Playing The Game
You can hedge your bets by standing in the doorway, leaving the vestibule clear, so that you gain the opportunity to wait to see which side the platform appears. It's a safe bet; most people will stand behind the internal door to avoid having to continually press the 'open' button. There are risks, of course. Unless you are in the end carriage, someone may come from the other direction and take a place at one of the doors. Still, you have a fifty per cent chance of being correct. If two come, and each take one door then you have LOST. It's rare though. Human nature would suggest that the shortest route between the seat and the door is the best.
But some people do that to WIN the game.
Once someone else has occupied one of the free doors, you have no choice but to take position at the other empty door, even if you believe it is an inferior choice. YOUR HAND HAS BEEN FORCED. It's no longer your decision. Even if you win, it is as a result of being compelled to take this choice. It is not so much a win as an avoidance of loss.
The drawback of this technique is that your victory is not visible. Why win if nobody has seen you win? Sure, you'll be first off, you might turn round and smile, but who sees the build up, the choices you made? You start to edge forward into the vestibule, far enough for people to group behind you and witness your glory, but not far enough to force you to commit one way or the other. The balance is as fine as a tripwire. You could be Indiana Jones.
The second strategy is higher risk, but infinitely higher reward. This is to actively select a door. YOU CHOOSE. Of course it helps to be a regular on the train. Perhaps that's the prize, to be able to shout (silently, without actually making any noise) that you alone repeat this journey so often that only you know which side the doors open.
If only life were that predictable. You undertake a journey every day, every week, stand by the window with complete confidence - you would bet your house on it - and for no reason, FOR NO REASON AT ALL, the driver chooses a different platform. Perhaps it's not the driver, perhaps it's the signalman, or signalwoman. Or is it remote controlled by computer now? Beaten by a random digital decision to reroute you to a different platform.
'It always stops this side,' you mouth to the woman opposite whom you have never previously seen. She doesn't even do this trip every day. You want to lunge through the crowded space to beat her off the train, but you see she has a child at her feet. HOW DID SHE KNOW?
This game is of course best played on routes where the design of stations alternates between those where the track runs between two opposite platforms, and those that have a central platform serving tracks running both ways. It's easy to learn the sequence.
A higher skill level may be available at mainline stations - London King's Cross, Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly - where platform allocation may be unpredictable. But over time, you start to see a pattern that you know nobody else can see. You alone have an insight into the predictability of the apparently random choice of platform.
You alone can win the game.
It’s warm in the bar, but not uncomfortable. It’s an inviting kind of heat, just warm enough to encourage you to take off your coat and relax but not so warm that you’ll perspire. The couches are deep and comfortable, the air lightly perfumed with the multitude of candles they have burning; all citrus fruits and sandalwood. The lighting is warm and dimmed, flowing out from wall sconces and delicate trails of fairy lights. It’s my favourite bar in town, welcoming and personal and cosy. I come here frequently and I don’t think it’s hard to see why. I’ve ordered an Irish coffee. I’m trying to give off the right vibe, you know? I don’t want to order a pint, not at this time of day, and seem like I’m too into my alcohol and the ‘bar scene’; but a plain coffee isn’t quite right either, might make it seem like it’s a flying visit or ‘just a coffee’. I want to make sure I’m coming across the right way. Friendly, fun, interested,
“So tell me about yourself” I say, and I think I’ve used just the right amount of enthusiasm. Eager to learn, good listener; this is what I want her to be thinking right now, ticking off my positive attributes on her mental check list. I want to make a good impression. I already know everything she tells me from her profile and our texts, but it’s always nice to be attentive. She’s in her early thirties, has kids from a failed marriage, but she doesn’t want to talk about that. Her kids are at their dads for the weekend. She hasn’t been online dating for long, but her friends told her to get back out there,
“That all sounds really interesting! I’m glad I messaged you quickly then before somebody else caught your attention.” She smiles at me then and I know I’ve said the right thing. There’s a delicate blush creeping up her cheeks and I find it adorable, “Can I get you another drink?” I ask and flash her a grin. She asks for a G&T this time; just a single and without the cucumber. I think that’s a good order. Assertive. It shows that she clearly has a social life if she has a preference for how to ask for her drink. She may even have come to this bar before with her friends for a girls night, sat in our exact seats and gossiped about who was going where and fighting with whom,
“What do you do for a living?” she enquires when I sit back down with our drinks. I don’t like this question, it always leads into complicated explanations of systems and structures and business requirements. Far too tedious for a date,
“I’m in IT.” I reply instead. Far easier this way, “I run a website.”
“Sounds dull.” She replies with a cheeky grin, and I let out a little bark of laughter. I like her honesty, and her attempt at making things humorous. I decide to glow with the flow and tell her a few jokes and she laughs. I like her laugh. It’s deep and throaty and she smiles when she laughs. Her teeth are straight and neat, not perfectly white but not discoloured like a smoker. She has an averagely pretty face, a little round with full cheeks. Her eyebrows are a bit odd, severe and dark, but her eyes are friendly and expressive. There are bags under her eyes; not surprising with kids and a full time job, but she looks good and not unwell.
The hours pass pretty quickly and it’s soon approaching one AM,
“You guys; we’re closing in a few minutes.” The barmaid announces to us in a friendly tone with a smile, “Sorry to break up the party love birds but it’s time to go.” I laugh, and she does too. It’s a girly little giggle and it gives away how much she’s had to drink. I stand up and offer her my hand, tugging her out of her chair with relative ease. I link her arm with mine and we head outside,
“I’ve had a lovely night.” She half-whispers to me once we are stood by the taxi rank,
“Me too!” I reply steadily, “I’ve really enjoyed meeting you. Maybe we could do this again soon?”
“Oh yes, please! Definitely.” She replies, and then hiccups. I smile at her and lean down toward her slowly to kiss. The evening has been a success, “Can we get a selfie?” She asks, “My friends won’t believe I actually came out and met someone if I don’t.” We both laugh and pose, and I take the opportunity to take a photo myself as well, since she already brought it up. I begin to say goodbye and promise to be in contact soon, I turn to leave and move extra slowly, I don’t really want to go home, “Wait!” She exclaims, and I turn to look at her. She looks nervous and unsure, but she takes a deep breath and begins to speak, “Why don’t we carry the night on at my place?”
#63 – Honey, the kids came home!
Well dear readers, here is another Friday update for you all! We’re on week 63 of our experiment. The aim of the game? Get 100 women to instigate first date sex. The rules? No prompting, suggesting or hinting – It must be 100% their choice. The reason? The glory!
This week I met up with ‘Anna’, a 32 year old divorcee, who I met online. Recently single, she was new to the online game and oh boy did I use that to my advantage.
I’d give our encounter a solid 6/10! If I’m honest boys; if you don’t mind the chub then I’d give Anna a go – she was PHENOMINAL in bed. Lack of self-confidence and eagerness to make a good impression? Killer combination!
I’d take her back to a hotel though boys; you don’t want the nasty surprise that I got on my way out this morning – her ex on the doorstep with the kids. AWKWARD!
Here’s the usual picture proof for your enjoyment. As usual; if you see anyone you think is right for the game – get your recommendations sent over pronto!
Ellen looked from the girl in the doorway to the wall clock, it read 4:53. “You`re early?” she said.
“Oh dad picked me up on the Model farm road,” her daughter replied, “Said he was finished for the day and drove by on the chance he might see me.” She dumped her rucksack on the kitchen floor, going straight to the table and the plate of food already set out, “Mmmm, sausages and chips, my favourite, thanks mum.”
But before she could sit, Ellen, pointing to the discarded schoolbag, said, “That’s not where that belongs young lady.”
Patsy, who had already pulled back the chair, gave her a look of utter misery, “But muuumm, I`m starving. I`ll do pick it up I’ve eaten.”
Ellen, hands now on hips, gave her daughter her best, stern mother look, “Now… Madam... I didn’t spend all day cooking and cleaning for you to turn the house into a pigsty ten seconds after you walk through the door.”
For a moment they stood staring at each other, then Patsy relented. “Aaaww,” she moaned as, pouting, shoulders slumped, she trudged the whole ten feet back her bag.
It was all Ellen could do to stop herself from smiling; only twelve, she thought, and already she`s got the disgruntled teenager act down pat.
In an act of defiance Patsy didn’t pick up the bag, but still in full twelve labours of Hercules mode, dragged it laboriously back to the kitchen table, only then hefting it onto the seat next to her own. “There,” she said as she flounced into her chair, “satisfied?”
“Very,” her mother said, tugging playfully on her daughter’s blonde ponytail. Which earned her a complaining, “Muummm, quit it, I’m not a baby.”
As she clicked on the kettle to make John a cup of coffee, Ellen asked, “Where is your father anyway?”
“He said he had to get some things from the boot,” Patsy said between mouthfuls.
Ellen nodded, john was always fiddling with something, he was one of the world’s last great tinkerers. Probably rescued something from a skip somewhere, she thought. Still, she consoled herself that he confined his projects to the garage, and hadn’t burned the house down… yet.
Fetching the carton of milk from the fridge, she went back to the table, and as she filled her daughter`s glass asked, “So how was school?”
Patsy made a face, “Mrs O`Murchu gave us two pages of Irish homework,” she said indignantly, “Two whole pages.”
“Oh no!” her mother said, both hands going to her cheeks in mock horror.
“Muummm, I hate Irish,” Patsy complained, “I dunno why we have to do it, it`s stupid.”
“You know you have to have…..” Ellen broke off, startled by the sound of John`s voice close to her ear, “Let her go honey,” he murmured.
She jumped, began to look around, then turned back to the table, determined to remind Patsy that she needed Irish to go to college.
For a moment she stood in utter bafflement; there was no-one sitting at the table, the plate of food untouched, not a morsel gone from it. Then the memories came flooding back, knocking the strength from her legs and she had to grab the table to stop herself from collapsing, easing into the nearest chair, sitting down before she fell down.
Patsy wasn’t home; Patsy was never coming home again. Not since that day eleven months earlier when John had given her a lift after finishing work early, not since the truck driver, too busy texting to notice the lights had changed, drove into the junction without braking, slamming into the side of her husband’s Volvo, killing their only child.
She turned in her seat, meaning to scream at him, “THIS IS YOUR FAULT, WHY`D YOU HAVE TO FINISH WORK EARLY, SHE`D BE ALIVE IF YOU HADN`T.” But she never did, because she was alone, the truck had had to go through John to get to their daughter and she had only been able to identify what was left of him by the suit he`d gone to work in that morning.
As she always did in that moment, Ellen collapsed forward, elbows on her knees, head bowed, sobbing uncontrollably.
When she`d stopped weeping, Ellen used the hem of her apron to blot the tears from her cheeks and chin, levered herself out of the chair, and on wobbly legs went to get some kitchen towel to blow her nose.
As she torn a couple of sheets from the paper, foil and Clingfilm dispenser, she was reminded, as she always was in that moment of the day she`d bought it. How absurdly childishly giddy she`d felt when she saw it in Lidl, and only €11.99, and how she`d nagged John to put it up as soon as he`d gotten home, the last odd-job he ever did, somehow, in her mind the two events were inextricably linked.
She blew her nose noisily, torn off a square foot of Clingfilm, carrying it back to the table, hands apart, keeping it tight so it wouldn’t fold into itself. Then carefully, wrapped it over the untouched food, making sure the plastic was tight as a drum, before putting the plate back in the freezer, where it would forever remain pristine, ready for tomorrow, ready for when Patsy came home.
Ellen stood in front of the fridge for a long moment, a puzzled frown on her face, then she remembered what she had to do next.
She`d recorded that days re-run of Star Trek Voyager, Patsy`s favourite, they`d watch it together… when she got home from school.
A dreamy smile on her face, humming “Frere Jacques,” Ellen stumbled towards the living room.