Some men speak only when spoken to. Others (the best kind) only speak when they have something valuable to say. And then there are the third kind, the ones who think that every trivial thought in their head is worth articulating. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet The Voice, a man who’s pretentious Queen’s English still rings in my head like an incessant buzzing bee, threatening to morph into a fragment of my paranoid nightmares.
Two months ago, I was sleeping on my best friend’s couch in Paris, when I happened to gather top-secret intel that my hubby-in-law knew a cute Brit residing across the pond, some sort of social-activist-slash-startup-entrepreneur, the stuff my erotic fantasies are made of. Coincidentally, my flight back to New York was scheduled via London, so I asked him to hook it up. After a quick battle, with him refusing to tarnish their acquaintanceship at the expense of my stupidity, he finally gave in and sent through the text. (Nothing like a few tears and an impending 29th birthday to get the matchmaking guilt going!) Five minutes later, I received a WhatsApp message from the guy, who seemed to be very excited to meet me – I’m talking enthusiasm levels normally reserved for Miranda Kerr here. In our ensuing chat, he shared, amongst other random details of his life, that he had had a very strenuous work week, had a fear of flying but loved “visiting magical places like Bali, Majorca and Capetown”, and had once been a prodigious piano player, a passion that he wished to return to later in life. It appeared that he was, how shall I say it, rather verbose, a characteristic I usually see no value for in a man, but decided to be open to, because when has my normal taste ever resulted in anything good? We agreed to meet the following evening.
Fast-forward 24 hours later at the Angel train station in Islington. Immediately, I recognized the same mop of blonde hair, Tom Ford-esque glasses and decently-cut suit from my Google research, resulting in a hybrid between a Ken doll and what Christian Gray was supposed to look like before they messed up by casting Jamie Dornan to play him. Basically, hot but creepy. Talking like somebody who had just chugged a bottle of Adderall, he informed me that we had a very exciting evening ahead of us: “First, we’re going to go to a pub and steal our drinks! Then, I will show you one of my favorite places in London! And then we can go to dinner! Do you like dinner?” He wasn’t kidding about the drink-stealing part: after buying me a Chardonnay at the corner pub, he whisked me outside and instructed me to walk down to the neighboring canal, wine glass in hand. I briefly wondered if the date was transitioning into Lovely Bones territory (“Dating blogger murdered in cold blood.. ON DATE!” – the headlines of The Sun would scream the next day), but then I reassured myself that he had way too much to lose, considering the exciting state of his startup.
Ah yes, the startup. Once we reached a well-lit spot by the water, he found an elevated platform, climbed onto it like one would on a podium, and started telling me about his life-altering social algorithm, as if I were a venture capitalist with billions of investment dollars to spare. This pitch continued for about fifteen minutes, after which he paused to catch a breath / briefly inquire about my own life, quickly pronounced me to be “dangerously brilliant” (a compliment that must resonate well within my age demographic) and ushered me back up the park stairs. After returning the glasses to the pub (making this the saddest attempt at bad-assedness in history), we headed to dinner at a local Greek restaurant, a lovely meal during which he chatted away and I tried to hold back all snide comments by eating three courses and downing about ¾ of a bottle of red wine, which eventually had me melting into the couch like an overstuffed cabbage patch doll. “Some people are dogs, others are cats. You’re a cat,” he announced, licking his lips while ogling me from behind his spectator lenses. Nope, not creepy at all.
After dinner, he walked me to my friend’s house, awkwardly held me for about 90 seconds, and kissed me good night – a decent first kiss, probably because, for those few moments, he was finally silent. He texted me ten minutes later to wish me good night (“I hope you’re curled up in bed like a cat”), and then again at 5:30am to inform me that he had just completed his morning run. He also sent me a screen shot of his Google calendar, explaining that he had back to-back meetings all week (with real venture capitalists, whoop whoop!), but had cancelled a couple of them to see me for breakfast that day.
I probably never would have seen him again, but, in an unexpected turn of events, I decided to go for a run of my own that morning. Since I’m a walking Bridget Jones movie, I happened to get my phone snatched out of my hands by two men on a motorcycle, right there during my run. Because I am Bridget Jones, this happened right across the street of the guy I had dated this past summer, while I was texting him. Now, I’m not a particularly religious person, but if this wasn’t a sign from Higher Power to get my shit together, I don’t know what is. And so, I decided to close the old doors and open some new ones, starting by giving the blonde chatterbox another chance.
Another chance meant meeting him after dinner that evening, a fairly uneventful hour of him Ted Talking as my friends listened, bemused in their estimation on how long this would last. At the end of the night, he wrapped his arms around me, stared into my eyes, and asked me if I would ever consider moving to London. “Tomorrow, I will show you my London. You will love it,” he proclaimed, as if his version of London was fundamentally different from all the others I had seen. The following evening, he instructed to meet me by his office in City, i.e. London’s Financial District, the antithesis of everything I like in life. Nonetheless, I put my best foot forward and even pulled together a nice adult look: slim pants, black Céline bomber and a stupid semi-sheer Thakoon blouse that I later came to regret. Again, he proclaimed me to be God’s gift to humanity (gentlemen take note – flattery will get you anywhere) and told me how proud he was to have me by his side. “If it all works out, I see us doing great things together,” he declared, as if he had found the Angelina Jolie to his Brad Pitt. After an expedited tour of the London Stock Exchange and a drink at a douchey cocktail bar with excellent views (which I was distracted from when startup man whipped out a PowerPoint presentation at the table), he informed me that he had something incredible planned for us that evening. This “something incredible” turned out to be a walk across the Thames River to see the London Bridge, which was lit up in Disney-esque pink and purple shades. Normally, this would have been quite nice, except for the fact that it was freezing. The blistering Arctic wind was whipping through my sheer shirt and I was getting morose to the point where I didn’t give two fucks about the London Bridge, the London Bridge falling down, or Walt Disney himself landing on the London Bridge and choreographing a Mickey Musical right in front of me. I WAS COLD. A normal person would have let go off this notion of a romantic walk and hailed a cab, but not this guy. “You’re such a cat. Let me kiss the cold away.” I almost bit him.
Trying to save myself from pneumonia by way of chiffon, I suggested we go to the first restaurant we saw on the other side of the river, the kind of ginormous, half-empty tourist trap that you normally only attend with your parents, because you know it won’t be too noisy. After swallowing his food, he moved to my side of the couch and proceeded to give me a one-hour massage whilst kissing me on the nape of my neck right in front of the waiter, who clearly wanted to throw up or go home. Once outside the restaurant, we discovered that the weather had dropped another 10 degrees, which is probably why SK thought it would be an excellent idea to skip the whole Uber thing again and take a nice fifteen-minute walk to the Bank tube station, during which my non-stick-figure self almost got blown away like Dorothy (preferably, over to Islington). Yet, somehow we made it to the tube, which is where I realized that I hated him and never wanted to see him again.
I am my own worst enemy. By morning, I had convinced myself that I might have misjudged him, that I had to lower my standards and go for somebody who likes me more than I like him in order to live a happy life. I responded to his messages, promised that we would see each other soon, and boarded my plane back to New York. By the time I landed in JFK, I had three voice notes waiting for me, in which The Voice recounted everything that had occurred to him in the past 24 hours, the results of his business meetings, and his desire to come to New York that very weekend to visit me. Despite my gut instinct, I agreed, assuming that this was the chance for our romance to blossom on new turf.
Unfortunately for this blog, the trip didn’t happen. What happened instead were his voice notes. Dozens of them, left on my WhatsApp at random times of day and night. My friends would squirm from empathetic discomfort every time a new one would come in. We would put it on loudspeaker and listen to him recount the events of his day, routinely referencing his two self-proclaimed alter egos: “hero” when he would go to the gym, shower, or have a successful meeting, and “kitten” every time he was tired or “feeling weak”. It was like the male version of Her, except he was nowhere near as charming as Scar Jo. As the voice notes accumulated, so did my fears, which were well-validated during our two FaceTime sessions. During the first one, he snuggled against the most heinous pillows I have ever seen, decorated with none other than giant mugs of Yorkshire terriers, a visual that clouded every other memory of the conversation. During the second (and last) one, he spent the entire time bragging about the Queen of England potentially being interested in his startup idea for charity purposes. At the end of this conversation, he paused and quite solemnly asked me if I would like to come to Capetown with him for New Years Eve. “I think you overestimate..” I started saying, meaning to explain that I didn’t really have the flexibility to travel across the world at the moment. I didn’t get to finish my sentence when The Voice interrupted me and said “Overestimated what? Your dad’s liquidity”? Yep, the 40-year-old self-proclaimed genius with a startup that had piqued the interest of Queen Elizabeth herself, was inquiring about my father’s financial status.
That was the last conversation we had before he disappeared into the abyss of Eternal Bachelors with social impediments, a party for my ear drums that I have been rejoicing in ever since. Perhaps, some men should speak only when spoken to, some should speak when they have something to say, and others never just never speak at all.