“Nial,” he said, putting his hand out to shake mine. When I took it he pulled me towards him so that we ended up in a hug. He smelt good, like sea salt and lime and sweat.
“Morning, wifey,” he texted me the next day. “I hope you haven’t forgotten about me.”
I replied: “Did you call me wifey ’cause you can’t remember my name?”
I thought that line was funny.
“Lol I was saying wifey because I saved you in my phone as ‘wifey.’”
“I don’t feel like a wifey this morning. Just tried to make carbonara and had to ring my mum to ask if the yolk’s just the yellow bit or the whole thing.”
“If I knew you were making lunch I would have come over.”
“Can’t you cook for me instead? I’m lazy.”
“I’ll look after you.”
The conversation carried on like this for a while. He told me about the crazy bit he’d just seen happen in The Tinder Swindler. I told him about how I was trying to plan my birthday even though it’s in June. Eventually, though, the same thing happened that always happens: He stopped replying when it came to the point of actually asking me to meet up with him.
I went a bit crazy at first. Not because I really liked him, but because the situation mirrored so many that I’ve been in before. I go to so much effort: rubbing Olaplex in my hair, scrolling through Depop when I could be actually watching the show that’s in front of me. I even archived the post on my Instagram where I talk about the book I’ve got coming out that’s a memoir about me and my ex because I thought it might scare him off. And still, he disappeared. Am I meant to keep making all this effort, bettering myself in these ways, meeting these men, all while knowing that they’re never going to materialize beyond my phone?
A few days later I went to see Brockhampton, and while watching them perform became weirdly entranced by the way that Joba from the band dances. It’s like half heavy-metal-moshing, half Destiny’s Child-backing-dancer. Seeing him gave me this strong female urge to find a skinny art boy with a bad haircut to crush underneath me. I wasn’t meant to be trying anymore with men, but it was too difficult not to when there was a perfectly gawky boy right next to me and we started dancing together and I looked over at him and laughed and then he looked at me and laughed and then it turned out he had a girlfriend, but his friend was even cuter. We went to a pub and his friends kept telling me he never acts like this around girls—which I’m pretty sure isn’t true—but made me feel special anyway. I put his sweater on because I lost my coat at the venue and we went back to their place and we kissed in his kitchen as I sat on the cabinet and it made my insides feel so heavy that I wondered if they were going to sink right through me.