As we all know: the struggle to find a woke man is real. So when I was given a warm lead, I decided to do something I’ve never done – I asked a guy out. Secret Garden Party and copious amounts of alcohol inspired me – I got this, I thought. Sobered, I had to follow through, resulting in general terror, putting my phone in another room and the following exchange:
And from there the five week whirlwind began. He had read the ‘woke men’ blog. Finally someone guaranteed not to be a time waster. He would not be intimidated by my bookshelf or feminist t-shirts. Then an intense frenzy of dates in a short time escalated and amplified my emotions. Everything was moving at hyper-speed. Looking out onto the Thames, trying to navigate my wheelie suitcase through Europride crowds, lazing in the park: maybe you really could meet people.
Everyone seemed excited: “you deserve something good to happen,” they would say.
Then, unexpectedly the tone changed. He cancelled meeting up last minute. And nearly all the emojis had dissipated, leaving only actual prose and one meager kiss at the end of texts diminishing in number – surely a sign of impending doom. I had to force crunch time into being. I had to send a double text or spend an indeterminate amount of time in a limbo laced with anxiety.
We met as the sun was lowering over the green steps leading up Granary Square. Everything seemed ordinary and I thought, perhaps, I had let my anxious nature get the better of me. I really needed to calm down and believe in people. It’s London and everyone is busy!
“I have to tell you something,” he said. The mood sank.
“Oh God. That sounds ominous,” I said.
“Yeah, so, there’s this girl at work and I think I’m falling for her.” And I saw the flicker of an involuntary smile; the instantaneous reaction to something pleasurable and warm. I wanted to be sick in the canal.
“So I can’t really carry on dating both of you. I’ve done that before and then it goes on and on and ends badly. We’ve never really hung out before and we obviously get on really well. But we’re part of the same social group. I hope we can be friends. I’ve been so worried and stressed about this. I hope it’s going to be ok. Is it going to be ok?”
Walking along the canal tow path, the engineering work and dodging illegal cyclists only heightened the awkward atmosphere. And I was thinking – what the fuck is this trash? You’ve done this before? Where did this girl come from? Why did you tell everyone you liked me? Instead, I did as I had always done; as women everywhere do, and have done their whole lives. I put all my energy into making another person feel comfortable, and let it all be about their feelings. Stoic out of the necessity to abide by unwritten rules. I was trying to be “chill”.
“Yes. It will be fine. It’s ok. Everything will be ok”, I said.
“I feel a lot better now,” he sighed, relieved.
“This is very awkward. I’m just going to go home. I guess I’ll see you at the birthday party.”
“Oh God, yeah. I thought it would have been worse if we’d had the actual drink. Wouldn’t it?”
“Yes. It would’ve been worse.”
10 minutes later and I’ve managed to express the reality of my emotional state to two different friend’s by phone; a teary torrent that was barely audible.
“I’m such an idiot. I’m never going to meet anyone. There were all these guys at carnival and I turned them down. I could have gotten with all of them,” I choked down the phone.
“Don’t be silly. You’re amazing. And it’s not stupid to care about people or their feelings. You had no way of knowing any of this would happen – you did everything right. He’s silly.”
“He is silly.”
Once I arrived home I filled up a wine glass with red and started playing Lemonade on full blast – hoping for empowerment via osmosis. My flat mate arrived home with another bottle, whilst I ate jerk chicken straight out of the pan.
“He’s stupid and you’re amazing,” she said. “Fuck the haters. All men are shit”, she told me, factually.
“Yes! Fuck the haters. Bun dem.” She put on ‘Flawless’. And I nearly believed I was great, because I have the kind of deluded self-confidence that only manifests in a society that doubts your value; an armour to convince myself of infallibility. But I couldn’t do it this time. I couldn’t beat Becky. And I never signed up for a competition. I went to bed and cried.
The next day I called mum and after the obligatory praise of my character and strengths she said:
“Once, when I was sad about a nonsense – but something that didn’t feel like a nonsense to me – Gran told me that when she first moved to this country and she didn’t have money for rent, she was thrown out onto the street with her children. She had to stay with whoever she could until she had saved enough money. And if she could survive that, we could survive anything. You’ve been through worse than this.”
I couldn’t argue with West Indian wisdom. I turned off Netflix and had a shower. There were worse things.
At work, I was making a cup of tea when my colleague asked: “How are all those dates you’ve been going on so much recently?” His thumbs were up anticipating what he expected to be a certain positive response.
“Awfully.” I explain the events.
“I’m sorry Kim. That’s quite an egotistical way to end it with someone. You’re so nice.
Are you fed up of everyone telling you how smart and talented you are and that there are other fish in the sea?”
“I love everyone, but every time I hear that I want to tell them all to fuck the fuck off.”
“I’ve been there.”
So the search continues. Still looking for venture capital for wokeonlyanti-racistfeministnicepeople.com.