Eight took his sweet ass time using my damn phone number. I wish I could say but at least the drinks came shortly after. But we know that’s not true.
The drinks don’t come for a few more months, yes, I said months, and I had to do some serious mind-fucking to get us that far. When that first text came through he went straight back to his check-ins, and some days I’d catch a whiff of a nice gesture or intent, and others I’d find his texts to be a chore not to chuck my phone over. Part of me thought, maybe he’s insecure, maybe he’s not sure if dating a single mom is something he can handle, not a single part of me assumed that he was going to waste vast amounts of my time. But we learn these lessons best by experiences.
At this point of the summer he’s pretty busy between his work and game schedule. But he continues to check in, and I think, he wouldn’t waste precious time doing this if some part of him didn’t care. (Girl, shake your head, I know.) Its in these brief texting conversations that it first becomes apparent that our communication styles are completely at odds with one another. I never know what he means by anything, he misuses words, things contradict themselves and he keeps bastardizing all my favourite turns of phrases, and I really love idioms, so it’s throwing me for a loop.
I’ve worked as a graphic designer for the same firm for ten years, it’s my second home, second family, they’ve watched me grow up, make mistakes, become a mother, and finally, take charge of a life I was going to just let pass me by. We’re chatting about work and my history there, and all the perks that come with such a tenure. I reciprocate the inquiry and ask him what he did before he got into his trade. I’m not even joking a little when the conversation comes to a screeching halt with his response: “I was a little late to the party but I’m glad I’m here.” Excuse me, but what the fuck does that even mean? You can’t say “Oh I worked odd jobs. Oh I went to school for a few years.” I’m not going to judge where you’ve been, how could I, I’ve lived a life, it wasn’t perfect, but today and now I’m ready to build something new, that’s why I date. We’re supposed to be trying to get to know one another and the answer just felt out of place in the pacing of the conversation. These sort of abrupt out of place answers are a dime a dozen for us, I never know how to respond, so I generally just stop replying, and the next day: Ding. “How was your day?
One day I’m surprised he’s sharing more about his team and he suggests he’d like to leave me tickets to a game at the box office sometime, but doesn’t specify when. A few days later I joke about how he’s so elusive, and send a little wink face. I’m flurting, it’s like flirting adjacent. And again I get a response that drops my emotional IQ another point: “How am I elusive? My game schedule is very public, you could track me down with one google search.” I’m dumbfounded, he hasn’t invited me out to a specific game; I felt like I had to be a faceless fan to be within earshot of him. I don’t understand the comment – if I was playing I wouldn’t want the distraction/pressure of knowing a guy is there to see me – a guy I’ve been putting off meeting for weeks.
I can’t remember what his last text was, only when, sometimes around the beginning of the summer, and I had just had enough and I didn’t reply. I didn’t get a follow-up invitation to a game, I never found out what he did for a living for the last decade, and we never went for those drinks I suggested. An entire month would pass before I found a way to reel him back to me, without saying a word. I don’t know if its psychological warfare but Snapchat stories can be just the spark you need to burn your own goddamn time with fuckboys. 10/10 would do again though.
Here’s the trick. It’d been a number of weeks since I had stopped replying. Guys had come and gone since swiping on eight. Ironically, I had been asked on a date to go see eight’s team play (I swerved on that guy for other reasons but I’ll tell you that story another time), and I found myself thinking about him, his dark eyes, and sporty summer dates. I still had a morbid curiosity about why eight was so elusive with me. I had long since deleted the text thread, out of sight out of mind after all, but I still had his number in my phone, because as much as I love replying with “new phone who dis” I do sometimes prefer to go ghost on guys who’ve proven they can’t take no for an answer.
Our MVP of this part of the story is definitely Snapchat’s “Add From Contacts” feature. I added eight, without a text, or a reason, in the middle of a workday and he added me back almost immediately. Over the next few days I posted some nonsense photos of my new manicure and some random things from my workplace downtown. Look at me: I’m feminine, and funny, I have an interesting and active social life that involves a lot of trendy pubs and I can keep up with bros, I promise. I stayed radio silent – never chatting or sending anything directly but when I knew I had his attention in the views I posted a muted video on my story. It’s of my face saying “bitch I might be” with an overlaid caption that said “Living My Best Life”.
Now, take that dose of crazy with a grain of my self awareness: I’ve always worked in design and advertising, and thanks to dating apps and my gaggle of bro-friends that shoot straight with me, I know which photos, and thus, which of my “looks” perform best with most men. For whatever reason, my hair half up in a ponytail and a mischievous smirk gets me the most attention, which equates in online dating to matches. The game plan in advertising is always the same: when you have good ROI on a branding esthetic/content – you ride it out, build on it, get feedback regularly, and when results stagnate start implementing your new campaign that, if you’re smart, you’ve been developing for a while. And rest assured dear readers, I’m running a whole new campaign these days. Boys better bring their A game – because I will literally tell anyone everything I know about mind fuckery.
So let’s rewind to earlier in the summer: Eight knew what is was like to be in daily contact with me. He knew what my social life and weekend habits were like. He knew I was generally a positive person who was easy going. But he only ever had access to my Bumble profile photos back then. They’re unfiltered and generally I try to look pretty put together, I’m trying to attract a gentleman after all (I think? Am I? I don’t know.) But this was the new frontier for him, he had seen snippets of my life in Snapchat photos, he could understand the brand of myself that I projected to my followers, and now he had la piece de resistance: he had seen of video of what I look like talking, with a shit-eating smirk on my face. Was the message for him? Well, we all know it was here and now. But at the time, those were details he didn’t know. He was missing two pieces information that would’ve rounded out his understanding of me: 1. what in the hell I was playing at, and 2: by design, I had muted the video, so he would wonder what I sound like.
From my own experience, it’s jarring when you know how someone talks, then find out how they sound. Those first few minutes where you internally adjust to what their pitch, tone and cadence is as they’re rambling off nervous hellos on a sidewalk outside a restaurant. I miss a hundred percent of what guys are saying in those moments. I could avoid this by telling them to call me first, but honestly so far all the guys I’ve met are never really ballsy enough, except one.
And by the way, if my boss ever reads this, I need a raise. Because my viral marketing skills are fire flame. Within minutes of posting that video on my Snapchat story I had a new SMS text message: “Hey! It’s Eight. How’s your summer been?”
And I literally cackled out loud “Gotcha bitch!”