Tuesday, 3 February 2009

LOVE IN THE TIME OF INTERWEB


Much inspired by Mme Jaywalker's compelling tale of love fulfilled, I thought I'd proffer the story of how Mr Trefusis and I ended up together. Alas, disappointment awaits all tragic romantics: I seem not to have the depth of sentiment for 37°2 le matin. Beatrice Dalle would turn her nose up at the film script and sack her agent for suggesting it. Renee Zellwegger might consider it until the moment she realised it would require her to get fat again.

Mine is only an amour fou in the sense that it's utterly bonkers and quite silly. Sigh. I always wanted to be even a little bit poetic. But no.

This is not, I'm afraid, a tale of doomed love. There is nothing unrequited. No hopeless yearning. No notes slipped under the door, only to remain wedged under the carpet*. Then, as now, the only moonlight in the great Trefusis romance is in the gap between fusing all the lights and flipping the trip switch, candlelight is reserved for when we have people to dinner and need to disguise the parlous state of the paintwork. The closest we ever came to love songs was when I discovered a Michael Bolton CD in his possession. Reader, I nearly broke up with him on the spot: it's hard to deal with that kind of shocking truth. Another 'make or break' musical moment in our relationship came when I discovered Trefusis Major had downloaded Britney Spears' 'Pieces of Me' from iTunes. His defence was that he found it 'poignant'. Oh God, I thought, it surely can't get any worse.... Be not mislead by this: Mr T and I are devoted to one another. But Goethe would have walked on by and we'd be nothing more than colourful village rustics in the footnotes of a Hardy novel. But a nice cup of tea and a sit down is more my emotional style these days.

But so much is prologue. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that this whole story maybe prologue in an 'all gong and no dinner' sense. Tant pis. My story starts in the office, not too many months after 9/11. I am, unusually, single. I haven't been single since I was 18. Three -possibly four and a half - horribly serious long term relationships have come and gone, without so much as a wafer thin mint to pass between them, and now I've finally extricated myself from the latest kitchen sink drama I consider myself in retirement. Or more accurately, perhaps, in recovery.

My problem in relationships was always in inability to say no, so I'd find myself living with (and indeed, was once married to) entirely unsuitable people for years on end for a variety of entirely unsuitable reasons. Perhaps this might be something to return to, but for the moment you find me somewhere in early 2002 slaving over a hot spreadsheet being interrogated by my colleagues about why I'm so resolutely uninterested in putting some slap on and drinking vats of wine at an overpriced style bar in the interests of Being Chatted Up. But I know drinking wine on a thursday night is a merely the thin end of the wedge: some idiot will buy me a glass of sauvignon blanc and the next thing I know I'll be living with a balding photocopier salesman in a thirties semi in Cheam because I don't want him to be upset when I say I don't want to see him again. Go to the barber's often enough and you'll end up with a haircut. I don't want another bloody relationship, so I need to steer clear of all venues where relationships might be a possibility.

However, this being the moment of 'Sex and the City', I am rather intrigued by the notion of dating. As distinct from relationship. I surreptitiously watch a few episodes, purely in the spirit of research, SATC not being quite as, ahem, positive a viewing choice back then as it later became, and learn that dating appears to come without obligations. No one is going to start burning you CD's of Captain Beefheart's Ashtray Heart and insisting that their life will be ruined if you don't watch the directors cut of 'Last year in Marienbad' with them. What's more, one appears to be able to date several people concurrently, as long as one dates in the American sense ie no real physical contact.

This sounds like an excellent scheme. Dating. What I want is for someone to buy me expensive cocktails in hip hotel bars and laugh sycophantically at all my jokes. They don't have to do it twice, no one will be able to accuse me of being a porridge girl, easy to make but appalling to get off the saucepan afterwards. Alas, this is London in the very early noughties. All men have been dropped on their heads as adults and appear not to want to even wish an early thirty something girl a cheery 'Hello' in case she brandishes a set of ripe ovaries and a ticking biological clock in his direction. Datees appear to be in short supply. I am disgruntled.

"Internet dating" says Colleague A one afternoon, apropos of nothing.

"What?" say I, a swift, pithy response ever ready on your heroine's lips.

"Internet dating. Vast supply of ostensibly unattached men, all desperate to meet girls, not all of them photocopier engineers or Albanian refugees. Try it - it worked for my sister"

Why the hell not, I think. What can possibly go wrong? At worst I'll garner a few hilarious stories about putative serial killers and men with dishonourable intentions, and at best I may get a few expensive cocktails (and possibly cheap sex, though you should know that Mrs Trefusis is a woman of the highest moral probity and not easily parted from her virtue).

So I sign up immediately to one of the new fangled interweb dating sites and sit back happily as I watch the inbox of the iMac fill up with vast numbers of astonishingly normal looking thirty and forty something men, most of whom have their own teeth and hair. Admittedly, it takes me a few email exchanges to discover that GSOH doesn't stand for good salary own house, though I wish it did because i've always thought a sense of humour was an overrated commodity in a man. For the first time in my life I appear to be spoilt for choice - yes, I know they haven't met me yet, only my souped-up cyber-self - and I resolve to meet everyone who fits my stringent criteria (breathing, human, at least superficially male) for a coffee, and if they look promising, one of the aforementioned cocktails.

And so I embark on a thrilling frenzy of non-stop dating. Which is, predictably, Enormous Fun. There's only one slightly psychotic axe-murdering type and even the IT consultants are a laugh in their own trogloditic way.

And Mr Trefusis? Well, children, that will have to wait for another time....

*I read far too much Thomas Hardy as a child. Most deleterious to one's romantic benchmark.

1 comment:

Lewis William said...

I loved this. You're always so wonderfully perfect, but this was so very human as well!