Burning Alexandria

I watched all night from the hilltop
as flames rose, roared, fell to embers
Saw the old men rush to the doors
gaze in aghast, helpless

nothing could be saved

I watched one man try
wrapping his robes tightly around him
striding bravely into the inferno
eyes filled with maniacal zeal
old fool
he never came out

The acrid smoke carried scraps
like fireflies
to rest far from their home, their hive
no longer now
burnt to the ground

I turned my eyes,
from the charred parchment that landed beside me,
the start of a letter in an unfamiliar tongue,
to the tinder and flint still gripped in my hand
as the flames glinted in my eyes
savouring knowledge only I possessed.

[Spot the post this is ‘twinned’ with. Yes, you are correct.]

Tinder: The Burning Truth

[Ha ha ha ha more puns]

–Parts One and Two

Having started Tinder as a bit of a joke and then got far too invested in it as soon as I started considering my decisions, it was nice to realise something that toned my stress levels right back down: people worth talking to will reply to almost anything.

In my case at least, I believe this to be true. If someone’s not open enough to the possibilities, not willing to take a chance on talking to a total stranger, caught up in some ‘I’m here to be impressed’ mentality, then I’m not all that keen to talk to them anyway. The people I want to talk to are open, friendly, and looking to chat just like I am. As such, they’ll reply.

By ‘almost anything’, obviously there are certain things I’m not going to say. I get a lot of joy on Tinder by not being creepy, so suddenly deciding that ‘what are you wearing?’ will draw replies is not going to work. But I’d go as far as to say that ‘hi”, while it should be avoided if possible and followed up with some very good subsequent messages, shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. Better to say something and get the conversation flowing than stew in silence regretting missed opportunities. My most successful Tinder conversation had the good fortune to start with a discussion of her unusual name, but there have been plenty of good ones that started with…

*checks phone*
Oh well this is awkward…

So it turns out all my lasting conversations have come from unusual openers, from pet dragons to life-guarding skills (twice) to a (totally meta) discussion about openers.
This article is not turning out how I expected!
I’ll try again…

I guess a more applicable point is that you can be a bit random, as long as it elicits a response – just find something to comment on, or ask. One of the aforementioned women was wearing a generic Newquay lifeguard top, but my message allowed me to question her qualifications and mention having lived in Cornwall and as such got the conversation going.

I’m rapidly losing the ‘golden thread’ (I might make inane scraps of corporate jargon a regular feature in this blog, signified by highly sarcastic scare quotes of course (thoughts on this new feature?)) of this post but hopefully will distract you, lovely readers, from that fact with interesting asides (see interesting aside [insert interesting aside]). If you’re still reading, well thanks. A few closing thoughts on Tinder:

It’s pretty versatile. You can use it for ‘overnight’ dates, as a game, to chat to people, or even just to get restaurant recommendations in a new city (I will confess to doing this when losing interest in someone but still respecting their food establishment judgement).
Girls will generally talk to you and be nice. I can’t speak for the guys. Their definition of ‘nice’ may include invitations to overnight dates. Be warned – these are not slumber parties.
Having your mum in your photo with you will make more girls talk to you. I can swear to the validity of this claim. It makes you look like a nice guy. Helps if your mum is a bit shorter as well – makes you look tall. Thanks mum!

And that’s about that.

Tinder: How To Ignite The Conversation

[Re the title, I refuse to apologise for my puns]

Part 1 here

I’ve been convinced to join Tinder, and it’s become a fun little game. As someone who complements creative manipulation of the written word with a love of rules and statistics, I have my set process: Are they attractive? If ‘no’, swipe left, ‘yes’, check their bio for sufficient interesting chat and then decide, or ‘massively’, swipe right (though in reality I read their bios anyway in case their personality matches their great looks and I can be disappointed when we don’t match). There are a few further rules – smokers are a no, excessive pouting rules you out and capitalising Random Words in a Sentence is an Unpardonable sin, but basically, that’s my game. Stick to the rules, debate long and hard on their qualities and finally make my judgements.

Putting so much consideration into each potential match has strange effects. Any swipes right that don’t result in an instant ‘It’s a match!’ bring a twinge of disappointment and maybe even betrayal – how could she not say yes to me? – while matches that do pop up suddenly bring pressure – I took the time to handpick her, and now I have to impress her. Plenty of my opening lines fall flat. I remember panicking after seeing ‘say something more interesting than hi’ on a girl’s profile for the first time, having used the scorned greeting on several occasions already. Was that an unwritten rule I’d been breaking?

More imaginative openers soon followed, and a few favourites emerged. It helped if their bios or photos lent themselves to an interesting topic, though I quickly realised that almost every girl in the country has posed with a drugged tiger. I began to wonder if the tiger hadn’t done a tour of the UK just to make the acquisition of the seemingly-essential photo easier…

If nothing instantly jumped out, I had a fallback,
“Just to check, you do believe in true love, right?”

What a line! Funny, quirky, and subtly implies that I’m clearly a nice, romantic guy who won’t instantly request that you take your top off. Worked a charm on several occasions and got ignored on several more. After a little while, when conversations had gone beyond the first few sarcastic remarks and flirty jokes, I came to realise an important truth that would take all the stress out of the opening line conundrum:

TBC…

[Note: I’m not sorry at all for stopping here. Who doesn’t love a cliffhanger?]

Panic Over Sushi

Should I? She’s smiling. Is that just because of the food? She did go on and on about how much she loves sushi. It’s fun I guess, but I’m not convinced it’s going to fill me up.

It’s not particularly romantic here. Is that a good thing? I wouldn’t be copying anyone else but maybe it’d look out of place. Just do it! Tonight’s been far less awkward than the first time, with that weird hug at the end.

Easy does it… slowly inch forward – no, that’s creepy. Just make it obvious, assertive. Here we go!

Why isn’t she…

She’s still smiling, straight at me. Has she seen? I glance down at it, then back to her, but her eyes don’t seem to have moved. Just turn it a bit – now it looks like I’m asking for money or have a twitch or something. Her eyes flickered then – she’s definitely seen it. Oh my god take it! I can’t retreat. Why won’t she…? Is it clean? It looks clean. Are hers? They seem to be – has she eaten with her hands? I haven’t, just chopsticks, which must be the worst invention ever.

What do I do? How long can I leave it there? It looks like some grotesque, fleshy spider, lying dead on its back. OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic OH MY GOD TAKE MY HAND! It doesn’t even mean anything, it’s just date courtesy, seriously!

“I uh…”

She looks expectant, embarrassed. Well it’s your bloody fault! My drink. Maybe I was just reaching for my drink. Still got half a pint. Man I need that. I’ll just have a drink and get over it. She half smiles, half winces. I finish my drink. I can’t live this down. Maybe I’ll let her split the bill. On to the next match then…

Tinder: The First Sparks of Romance

[I was going to use a whole host of tinder and fire puns and analogies here, but it seems this will be longer than one post, so I’ll keep a few in reserve!]

I’m eventually going to explain an important truth I came to realise about starting conversations with people, as well as how Tinder is like magnesium, which itself is used as tinder. #deep

For now, I’m going to tell you how I started using the infamous app. For those expecting erotic conquest tales, I should warn you that I was using it wrong…

Tinder has a reputation, as a friend of mine politely put it, for facilitating ‘overnight dates’. Women on the app put up with a near constant barrage of requests for hook-ups and nudes, and while some may well be looking for such instant gratification, many others use the app out of hope ‘there’ll be some nice guys’ among the masses of misogyny.

Plenty of both sex also just consider Tinder a game, and it was with this view I came to it – a friend showed me how it worked and the simple cycle of judging and swiping was addictive. This is how my process went: if they weren’t attractive, I said no straight away. Tinder gets a lot of stick for being shallow but you need to be attracted to someone and part of that is obviously their looks. Needn’t set too high a bar, but if you’re not going to fancy them even with the best personality in the world, there’s no point.

If they were attractive enough, I read their bio. Attractive girls with interesting bios (and, on occasion, super-hot girls without bios) received a yes, and everyone else was a no. It’s not hard to write a few interesting or funny sentences, and if it is hard (and you haven’t got the get out of jail free card of being absolutely stunning, thus giving you the benefit of the doubt, ‘maybe she just hasn’t had a chance to write anything yet’) then it’s not going to work. You may argue my supermodel leniency is flawed, because what if my perfect woman is there, just shy of the ‘any bio goes’ benchmark of cray hot-ness, and I miss the chance to explore her fantastic personality because her bio’s not great? Well, I reckon I will find my perfect woman so attractive that she would get a free pass, and her looks aren’t going to change (much!) from the photos I’m judging, whereas a poor bio doesn’t rule out her personality being the brilliant lovechild of Julian Barratt and Tina Fey.

It was this decision process that I enjoyed initially, being as selective as possible, while my mate who’d shown me the app happily swiped yes to everyone and asked them for nudes. Each to their own, I suppose. As for what happened when I actually matched with someone, tune in next week, or whenever I get round to writing that…