Sunday, 13 November 2016

Holding Hands in the Countryside

It’s a while now since my piece on online dating was featured in The Irish Examiner. My initial chuffed-ness at getting published soon gave way to panic about what people would think of me. I remind myself that I am doing nothing wrong, that online dating is normal in today’s society and that it’s what all the singletons (and some of the not so singles) are doing these days.
I worry what my mother will think about her darling daughter writing about online dating. I needn’t have. She is pleased that I got published, thinks that I look lovely in the photos - real Irish mammy stuff. She has been speaking with my aunt, her sister. They are claiming my writing ability for the maternal side of my family, tracing it back to our blood line that includes Brendan Behan and Peadar Kearney, who wrote the National Anthem. My aunt tells me that she laughed so much, that, in her own words, ‘the tears ran down her legs’. Yes, there is a boldness in my family.
Commentators compare me to the character Carrie Bradshaw in ‘Sex and The City’, writing about her relationship dramas and cried out for more. Obviously there’s many difference between myself and Carrie. Carrie is a TV character, as are her dates. My prospective dates are real life people with feelings and I have a public profile that I need to protect. Anything I write about it will be a sanitised version of the truth. Anyway, being Irish and born Catholic, my version would be less about fornication and more ‘Holding Hands in the Country'. I covet Carrie’s wardrobe and watch her on TV, writing on a keypad, alone, steaming cuppa in hand, sitting at a window overlooking Manhattan. Meanwhile, I catch moments to write here and there, often late at night, begging the nocturnal nine year old to go to bed.
An unexpected consequence to getting the article published was that guys who read the article found me through social media and asked me out. Bright fellas who read broadsheet newspapers, including Playing Hard to Get. There’s messages to-ing and fro-ing from Playing Hard to Get, who is in touch every day, but says very little. He doesn’t make any effort to compliment or otherwise woo me. He tells me that he ’doesn’t give a fuck’ about my writing. He is dark, handsome and totally and utterly irresistible. After our date, Playing Hard to Get disappears without trace and doesn't contact me again, not even to say that he isn’t interested. I torture myself checking to see when he is online, knowing that he has read my messages. The last time I felt this hurt was in secondary school when the guy I fancied for years changed schools at short notice. I had no way of contacting him and felt like my teenaged heart was torn out, never to recover.
i decide to rename Playing Hard to Get as 'Feckin' Fecker'. I’ve broken my promise to Feckin’ Fecker that I wouldn’t write about him, but I feel that when he went AWOL, that the gloves were off.
The Banker has read the article too. I had chickened out of a date with him a few months ago. We decide to meet. He suggests somewhere close to where he lives. I get lost while driving and am in a flap by the time I get to the hotel where we are meeting. I expect him to be standing outside waiting on me, but he’s at the bar drinking and it looks like he has had a bit of Dutch Courage already. Turns out that this place is his local. After a pleasant lunch, I leave. He doesn’t walk me to the door. He’s ordered another pint. There's no kiss goodbye, like there was no kiss hello. He says that ‘next time’ we will meet closer to where I live, but we both know that there won’t be a second meeting. I realise that old fashioned chivalry is more important to me that I thought.
I chat to Super Sleuth online. After some time, he sends me a message saying that he knows that I have an illness. He feels that I have been dishonest in not telling him. Truth is, the fact that I have MS just didn’t come up in conversation. I feel so well these days that I don’t feel like I have an ‘illness’, but rather a ‘medical condition’. I feel at pains to tell him how fit, healthy and energetic I am and he says its fine. But in my heart, I wonder if it really a big deal for him, or other potential suitors, who with a quick Google search will know of my diagnosis. I curse the fact that I have MS, and the fact that I have been open about it, written about it and but also feel a sense of gloom that for some guy, it might just be a deal breaker.
The Elected Representative seems keen to meet, but doesn't confirm arrangements with me, leaving me unsure if I should make alternative plans. Eventually he texts me, inviting me to lunch. I text back saying, 'you are as interested in me as you are in potholes in Mayo'. 'I'm not from Mayo', he says. 'Exactly', sez I.
In the middle of it all, I meet ‘Maybe in Meath’, who is actually from Dublin. He is one of the nicest men I have ever met. Handsome, thoughtful, intuitive, kind, funny. Maybe in Meath soon becomes The Date. We have the loveliest of times. Maybe it's all too much too soon. In my heart though, the va-va-voom just isn’t there for me and we part company. He is so nice that he makes breaking up really easy for me. The gal who falls for The Date will be a lucky one indeed. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking.
PS Feckin' Fecker, if you accidentally read this, you still have my number

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