Friday, 23 February 2007

Letter from Olchik

Unaccustomed as I am to the ménage à une (which is to say - just in case anyone gets the wrong idea there - "living on my ownsome"), I've been doing my darnedest to make myself a friend or two. I'm not fussy. Anyone who smiles when I start ranting to them in the street will do. The flute teacher from next door was particularly receptive to a prolonged chinwag outside the hardware shop last weekend. For that matter, I cannot sufficiently extol the conversational prowess of second-hand furniture salespeople. Certainly, it's slow going, this person by person method. You've got to wait until your suspect looks unoccupied, sidle up without arousing suspicion, launch into deceptively nonchalant chitchat, and then slip 'em your email address before they notice that you just confessed to being from the Evil Empire up north. (No, not that Evil Empire; Sydney.) But nonetheless, I feel like I'm acquiring some expertise in the befriending-strangers business.

Just how much expertise, I only realised when I found this heartfelt e-pistle in my inbox this morning:

Good day

After the long searches I have found you and I am very glad. I miss something big in my life, I am lonely in this huge world and the loneliness is killing me. I want to find a husband. And I decided to write to you. I am an ordinary girl. I am pretty, smart and sensitive. I like people, new places and nature. I am very romantic and believe in good. I am religious and I pray every day. If you are interested to know me better, please see me here

Waiting for your answer


Well, look, Olchik, I'm awful flattered and all, but this just isn't the way to bowl up to someone you've never met. Firstly, imminent death-by-loneliness is way too intense for your second ever sentence. Try, instead, my all-time favourite conversation starters: "Gosh, it's hot, isn't it?"; "Lovely day for it"; "This beats sitting at home watching telly" (nicked this one from me dad); or "Excuse me, could you please tell me how to get back to the footpath?" These are inoffensive, non-confronting pleasantries. Wait for your interlocutor to respond, and only then tell them that the loneliness is killing you. Secondly, Olchik, you mustn't talk exclusively about yourself. It's reassuring to know that you're fond of people, new places and nature, and I see from your website that you also like ironing (me too! it's right up there with cleaning the loo), but there needs to be some back and forth in a first conversation. You could try asking your interlocutor whether they like ironing. Or perhaps, once you've mastered "Lovely day for it", progress on to "Do you believe in good?" Show that you care, and not just about yourself. Thirdly, this husband thing: don't get me wrong, some of the best chaps I know are husbands, but they're married. Most of them have long-standing commitments, mortgages and the like, which make spending overly much time with you a little awkward.

Having said all that, you might like to try buying some second-hand furniture. What you lose in floor space, you gain in gratuitous information about varnish.