This week I had an unusual encounter with a girl named Devine*.
The encounter started on a dating site when I began talking to a boy named Hugh*. I liked his profile; he was funny, wordy and self-deprecating so I messaged him. After a few texts we arranged to meet, a meeting I then cancelled, rudely, at short notice, because I’m a dick.
Hugh was not a dick and accepted my apology in good humour and we arranged to meet another time. Bog standard, flaky internet dating action thus far.
Then, two days later, he rang me at 4am and when I answered, was silent and then hung up. As I was half way through the initial thought of “…oh good, a raging nutter has my phone number and I have no one to blame bu..” he rung again and repeated the silence then hang up trick. I know it well; I’ve done it myself.
I texted him. I wanted to text obscenities and suggest he commit improper acts with his mobile, but I didn’t, I texted the very neutral:
That was pretty random!
The response was out of character; dismissive, and poorly punctuated. This guy was either pissed, bi-polar, or his disgruntled girlfriend had the phone. I asked him which it was.
His missus had the phone.
If you were to ask me why I didn’t leave it there, I’d have to say… I just don’t know. I should have typed “WHY ARE ON HIS PHONE YOU FREAK?” and switched mine off.
I didn’t do that, because I don’t know this boy, but I know this girl. Not personally, but I know the feeling she had when she dialled that number and called my phone. I know that sick sense of not knowing what you might find out about someone you love or have loved; that dark little window into their private, separate life that used to be a shared existence.
So I texted back pleasantries, and offered her a friendly ear if she needed a chat, which as it turned out, she did, and she called me.
She was a little bit tipsy and had post-crying sniffles, but she was such an honest and positive person that we were soon chatting and laughing. Devine and Hugh had had a fight that night and she still avoided the temptation of slagging him off, which is a fine example of niceness.
She knew Hugh was chatting to girls, they were both dating other people, but she was worried that using his phone like that made her ‘a weirdo’. I had to tell her that I’ve done what she did, taken a partner’s phone and had a good old root through. I speculated that a lot of people have done it, will do it in the future and are probably doing it right now.
I’m not sure Devine was convinced.
We gabbed for about ½ an hour, about relationships, about our jobs, about ourselves. The conversation was relaxed and comfortable; she’s definitely someone I’d be friends with, but after the conversation I was left with the feeling that we probably won’t actually meet and become friends.
From my point of view, I’ve had a lovely encounter with a sweet and funny woman who resettled in my mind the truth that ‘everybody does those weirdo things I do which makes them not so weirdo after all’. If I were to now meet Devine and it transpired that she’s batshit crazy, ‘Hugh’ is her alter ego and she likes live frog earrings, my faith in that truth would be shaken. I don’t want that to happen; I don’t want to be a ‘weirdo’ too.
From Devine’s side, she might feel embarrassed for letting her emotions show to a stranger. We’re not supposed to do that, and she might feel that any connection between us would be too unbalanced because I’ve already seen her at her ‘weirdest’.
Any time we perform an action that leaks out our true emotions, we are ‘a weirdo’ and that’s not fair. Longing, regret and anger are potent emotions, it is likely the reaction will be extreme and suppression of them detrimental. I’m prepared for other people’s weirdness, especially when it’s the same as mine. I’m not going to turn my back on someone who seems to be acting a little weird, because I’d be screwed if other people did it to me!
In my experience, people who are a little unusual on the surface are most usually brilliant underneath, so maybe I should text Devine and suggest we have a coffee. Then again, she might think I’m weird…
*Names have now been changed to protect identities, because the people involved asked me to. I’m not sure they realise that they have very common first names and nobody reads this anyway.