the dog who wanted-a-piece-of-cake, wasn’t-allowed-a- piece-of-cake, oh-go-on-then-just-a-wee-piece-of-cake, ohhh-did-you-not-like-the-cake?....
I never did see Neil’s eyes. As I waved him and his little companion off, I knew inside that he only had eyes for one, and that “one” had a wet nose.