The Joyful Defeat (of Online Dating)

“How am I?” asks Cam.

Terry squints at the pixels on his old Macbook screen. After taking a breath to think, he points to his throat—meaning Cam’s throat—on the other side of a Zoom window.

Cam looks down, and adjusts his Tux’s wonky bowtie with a half-smile.

“Beautiful,” says Terry. “You look like a million quid. How about me?”

Cam leans into his webcam, and motions to a spot around his clavicle—meaning Terry’s clavicle—tapping it with a finger. Across the internet, Terry picks the rogue piece of lint from his own Tuxedo lapel.

“You look great.”

“Cheers, man. You too.”

“Some so-and-so is gonna be so lucky to have you.”

“Thanks, man. Same.”

There’s a pause. Both dressed for some kind of prom night. Both windowed in each other’s Zoom screen.

“Is what we’re doing… weird?”


Partner picking at SCA… it’s complicated.

This year ‘21/22, BOAT is the school’s biggest ever cohort. There’s more of us in the studio and online combined than ever before. Including the French exchange students (**heart-shaped thumb-and-forefinger gesture**), we topped out at 47, working hybrid/remote.

Industry legend Bernbach revolutionised things when he paired copywriters and art directors together as creative teams in the ‘60s: that person with a different skill set to you to bounce ideas off.

All of us, we’re still figuring out If we’re CW or AD. What our Adobe strengths are and aren’t.

If we’re maybe a Hybrid.





Triple T-Skill Unicorn.

There’s still a fair bit we’re unsure of.

But after all the getting-to-know-you of Term 1, the Christmas break is when you have to bottle up the guts to ask people out and work towards knowing. That’s when you have to mutually agree your 1 and 2 partner choices (plus third pick secret Wildcard).

And guess what Santa got you this year for Christmas? For being such a good little boy or girl for all of 2021, Santa got you… creative partner FOMO. Gift wrapped with a tied bow and everything.

For last year’s intake CHECKOUT, apparently only one partner team made it through Term 2 into Term 3 unscathed. Monogamous. Faithful and matrimonious.

After 15 weeks of assigned partner blind-dates, bingo card hook-ups, topical one night stands, Christmas speed-dating, so begun the partner panicking and pinky-promise reneging.

This is how we welcome in the cusp of 2022.

All this flirting and getting-together, the quickly jumping into bed together, ready to fall apart, really, it has all the ingredients of a romantic comedy.

In RomCom movie structure, the seventh and final stage they call the “Joyful Defeat”.

This is where a character pays a price in the end, getting what they needed, but not what they wanted.

Think Before Sunset, Think 500 Days of Summer. Think Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. Think all those sad-happy, happy-sad romance films. Yeah, those.

So me and Camalam, as we bounce between Marc Rebillet songs and phallic Kiwi decking ads, we sort of both know this won’t last. Previously thwarted by life and Ready Brek, we both have… unfinished business.

We both have a freedom that maybe no-one else has. That we both know this will end. We’re both not kidding ourselves we were maybe destined to be each other’s The One and live forever happily ever after.

Call it Stoic, but we won’t be smited by the two-timing, by the triple-swapping, by the unicorn-hunting and the itchy-feet and breaking-up.

We can be ethically non-monogamous. Swingers. Just two sets of car keys loose in a glass fishbowl called AdLand.

And dare I say, Adobiosexual.

The kind of amicable break-up-in-waiting and “win” where you can see through your own wants and needs, and to just be happy for someone else; hoping they find the right person that makes them (and someone else) more than just sad-happy, happy-sad.

So yeah. Already, this is a Joyful Defeat.


“Are you ready?” says Terry.

Cam nods, double-checking his Tux in his Zoom window.


Terry nods, double-checking the Tux in his right back.

“You’re gonna be great.”

You’re gonna be great.”

And they both laugh.

We’re gonna be great.”

And it might be the internet connection, but it looks like they’re both smiling.

And it might be the Zoom pixels or the time zone difference, but the future looks bigger than sad-happy or happy-sad for them.


(Unsure Conceptual-Creative-Hybrid-Wannabe-Triple T-Skill Unicorn)

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