Rarely a day goes by when I don’t marvel at the fact that, even though the Boy lives in my street – our respective apartment blocks separated by four hundred metres, tops – our paths would most likely never have crossed if it wasn’t for an online dating site.
The chances of our striking up a conversation, even there – where a recherche rapide just yielded over a thousand members living in Paris and aged between 30 and 45 – were extremely slim. My search criteria, back in May, included that very age range. And the Boy, back in May, was 29. He’d only signed up for a month, and we made contact days before his subscription ended. It could all so easily never have come to pass.
Neither of us has any memory of who clicked on the other’s profile. Perhaps I was doing one of my targeted searches. Looking for people with cool jobs (I had a penchant for musicians, graphic designers and writers at the time) or scrolling through the pages of mugshots of men in my arrondissement, looking for interesting faces. In which case I may have sent him a “flash” – the dating site’s equivalent of a facebook “poke”.
What I do know – because I’ve kept it – is that the Boy sent me a curt email regarding my taste in TV series (how could I possibly think ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ was on a par with ‘House’?) and his rather provocative one-line missive stood out among hundreds of others I left unanswered, peppered with cringeworthy phrases (even for a hopeless romantic like myself) such as “j’ai cru voir un ange passer en regardant ton profil” or “il y a quelque chose dans ton regard qui m’interpelle…”
We bounced a few short emails back and forth, still on the subject of TV, and I half-heartedly floated the idea of having a drink in our neighbourhood sometime, without any real conviction. Either he was playing it incredibly cool, I thought to myself, or he simply wasn’t all that keen. And as it was, at the time I was altogether too busy being infatuated with someone ridiculously unsuitable who was sending signals so mixed that deciphering them was a full-time occupation.
One fine day, after a resounding rebuttal, I went back online and set up two dates, one with a certain Fred, and one with the Boy, both of whom I had been mentally holding in reserve for a rainy day. We chatted on MSN for a few minutes, the Boy and I, and it was fun. The way the banter flowed, I was almost certain we’d get on in the flesh. It could be really cool to have a friend in the neighbourhood, I thought. I couldn’t imagine anything more than friendship: my head was still elsewhere… And frankly, the Boy was a little on the young side, at least on paper.
We met for an early evening drink Aux Folies, at the foot of the rue de Belleville, on a bank holiday Thursday. Fred (sweet guy, zero sparks) I met a few hours earlier in a pub in the Marais, after a pre-date(s) warm up lunch with a couple of good friends.
An apéro became a couple of drinks, then morphed into dinner in a nearby Thai restaurant. Dinner blurred into a couple more drinks and an invitation back to his apartment for a ‘nightcap’. It all seemed so natural, so easy – as opposed to the tortured and stressful evenings I’d been spending deluding myself about unsuitable, disinterested guy and his intentions – but there was a part of me, right up until the moment when we snuggled up on the sofa and he began to gently stroke my arm, that had decided he would make a fantastic friend, but nothing more. I was loath to jeopardize this budding friendship by having a one night stand. But when I said so, out loud, the Boy responded by planting a kiss on my lips.
Five months down the line, I still I marvel at how easy it would have been, as Tadpole would say, for us Ever Never to meet.