February 2017. Despite promising myself to take a break from online dating apps come the New Year, here I was, once again, risking it for the biscuit (the biscuit is a metaphor for “love” by the way, not a Tim Tam, unfortunately). No more than six weeks into 2017, I was downloading a new online dating app – Bumble. And before I knew it, I had a thirty-year-old Kiwi lawyer popping my Bumble date cherry. Dark hair. Green eyes, the greenest eyes I ever did see, olive skin. A lawyer from the Eastern suburbs of Sydney. He was very funny and super intelligent, yet a little awkward and somewhat dorky. And as it turned out, for the months of February and March, I liked funny, intelligent, humorous and dorky. He was completely unaware of his good looks. And so after a few dates in, I actually began questioning my move to Melbourne. Will this guy be the guy to change my mind about leaving Sydney? Until… Well, let me start from the first date. Please, meet… AIDEN.
THE FIRST DATE
I don’t know about you, but I tend to schedule a first date of the Tinder and Bumble variety on a weeknight. Sure, I may have zero plans for the weekend ahead. But, one: I’m not going to let them know I have zero plans for the weekend ahead. I’m like, super busy, and have lots of friends to see. And I have, like, a very busy schedule. And two: I would prefer to keep weekends date free so I can either catch up with my single girlfriends or merely enjoy a fake tan/makeup/high heel/blow-dry free weekend, more so the latter, of course.
So, on a balmy Wednesday night, in a wine bar in Darlinghurst, I meet Aiden for the first time. The barmen are rocking perfectly curled moustaches, patterned bow ties, and navy suspenders. The tables are filled with people sipping on cocktails, their faces lit merely by candlelight. And then, there are Aiden and I. Complete strangers. Sitting adjacent to one another. Two singles who have come together as a result of our thumbs swiping right. A New Year and another online date. Will he be one to remember? Or will he be forgotten as soon as I leave the bar?
The bar is softly lit. In fact, it is so softly lit that I can hardly see the guy. I’ve never been to this bar nor did I choose it. So, as he’s chatting away about traveling and what have you, I’m trying to obtain a clearer image of this guy. Did he choose this bar specifically to hide his identity? Does he have all of his teeth? Oh man, it’s really dark in here. Now, I must admit, after our first date, I was neither here nor there about Aiden.
The date was fine. It wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t terrible. He was a nice, normal guy with his head screwed on. So, he is pretty much a rare diamond. He walks me the short distance back to my car, gives me a very soft hug, perhaps even a friendly pat on the back, says, “Goodnight”, before turning away to walk down the hill into the darkness. Yes, he is very mysterious. Mysterious as in after two hours with the guy, I still have no real idea of what he looks like. On the drive home, I begin to question my dating abilities. I came to the conclusion that Aiden is just not that into me. His departure speaks volumes. Oh well, onwards and upwards! I arrive home and check my phone. One new message. Aiden: “I had a great time, I’d like to see you again.”
Well, clearly, I have no idea.
THE SECOND DATE
Aiden takes the initiative to book dinner at a restaurant on my side of the bridge. I like. We down a bottle of red and share tapas for over three hours. The difference this time is, I can actually see what he looks like. Dressed in a crisp white button up and blue chinos, the guy looks good. Well, he looks like Paul Rudd. Seriously, he looks a lot like Paul Rudd. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Paul Rudd. In fact, now with a clearer visual, Aiden reminds me of Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man mixed with a little Chris O’Dowd in Bridesmaids. Or does he? Maybe it’s the wine? No, he definitely looks like Paul Rudd. His mannerisms. The way he speaks. His stumbling sentences every now and then. His dorky comments, that are now actually really cute. And so now, with this clearer visual, while I enjoy my grilled chicken, I can’t help but daydream, so, this is what it would be like to be on a date with Paul Rudd and Chris O’Dowd. Hello, Hollywood. What’s that? More red? Well, yes, I’d love some. Thank you, Paul O’Dowd.
Back to reality. Get a grip. It didn’t take long for me to realise that Aiden is actually really lovely. Very intelligent. Super polite. And he has his priorities in check. And he’s funny! We spend three hours chatting over wine and good food before heading to a scenic harbour spot. Now, single gentlemen, hot tip? If you want to go from zero to hero, put a little Harbour Bridge, city lights, stargazing into your date night and you’ve got yourself some fireworks. While admiring the all the beauty Sydney has to offer come nightfall, Aiden leaned in and kissed me.
And then it started to pour with rain. Talk about timing. We ran back to the car, drenched. If you ever wanted to know if Paul Rudd would have been a better fit for the Notebook… Actually, you know the answer to that. Me, clearly being no Rachel McAdams, I had to bail. Quick smart. My hair started to curl and frizz at lightning speed. I was going from hero to zero at an alarming rate, all thanks to genetics. Good on ya, Mum. The truth was out: My hair isn’t naturally silky and wavy. It’s an afro in disguise. I’ve done my dash. I arrive home and check my phone. One new message. Aiden: “I had a great time, I’d like to see you again.”
Well, clearly, I have no idea.
THE THIRD DATE
On a rainy, overly humid, Friday evening, Aiden organises our third date. Humidity – you suck. My hair is really struggling. Thank the Lord, Aiden has opted for an indoor date – Japanese at a popular restaurant on the city’s east side followed by the movies, in which the tickets are inclusive of ice-cream and wine. Waiting for my date, I protect my disguised afro the best I can by standing under the cover of a shop front.
He arrives. He comes carrying an oversized umbrella. Good job. Question: have you ever been to the movies tipsy before? I hadn’t either. It’s really quite difficult to stay awake, particularly after a long working week, when you’re already a few wines down. And then you’re provided with another glass by the ticket concierge. If you ask me, red wine and cinemas don’t mix. My feet craved a dancefloor, not a cinema chair/foot rest.
But then he grabs my hand. I wake up. Wide awake. Just a rainy Friday night at the movies, like normal couples in relationships do. I tune out of the movie to admire his fingers interlocked with mine. It feels nice, yet so unfamiliar. A Friday night on a dance floor suddenly didn’t sound so appealing.
Picnic? He agrees! One of my all-time favourite past-times. Picnics. Wine. Cheese. Prosciutto. Grapes. Sunshine. Music. Harbour views. It does not get much better than that. And so, when Aiden agreed to enjoy a Saturday afternoon at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, I was pretty excited. Come early evening, two cheese wheels down and two bottles of wine later, the park rangers begin to close the gates on the gardens for the day. And so, Aiden and I take the party to the city-view balcony of his apartment. Nine, ten hours later, we are still not lost for words. Awkward silences are inexistent. And it is so comfortable. It’s easy. I know that now is not the time to mention anything about a potential move to another city. Potential being the operative word.
The morning after. I feel I should leave early. I’ve overstayed my welcome. Isn’t that the way it usually goes? It’s Sunday. It’s been close to twenty-four hours in my company. He probably wants a quiet, chilled out Sunday before another busy working week. Sorry? Breakfast?
So, clearly, I still have no idea. Aiden shouts me breakfast. Just what I need. Carbs. Eggs. Coffee. Sunshine. As I sit there in the sunshine, slicing my smashed avocado into lady-like bite-sized pieces, I could easily down this is one minute flat, I realise that this is the first time we’ve really had a sober conversation. In the morning. In broad daylight. Anyway, I need more sleep. I return to his apartment to collect my belongings. Huh? Beach?
So, clearly, I have absolutely no idea how to read men. Aiden invites me to a very secluded beach where he provides me with a beach towel. He tells me I can nap. He’ll read. I just so happen to have my bikini with me. After three hours of napping and swimming, I return to his apartment once again to collect my belongings. Sorry? Wine?
As the sun begins to set on a stunning Sunday afternoon, Aiden and I clinked our glasses to a ‘very good weekend’ while overlooking city views from the balcony of his apartment.
THE TURNING POINT
Aiden and I had five dates in four weeks. I would’ve liked for it to be more. I was flat out with Uni deadlines. I was working long hours during the week and my weekends were filled with wedding makeup bookings. I had also pre-booked a long weekend away to the Sunshine Coast, so I was jamming work and studies into a small-time frame. For Aiden, work was demanding, as it always is. He had booked a trip back home to New Zealand the weekend after my Queensland getaway and had family visiting the weekend after. Time was not on our side. The few times we met following our fifth date were on weeknights, our only availability. After long working days, it seemed neither of us had the energy to leave the comfort of the couch nor stay up too late. Aiden, admittedly, lacked the effort to see me. To put it bluntly, it went from fab to drab literally overnight. And despite being ridiculously flat out with personal commitments, I ensured I blocked out time whenever I could to drive the one hour, to the other side of the city, to see him. He said he was ‘appreciative’ and recognised I made more effort to meet up than he actually did.
NO BOOZE, I SNOOZE
I liked Aiden. Actually, I really liked Aiden. He really is one of the good guys. Actually, I can sum him up in three words: he means well. We are just very different. He’s a homebody. I’m not one to waste a beautiful day on the couch. He’s an introvert. I’m clearly an extrovert. He refuses to watch mainstream television channels featuring Karl Stefanovic for news. SBS is his channel of choice. All day. Every day. He likes to walk around his apartment naked. Like completely naked. I prefer to wear fabric on my private areas before they touch communal pieces of furniture, such as armrests on the couch. He’s never seen I Love You, Man, or any other Paul Rudd film. I love Paul Rudd. He hates olives. He likes calling me “bro” in his Kiwi accent. I don’t like it so much. And well, the sober sex, it wasn’t that great. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t going to work. After a few sober catch ups, I came to the realisation:
Aiden and I didn’t click… unless alcohol was involved.
ONE MONTH LATER… I BOOZE
By the time we caught up again, it is a month later. We texted a few times over the month, but neither of us suggested to meet. However, during a night out, I apparently text Aiden my location #facepalm Before I knew it, he’s shouting me my next drink at the bar. A few more wines down and I’m in a cab heading back to his apartment. Sober Simone slaps drunk Simone. And so, it starts again. I leave in the morning before he completely wakes. He seems fine with that, bidding me farewell from the comfort of his bed without even a turn of the head.
I close his front door and head down the lift. I feel terrible, and not just from the hangover. It’s so bright. What time even is it?
Fuck. My watch.
OPERATION WATCH, PART 1
I cannot leave the house without my watch. I feel like I’m naked. And clearly, I was just that – naked – when I took off my watch, flinging it, somehow, under Aiden’s bed one week earlier. Let’s not persist on that point. I need it back. Aiden suggests we catch up properly. For dinner. Dinner? I guess I can do dinner. We need to talk about us properly. In person is the adult thing to do. It’s not like we ended badly. Well, we haven’t actually ‘ended’ because we were never officially together. I do feel guilty. What Aiden doesn’t know is that I am now set on Melbourne. I had mentioned it being a possibility earlier on, but it wasn’t set in stone. However, during the month we spent apart, keeping up with our own busy lives, I’ve decided to go. I need the change. In fact, I’ve already quit my job.
I arrive at Aiden’s apartment. He answers the door. Naked. He’s naked. Completely naked. Why are you naked? Why are you naked? Apparently, I’m early. But how would I know? I’ve annoyingly misplaced my watch. Now, where’s that damn watch?
While Aiden is sitting on the edge of his bed, tying his laces using the bunny ears method, I make conversation about a girlfriend of mine, who has been dating a guy from a dating app for a few weeks. The story goes something along the lines of, “Ohhh, she’s wondering when they’ll be official. And I’m like, calm your farm, darl. It’s been, like, three weeks. And she says…” Aiden interjects. He stands up, now dressed from head to toe, thank goodness, looks at me and says, “Well, I consider us boyfriend and girlfriend.”
I have three words for you: Deer. In. Headlights.
OPERATION WATCH, PART 2
Sorry? What the hell? What do you mean? No, really, what the hell? I’m not so sure about that. I’m pretty damn sure. I never hear from you. You have literally texted me three times in the last month. I never see you. The last time I saw you, I was drunk and I left before you even opened your eyes, which you clearly didn’t give a shit about. I’m so confused. I’m so fucking confused. I’m sorry. I actually just came for my watch. I think we should talk about everything. Let’s get this damn dinner over and done with. I think we have a bit to talk about. I’m moving to Melbourne. Let’s go. There better be wine.
He closes his front door and we head down the lift. Yeah, it’s awkward AF. We stand shoulder to shoulder, waiting for the doors to the jail cell lift to open. I break the awkward silence. Our very first awkward silence, “So, what time is dinner?” What time even is it?
Fuck. My watch.