First off, I'm turning into a bit of a comment box floozy. So I left a comment on Unluckyman's blog - one of those throwaway 'been there, done that' comments - only for Jonny B to suggest that it should have been a post. So what the hell, I'll extend the story and make it into a proper post.
kind hearts and internets
I've never been a serial datist: I've always had long periods in between relationships. That said, all through high school, uni and living in Greece I never had a problem meeting people I wanted to date. However, after living in London for a year or so I suddenly realised that I'd got into a bit of a sad singleton rut. I went out a bit more often - clubs, pubs and bars, the usual thing - but was always a bit disappointed by the results. It's virtually impossible to get to know someone in that environment and it always felt rather sleazy: beers, snog, swap numbers, more beers, veggie burger, night bus, lose number, home, sleep, wake, hangover, vague memory: who was that? What I wanted were proper dates, like you see in US teen movies.
Work was going through a quiet period and I had hours of spare time to surf the internet; the logical solution appeared to be internet dating. I'd read about wheresmydate in the Independent and rationalised that there might well be an influx of like-minded Independents registering - I decided to follow suit. I filled in a questionaire and waited. I didn't have to wait long, within a day or so my inbox was full of replies.
This is fun! This cures office boredom.
As I mentioned to Unluckyman, the majority of the replies were fairly hopeless and within a week or so I got used to ignoring all of those that didn't sound like sane human beings from the off - there's no room for charity in this enterprise. Bad grammar, profiles that included terrible photos, requests for sex - all of these respondents were instantly told to get lost. Those replies that seemed worth a punt received a chatty reply. If, after a few weeks of emailing, I still liked the chap I suggested meeting up for a drink. The next three months or so were pretty hectic. One date was enough to tell whether there was any spark - most often there wasn't, but it was still good fun. Occasionally there was and we went on more dates. It was great - I met really lovely guys, felt courted and had a great time.
Some of this dating success must have given me an aura of attractiveness because suddenly I had offers from guys at friends' parties too. At one point I was dating three and had another two lined up if things didn't work out. Then things got a bit difficult. I fell head over heels for one chap who turned out not to feel the same way about me. Suitably chastened I retired from online dating for a few months.
However, it is a bit addictive - it's exciting to open your inbox and discover that half the world likes you - and once I felt a bit more heart-whole I decided to try again. This time I registered with Match. Again, I found that I was suddenly meeting more 'prospects' in real life too. However, one guy's emails made my heart beat faster than any other had and, after a month of emails and hour-long phone calls, I met the animator for the first time. I knew I had to meet him to dispell all of my fevered imaginings about how wonderful he was. His witty, sensitive emails had set an impossibly high standard. Then those long, long phonecalls where neither of us had wanted to hang up even though it was one in the morning - we were too busy discussing art or theatre or my work or his...we had lots in common, but also so much of our experiences were new to each other - those phonecalls were the animator's voice was soft and his laugh hearty had me thinking impossible thoughts. I had to meet him.
We arranged to meet at Angel Station. So that we'd recognise each other I said I'd wear my devil horns (bought for a halloween costume) he said he'd wear antlers. Improbably, I'd imagined that these would be Herne the Hunter-esque; in hindsight, I realise this says more about the workings of my unconscious than I care to admit. In fact the animator was wearing novelty fluffy reindeer horns, bless.
We repaired to a nearby pub and then on to The Old Red Lion pub/theatre to have another drink and see the animator's colleague in an am-dram production. The attraction wasn't instantaneous. I remember looking at him very carefully after the second drink thinking: right then, I'd better work out whether or not I fancy him before I get drunk; but if I don't then I'd better be sure because I'm probably passing up the chance of a lifetime, he's wonderful.
After the play we went to a noodle bar for dinner and a bottle of wine. Half way through I helped myself to another brimming glass, only to remember my manners and fill his glass to spilling point too. Apparently, it was at this point that the animator decided that yes he really liked me; to this day I don't understand why.
Neither of us wanted the evening to end and a lost minicab driver and the offer of a bottle of vodka conspired to ensure that he came home with me, even though it was a school night. We slept, yes really. Got up the next day, Friday, and went bleary-eyed to our respective offices. We saw each other again on Saturday, then the following Monday. Within two weeks the animator told me he loved me: around 11 at night, while we sat waiting for a tube at Piccadilly Circus, northbound Bakerloo line platform. Within three months we were living together; eighteen months after we first met we were married.
Not quite a whirlwind, but close enough.