CHAPTER 6 – Finally, a Reply!

Notes from me… Those first few messages when you finally get chatting to someone from the online world are a bloody nightmare. There appears to be no way to avoid the painful first attempts at bad banter. Here’s how Cat tussles with the excruciating experience….

Home at last from her exasperating experience attempting to explain to a rather grumpy, scornful receptionist why she was failing drastically with her children’s morning time management, Cat sat perched on her black leather Grandad chair, nursing a mug of piping hot coffee. With every sip she could feel the stress of the morning easing from her body. It was days like this that made her miss smoking. Coffee was great but nothing compared to blissfully puffing away your angst.

Smoking simply wasn’t the acceptable behaviour of a devoted parent these days, but on nights out with her bad mummy chums, after a few vinos it didn’t surprise her how many of the girls would sneak out for a cheeky cig. Sometimes they’d split a pack between them, giggling away like naughty teenagers. Oh, the rebellion!

Sinking back into the armchair, she reached for her phone with the intention of uploading the meter reading to her utility app when a notification popped up on her phone. It was the dating app. Someone had sent her a message!

Her curiosity sparked a glimmer of over-hopefulness that the message was from one of the Hemsworth brothers—or a non-famous equivalent at least. She logged in, tentatively.

Profile – Trevor_TM – 38. It was a reply to her rather boring message last night.

  • Not bad thanks! Sorry, had a very busy day at work. Fell asleep early. What you up to this weekend?

The message was making her sleepy.

She couldn’t really be bothered to reply but at least he wasn’t being presumptuous and crude. That had to count for something.

  • Well, hopefully, a good night’s rest means you have bags of energy for something fun this weekend!

She immediately regretted using the word ‘fun.’ In the realm of online dating, ‘fun’ was usually code for ‘fuck’. Reading back her message and decoding it, she transliterated it as: “hopefully, you’ll have bags of energy for lots of hot, steamy sex with me this weekend!” She sniggered, it wasn’t an intended innuendo. On the other hand, it might just spice up his reply.

There was also a message from Nick, one of the boys she’d messaged last night and honestly thought she’d never hear back from.

  • Lol… your a cheeky one! That message made me chuckle 😄I’m sure we would be highly compatible. So tell me, apart from coffee, Netflix and occasionally stalking men at the gym, what else do you like? 🙂

Wow! Actual engagement with a stunning specimen who had taken time to read her profile; coffee and Netflix were at the top of her likes list. Just one problem: he’d committed the cardinal your-not-you’re sin. Regardless, he was pretty enough for Cat to forgive his grammatical error and, at any rate, his effort to reply or even read her profile had earned him some major brownie points. Willing to overlook the minor offence, she was excited and a little hopeful. Even so, she knew just how quickly a conversation can go from amusingly tantalising to boringly disappointing.

The beauty of online dating is you have time to think of a witty or meaningful response that can potentially make you sound moderately intelligent. It wasn’t always as easy in real life.

  • You’ll be pleased to know I’m not a full-time stalker. More an appreciative observer…😉

It occurred to her that she might possibly have come across as a dirty old man but prayed Nick had a similar sense of humour. Still, perhaps a little diffusion was needed. She started typing again. 

  • What do I like? Hmmmm… Good company with interesting conversation, especially if it comes with ice cream!

She praised herself for acknowledging the ice cream reference in his profile. 

Now, most dating apps have a notification telling you whether or not a prospect is online. They will also inform you if someone has read a message, ignored or even deleted it. A deleted message is always a bit of an ego crusher; it’s an instant indication that they don’t find you attractive or your conversation very entertaining. Cat liked to think of the deleters as blokes who were only on the prowl for a hook up. Deep down she was self-aware enough to realise she simply wasn’t going to appeal to everyone’s taste but it was far easier to write them off this way. Otherwise she’d be sobbing into her ice cream in the absence of a man instead of enjoying it withone.

That’s one thing she hadn’t expected entering into the realm: the constant dealing with rejection. Its fast-paced nature and the continual stream of messages meant that it simply wasn’t possible to read and reply to everyone. So it was conceivable that if a message is sent and unread, the recipient simply hadn’t had the time. However, a read-and-deleted message was a virtual slap in the face. Fortunately, she had only experienced this a few times. Nonetheless, it made her feel pretty crappy every time.

There was also the ‘ghosting’ phenomenon: a person you have either met or been talking to suddenly, and for no apparent reason, disappears, ceasing all contact. Now, this was frustrating and considerably bad etiquette in Cat’s eyes. Sadly, however, it was very common practice in the realm.

Ghosting had been a hot topic with the girls one night recently. They’d come to conclusion that no contact was an utterly cowardly action, though it was undeniably easier than actually telling a person you weren’t interested.  There was also the possibility that if a person ghosted you they had simply found a new and more interesting toy to play with; probably with bigger boobs and a smaller brain. Cat particularly revelled in her friend Lee’s eloquent assessment: “Or maybe they’re just fucking dickheads.” So that was how Cat chose to view the ghosters from now on; a bunch of fucking dickheads. She vowed never to just vanish on someone without explanation (unless they deserved it, obviously), keeping herself out of the FuckingDickhead category.

Taking another slug of coffee and settling into the soft leather cushions of her armchair, Cat busied herself with the tasks of the day. Utility app opened and ready for an update. Figures submitted, Cat then navigated her way to her banking app. God, this was a dull way to spend the morning but so much more tolerable than communicating with loveless telephone robots and consequently spending hours on hold. 

Her phone buzzed; a new messaged received from the dating app. She opened it, seeing Nick’s super cute profile picture pop up.

  • 🙂Glad to hear it!

A second message pinged. 

  • Good company and ice cream. Sounds like date then… lol

Well he was direct. Straight in with a light-hearted ‘date’ request and, thankfully, hadn’t written her off as a peeping pervert. What a relief!

  • Ahh… but which brandof ice cream…..?

Instant reply:

  • You can’t put a guy on the spot like that, it’s too big a question! Hmmmm (Thinking emoji)
  • Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food… everyone loves Phish Food, right? 😁

Cat chuckled. She did like Phish Food but simply couldn’t believe she was having a completely random conversation with an exceptionally hot guy about sodding ice-cream. She got typing again.

  • Phish Food is the way forward! You’re just lucky I never asked you to choose your favourite coffee shop. The wrong answer there could be a dealbreaker 😂
  • “🤣I get that. If we can’t agree on coffee there’s no hope for us. Taking a girl to the wrong coffee shop can end in raw, bloody violence! 😂🤣😂🤣😂

Another ping.

  • Have you found yourself on many coffee dates?

A typical trait with online dating; a few friendly messages before putting the feelers out for previous dating experience.

  • Not yet. Not sure I’d be up for a coffee date though. By the time you’re on the 2nd/3rd cup you’re both caffeine-buzzed and jabbering nonsense!
  • So no different to a pub date then???? 😆I’ll have to agree with you on that, coffee dates are hell
  • You could be right, at least in a bar you can blame the alcohol for the nonsense speak.
  • So what’s your preferred dating venue? I’m taking notes in case you let me take you out 😉

Nick did like his emojis. Sometimes, Cat thought, people seem to forget the use of a full-stop, opting instead for smiley faces to end sentences as if they’re some sort of new-wave punctuation. She really hoped he wasn’t a 12 year old in disguise…

  • I’d have to go with a standard drink at a bar ideally by the river, but tbh if the company is any good, the bar could be anywhere.
  • It’s settled then. A bar somewhere soon for booze and ice cream. Or better yet, ice cream cocktails!!!😉
  • Haha… sounds like a plan. If they have coffee-flavoured ice cream cocktails we’re winning 🙂

Cat felt she should reciprocate with a little emoji action.

  • Perfect… It’s a date! Right, that’s my coffee break finished. Hopefully catch you later?? 😘
  • Hopefully…

Errr feck it… what bloody emoji do you use to end a first chat?! She wasn’t ready for the over-familiarity of a kissing one yet but had used the smiley face already; using the same one might illustrate a distinct lack of creativity. Bloody emojis! The decision was slightly infuriating. Stupid things… finally she settled on a cute looking blushing emoji

And with that, Nick’s online icon switched to ‘offline’ and he was gone.

Cat stared at her phone, slightly light-headed and amused by the exchange. Had she just agreed to a date with a guy she’d known for all of three minutes?! Scrolling through the messages, she reread the thread several times and confirmed that yes, she apparently had. Well, that was unexpected. Ideally, she’d thought it best to spend a few weeks chatting and getting to know the person a little before agreeing to a date. Although, admittedly, this method hadn’t proved particularly successful so far. Normally, by the time she was ready to actually meet someone from the realm, they had already gotten bored and moved on.

So she made the bold decision whilst sitting there, sipping the last few dregs from her mug, that if he did message her back later with an official date request, she‘d be brave  and god for it. And why the hell not! After all, was that not the point of online dating—to indeed go on actual dates and not just end up with a bunch on pen pals in the Friend Zone? 

The phone pinged in her hand, breaking her contemplative silence and giving her a small jolt of eager anticipation.

Trevor_TM – 38

  • Nothing exciting planned yet but I’m sure if you fancied meeting up we could think of something fun to do… 😜

Ugh, the dirty-winking-tongue-out emoji. Cat’s least favourite of them all. She considered rethinking her no ghosting rule…

If you would like to catch up with Cat and join the adventures as she bumbles her way through single life, then here’s the story so far…

Adventures with Cat

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