Beautiful stranger on a train

It’s been more than a week since I switched off my dating profiles, but this morning I switched them on, thinking they’re like drift-nets out at sea; maybe one day someone interesting will swim into them. Well tonight something interesting did indeed happen, but not anything like what I was expecting.

The Wanderer was visiting London and I went to meet her. We had a fun, friendly evening catching up and I went back to a major train station to get a train home.

As I walk along the platform I spot a pretty blonde sitting on a scarce seat along the wall and we make eye-contact. I like the look of her but I keep walking to the far end of the platform.

A minute later she walks over and stands next to me. We’re the only two people standing so far from the growing crowd.


We make eye contact a few times, then smile suggestively to each other.

I can’t help but conclude that she deliberately came to stand next to me. There was no reason for her to do so.

People start to shuffle forward to claim a spot where they think a door will be on the train as it stops.

She moves forward and I think, sod it, I shall too.

I stand next to her.

She feels my presence and turns to me. Our eyes meet and she smiles coyly before quickly looking away.

The train arrives and we all pile on. It’s a fast train, so the next stop is half an hour away. She gets the aisle seat of a two-seater while I decide to stand near the doors as I normally do.

Everyone has their seat and the train is about to depart. She looks around, our eyes meet again…and she moves over to the window seat, cramming herself into the two-seater unnecessarily.

No, fuck it, I’m going to go sit next to her and I’ll wait for an excuse to talk to her.

I go sit next to her.

We don’t look at each other.

I keep peering out the corner of my eye for an excuse to talk to her. Nothing presents itself.

After a while she sneezes.

Here’s my chance to say, “bless you” as an ice-breaker.

After that I’ll launch into my prepared cheesy, “I know this is totally random and you’re going to laugh, but I don’t suppose you’re single?”

I can’t say it.

I can’t say a word.

Something inside me has locked up tight.

I chicken out.

I’m angry and ashamed at my cowardice.

Then I realize that that is my problem.

I’m ashamed.

I’m ashamed of everything.

I’m ashamed of me. Ashamed of my life. Ashamed of my possessions. Ashamed of being unemployed.

My brain starts racing and projecting what could happen if I strike up a conversation with this cutie that might lead to a date.

I wouldn’t want her asking what I do because I have got to the point where I now fear that question.

I wouldn’t want to invite her to my home, because I’m ashamed of it.

The idea of taking her out on dates fills me with a sense of dread because I just can’t afford it.

This realization is an epiphany to me.

Not only am I not ready for love, I am also not even capable of dating at the moment.

The train gets to the first station and she stands up. God, she’s nice. Perfect-looking, in fact.

I turn my legs aside to the aisle so that she can get past. She takes her time passing me and I look up.

She’s looking down at me and she gives me a lovely smile. I watch through the misty window as she disappears into the oblivion outside.

An earlier version of me would never have let this play out like it has.

I feel like dying.

I’ve switched off all my dating profiles again.

I’m continuing to give dating a break.

This experience just reinforces my belief that the man in the mirror needs to make some changes.

Michael Jackson – Man in the mirror

14 thoughts on “Beautiful stranger on a train”

  1. Sometimes before you can make the changes in life you need to make, you have to hit something, a wall, the bottom, your own fear/shame, just something.

    Maybe this will lead to something better.
    Keep going and cut yourself some slack, we’re all making this shit up as we go along

  2. Sounds like a painful experience. I had a number of experiences like that before that made me feel really disgusted with myself. A question. Which is stronger: your sense of shame at not having money, or your dread of returning to work in an office environment?

    1. CJ, as always, you ask an insightful question. It’s a close call, but the thought of an office environment makes me choke on my coffee more.

      Why do you ask?

  3. I get this. While I have a job, I am unhappy there and it’s hard not to preface every answer to the ‘so what do you do?’ question with a deep sigh. And that’s not even from potential dates, just from people making polite conversation. Being unhappy is not attractive, either to oneself or others.

    If you are still searching for a job (knowing that your blog is written retrospectively), could you do some volunteering? There are always worthy charities out there looking for a helping hand, especially during the working week when so many other volunteers are at their day jobs. I especially recommend giving some time to a charity that helps the elderly. From your earlier description of your personality, I gather that perhaps volunteering is not something you’d be too comfortable with. So why not push your boundaries a little to benefit others, and by doing so, yourself and your sense of self-worth? 🙂 Plus, purely from a dating point of view, women appreciate a man who thinks of others and is willing to help them at no real ‘benefit’ to themselves.

    I get feeling ‘ashamed’ of where I have ended up in life – early 40’s, perpetually single, slightly overweight, unfulfilling job…this is NOT what I had in mind for myself at this age either. Perhaps we can inspire each other on to bigger and better things 🙂

  4. I’m sorry you just couldn’t manage the initiative to start a convo with her. It’s really too bad, because despite all the problems you were having then, you would have overcome them if you felt like she was engaged. When I was young, my timidity hindered me all the time. It’s a shell you must break.

    1. Marty, I think that over the course of our lives we acquire what are initially good habits, but with time they become redundant and hold us back. The trick is to recognize them, then find a way of discarding them and replacing them with more useful ways of doing things.

  5. Just interesting how the mind works. It’s a miserable thing to live life ashamed of who you are. In your case, it seems that shame could be chased away with money, and the means and knowledge to get that money is easily within your grasp. But it sounds like at the time, the idea of literally dying was preferable to going back to work.

    1. “…chased away with money…” I like that. It’s true.

      It’s more than just about work. It’s also about the point of all of this, the nature of society, the validity of my long-held beliefs, my yearning for love that has been unfulfilled.

  6. It’s just interesting to see how the mind works to sabotage us. I have some similar issues, as far as not doing what I need to do getting out of this job I hate and into a better one. It’s easier to stay in misery that you’re familiar with, rather than dive into the unknown.

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