Up he popped one morning on my commute, saying hi via an online dating app on the cracked screen of my iPhone. The chat was instantly quick and witty; he didn’t shy away from rolling with the punches. (My punches.)
I asked him if he could be any mythological creature what would he be, and he gave three reasons why he’d be a Chimera, and I didn’t know what a Chimera was, and I liked that I had to Google his answer to understand it. When I revealed my taste in music he said, “GOODBYE FOREVER.” Just like that, in all caps locks like he already knew the way to my heart was through excessive typed yelling. He took no shit, didn’t get put off by a girl saying, through delicious sub-text, penetrate my frontal cortex, big boy. He operated that way as standard, and it gave me a total boner.
He introduced himself by telling me what he was reading. Told me he only listens to classical music. I spent a four-hour meeting at work pretending to use my phone to check emails in order to message him, and didn’t eat lunch because it takes two hands to text and seeing what he’d say next was more thrilling than my sandwich. By nightfall, after hundreds of messages back-and-forth, beep after beep after beep alerting me to another acerbic piece of gentle wit, I was, of course, hooked.
Him: I just bought a watch online. And a box set I’m too ashamed to mention.
Me: MENTION IT.
Me: MENTION IT.
Him: I can’t. Really. I can’t.
Me: You can. You’re a brave fella. Go on.
Him: Sigh. Alright. 26 discs… over 41 hours…
Me: OF MORK AND MINDY?
Him: Of the complete…
Him: Only Fools and horses.
Him: I am so single right now.
Me: That was unexpected. *looks into the distance and pretends to see an old friend*
Him: *prepares pillow fort for charming Peckham-based lol-marathon* *kills self*
Me: You’re funny. I like funny.
Him: *slips on banana skin* *suffers crippling spine injury, waits with tears in eyes for you to stop laughing and take me to A&E*
Me: YOU CAN’T SLIP ON A BANANA SKIN WHEN YOU’VE ALREADY KILLED SELF.
Him: *PEDANT KLAXON* Alright, so-called Laura, you win this round… *narrows eyes*
Him: This is fun. You, me, this.
Me: It is. You. Me. This.
Him: Guess what I’m making my housemates watch right now.
Me: ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES. Do I win the prize for being right?
Me: What’s the prize? Is the prize for being right a date?
Him: The prize is… The Complete Only Fools and Horses. No wait! Yes! That! Your one! Much better. You don’t want my prize anyway. Shall we? Would you like to?
Me: I’m kind of torn now… It’s a bit like Sophie’s Choice.
Him: Go on…
Me: THE DATE PLEASE. I said the date! Wow. Now you’re making me beg.
Him: Haha. OK!
Me: That was quite clever how you did that.
Him: Here, take my number…
And so, he said, was I free Monday, what with Monday being the sexiest day of the week. And I was.
He was exactly as I thought he’d be, as, he said, was I to he. I explained I’d rather the pub than a cocktail lounge, and five hours later we were surprised to find ourselves as the last ones in there. We talked as effortlessly as we had online, and, I decided, making him laugh so that he tipped back his head and lightly touched his heart, genuine, silly giggles and all, was my new favourite thing to do.
I had only three stops on the tube on the way home, and we sat next to one another shyly stealing sideways glances and he said, ‘Did you have a nice time?’
‘I did,’ I said.
My stop came up quickly, too quickly to decide to kiss him. I didn’t want to rush it. I knew I’d see him again. He wanted to, he’d said. I pecked his cheek and looked into his eyes, and he was coy, and we laughed, and it made me want to stay on the train but I got off and turned to wave as the carriage pulled away again.
Friday? His message said, minutes later. Friday is perfect, I said.
Except it wasn’t, I realised when I awoke the next morning. No problem, he said when I text. Any other time, I said. Really. I’m so sorry.
I never heard from him again. Poof. He disappeared. Maybe I hurt his feelings.
But the thing is, I don’t mind. Not really. It was enough to know that butterflies do happen. I don’t need his spell. I just needed a reminder, after a little while out of the game, that magic is real, after all.