Chemistry is a funny thing. Invisible, unpredictable and more powerful than Obama, when it's there it's instant; you look up and feel this stranger's eyes searing through your body and blistering your insides.
It moves between the two of you like heat waves, your cheeks burn up… what the fuck, you only popped out for melon chunks and Veet, and now here you are, locked in an eye ride with some young lad at the tills, being pulled towards him like a retractable hoover chord.
You look away, down at your shoes, and regret not wearing your thigh-high boots for the trip out. You throw him one more electric gaze before falling back onto the street, raging that this isn't some rolling, gamey, metropolis like New York where it's totally acceptable to breeze up to a total stranger, acknowledge the invisible chord of chemistry and say something honest, raw and urban like "Can't help but notice we were havin' an eye ride there, would you fancy joining me in the Statue of Liberty for three Appletinis and some over the bra action?"
But this is Ireland. We might have enough chemistry and spark to heat the Atlantic, but unless we've met in a bar, no-one's asking anyone out on a whim. Even then our mingling abilities can be… confused.
Personally, I've always been a big fan of spotting someone I'm attracted to in a nightspot and then immediately twisting my bar stool to face the exact opposite direction so they can't see my face or eyes, ensuring no physical contact can be made by them without a slight touch of clairvoyance. This is to make sure he understands his existence means nothing to me, NOTHING!
He is but one of a trillion tiny irrelevant frog spawns flailing around on the floor of whatever shithole I'm drinking in that weekend and I couldn't give a rat's ass about him or all the potential children his suspiciously fertile face could provide me with. Then after an evening of him mostly living his life and only momentarily wondering why that bird over there is sitting facing the wall, and me believing I'm involved in (and nailing) the biggest game of cat and mouse since Fievel's iconic pier scene in An American Tail, I'll usually spit something like "frigid bastard" at him as I'm on my way out just so he knows to feel foolish for missing out on what I believed to be a very obvious and golden opportunity to win my heart. I call it 'Romancing the Stone', my friends call it, 'being a wanker'. Tomayto tomato, whatevs.
Instead, we'd rather download dating apps and flirt with our phones. Poke me, prod me, swipe me. We're lured in with a shiny snap that's all pouting, dogs and mutual interests. Of course you've got mutual interests, it's Ireland you gobshite, we only have four to choose from!
"Oh look! This dream boat hates Bono and loves getting shitfaced at the weekend, THAT'S MAAAAAAAD!? They might as well have SOULMATE written in Tayto across the bonnet of their Honda Civic. He's the one! IT'S HAPPENING GIRLS!!!! IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING!!!"
But then this happens instead. "He didn't know what a fucking bagel was. Like, a bagel!? What sort of social mutant doesn't know what a bagel is?" My pal 'Grenadine' had left to meet 'Arnold' less than 70 minutes ago, and was already back on the couch, pulling her fleeced pyjamas on over her tights. She was clearly pissed off, and who could blame her?
It wasn't the bagel itself, she explained, it was what it meant. The man clearly didn't brunch, or watch Seinfeld, so you'd have to wonder what the hell he did get up to in his free time? Crime probably. Burglary, tax evasion, something sinister that kept him out of coffee shops between the hours of 9AM and 3PM every single day.
No doubt there was a woman somewhere right now, staring blankly at a deli worker as they crammed a load of pulled pork into what she believed to be a giant pillowed polo mint, and if there is any justice in the world these two will meet. But for now we both concluded he was quite obviously not the man for her and turned back to Cake Boss, chewing our protein balls in silence.
Chemistry is bat shit crazy. You never know when it's going to come up and sock you in the face. Some of my most 'charged' encounters have been with lads that on a smartphone I would have virtually swiped off to oblivion. Why have I forgotten this? What if the lad who looks like a jaundiced Quasimodo is actually the one with the power to send shock waves through your body and zings through your soul?
What if, in person, the man known locally as 'No Oil Painting Olly' would send you into a gut-wrenching tail spin and off out checking your local phone mast to see has a badger impaled himself on it, obstructing all your incoming communication except the texts from your mother asking you who in God's NAME taught you how to stack a dishwasher. But all this brain bubbling, will it, won't it, head melt is forever lost to you because you're too busy online, fishing through chemistry vacuums and swiping right on some lad who looks like he swallowed the Michelin man.
I've been a victim myself, blinded by snappy Ray Bans and sexy smirks. I'm a divil for a bitta brazen. I matched with a man recently, we'll call him 'Pritchard'. I was lured in by the glint in his eye, to me this glint said 'edge', jokes, cheek. It turns out it was a cortical cataract. I shit you not. Now, I've nothing against cataracts per se, but on meeting, we'd about as much sexual chemistry as a bran flake. Obviously I'm Irish, so I threw some gin at the issue and wore the face off him anyway, cos I don't want the night to be a total waste of time.
In the cab home I dreamt up a new, chemistry friendly dating service similar to a drive thru. People of similar proclivities are lined up, and you drive past them, holding an extendable magnet out the car window. The first one to snap on to the end of said magnet is your man, you drive with him to the exit where you release him into a recyclable shopping bag and then you take him for tapas where you feed him potatas bravas and marvel as the lights flicker every time you touch.
I realise I'm ahead of my time, and in the absence of extendable man magnets (JML take note) I need another solution so I've decided to delete all of my love apps and I'm off out into the real world in the pursuit of pure, unadulterated chemistry.
Similar to Columbus but without the ship, the preconceived notions, the racism etc. My plan is to dispose of the bar stool, lock eyes with anything that moves and rub myself up against other humans to see what sparks, like a pleather-panted pyromaniac, jiggling my way across town, bumping into everyone and anyone in the interest of kindling a romance based on something pure and organic. I doubt Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester would have matched on Tinder. Now, it's unlikely she'd support my pleather-panted plan either but she can afford to be picky, she's got a boyfriend.
How can you know where the voltage is if you don't jam a bit of cutlery into their fuse box first? (No that's not a sexual metaphor, at least I don't think it is).
So I'm off out into the real world with two sporks and a new attitude. And lads, if you don't want to get pulled into my chemical experiment, I suggest you turn your bar stool to the wall quicksmart.