For the most part, the rest of the day had gone seamlessly. The only real issues arose when Cat had attempted to bribe her children with the tablet so she could get the dinner on. Being four years apart they couldn’t agree on a YouTube channel; Myke had wanted some mind-numbing toy unwrapping video while Liz pleaded for her favourite blue-haired gaming vlogger. There were a few tears but eventually the compromise was a Pokemon game review. Maybe she was getting old but Cat didn’t understand the attraction of watching other people play games you could be playing yourself but if it gave her twenty minutes of vital kitchen time, who was she to argue. After a story, the kids were tucked up in bed and Cat was left with the next few hours to kill before finally climbing under her own duvet for the night.
At a baby group, years ago, Cat had overheard a lady explaining her single parent life as a ‘prison sentence’: once the kids are asleep, you’re essentially trapped. Now, finding herself in singleparentdom, Cat understood how frustrating and sometimes lonely these few hours in the evening could be. ‘Prison sentence’ was perhaps a little extreme but it was certainly deferentially restricting. There was only so much reality TV and boxset watching she could do before craving human interaction. And the thought made her desperately miss having someone to discuss the trails of the day with.
There must be millions of lonely singletons out there with time to kill and no one to murder it with. Cat was pondering the notion that maybe this was why social media and online dating were such a lifeline for the singles; the need for company and companionship from the comfort of your lonely prison sofa. Cat reached for her phone. The evening had been so busy with normality that she’d almost forgotten about her earlier chat with Nick. Logging in, she was disappointed to see that he hadn’t messaged her even though he was, in fact, online. Fuck it! Oh well, she grieved internally. He must have met another one of those big-boob-small-brain girls. But before she could finish her spiteful mind-rant, a text popped up.
“Hey! See you’ve just logged in! Have you figured out the ‘somewhere’ I can take you for coffee cocktails? 🤔”
OK, so it was clear he hadn’t sent her a follow up message and had obviously just been messaging someone else. Probably many someones but she accepted that that was pretty much the point of online dating and tried to let it go.
“Lol , have you just been sitting there all day waiting for me to login? 😉”
“Yep. Been here all evening window shopping while I waited 😋“Tbh I logged in a few minutes ago. On my way home now. Was a late one 🤨”
“Not driving I hope! Aren’t there laws against texting and driving?” It was typical mummy comment to make but too late now. Hopefully it didn’t sound belittling. She really should think a little more before typing.
“Lol, call it ‘speed dating’ 🚔😂 unfortunately, I’m one of those sad suited sardines stuck on a packed train 🤬 but I have a seat at least. Such a rarity! I’ll be home in half an hour with a meal for one and an early night. Rock ‘n’ roll!”
“What, no company? Oh well. At least you’ll have your Pot Noodle! 😆”
“Pah… Pot Noodles are for amateurs. I’m a Super Noodles kinda guy. If you ever let me cook for you, you’re in for a treat! 😇 🍜”
“Great, I can’t wait! There’s nothing I like more than a man who knows his way around the kettle 😊🤣😂”
She felt a few laughing emojis were justified at this point; she was genuinely chuckling, spite free.
“I know my way around lots of things… but I’m exceptionally talented with my kettle 😝”
It seemed they were on to mild innuendos now. Cat hoped he wasn’t going to descend into crude and vulgar anytime soon. It was such a frequent occurrence: friendly banter at first, followed by innuendos, thrusting rapidly into cock-shots. He was on a train though so chances were she was safe for now. Unless of course he was one of those guys with a bank of amateur self-porn on his phone.
She couldn’t understand men who were so overly keen to send uninvited pictures of their dicks — and apparently it wasn’t just men eager to ping flesh shots to anyone with a smartphone. A conversation with Insomina77! had been really informative about what it’s like being on the male side of the pool. She’d discovered that there were tons of fake accounts and ‘Cam Girls’ looking to lure men in, only to exploit them for money or simply up their Instagram followers. Not to mention the ones only too keen to spice up a chat thread with a boob shot to someone they hadn’t even learnt the surname of yet. She wondered if this was what the nerds at Apple had intended from the very beginning.
The anonymity of a dating app appeared to completely diminish the inhibitions of many. Cat was certain that most of the people on here would never be so brazen in real life. It’s not like you would meet someone at a bar and, after a smile and a brief “hello, what’s your name?” whip out your cock or lady bits then carry on as normal. Unfortunately, she was now thinking about cocks. Nick’s cock. At least she wasn’t thinking about Tony’s cock. For fuck’s sake, stop thinking about cocks! She kicked her brain for wandering into filth again and attempted to type a respectable reply.
“A talented man in the kitchen is a redeeming quality, especially if you’re hungry…😏”
She read the sentence back. Oh shit! She hadn’t meant it to sound so euphemistic; she honestly only meant it was great when a guy could cook a fabulous meal! Had she just opened the door for their conversation to take an unintentional turn for the worst?!
“Oh reeellly… do you get hungry often 🤔😉”
Bollocks. The conversation appeared to be heading in a direction she’d been hoping to avoid and, somehow, for all intents and purposes, it was her own fault. A second message came through almost immediately:
“Well I should hope so. I have a cupboard full of Super Noodles I’m willing to slave over just for you! I’m a dab hand at the microwave too! 🤩😄😂😅”
Thank Christ for that. Against all the odds, Nick had steered the conversation away from any potentially disastrous cuisine-related innuendo madness. Cat typed hastily, desperate to keep the flow of dialogue manoeuvring on a steady course.
“So when you’re not working late and eating alone, what do you find yourself doing?” It was a lame duck of a questions but, on the spot as she was, she deemed it necessary.
“Just your usual type of bloke really. Gym, boxsets, drinks, cinema, maybe the theatre every now and then. Prefer a nice bar to a club tho… think my clubbing days are behind me!”
It was obvious from his profile just how much he liked the gym; he had a body worthy of a Lynx commercial. The hotel Cat worked at was equipped with an open gym and she knew just how hard some of the instructors trained to keep their bodies in immaculate shape. While she had great respect for people who put in that much time and energy to look after themselves, she also knew that gym bunnies had a tendency do nothing but babble on about bloody diet and exercise. She had no desire to get caught up in discussions about the health benefits of superfoods and supersets. Her body shape was a happy size-sixteen and she loved her food. All food. Especially when it came with yummy, delicious extra calories.
“God, I can’t remember the last time I was in a club. But I do like to dance given the opportunity”
“Ah, so you can dance! 👏💃🕺 I do love a lady who can strut her stuff on the dance floor. Just don’t show me up while I’m throwing my shapes, lol”
She was surprisingly enticed by thrilling thoughts of gyrating with him. She imagined a rustic, dimly lit bar somewhere with candles on vintage, dark, wooden tables, a smooth Latino vibe in the background, the pair of them gently swaying to the music; moving closer, his hands finding her hips and pulling her in — jeez, her mind was all over the place tonight! Maybe she should just ask if he’d be free next weekend while the kids were at their Dad’s. Or maybe she’d take the coward’s approach instead and say:
“Great! We can have a dance off!”
Coward! She instantly wished she hadn’t played it so safe, cringing at her own pathetic attempt at humour. GOD! She was normally quite good at this flirty, tactical banter but for some reason, Cat’s usual quick wit had deserted her. She sounded like a prat. Perhaps her flustering was definitive proof of a physical attraction to Nick’s profile pic and the sheer joy that, so far, he hadn’t turned out to be a complete arse.
“Oh, it’s on! But be warned, I play to win. I’m taking you down lady! 😎 Right, I’m getting off here. Thanks for keeping me entertained on my usually boring journey home. I’ll msg you in a bit…😚”
Nick’s icon flashed to ‘offline’ and he was gone again. Cat stared at the text, slightly perplexed. How do you respond to “I’ll message you later”? Were you expected to reply with an ‘OK’ or just wait for him to get back to you? Was it rude to not say a yeah great talking to you kind of thing? She couldn’t decide but hoped the glass of red wine she was about to pour herself might hold the answer.
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…