On one chilly night in February, ahead of Valentine’s Day weekend, I got steaming drunk with my housemates. One Waitrose G&T can became eight, and by 3am I was lying in bed thinking of something that had happened earlier that day.
Me and my aforementioned housemates, all sober at this point, headed for a casual lunchtime walk on Tooting Bec common and passed by a man smoking a rollie outside his front door. I looked at him. He looked at me. There was an unmistakable energy in our glances and this, combined with his shaved head (in a cool way not a skinhead way) and quarter zip fleece, was enough to make me fall temporarily in love.
Hours later when I was absent (drunk) mindedly scrolling through my phone in bed, I was lured onto the Nextdoor app by some notification about foxes having loud sex in the local area. And I got to thinking: why do the foxes get to be the ones having loud sex in the local area, and not me?
I decided to try and track down my unwitting beau and sent out a post titled “Fit Man On [Redacted] Road”. I can’t name the road because that’s a bit weird for him, but I did on Nextdoor because it was essential to my tracking him down.
The post read: “Hi, I saw a very pretty young man on [redacted] Road today, smoking a rollie (I think?) outside of his house. He was radiating a single energy so I’m hoping he is. He lives near the end of the road and I’m vibing. If this is weird, don’t worry I know. If you know him, just pass it on. Thanks.”
I fell into a deep drunk sleep and completely forgot about what I had done. When I awoke into what would become a two day long hangover, I noticed I had 106 emails. Initially I freaked out that they were all “You have entered an unarranged overdraft” emails from my bank but they were all from Nextdoor. It turns out I had set up the app to email me every time I got a like or comment and overnight I had unwittingly gone viral in Tooting.
The 100 likes and comments quickly became 200 as people weighed in on my situation. Much of them were messages of support, “good luck” wishes and people telling me they loved the post – especially well timed for Valentine’s Day weekend (I did not plan this I was just drunk and wanted to track down Dream Man).
I had also ignited a feverish debate about whether this would be allowed if I were a man or whether it would be considered creepy and I had to have a private discussion via Nextdoor messages with a particularly angry man called Derek Bennett. We then became friends and all discontentment was quelled.
The post continued to grow. I wasn’t replying to comments (because of the two day hangover) so people got antsy and one commenter even tracked me down on Facebook to send me a message saying: “You have quite the following on Nextdoor. They are all sad you’ve gone silent.”
There was no news of the boy and I had no updates so I remained silent until I was drunk (again – I swear this is not a problem I’m just 23 and like gin) the next weekend and posted a second call out. It was titled “Maddy’s Back” and read: “Hey gang, I’m back. Sadly I’ve yet to find my [redacted] Road man which leads me to believe he’s not part of the Nextdoor community.
“However, as I’m moving away from Tooting Bec in three weeks time I’m now willing to take any applications from beautiful men in the local area. If you or anyone you know is very pretty and 23-30 years old and wants to wife (aka date) me within a matter of weeks, I’m vibing. Pics attached. J’adore you all.” It was accompanied by four pictures of myself and a Bamzooki (popular children’s show object from the 2000s). Don’t question the Bamzooki, I was very drunk.
I’m aware that, in hindsight, this post seems incredibly desperate and I’m amazed I was able to write so coherently while absolutely smashed. But regardless, it was a hit. Once again it gathered hundreds of likes and comments and this time I started receiving an influx of direct messages with proposals from men.
Many of the messages read a little like this one: “I’m not the legendary man and am 51, divorced with two kids. Probably not your target audience but if you fancy a date” etc, or “Maddy, I love your post. What about a 41 yr old married man?” He then followed up, “If I wasn’t married I would honestly apply my CV to you” which I feel like was due to some wife-reading-messages-related fear seeping in.
I also had proposals from a couple who invited me to have a threesome and a few 30-year-old men but no one really caught my eye and honestly at this point I was just enjoying the attention.
The fame then started to take off and I was added to a mural painting of Tooting by a local artist. When I went on walks around Tooting I started to notice weird double takes and sometimes people would point at me. I felt a little bit like a zoo animal but was still enjoying it.
Then, to top it all off, when I opened my door to the post woman last week she said: “Post for Madeline,” handed it to me, paused, took it back, looked at the label and said: “I’ve just worked it out. Maddy. How’s your man?”
In my efforts to find a fit shaved head boyfriend I had accidentally ended up a fully fledged local legend. I did what any reasonable person would do and moved house the next day.
Thanks to all my Tooting fans and fit [redacted] Road man. If you’re out there, I’m still vibing.