Those of you who follow Lucy on Twitter may remember a handful of recent tweets about a man who came to be known as Mr No-Relationship.
This is his story.
Before you get started, you should probably read last week’s post, Lucy Goes To Africa. It explains how, after deciding she was monumentally fucking fed up with the daily grind of her single life, Lucy accepted an opportunity to go and work in Kenya for three months. So she packed a suitcase, boarded a plane, and we now find her alone in a strange city, needing to make friends.
One way to achieve this as quickly and efficiently as possible, she decides, is to go on Tinder. She can use the app not to seek out guys she might fancy, but to find people who might be fun to hang out with, and who can show her round and introduce her to their friends. And while it might be a bonus if they also happen to be shaggable, Lucy’s not really looking for that sort of thing. She’s only here for a short time, so it’s best to avoid any drama.
So she rewords her profile to explain that she’s new in town and is looking for friendship, and starts swiping.
And after just a few swipes she matches with Bradley.
Bradley is 36, and from Australia. In the real world Lucy would absolutely not have swiped right on his profile, principally because it simply says ‘Ask and you shall find out’ which is fucking lazy and guys like that deserve to go straight in the bin. What’s more, she doesn’t fancy his photos: although he’s slim and fit-looking, he’s not especially handsome, he doesn’t look terribly tall, his skin is pitted and weatherbeaten, and his teeth have a suspicious yellow tinge that strongly suggests he may be a smoker. What’s more, in two of his photos he’s straddling large motorbikes, which implies he’s probably a bit of a laddish petrolhead. So all in all, not her type in the slightest, but here in Africa none of this matters because she’s just looking for a friend, and he’s got a friendly smile, so she swipes right to see what will happen.
What happens, of course, is that they match, and shortly afterwards, Brad messages her.
Admittedly, this chat is hardly going to set the world on fire, and his punctuation could use some work, but again Lucy reminds herself that she’s not looking for a life partner, just someone to hang out with. As long as he’s nice enough to have a drink with, that’s all that matters. And he’s chatty and responds promptly to messages, plus he’s based in the same area, which is terribly convenient. So really, what does she have to lose?
They chat for a while about the city, and about the terrible weather (Nairobi is currently enjoying a torrential downpour which has flooded the streets and brought the city to a standstill), and Lucy tells him about her terrifying commute to work on the back of a motorcycle taxi, locally known as a boda boda. And since Brad seems to be interested and responsive, she hands over her number and suggests they switch to WhatsApp, so she doesn’t have to waste any more time making excruciating typos from trying to write on her phone using just her two fat thumbs.
Moments later, a message lands in her inbox. No messing about with this one, she thinks. This is good!
It’s Friday afternoon, and Brad asks her what her plans are for the evening. Lucy tells him that it will be her first night out since arriving in Nairobi: her colleague Emma is going to a bar in the city centre with some of her friends and has invited Lucy to join them.
In a miraculous coincidence, the bar that Bradley is going to that evening is just across the street from the one Lucy will be in. If she wasn’t entirely convinced about meeting him before, she really has no choice now. Fate and convenience positively demand it!
Lucy’s at home, where she’s been ready for half an hour, wearing one of the only two dresses she’s brought with her to Africa (a blue polka-dot t-shirt dress from Boden) and pair of gold sandals. She’s waiting for a text from Emma to let her know when she’s on her way: Lucy doesn’t want to leave too early and find herself sitting like a total mateless loser in the bar waiting for everyone to show up. But Emma’s gone silent, and Lucy’s starting to worry that if the rain and the traffic are as bad as she’s heard, she may not be able to get a taxi at all.
So in a moment of bravery brought on by slight anxiety and FOMO, it occurs to her that if Bradley’s workplace is in the same area as her house, and if they are heading in the same direction, it might be sensible for them to share a cab…
This shit just got alarmingly real. A man of whose existence she was entirely unaware only a few hours ago has just agreed to pick her up from her house and give her a lift into town. This breaks just about every rule in the book. She’s never met the guy, she knows almost nothing about him: he may be a weirdo or a psycho or a Trump supporter, and yet she’s about to get into a car with him?!
But somehow, here in Africa, it doesn’t seem to matter. Maybe it’s that same holiday mentality that makes you ride motorbikes in Thailand without a helmet even when the only thing you’ve ever previously driven is a Ford Fiesta, or that makes you happily tuck into local delicacies from roadside stalls even though it’s highly likely you’ll spend the next two days locked in the bathroom with your insides falling out. Or maybe it’s just that Lucy feels freer out here, living life, taking risks, carpe-ing the fuck out of the diem. Whatever it is, she barely gives the issue a moment’s thought. Instead, she sends him a Google pin of her exact location, and, seconds later, he sends his back.
Lucy rarely ‘lols’ when alone – in fact, she thinks people who use the term ‘lol’ sound like cretins. But when Bradley’s pin lands in her inbox, she can’t help it: an actual lol escapes before she can control herself. It turns out his office is just round the corner. Fate, or the stars, or whatever it is, is taking no chances now: it’s determined that these two should meet, and very soon.
Is she ready? That’s a question! Yes, she’s been dressed for over half an hour, but is she ready to take a leap of faith, to put herself into the hands of an unknown man and have her first ever Tinder date in the back of a taxi?
She guesses she’s as ready as she’ll ever be, and it’s too late to back out now. Anyway, she needs that lift, and practical need trumps anxiety every time.
Lucy’s excited and nervous now. A date in the back of an Uber is certainly a first! It feels like a huge risk: in heavy traffic it will probably take a good hour to get into the city centre, which is a fuck of a long time to be stuck in a car with someone if they turn out to be a creep or mind-numbingly dull. She’ll need something to take away any potential pain…
This is genius, she thinks. Stopping for beers will definitely help to lubricate the wheels of this spontaneous date. And the house bottle opener is one of those ones with a corkscrew on the other end, so if Brad does turn out to be a creep (or worse), she will have a handy weapon with which to help him see the error of his ways.
He’s nearly here. Lucy’s heart is racing as she checks her hair and makeup and puts on a slick of lipstick. She’s more nervous than she’s ever been for a first date before – but also more excited. Something about all of this has lit her up like the Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Eve: she’s in fucking Africa, she’s only been here a few days, and already life has taken on a new dimension, a new speed. Adventures happen when you take risks, when you step outside your comfort zone, and here in Africa Lucy feels like she’s already becoming a different person: less anxious, more open-minded, more willing to take chances, less over-thinky (ok, maybe not the last one, that’s probably never gonna change).
Maybe other things are about to change as well.
To find out what happened next, go to Part 2 – Uber.