Every Sunday morning I go through the English papers with a croissant and a coffee. The experience feels less authentic these days - rolling my mouse leaves no opportunity to rub inky smudges on my cheek – but still it is an important ritual. Last Sunday, as I was following the links on The Times website, I fell across an article entitled “He’s Just Not That Into You: …Even Though He Says So”. The piece was about the game playing endemic in sexual relationships. The journalist’s argument was that modern women seem to believe that they must stick to certain rules if they want to attract potential suitors, and yet in practice such rules are idiotic, inane and inaccurate. Her theory was sound, of course; trying to second-guess a man on the basis of a text message is as pointless as using a sieve to carry water from a well. So why, as I read along nodding my head, did I have half an eye on my phone waiting for word, literally any word, from the Silky French One?
I rested on the final full stop and began to mull over my recent behavior. Do I waste whole days looking at my phone expectantly? Do I scrutinize messages for clues and place emphasis on small gestures (e.g. Is there a written bisous or an x? Is ☺ a friendly brush off or a more subtle way to be flirty?)? Do I purposefully delay replying? When he doesn't respond at once do I freak out and assume he's not interested? Worryingly, for each question I could answer in the affirmative. I was starting to feel uncomfortable: this had all the hallmarks of OCD. It is almost exactly one year ago to the day that I last went through something similar. Ironically, I was just starting to get my obsessive compulsiveness under control when the boy in question dumped me unceremoniously, without even so much as a text.
Presently, I am awaiting messages from the Silky One with the same rabid, mouth frothing as I did when I first started dating the “man who never dumped me”. I’ve tuned my ear to pick up the chime of an incoming SMS so that even if my phone is hiding in the bottom of a bag or under the duvet cover I’m able to jump to attention. On Saturday, I followed my sensitive hearing to a coat in my closet. I assumed that it was a message from Orange France; they update me on my credit status around twelve times a day. It’s very considerate of them; most weeks, they are the only ones bothering to get in touch. ‘Coucou Hannah! Comment vas-tu?!’ Orange France was never this friendly. I registered the date and time: 9pm on Saturday. The most social night at the most social hour and the Silky One had thought to enquire into my wellbeing. This had to be a good sign. I emailed my friend. She has a Blackberry. She confirmed that it was, indeed, good. When, my obsessive behaviour spirals out of control this is the girl who tells me to get a grip. If SHE was saying that it was a good sign then it was a GOOD sign. I replied to him straight away. According to Orange, I had until midnight to utilize my remaining 89 cents; sod looking keen, I was working to a deadline.
An hour passed, no reply. To prove that I wasn’t hanging out for him, I recklessly sent half a dozen text messages to my friends in the UK. The OF Control Centre went into overdrive: Attention! Votre credit de 0.80 EUR; Attention! Votre credit de 0.62 EUR; Attention! Votre credit de 0.50 EUR. I imagined the kind of fascist regime Orange France would implement if they were running the country. At eleven thirty, half way through an episode of GREY'S ANATOMY, I finally received more from the Silky One. He said that he was away skiing until tomorrow. He suggested that he test me on my argot vocabulary when he returned. GOOD SIGN. There were a couple of punctuation wobbles. Was he drunk? Even better.
By Sunday lunchtime, having fully digested the article, I had resolved to turn over a new leaf. There would be no more afternoons messaging the Silky One with my little ward (‘Yes send him an SMS,’ she advised last week, ‘and say “I love you”'). There would be no more psychoanalysis sessions with my best friend in Australia (‘If I want to text a guy then I just do. I can’t be bothered with all these stupid rules. What a waste of energy. Text him. If he’s not interested then there are plenty more tasty men out there.’). There would be no more research into the textual behaviour of the Gallic male (attempting to establish a few facts at a dinner party recently, I enquired into whether it was good if a boy signed off with a bisous and the woman next to me said I shouldn’t get excited. I wasn’t sure what was more annoying: that his bisous wasn’t a declaration of love or that I was hinging my future happiness on one word at the end of a message).
So, OCD put away with the lid firmly screwed back on, I tucked myself into bed. My phone tinkled. An invitation from the Silky One: dinner at his on Tuesday. There, you see? Sometimes all you need is a little patience.