Back when I was dating, in the times Before Him, a mate used to sometimes ask the question: “is he a friend? Or a Good Friend?” Good friend – that’s how we discerned them. The boys I was fucking from the boys I was not. I’m gonna tell you now about one of my Good Friends.
Hey Siri! Play Homeward Bound by Ben Kweller. It has a miserable melody, which I pump through my speakers when I’m letting myself dawdle in dark places. I wish I had the spirit for something a little more bouncy. But break-up life is far too sad for Green Day.
Before we even chat, I spot him on a dating site, as I’m scrolling aimlessly through men who wouldn’t like me and men I would not like, he sits there looking hot and charming and exactly like my cup of tea. For a second I don’t realise that it’s him – I let myself think ‘oooh, he’s hot!’ before realising who it is and closing the screen in embarrassment. What’s the etiquette when you find your friends or ex-fucks on dating sites? Swipe left? Swipe right? Message them to say ‘I don’t suppose you’d be interested in another go?’
Hey Siri! Play The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash. I like the apocalyptic tone. I like the crackly intro. I can’t get enough of the plodding inevitability of that final line. I wallow in country, because right now it seems that I’ll never be happy enough for my favourite bouncy punk.
He’s tall, dark, funny. Wry and warm and wise. When he realises I’m break-up sad he taps my shoulder gently, metaphorically, and asks if I want to talk about it.
We chat, this Good Friend and I. This isn’t a ‘picking up where we left off’, because we never actually left off. We’ve been mates all these years: over pints and packets of salt n vinegar and cheese toasties and gossip. So it isn’t unusual that this guy would reach out to offer me some comfort. I’m a very lucky person: to be surrounded by excellent friends.
Hey Siri! Play Hey Julie by Fountains of Wayne! I’m rediscovering songs that my ex-ex boyfriend used to like. Something about hearing his tunes helps me remember the way I felt about him, and the ease with which I can acknowledge those feelings through the long, long barrel of time.
We chat, and we dissect things, and my Good Friend dispenses words of wisdom that I desperately needed to hear. An outside perspective on the last few years, from someone who checked in occasionally and saw the edges of how I was crumbling.
We chat, and we nudge at the new edges of what might happen next. We talk dating sites and strategies and why ‘sapiosexual’ makes us both cringe. I tell him I saw his profile, and ask what the etiquette is – should I have swiped right, or would that be too forward? Does it seem weird to swipe when I could just send a text?
Meta-communication on a channel I’ve only just joined seems weird, and I’m only sticking a tentative toe in the waters of dating although… obviously he’s hot and obviously he’s cool and of course he’s my kind of people and he’s got this excellent smile and these hands and my God…
Then he asks me:
“I don’t suppose you’d be interested in…”
Hey Siri! Play Nimrod by Green Day!
That night I dance around the kitchen like a teenager en route to the disco. Tingles in my arms and cunt and a grin that hurts my face.
This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 will go up next Sunday – subscribe if you’d like alerts when new posts go up.