Often, when you’re single, friends, family members and women you’ve just met down the pub will ask about your romantic preferences – either because they’re tedious busybodies or (not that these two things are mutually exclusive) because they’re hatching a misguided matchmaking plan; a plan they imagine will culminate in you having sexual intercourse with an unattractive acquaintance and thanking them for it.
You’ll have to forgive these people. They have carved depressing conformist lives for themselves. Beige day-wear. Commuting in order to work 9-5 in an office or a school or a factory. Mortgages. All inclusive holidays. Monthly donations to Greenpeace. A baby conceived within a loving union during a sustained period of financial and emotional stability. A pasty overweight lover who will, sooner or later, leave them or die – at which point they’ll feel so bereft that they’ll join Plenty of Fish and find an identikit replacement.
They’ll want to know how you feel about height (taller than me), age (28-35), sex (male), race (whatevs man, I’m easy), eye colour (see previous), musculature (ripped), penis size (large, duh) and musical genre (whatevs man, I’m easy*). They’ll ask about dream first dates (not bothered, so long as there’s whisky), your promiscuity (not that easy), feelings on marriage (arrraaaghhhhh! Ffs! ARGH! etc.), babies (fat ones, please) and pets (I want a dog. Now). What they will fail to ask – because they are too vapid and drunk on cheap white wine and conservative popular culture to realise its importance – is where you stand on voices.
Voices are where it’s at, romance wise.
I just love me a voice. Particularly if its accent is regional. (So long as that region is not located in the West Midlands).
Yes, there’s that old proverb about the eyes being the window to the soul, and, while I agree that eyes are most pretty – even on psychopaths – I also know that, like all proverbs, the eye one is, frankly, bollocks.
The voice is the window to the soul.
Voice is the sound that breath makes when you give it personality. Which makes the voice the most pretty of all the bodily things – even though you can’t see it.
When, through the cracks in my memory, I recall boyfriends and one-night-stands and intense, all-consuming crushes of old, voices are what remain. Faces and races and eyes and musculature and penis size and musical tastes blur into an indistinguishable haze – which is why, when an ex-lover appears in my dreams, I won’t recognise him until he speaks.
Because of my ardour for vocal contact, modern methods of flirtation are mostly disappointing. Twenty-first century flirtation consists, primarily (at least for the under 30s – a group of which I am still, just about, representative), of text-based communications. Received on phones and apps and social networking forums and, occasionally, via email.
Endless disembodied words that, without sound and only rarely with alliteration or metaphor to animate them, sit dead on the screen like corpses.
How am I supposed to fall in love if I don’t know how his breath catches, lightly, at the back of his throat, right before he laughs? If those delicious lispy ‘s’s’ that happen when he pluralises stay silent – while the redundant apostrophes and exclamation marks he peppers throughout his informal correspondence sit on the page, stark and all too visible? How can I be sexually attracted to a person when it takes him more than three hours to reply to my witty, flattering text message with a witty, flattering comeback? When I can’t even hear him say my name?
Text – when typed and sent digitally for the purposes of intimate one-to-one communication (as opposed to the text one finds in books or on blogs or in handwritten in love-notes, which I am still down with) – is dull and impersonal. Yet, it can offer flashes of fulfillment and arousal. It’s like when crazy Americans have affairs in Second Life – in that, while it’s titillating and exciting and occasionally wont to cause swarms of metaphorical butterflies to beat their wings in your stomach, it’s not really real.
It is just the illusion of intimacy, a fantasy of potential that keeps you from finding the real thing.
You can tell precisely nothing from a textual exchange. It is very easy to lie and deceive and evade in this medium. To feign enthusiasm or indifference. To casually disregard promises that didn’t mean anything anyway because they were only written down.
I want to return to a world where he calls you to arrange the first date. Or one where you can call him without it appearing as though you’re a total nutcase. A world where you hear the nerves in that half-second before he says ‘hello’ and relax, because you know that he isn’t fucking about.
Texting is for vapid, moronic soulless clones who formulate the appearance of personality using old sitcom scripts and emoticons. Who fashion ambiguous displays of intimacy by tapping the ‘x’ button.
This is not what I want from a lover.
I want a phone call. I want a night out with a real human who’ll speak words to me, touch my bare leg under the table and occasionally pay for dinner. I want to feel his breath in my ear, whispering promises that he’ll have to keep.
But this is 2013. And that is too much to ask.
Which might be why I’m single.
But then again, who knows?
*Not heavy metal though. Or Techno.
*image by adamr at freedigitalphotos.net