Life outside the online bubble is my favourite place. It terms of meeting men and sexual encounters, it’s my theatre of operation, the place I’ve grown up, in more ways than one. “But what do you do?” they ask me. What they want to know is how do you catch a man’s eye and tell him, silently, that he should just take you home because he’s set the fuel alight and you want him to pour it on.
Do, doesn’t really describe it. You don’t do. You just are. Or you’re not. You can’t learn it from a book you bought on Amazon and it’s nothing to do with stockings and heels. It’s about play and adventure and yes, sex, but not only. You have to abandon yourself to it. Once, while working in Fleet Street, I’d been standing in a shop at lunchtime, chatting to the owner in my usual highly animated way. There was a man, younger than me, watching me with intent. I left and he followed me down the street. “Sorry, I have to get back to work,” I said. “You have such a gorgeous aura,” he told me. He asked where I worked. I gave him the company name and my first name.
Three hours later the most outrageous flowers arrive at my desk, wild, untamed blooms, straight from Covent Garden market. “And you haven’t even slept with him, how amazing,” remarked a colleague.
I called to thank him, and suggested lunch. He asked when. “Tonight,” I replied. At my place.” The bonus was that he was a whizz: penetrative orgasm, first time. Those men are gold. It was a moment. We had a few more.
This week, I was contemplating how Tinder was beginning to resemble a ravaged, boutique sale rack, with only the large sizes and that wretched, sequinned jumper that always seems to turn up at every sale. At one point, I wondered if I had stumbled on the Wormwood Scrubs alumni publication. It was all very low rent. Yesterday, life took a welcome turn when a man, dressed in an ensemble of pastel top, jeans and trainers which loudly whispered, ‘expensive, casual and fun to fuck’, almost bumped into me. We started talking and within five minutes we were on the subject of sex. “Real sex, you know, not married sex.” I assured him I knew the difference between sex borne out of desire, and sex borne out of emotional familiarity and shared bills. He said he was sure I did, and pointed out to me how fit I looked. And then I realised he was chatting me up. I’d taken that long to figure out this wasn’t just another conversation about everything, and nothing. That’s what happens when you spend time with the digital middle man. You lose your sixth sense.
The discussion took on a higher intensity after that. I was getting warm in my lycra, and I had a sprinting session in the park. I may have a session with him, next week. Regardless, the encounter itself was enough to remind me of how a woman should feel – frisky, musky, girlish, wanted – when she talks to a man. And you don’t get that from Tinder.