I'd been on Tinder for a while but found it a somewhat shallow experience.
My friend who's into mindfulness pointed out that judging people based on how attracted I was to them and whether they could hold a decent conversation was a hiding to nothing - there was no way I'd be able to experience a meaningful connection with anyone if I pursued that path.
Instead, she pointed me towards a new silent dating app, Shhh. The concept was clear, and the app seemed pretty functionally identical to Tinder, just with the conversation function removed.
This made asking people out a bit of a struggle, but I hoped that I'd managed to suggest a time and a place to Simone by sending her screenshots of my local pub on Google maps along with a proposed time displayed on the clock app.
Fortunately, the message was successfully conveyed. I recognised her instantly when she walked in and stood up to greet her through mimed gestures and exaggerated facial expressions. Buying her a drink was a process of elimination; fortunately I'd had a word with the barman beforehand (I'd assumed this was permitted) and explained the situation, so he tolerated me pointing individually at every bottle behind the bar until, seventy-one ingredients later, we'd successfully mixed her a Commonwealth.
'I resorted to making a farting noise with my armpit.'
Once we'd finally got our drinks, we took a seat across from each other and sat gazing into each other's eyes. I'd assumed that doing so would allow us to discover some profound spiritual connection, but actually it just felt really confrontational after about ten seconds so it got awkward fast. I decided to crack a joke to ease the tension, but this backfired when I realised that the vast majority – possibly all – of my standby witty observations are expressed verbally. I resorted to making a farting noise with my armpit.
It went down better than expected; as I looked to her for reassurance, I could see her eyes expressing appreciation for my efforts along with empathy for our somewhat unusual shared circumstances.
However, on reflection it could have in fact been pity, disdain, courteous acknowledgement, or ennui; it was difficult to tell. Sensing that I might be losing her attention, I pulled out the juggling balls I'd prepared for exactly this scenario and attempted to dazzle her with a display of manual dexterity.
This proved to be a mistake, as I can't actually juggle. I dropped the balls immediately and one of them rolled across the floor, tripping over a big bald guy carrying three pints.
Mortified, I attempted to hide my face, but it was fairly obvious from the remaining juggling balls scattered around my chair that I was to blame for his calamitous tumble. He marched over towards me and loudly asked what I thought I was playing at, expressing his desire for me to buy him another round in order to make amends.
I felt this was reasonable and wanted to thank him for not immediately lamping me in the face; however, with my date in earshot, I felt this wasn't an option.
As his bemusement at my silence quickly gave way to anger, my aggressor asked who the hell I thought I was, and if I wanted a broken nose. Alarmed, I attempted to graciously decline his offer in an obvious fashion by widening my eyes and shaking my head very vigorously. I mimed wiping away tears in order to underscore the point.
What happened next is something of a blur, but when I came to the barman was kneeled over me and Simone had left. I was initially crestfallen, but immediately relieved upon realising that my assailant was also nowhere to be seen. Overall, I would rate my experience with Shhh at 3.5/5 stars.
I think I'll probably stick with Tinder for now.
Some details of this account may have been exaggerated or fabricated for the purpose of the story