Chapter 8 - “Sorry, the person you are calling is unavailable”.
When I was a little girl, my parents had one of those “old fashioned” telephones in the house; the type that you had to put your finger in the little hole of the applicable number, spin it round in a clockwise direction, wait for the wheel to spin back again, then select the next number, spin, wait, and so on. I used to love those phones, not that I ever really called anyone at the age of five, but I was fascinated by them. I can only imagine it was a bit of a bastard though, if you dialled a wrong number, or got an engaged tone, and had to start all over again. As with the ways of the world, modern technologies phased these phones out, though I believe you can still buy them in retro shops, and probably in antique centres. Anyway today we have touch dial phones, and also touch screen phones; the redial button; the shortcut to favourite’s button; even the ring back feature. You don’t even have to keep re-dialling when you get a busy tone; you just press “5” and wait for them to return your call. If only dating had this “ring back” feature; it would save an enormous amount of hassle and time in that you wouldn’t need to keep re-dialling someone who was clearly busy or not interested in returning your call.
I decided, after a string of unsuccessful suitors, to look for someone slightly more main stream; someone who had similar interests to me and who was likely to be more of a long-term option than a fling. I was quite excited when I came across Adam, as he seemed to epitomise all these things. He was a similar age to me, fairly average looking, was in to road cycling and open water swimming, and a vet! Oooh, could this be “the one”, I hoped. No skeletons in his closet (apparently) and once we started chatting on-line he seemed very interesting, as well as very interested in what I had to say. One of the things that excited me most was that he could hold a conversation! (albeit on email) but his grasp of the English language was on par with mine, and there was absolutely no hint of the dreaded “txt spk” and “lols” which I had come to dread as well as despise. Adam had a very successful veterinary practice of his own and, as a result, he was naturally extremely busy. So it was after about a month of online chatting that we actually met face to face.
I had organised our first date which involved collecting Adam from the train station, whereupon I drove us to our date destination which was to be a cycling date with a picnic (packed by me earlier that morning). To set the scene, the location of our cycle route was in a beautiful setting, surrounded by hills and a loch. Yes, hills, which I had neglected to consider might be a slight struggle for someone who hasn’t been on a bike in about 10 years! Of course I’ve been on a bike in the gym; I just haven’t done any form of what I call mountain biking, and it soon showed. Believe me when I tell you that it is not easy trying to cycle uphill whilst holding a conversation, and trying to maintain some air of decorum. I was becoming increasingly aware of how sweaty I felt (and looked) and my neatly straightened hair was no doubt looking like some mad woman from the funny farm. We eventually did stop, to my relief, to eat our picnic, and Adam was very complimentary about my healthy glow (aka sweaty betty) and I was greatly relieved when the 12 mile cycle ride was over! We headed to a local café where we had tea and cakes, and less of the panting conversation that had dominated the first half of our date! Whilst I didn’t feel any fireworks, I did think that something was sizzling just below the surface. I took Adam back to the train station, and he told me straight away that he didn’t know the “protocol” of online dating and what to do or say next. So I took the lead and told him that I had enjoyed his company and would like to see him again, providing that he agreed… which he did. Our second date was set, and we parted company with a warm hug. Promising! (I thought)
Adam and I continued to talk online and text one another; he went back to being his busy self, and I went about my daily life, until such time as we finally got our schedules organised (about 3 weeks after date number one) and agreed to meet up again. Adam had mentioned that he had seen a flyer for an outdoor activity called ‘Go Ape’ and I was pleased to inform him that there was actually one in my village! That was decided; lunch at my flat, then swinging about the trees like Tarzan and Jane.
It was a perfect day; the weather held off, Go Ape was great fun, and our conversation flowed. I dropped Adam back at the train station and asked if he might be free to meet up again and was met with an awkward mumbling of something along the lines of not liking to be “rushed” into decision making. Hmmm. Odd, I thought, however I brushed it off and said that there was no need to decide there and then, we could stay in touch and work something out.
I decided not to text Adam until I heard from him, which was a day later, when I received a long and rambling 'Dear John' message. Adam had enjoyed my company, and our dates, as well as the soup that I had provided for our lunch, but he didn’t feel ready for dating and it was all a bit of a struggle having to find the time to arrange to meet up. He didn’t think online dating was for him (no offence to me) and he would be happy to meet up with me in the future, as friends, if I was ever in his neck of the woods. Similarly, if he was ever in MY neck of the woods, we could meet, as friends (OK I GET the FRIENDS message!!!)
Is anyone else wondering why Adam was actually on an online dating website??! Maybe it was just me he didn’t like and was trying to let me down gently. I wish he’d been honest from the start if that was truly the case, but sometimes things just don’t work out the way you hope. Sometimes you just have to stop re-dialling, and hang up.