Once upon a time a boy on Bumble, let’s call him Sam, messaged to say he’d seen me walking down a street in Elephant and Castle. I had not experienced a stranger’s such vocal investment in my whereabouts since another man, ten years older than me, who would without fail greet me on the platform for the 4.06pm train home from uni and ask how my day had been.
I, a hormonally imbalanced teenager, had no interest in discussing my day with anyone and after several weeks’ polite rebuff of his chat failed to elicit the desired outcome (an end to the conversation), I told him I was moving carriage and that he should not follow me. We did not speak again.
I hadn’t been to Elephant and Castle on that day so I informed Sam he’d mistaken me for someone else. He replied that was GREAT because the ‘me’ he’d seen wasn’t particularly good looking… A week later I saw Sam on the bus, sprawled over the row across the aisle from where I was sat. His long limbs made the seats look toy-like, as though we were dolls in a miniature world, convened in the same location by a higher puppeteering power. Was it fate?
His hair shone bronze in the sunlight and his shirt was damp from the sweat of a summer’s day. I stared at him, wondering why a.) he thought my doppelgänger was unattractive and b.) whether he’d place the sat-on-the-bus version of me in the category of South Asian girls who, in his mind, all looked like twisted variations of same person.
I watched as he began to pick his nose, inspecting the contents of the dig before wiping his finger down his trouser leg. I wondered why I had placed so much emphasis on this stranger’s unwanted opinion of my appearance when he cared so little for his own, and excused myself to the lower deck instead.