Wednesday, 12 June 2013


I want a man who will stand in front of me on an escalator.

So simple, isn't it?

As with so many things in my life, this is both literally true and a metaphor for something much deeper and more complex.

We can spend our whole lives getting to know one individual. With some people, a lifetime isn't enough. How can you decide within a few years, months, weeks or even seconds that this person is the one to whom you will entrust your everything?

Thus, The Escalator Test (patent pending).

We are out on a date and need to traverse an escalator going downwards. "Oh dear," say I, "I know it's a strange thing to ask, but would you mind going on first?"

  • I know a man who refuses to stand in front of me on an escalator because he thinks it's a stupid request is disrespectful.
  • I know a man who will hear my request and leap onto the escalator then never ask why is uninterested.
  • I know a man who will hear me, ask why and then take the escalator without ensuring that I am comfortable behind him is slightly obtuse at best, uncaring at worst and uninvested in me either way.
  • I know a man who asks why then mocks my fear is unkind.
  • I know a man who will accept my reasoning, suggest we find a lift because he has the same fear, but then accept without hesitation my offer to go in front of him (because it's not impossible for me to go on an escalator first, it's just very uncomfortable) is discourteous. (In addition, I try to choose men with a different set of fears, so we can support each other).

I know a man who will step on the escalator and watch me get on after him, casually moving up to ensure he's on a step near me when I hesitate that bit too long is caring, respectful and kind.

This is the man to whom I will entrust myself.

He can tease me about it if he likes, but he clearly cares about my comfort and happiness, so I know he won't take the teasing too far.

Standing on an escalator is a tiny thing. It means nothing. I could probably pull a complete stranger out of a crowd, explain my fear and ask for help and there's a good chance they'll do it. You could consider it a basic indicator of common decency and humanity. If a guy I'm dating won't do it, when a stranger probably will.... What else will that guy fail to do for me in future?

And for those who are interested in what my problem with escalators is: I suffer from vertigo and acrophobia. Standing at the top of an escalator going down triggers the vertigo - watching the moving runway makes me dizzy and it's very difficult to judge my step. Being at a height means that I'm already scared of moving and the vertigo exacerbates it.

If somebody is stood a step or two before me, I can't see the drop and my brain can only focus on a small moving target which eliminates most of the vertigo.

Incidentally, if you ever see someone going down an escalator backwards looking a little confused, it's probably one of my friends who is so used to going down backwards when I'm there that they've started doing it when I'm not.


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