On my morning commute , I grab my almond unsweetened mocha matcha latte on the way to the Television Centre (kidding, just an espresso). I board the train with all the other commuters breathing down my neck, and flick straight to Spotify. If I have to endure the Northern line for thirty minutes, I may as well do it to the latest tunes. That’s preferable to sitting in silence watching the bald man opposite pick his nose. Music is what comforts me through all walks of life, whether it be falling in love, or going through post-breakup tragedy. The Music Industry is just as responsible as Hollywood for our skewed perception on love, and how ‘easy’ dating can be.
As I listen to Jay Z, tapping my nails on the armrest to the beat, I think about the latest dating phenomenon. Ghosting. It’s the new-age way of saying “see-ya” without consequence or a guilty conscience.
I have to wonder, would Jay Z have anything to rap about if Beyoncé had dropped off the face of the planet after date one? He had 99 problems but I bet ghosting wasn’t one. Tay Swift claimed her fame by serenading us with songs about failed relationships. What would she sing about if the relationship never failed, but vanished in to thin air instead? The Disappearing Act is such a common occurrence today. Our parents were raised on manners and the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ phone call. Our grandparents probably wrote thank-you notes after every date. But in the twenty-first century we jump ship without a trace.
If you are single and haven’t been ghosted before I’m going to assume you have boobs made of gold. Hell, even Mother Theresa would find it hard pressed not to be ghosted on today’s scene.
It makes me think to myself, why are we so damn clueless that we don’t recognise when we are about to be abandoned? Where are the red flags to warn you that Mr Right is about to high-tail it out of there? It’s about time someone addressed this dating dilemma and I am so ready to expose the ghosts that walk among us.
The tales of Ghosting are a dime a dozen for me. I tend to be a double-edged sword here if i’m totally honest. I too, am guilty of the magic vanishing act. I’m a flake, sue me. I forget to respond a lot. It’s funny isn’t it because without a connection we fade away, but when I actually like someone, you better believe I am online 24 hours a day, responding in a millisecond.
I have plenty of scenarios I could dive in to about ghosting, being ghosted, the whole shebang. But i’ll start with the one that blindsided me the most. The Hungarian Bartender.
The year is 2016, and I had been living here for approx. eight months. I am couch-bound with my girl Shannon. It’s a Friday evening heatwave. We have demolished one (okay two) bags of Kettle chips and guac, the ultimate basic bitch kind of set up. Yes, we even have a bottle of Sauvignon and Love Island of the television. Don’t lie, I know Love Island is your guilty pleasure. I am sprawled across one end of the couch, with my leg overlapping hers as she curls up in the corner scrolling her phone. We’re in matching Calvin Klein underwear sets that every girl buys in their twenties to look cute on Instagram. There is nothing cute about a London heatwave though and we are literally mopping beads of sweat off our foreheads as we chat. A few glasses deep and Shannon begins full force ranting about her most recent conquest.
“It’s Billy. He hasn’t messaged me properly in three weeks” She frowns.
Shannon felt no connection during their dates, and claims the sex was dismal at best, but she still feels cheated out of her Hollywood ending. What started a passionate love affair, ended in dwindling ‘hey’ messages followed by multiple pics of his flacid penis, before he finally went full MIA on her never to respond again.
“I deserve some kind of closure. Regardless that I didn’t want to date the boring twat. He could send a message, you know?” She pushes her blonde hair off her forehead in frustration. I can sense the situation is totally traumatic but I play devil’s advocate and try to make sense of it for her.
“Really Shan, what does Billy owe you if you don’t even fancy him? Let him take his unwarranted dick pic’s elsewhere” I laugh and reach for another handful of crisps, forgetting the summer bod I’ve been smashing the gym for.
“He owes me nothing. But it’s fucking rude” She shouts.
“Hon, I get it. But this is what we do in the 21st century. We ghost” I say sympathetically thinking it will calm her down. It doesn’t and she storms to the kitchen to start aggressively chopping carrots for our stir fry dinner.
“Don’t take it out on the carrot Shannon” I sigh.
Little did I know, the very next day I would embark on my own dance with the devil.
So Ghosting is when: You think you have found your soulmate in Mr X. He wined and dined you, you feel fireworks, you’ve been messaging for months now and might even be having hot wild sex on your kitchen counter every weekend.
You start imagining a life with him. A dog, spontaneous vacay’s to Bali, someone to stroke your back on a lonely Sunday night.
Then before the kettle has time to boil for your morning Espresso, Mr X disappears. That fucker literally does not respond to you. You tell yourself he has been hit by a truck or waylaid with an overload of work but honey, there’s no chance. You’ve been ghosted.
Saturday swung around and it’s a scorcher. I’m talking thirty-three degrees. Now listen, I’m very aware that every story so far involves summer and sweat. But this is because in winter I hibernate and become a fat fuck watching Netflix doco’s in bed while ordering Krispy Kreme doughnuts from Uber Eats. The dates diminish in winter.
So back to real time. It’s hot and I’ve been for a morning run to reduce the wine-hangover. I decide to stop at Vivo, an Italian joint on Upper Street, Angel for a cold Iced Coffee. I’m in my Detroit Tigers New Era cap, with a sports bra and Nike leggings. I’ve got sun kissed shoulders and feeling cool and confident. That self-deluded level of cool where you start looking in all the windows you walk past like a narcissistic freak.
The bartender serves me coffee and I take a deep breath of pure appreciation. (For the bartender…not the coffee). He looks a bit like a modern James Dean; tall, tan. He leans over the table, smelling of cologne wearing hipster-fashion. Very attractive I think to myself. He sports tattoos on his bicep, and calls me ‘love’ when he serves the coffee making me all flustered.
When I get home, the bartender is on my mind and my inner stalker unveils itself…aren’t all females an FBI detective in another life? I found a bio about him on the website. It’s not there anymore so don’t bother having a nosy stalk yourself.
Our resident bartender hails from Hungary, and when he isn’t working enjoys exploring the local art galleries.
Despite knowing next to nothing about art, I decide that I am hooked on this European game-changer. Call me superficial, I know it was purely based on his looks. But in today’s ‘swiping’ age can you blame me…
I type quickly on WhatsApp to Shannon.
C: We are going for dinner at Vivo Sunday eve. Don’t ask questions. Be there, 7.30pm
S: Ooh I’m intrigued. Why?
C: I want to try some Hungarian.
S: Isn’t Vivo Italian?
C: I said don’t ask.
True to her word we meet for dinner on Sunday. Vivo has a glorious rooftop, and we are basking in the sunset sharing calamari and Rosé. The dutch courage has begun to seep through my veins. I stand up to go to the bar, teetering a little in my patent leather heels. Hungarian bartender is polishing glasses. I flash my sexiest smile, saved only for very special occasions.
“Hey, can I get you a drink love?”
“Uh..no. Actually, this is going to sound completely mad. But do you fancy a drink sometime?” I feel like i’m about to go into cardiac arrest the way my heart is pounding. Is this how men feel when they ask us out? If so, props to you all.
“With you?” He looks around. Like, no, I was asking the wall behind you.
“Yes, you!” I seductively lean forward on the bar.
He looks taken aback. Then slightly pleased with himself.
“Uh… yeah? Sure! When I finish I’ll come and join you, we can exchange numbers” He smiles.
“And damn, you’ve got balls girl” He laughs and turns to back to polishing, shaking his head at me.
Date one beats expectations and we progress to a rom-com style montage of romantic evenings. We begin spending time together throughout the week, frequenting the local pubs. We get to know each other over dry martini’s and whisky sours (he is a bartender after all). There is more to him than just shaking tumblers. He dreams of owning his own art studio one day. He was telling me all of this on our fourth date, at Blues Bar in Soho on a Tuesday.
I’m casual in Nike air Force one’s and a tee, but chose tight denim jeans, that accentuate my curves. Blues bar had been his suggestion, because of the live music.
He expressed his passion for abstract art, and explains that his apartment is covered in canvases and unfinished paintings. I pretend my cultural knowledge is impressive, and talk about an art exhibition for George Hendrik Breitner I went to at Rijks museum in Amsterdam. I don’t of course tell him that I was bored within twenty minutes and left to find a coffee shop. Need to know basis, right?
Past midnight the spell starts to wear off. I remember it’s a Tuesday night and start to feel worse for wear. By two o’clock in the morning I decide to turn in for the night.
“I’ve got work tomorrow.”
“Our working hours do not coincide at all, with me working the weekend night shifts.”He shakes his head.
“Will you take tomorrow off and come home with me?” He pleads.
“Why would I sacrifice a good nights sleep?” I playfully respond.
“Because this is fun. You’re fun. You’re gorgeous. I like you.” He says and extends an arm around my shoulders.
He hit the emotional goldmine there, calling me fun. Honestly I have an irrational fear in life of being boring, so define me as fun and I will go weak at the knees.
“You’ve twisted my arm then, come on lets go home to your place” I pick up my handbag and beckon to the waiter for the bill.
We walked toward Oxford Circus tube station in a haze of kissing and laughter. Our conversation flowed during the tube ride home, and we fell in to bed exhausted around half three. I stroked his hair softly as the moon lit up the room. He put his hands around my waist and pulled me close. We had passionate sex until the sun rose. Can I just point out that there is such thing as too much passion. After four hours I’m tired, and my body hurts, and I’m not a fucking gymnast alright? Saying Europeans are known to be the ‘lovers’ of the world is underestimating them. A bit too much loving if you ask me. I left his house at six as the sun was beginning to filter through the trees on to the pavement. Bleary eyed, I traipsed to work having not slept, grateful that he lives and works nearby. I wasn’t working for BBC studios at the time, but another company whose office in Highbury is a short walk from The Bartenders place.
It’s fair to say that despite things going well, we didn’t have much in common. He was an introverted artist. I am an extroverted salesperson. He enjoyed his comfort zone, while I am always breaking free of mine. Yet somehow I still convinced myself that I felt something very strong for him, and I wanted this to go somewhere. The dates, the adventures and the bedroom antics continued over a span of a few months.
Finally we approached ‘the talk’ one evening in the courtyard of Brewhouse, Highbury. We drank our pints under the fairy lights. I would have said under the stars, but thanks to London pollution there aren’t any.
“This whole picking up strangers thing is really working out for me. Four months later and look at us” I wink at him
“If it wasn’t for your confidence and that cheeky little smile, we might not even be here” He raises an eyebrow, and places a hand on my leg.
“If it wasn’t for your exceptional Iced-coffee we might not be here” I laugh, before going in all guns blazing. “So it’s been four months of dating, where do you see this going?”
He hesitates for a sec, running his hand through his hair.
“I really like you, and where this going. Why don’t we continue at this pace and see what happens?” (After four months I think that is man-speak for I have no intention, at all, of making you my girlfriend, ever.).
He continues talking. “I was thinking though, why don’t you take next Monday/Tuesday off work? We could train down to Brighton, I can show you the beach and take you to Dishoom for dinner?”
A vacay date is a big step. Almost as big as meeting the parents. It means actually having to endure someones company for more than a boozy evening. You have to see their morning face. You have to remember to have a toothbrush and spare underwear in your purse. It’s all very stressful.
“I would love that” I say beaming as he pulls me on to his lap and kisses me with fire.
So three guesses what you think happened.
I took Monday off as planned. Monday rolls around and I blissfully oversleep. I stretch in bed and reach over to my side table to check my phone.
By midday, my fury is brewing, big time. I’m bored and antsy by now, doing sit ups by the couch and organising my wardrobe that doesn’t need organising.
Six o’clock approaches. FUCK YOU I shout to no one, just yelling it to the universe really.
Four months of bar rendezvous and love-making were reduced to radio silence. Like, dropped off the face of the earth silence.
I literally, shamefully, never ever heard from The Hungarian Bartender again.
Well that’s not quite true. I didn’t hear from him for a solid three weeks, but he made one colossal mistake. Forgetting that I live and work only two minutes down the road. Just a quick FYI, you probably shouldn’t ghost someone in your neighbourhood, it’s an amateur move. At least ensure a 10+ mile radius. After three weeks of asking myself;
“What did I do wrong? Did I forget to shave my legs that morning? Did he find out that I can’t keep my house-plants alive? Did he realise my ability to become uncaged wild animal after two or three tequila’s?”
I decided enough was enough. After work one evening I go home and pull on my thigh high boots and a short black t-shirt dress, and walk straight to Vivo. He is working, and his embarrassment is obvious. He comes clean.
The reality is, the kid didn’t want a serious relationship. He felt four months was approaching serious, and he was just another expat in London trying to have fun. Fair play. A year later he actually began to creep around my social media, but that my friends is Haunting (Not to be confused with ghosting) and will be dealt with in a future blog post. In the event of ghosting, here are my tips and tricks.
No ghost is going to respond to a barrage of abuse, or furious “How can you do this to me?” messages. In the event of ghosting, whip out your sauciest outfit, put on a seductive smile and blast your Instagram with some self-promotion. I promise you it will summon back every last ghost from their daemonic caves. Post, then sit back, grab yourself a bevy, and watch him slide in to your DM’s while you laugh from cloud nine.
Revenge is best served cold, and online.