You know those first few properly destructive crushes you have as a teenager — the ones where you understand precisely why it’s called a crush, because it hurts so much to be around them? The ones that make you hilariously unsubtle in your motions? Where you find every opportunity to be around them, and brush a little too close to them in passing and feel like you’ve successfully pulled off a Grown-Up Flirting Move when really all you’ve just done is rubbed your chest up in their business and received a slightly perplexed look in return?
Yeah. I had one of those. His name was Kurt. He was the friend of a friend, and two years older than me. He had floppy hair and high cheekbones and a Welsh accent that shouldn’t have been sexy but was. It was painfully obvious to everyone around me that I fancied this boy, not least to him. We made out, twice, on two separate occasions several months apart, and then the next day I made a joke about when he was going to ask me out.
“Oh, I’m not… sorry” was his response, and then we spent the next week texting each other anyway. He said things like “shouldn’t you be asleep and dreaming of me?” when we were chatting at 2am, which made it even harder to get over him. But he had always acted a little like he could have any girl he wanted, and he didn’t want me. Then one day he didn’t text me back, and I left it at that.
That was the last time I spoke to him.
So imagine my surprise: it was a fairly normal day on OkCupid. I had received three single-word missives which I had ignored and was idly browsing the profile of a dude who had a whopping 96% enemy score with me. I had messages going with an Oxford postgraduate student, and was exchanging detailed essays with another guy re. tactics in Fire Emblem Awakening, when I received a notification. My profile had just had a new visitor.
At first I couldn’t believe it. But I stared at the photo, and lo: it was definitely Kurt, complete with his Facebook profile picture and dietry preference. He is still to this day the only male vegan I have ever met. Staring at his picture brought back all those embarrassing giggly feelings like I was wandering around in a haze of nitrous oxide, so I thought it prudent to click onto his profile. You know. To investigate.
OkCupid is great in a lot of ways, as people freely admit to personal or just plain bizarre things. A cursory glance over his profile revealed a few interesting titbits: Kurt liked quinoa and fountain pens. He listed his favourite music as “rock”. He claimed to spend a typical Friday evening working out (which surprised me, as he’d hardly been the epitome of buff when my hand was up his shirt). In every photo his hair was a different colour, but he was wearing the same necklace. He had a lot of photos; only two or three were flattering.
I started constructing a narrative in my head. This was the boy I’d lusted after for a year and a half, laid bare by his own admissions on a website, so what would he have been like to actually date? I scrolled onto his Questions tab, clicked to sort it by the things I cared about, and looked over his answers. He likes smart people! He doesn’t think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved! He… has no problem with racist jokes. Oh.
What about the stuff he cared about? Most important to him was to aparently date a non-smoker. Oh, Kurt, I’ve never smoked in my life, I thought. And we’re both liberal athiests! The science insisted we were near-on perfect for each other, and you can’t argue with science.
That said, I could see things which could cause issues. The fractures which take months to appear in a standard relationship were already coming to the surface. He wasn’t down with the fact I only brush my teeth once a day. He didn’t like my abject hatred of kids. And then, I found the dealbreaker: “Politics are boring or personal”.
I could see it now, our imaginary break-up conversation, held over soy lattes. “I just don’t understand why you have to make such a big deal out of everything,” he’d say, not meeting my eye. “Out of EVERYTHING?” I would fume. “This is a case about the future of our country! Worse, it’s about principles — so of COURSE I care that attempted reform of the House of Lords has been dropped from the manifesto of the Green Party!” He would sigh and shake his head and mutter something about finding it boring, and that would be the last straw.
“Well, that’s it! I’ve had enough of you mocking my politics. It’s over, Kurt!” I would announce dramatically, picking up my bag and storming out. Confused patrons would look on, and he would call after me to wait. I’d stop. “Oh, by the way…”
“Yes?” he’d say tentatively. We could still make this work, so long as I started flossing regularly. I’d turn around, smile into his face, watch the light of optimism shining in his dark brown eyes.
“Soy milk sucks, Kurt. It SUCKS!” Those would be my final words to him, and I would skip off down the street feeing giddy and free, and soon find a new boo who would commiserate with me over the sorry state of abortion laws in North Dakota.
Despite the cheerful pink “91%” hovering by his name, I was suddenly quite glad that nothing had come of my trysts with Kurt. He, I thought, was like his perfectly coiffed hair: all style, and no lasting moral ideals.
But I couldn’t leave his profile without making a comment. I stared at the empty white box at the top and the website’s plea to “send him a nice message”, wondering how best to express all these thoughts about alternate realities and what could have been and the fact his fourth picture made me, even now, feel a little weak at the knees. Eventually, it came to me, and I sent him a single, honest line about my present feelings.
“I just wanted you to know that I’m laughing so hard right now.”