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Friday, 20 July 2012

#3 - Buying my own drinks...

A couple of weeks into my mysinglefriend adventure I got a message from a man whose profile I hadn't come across before. His opening line was less than romantic 'I'm not renewing my subscription - if you want to chat here's my email address', but because I'm a game sort of girl I decided to store the e-mail address until I had decided whether or not to contact him. It had been a particularly long and stressful week, and I didn't think too much about it, beyond noticing from his profile that he appeared to have a sense of humour, was quite tall and had a couple of big tattoos (which as you may have gathered from previous posts, is always a good thing).

I'm not convinced the 'spark '
has much to do with hearts...
I went on a couple of uneventful and uninteresting dates that week. The men in question were perfectly pleasant, interesting and nice, but I didn't feel the slightest inclination to see them again. I'm wary of using the phrase 'there was no spark', because I am all too aware that this mythical 'spark' is more than likely a product of my own, Disney-addled imagination... but there was no spark. I was beginning to wonder if I was setting myself up for failure, as I had agreed to go on dates with very nice, very normal people, all the while knowing that I don't lust after nice, normal men (apologies to anyone reading who I have lusted after - I'm sure you are nice and normal...I just never thought so). 

And then I remembered 'e-mail guy' (I tend to apply nicknames when discussing men with my flatmate, as she loses track unless I provide specific details to jog her memory). Sure his approach was a little brusque, and he's slightly older than most of the men I've been on dates with, but in the interest of thinking outside my lustbox, I sent him a brief introductory e-mail, making it clear that he should not feel obliged to reply, because I'm just being friendly. He replied fairly quickly, with the same brusque offbeat tone he had used in his first message to me. By this point my spidey senses were going into overdrive - he seemed like a bit of a tosser. My lustbox was intrigued. We exchanged a few more e-mails - he asked about my burlesque acts; I asked about his insane exercise regime (he does CrossFit - it's horrendous). Finally, he asked if I was up for meeting that evening, as he happened to be free. I considered the pros and cons. We had only exchanged a few emails, and I still wasn't sure if I wanted to meet him. However, I had nothing else to do that evening, and thought it might be worthwhile getting the meet and greet over with before I built up an idea in my head of what he would be like (only to be cruelly disappointed when he was none of these things: see #4 - Trusting the profile picture...)

We exchanged mobile numbers (I'd learnt my lesson) and agreed on a time and place. We even managed to fit in a five minute telephone conversation, where I got to hear his undeniably sexy Irish accent for the first time. I should have know then this was not going to be straightforward. We met in Molly Moggs, a little pub near my flat that he immediately pointed out was a gay pub (though how he had time to ask the pub its orientation was beyond me), but slight homophobic blip aside he seemed fairly normal, so I let him buy me a drink. So far, so good. He was clearly not in his element in the pub - we were the only straight couple in there - so I suggested we move on (before he embarrassed me any further) and we headed towards The French House for a bottle of very strong cider. 

At this point I offered to buy a round of drinks. This is the make or break moment on any date, regardless of what the answer is. Generally I will always pay for half of a meal out, or cinema tickets, or rounds of drinks without prompting: not only is it good manners, but it's also an incentive to order within your financial means. Unfortunately my income is very low, and I often end up footing a bill I can't afford: since starting this dating lark I have found myself significantly worse off than when I was single.  With this in mind my new attitude is that I will always offer, but if this initial offer is rebuffed I will presume my date is willing to pay the entirety of the bill*. Occasionally I will force the issue, such as if I know my date to be in a similar financial position to me, but as much as I think it good manners to offer to split the bill, I think it's appalling manners to turn down a free meal.

*A friend of mine has an interesting approach to dealing with the awkward moment when the bill arrives: she excuses herself to the ladies for a few minutes, giving her date time to look at the bill, pay for the bill and remove all trace of having done so before she returns. It normally works, apart from the even more awkward moment when she returned to find her date waiting with a calculator...

Sexy Irish dude (his nickname was improved based on the accent) had already informed me that he worked in a fairly well paying job. He had in fact just returned from a month' holiday travelling around Thailand, safe in the knowledge that he could easily take a month off work and not be homeless. If I'm entirely honest, I was not expecting him to let me buy him a drink. I was entirely wrong. This in itself is often a good sign, as I have some lovely male friends who get annoyed if I buy the first round, completely missing the point that if I wanted them to buy me a drink, they would have bought it already! And so I wasn't too fussed about sharing the expense for the night, as in the grand scheme of things a few rounds of drinks wasn't going to break the bank like an expensive meal or a pair of tickets for the London Eye (I forgot to mention that #2 bought the tickets in advance...)

We drank, we flirted, I playfully pulled his t-shirt up to have a good look at his tattoos (and rock hard abs, a fun extra), he stared unashamedly at my chest and tried to guess my bar size. So far, so good. We moved on to my favourite bar LVPO, and I put the final stage of my interrogation* into action: what' your favourite cocktail? I'm a cocktail snob, and having invested several year of my life into tasting and making cocktails I feel confident in saying that I know my shit, gin-wise. Sexy Irish Dude has made a previous comment about enjoying a good Passion Fruit Mojito, which I ignored because I felt it would be rude to mock him in public. I ordered a couple of Vespers, and explained how they got their name as he fished his olive out and eyed it with deep suspicion (whilst clearly loathing me for ordering such an unashamedly manly drink). He made it halfway through before sneaking off to the bar to order the damn Passion Fruit Mojitos (which admittedly were very tasty, probably because I couldn't taste any alcohol), and at this point I realised that I was really quite drunk. From here it's a slight blur. The philosophical conundrum of not behaving like a drunk person until you realise just how drunk you are is not one I want to examine too closely today, but that moment of clarity served to remind me that the Bad News Bears** were probably nearby, having a good old chuckle at me and my now totally hammered date.

*I had begun to view dating as stealth infiltration and extraction...
** See #1 - Getting drunk on a first date...

We may have kissed in LVPO. We may also have agreed to leave LVPO and find 'somewhere else' to go. We almost certainly did not agree that this would be my flat. Under no circumstances did I wake up at 6am with a pounding headache and a naked Irish man wrapped around me in what I can only describe as a sleep grip of doom. A hypothetical sleep grip of doom.

He sprung into action at around 6.30am and informed me he was going to pop home and change, as he had to be in work in a couple of hours. I was quite relieved to see him go - I don't often sleep when I share a bed, and I had a 14 hour day at work ahead of me. I fell back to sleep, enjoying the vastness of my now man-free bed, but awoke a few hours later to a nagging feeling that something was afoot. Something was not right, and I couldn't put my finger on it. Sexy Irish Dude hadn't called, but then again I hadn't expected him too (he informed me he thought it was possible that a one night stand could turn into a meaningful relationship, but I heard that aged 19 too, and I'm still waiting for that phone call...).  I considered the possibility that I quite liked him, but thankfully I have got the lustbox under control to the point where I can differentiate between genuinely sexy men and assholes with abs...so what exactly was making me so anxious...? After exhausting all logical possibilities I decided that maybe my female intuition was having an off day, and put it to the back of my mind.

And then my bank statement arrived. If my alcohol maths is correct (and it always is, it's a very useful skill) then I actually spent more than him on the evening drinks, AND I saved him a taxi fare home at 2am. 

Note to self - do not invest more than £15.00 on a date with someone you know will not call back. Invest in something more durable. Like a day planner, or a big bottle of gin.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

#2 - Standing myself up in public...

I'm a fairly sensible person most of the time. I like watching Cash in the Attic, and own several pairs of flat lace up shoes for a variety of eventualities and occasions. Most importantly, I have a private facebook page and don't give out my phone number without good reason. This means that for the majority of the time I behave at least moderately well, and even when I do do something naughty I don't get caught. I've protected my social media privacy for a long time, as I was lucky enough to grow up without facebook, twitter et al encouraging me to spew every thought that dropped into my head on the internet. By the time I was technically savvy enough to do so, I had worked out that no one cared.

And so when I joined my first (yes, there are more to come) dating website, I was adamant that I would only meet up with people if I was absolutely convinced that they were a) normal, and b) likely to turn up. This did limit my options slightly, as my predilection is for sexually aggressive commitment-phobic men with tattoos and an angry glare. Once I had ascertained that very few of these were available to me on  mysinglefriend  I began to broaden my search, hoping against hope that I would meet at least one reasonably sane, reasonably attractive man.

After a few non-starters, and one exceptionally rude Irish man (see #3 - Buying my own drinks...) I had begun to lose patience. After all, I'd been on this website for a week, and hadn't met the man of my dreams yet! I'd certainly met men who fitted my former idea of male perfection (again, see #3), but I was determined that somewhere there was a lovely bloke who would change my mind for the better (whilst ideally still having either a beard or some tattoos. Old habits die hard) Then out of the blue, I got a really, really great message. The man in question had a hilarious profile (all the profiles on mysinglefriend are written by the dater in question's friend(s)) and in his picture looked both happy and interesting, as well as being rather attractive...in a beardless sort of way...

We exchanged messages for a week or so, and discovered we had a lot of shared interests: the same films, books and even a passion for sightseeing, which we planned to put to full use on our first date. Despite my slight (severe) fear of heights (and all overly large things) I agreed to go up in the London Eye for our date, and agreed to supply a picnic for two with blanket and plastic wine glasses in return for him buying our tickets (I know - what a gentleman) We agreed a rendez-vous point on Millenium Pier at 11am, and agreed that it was going to be an amazing day.

It's at this point I should remind you that I don't give out my personal details to random men I meet on the internet (and again I refer to #3, who is really not coming across well so far...), and because he seemed like such a nice man it didn't occur to me for a second that he would not meet me at the designated time and location.

This was, in hindsight, an oversight on my part. 

I don't know if any of you have ever stood at Millenium Pier before? It's fairly big. And full of people. And boats. And after about 20 minutes of waiting around wearing a very gaudy unicorn rucksack that you were assured would make you stand out from the crowd, it's only natural to wonder if there are TWO Millenium Piers, and that maybe you're standing at the wrong one? I ended up waiting for nearly an hour. I was not impressed. I went home to send a very angry message about how incredibly rude it is to stand anyone up, let alone someone who went to the trouble of making you a picnic, only to discover a message waiting for me. Telling me off, for standing him up. 

There is definitely only one Millenium Pier. And I was standing on the other side of the river to it.

Lesson learned. Ask for a contact number before agreeing to meet anyone at a large monument with limited access to maps.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

#1 - Getting drunk on a first date...

After deciding that my love life was a little lacking in the...well, life department, I registered with an online dating website in an attempt to meet people outside my current circle of men. I say circle, but realistically they're more of a huddle these days (times are hard and they fear the lone female hunter). One of the reasons for packing up and leaving my hometown was that I had run out of men to date - after introducing my last boyfriend to my best friend she had to take me to one side and inform me that the young man in question took her to our year 11 prom...I knew he looked familiar...

Initially I was a little sceptical about online dating, as I don't know many people for whom online dating has worked. Moreover, I was concerned by the sheer amount of men on the site in question - I've never noticed this many men in my immediate vicinity before...where do they go when they're not internet dating? Do they all live in a complex surrounded by an electric fence, only granted freedom if they can prove someone wants them? Why are they all single!?

However, after receiving  a few fun and sparky messages on mysinglefriend I dropped my guard enough to arrange a few dates with some normal looking people, the first of which was with a fairly cute (though slightly shorter than average) man from East London. I would never voluntarily travel to East London unless I was being paid to do so (I find all the skinny people in identical clothing very unsettling), so we settled on Kings Cross, and I discovered I'm being taken to a cafe that specialises in cakes and cocktails, called Drink Shop and Do. I am very impressed: this stranger had managed to find a venue that would instantly put me in a good mood! I don't hesitate to order a big slice of Red Velvet and an Espresso Martini (spiced rum version, it's far superior). 

From here it's very easy to relax and enjoy getting to know my date, who proves charming, witty and, as far as I can tell, genuine. It helps that despite his less than sizeable height he is very attractive with a lovely smile and excellent teeth (I'm fussy about teeth). We finish our cocktails and cake, and decided that the date is going well enough to venture to a new watering hole, and have 'one more' drink. This was, in hindsight, a less than excellent idea. We end up in a wood panelled pub showing Sky Sports news, drinking pints of beer and telling stories of stupid things we have done, places we've been and would like to go, and for a while it all seems very straightforward and fun, with no pressure to make decisions or get frisky. 

Then it happens.

My date puts his hand on my knee. An innocuous, barely noticeable shift has occurred. A move has been made, and I now have to consider my options. Should I acknowledge the hand, and if so should it be a positive or negative response? Do I like the hand being there? Maybe I should put MY hand on HIS knee? At this point, I go to the ladies room to clear my head and take a moment to make a decision. It's too late. The Bad Idea Bears* are waiting for me, and they have a round of drinks in their paws.

*The Bad Idea Bears lurk in the background of potentially dangerous, naughty or otherwise deviant situations, making inappropriate remarks, ordering shots and handing out condoms.

One hour later, we're still in the pub. Hands are on knees. Noses are dangerously close to touching. Eyes are not entirely focused. He leans in for what is undoubtedly going to be a very nice, albeit drunken, kiss....and I shush him. For a split second, the only thing separating his lips from mine is my index finger, which by this point is pushing him away while I begin to babble that I don't think it would be a very good idea, because we're both a bit drunk, and we've only just met, and there are these Bears following me around telling me to tickle his kneecaps, has he seen them too?

The moment passes. We continue our conversation, and I think I may have gotten away with my rather bold rejection of his advances. I'm very annoyed at myself. Now that the kiss is off the table I want it back. He really is very good looking, and has lovely teeth, and why did I shush him? We finish our drinks and decide that, as we've missed the last tube, that it's probably time we head home, to get a few hours sleep in before work. But maybe it's not too late? He offers to walk me to the bus stop, and we continue to chat about our plans for the rest of the week. I throw a couple of sultry glances his way to show him I'm available for some kissing now thank you, but he's not playing ball. I've hurt his feelings, or possibly his pride. Either way, it's obvious what I need to do. I sacrifice my own pride and lean in for a kiss. He backs away, smiles, and tells me I was probably right to push him away . My bus arrives. I get on and wave goodbye.

The next day I send him a message thanking him for a lovely evening. I don't get a reply. 

Bloody Bears.