The One Who Dressed In Pleather

Yesterday I made an epic error.

A monumental mistake.

I decided to Match like a man (or how I imagine men like to Match).

I have long suspected that when using Tinder, many men swipe right on every single profile, thus increasing their odds of success.  I reckon this probably extends to Match.com (every day on Match, you are given the option to yay or nay through a selection of a hundred eligibles).  So I made the bold decision to say yes to all of them.  I messaged Amy to inform her of my intentions, and embarked on some swipy-swiping.

Seconds later, I get a flurry of messages…

BE CAREFUL!!!
If you do that – Match ADDS THEM TO YOUR FAVOURITES.
I MADE THAT HORROR MISTAKE ONCE.
FUCKING HELL.

I knew it was serious, she’d used CAPITAL LETTERS.

Muttering profanities, I braced myself to assess the damage…

Just for clarification, if you ‘favourite’ someone on Match, they get a notification and there’s no way of removing them from your list of faves (like a drunken text message but WORSE). I had previously wondered where the list of favourites was generated from… And now I knew.

Luckily, Amy had halted my action before I managed to get myself into too much trouble.  I took a deep breath and scrolled through my recently extended favourites list.  Most were pretty dull.

And then there was LeatherLover17.

LeatherLover17 was pretty hot.  He was 34 and lived in Reading.  So far, so good.  He had 4 profile pictures which were variations of the same shot (what is it with these multiple identical photos FFS?!)  He had nice thighs.

Nice thighs encased in a nice, tight super-shiny faux-leather all-in-one suit…


He even fuzzed out his face in one of them which meant I didn’t have to do it myself before posting here (I initially thought it was a special mask, but after zooming in, we realised this wasn’t the case).

He sounded interesting…

Amy reckoned I should meet him.  Amy offered to sit in the corner and observe. Amy said I should think of the readers.  Hell, Amy even offered to pay for dinner and drinks and lend me her favourite leather gloves (red, with a fleck of leopard print) and told me to think of the beautiful leather babies…

Clearly I refused.

She decided I should message him and say:

I read your profile. Doesn’t being dressed head to toe in leather not make you melt like stilettos and leather gloves?

Or

Hey, sorry if this is a bit forward, but I got a little notification that you’d checked out my profile … I had a read of yours and can’t believe you’ve had to hide a part of you in past relationships.  That makes me sad. Noone should hide who they are.  That was all really.  Hope you’re well. X

 

No. No. NO.

Leatherlover17 provided hours of entertainment.

We discussed at length the special suit.  We reckon it has a full length under-zip. But even then, how does he get into it? Lashings of talc? Sheer determination? Lots of helpers? We also weren’t so sure how he managed to get it so shiny (especially with the mattifying effects of talc…) Baby oil was the odds-on favourite, but it looks like we’ll never know now.  

We pontificated over whether he would he arrive on a date with it under his day-to-day suit…  Probably not, we decided – simply not practical.  Just how squeaky would it be?  Where does one go to get a full-length fake leather onesie anyway, y’know, if (hypothetically speaking) one wanted to make a special effort for the date…?  (turns out there are a surprising number of specialist retailers – the sort you don’t really want to be looking at on your work laptop…) How does he pee (obvs this involved some more zooming action)? Etc.

SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS.

How are we going to sleep?!

As curious as I am, I still couldn’t bring myself to message him despite Amy’s suggestion that we ‘let the internet decide’ (I don’t want to be responsible for my mum having a heart attack). So here we are, none the wiser.

Sorry about that.

Cx

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The One With The Unhappily Married Man

 

Fuck sake.

Admitting you’re married to me does not earn you brownie points.  It does not endear you to me me in anyway shape or form.  It does not make my knickers pound with the excitement of forbidden passion.

It makes me rage.

And it makes me feel sorry for your wife.

Oh, and me noting how honest you were wasn’t my way of offering you a compliment.

As a single woman this is my advice to you:

If you’re that miserable in your relationship and you can’t (or don’t want to) make it work then find your fucking balls and leave.

Please.

Leave before you fuck up a whole bunch of peoples lives for the sake of you wanting fun and excitement.

 

The Ones That Got Away…

Match Hero.

Match.com defines these as such:

The Match Badge tells you in a blink of an eye which Match members are the most genuine and reliable in their messages to other members. These are true Match Heroes, ready to find someone special that will hopefully send you charming messages!

Note the use of the word ‘hopefully’ in that last sentence…

Before I regale you with a couple of screenshots of some simply ‘charming’ messages, here is a picture of neck tattoo man. I was going to put a black strip over his eyes to protect his identity… However, a) I don’t know how to, b) his name’s not on there anyway, so good luck trying to track him down (I already tried searching all my favourite Tattoo Fails websites), and c) he does have very nice eyes indeed.

I would like you to take a good hard look at the below (use your zoom function if necessary) and tell me what his tattoo says… Does it say ‘tattoo’, or does it say ‘butterfly’?

I told you so.

Still got nice eyes, though.

I’ve been sent a lot of messages on Match, very few of which could be described as charming. I strongly suspect that many men just send the same message to every female profile they can find, under the misguided belief that this approach will reap more fruit.

Here are two of my favourite ‘cut-and-paste’ introductions (I haven’t included the one where the guy felt the need to explain how he had ‘few limits in the area involving a woman’s arse’). This one came from a charming gentleman whose Match Moniker is Tigertime:

Needless to say, I failed to respond to the question, his profile did not strike a chord, and I certainly didn’t get in touch with the intention of getting to know him better.
Aaaaaand Blocked!

The second one was marginally less odd…

 

Marginally less odd until you get to the line “I hope these questions are not too tricky…!”

Tricky?!

I was tempted to respond with some pointless yet tricky questions of my own: Andrex or Velvet Quilted? Monopoly or the Game of Life? Flip-flops or wellies? Curtains or blinds? Salt or pepper? London or Europe?

This, my friend, is what we are faced with.

I did start messaging one guy; we’ll call him Alex*.  Alex seemed relatively normal** and I was contemplating meeting up with him.  Okay, he was a bit obsessed with living off the grid and being self-sufficient and all that malarkey (although he did like to jet off skiing several times a year, which in my books sort of negates the whole ‘I won’t leave a carbon-footprint’ wankery).  Anyway, his photos were okay-ish (one where he had an ill-placed landscape painting on the wall behind him so he sort of looked like he had horns, and another close up which I suspect may have been taken in a gym – although thankfully he wasn’t wearing a vest…) No Xmas jumpers, no bathroom mirror shots, no topless-lying-in-bed poses, no giant fish.

So far, so good.

We messaged over a few days and he didn’t say anything thay screamed weirdo at me, and then he suggested meeting up.  At this point, I reckoned I should probably take a closer look at his profile before committing…

Wow.

I’m not sure if he had updated it since my first perusal, or whether I had somehow glossed over the bits that screamed block, block now!

His intro was really long. It began with a list of the ‘Please do not contact me if any of the following apply’ variety.  The first 9 points had clearly been lifted from some sort of article on online dating:

  • You have no photo.
  •  Your photos are all blurry/distant
  • Your photos are several years out of date.

Etc. You get the picture.

But then we reach point number 10…  He appeared to have veered a little off the copy/paste course with this one…

  • You are generally one sandwich short of a picnic, recovering alcoholic or loon of any kind (Especially horsy girls – one I met turned out to be a total mental write-off – compulsive liar, delusional, split personality, plus more, very sad case – so if you have anything to do with horses, please ensure you are sane as I am particularly cautious :-))

Okaaaaay…

And if that hadn’t been enough to put me off (not that I’m remotely into horses or anything, but the guy was clearly a little odd…) the following line definitely sealed the deal:

I like all things outdoors, riding, walking the dogs (5 rotties and a staff all of which I’ve rescued)…

And I’ll stop right there.

FIVE rescue rottweilers and a rescue staffie?!  I’m not a dog lover*** but I firmly believe that even the most enthusiastic among you would be just a little apprehensive if faced with that pack…

Six Dangerous Potentially Dangerous. Rescue. Dogs.

A veritable PACK of potentially dangerous rescue dogs. 6 of them in total.

My heart rate is increasing just thinking about it.

So I sent him a nice friendly message explaining that having had a closer look at his profile, I didn’t really think we were compatible as he was clearly a bit of a dog lover, and I was very much not, and that I wished him all the best in his search.

That should have been the end of it, right?

But oh no, not for Match Hero Alex…

Match Hero Alex felt the need to explain to me that I, in turn, needed to overcome my ‘unnecessary phobia’ (erm, being apprehensive of your pack of dangerous dogs is called self preservation in my books, mate…), went on to tell me how one of his martial arts instructors said that if you focus on your fears you’ll develop – sound advice that apparently served him well (erm okay…  and loving the casual way you’ve dropped in the fact that you have plural martial arts instructors, by the way; how manly), and then went on to give me this great wee nugget of advice…

“It’s dangerous to be in that position (being scared of packs of potentially dangerous rescue dogs) as your (sic) going to give off the signals of fear to any dog and therefore more likely than anyone else to get into trouble. Oh well, best of luck!”

Before I could block him, he took it upon himself to start sending me loads of links to people who could ‘cure’ me.

What a charmer.

I told my mate about him.  His response ‘I reckon he lives with his parents, nobody has that many dogs and goes skiing that often.’

Male logic.

Me, I reckon he lives alone.  I reckon he lives alone in the middle of nowhere with all his horses and alpacas (according to his profile…) and his pack of scary rescue dogs. I reckon he is the kind of guy who would have thought he could ‘cure’ me by locking me in a barn with his pack of rabid beasts. Stuff of my actual nightmares.

Blocked! (and bullet successfully dodged, methinks).

I’m going to leave you now with a picture of the first guy who contacted me on Match (please, dear readers, bear in mind that I have set my absolutes maximum age limit at 46…) I’ve had a fiddle and managed to (after a fashion) fix the whole strip across the eyes thing – just in case anyone recognises their (ahem) 45 year old grandad and gets all cross with me.  I just think you should get an idea of what Amy and I are subjecting ourselves to for the purposes of your entertainment.


 

*His real name

**Normality really is relative on Match.com…

*** You can read about my feelings towards dogs here: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/caththebruce.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/100daysofgrievances-3-dogs-and-their-owners-2/amp/

The One With The Financial Compensation

The words ‘You have one new email’ from match flashed across my notifications bar.

Silently I chant my new mantra ‘Please don’t be weird.  Please don’t be weird. Please don’t be weird’.

I open the message and it reads:

“Hey, I really loved your profile and I think it was very brave of you to let your friends write it.  I’m tempted to ask if you had to bribe them to be kind about you but I suspect not, you have a really pretty face, you look kind and honest”.

Given I like my ego (not a euphemism) stroked on occasion as much as the next person, I hit reply.

Shallow?  Yes.

Fucks given? Zero.

My reply was:

“Ah thank you, that’s very kind of you.  I didn’t have to bribe them to write nice things about me but they do now have a vested interest in my dating endeavours so I have to give them progress reports :-).  How are you?”

Now, I never met up with this guy who we’ll call Mr Dublin, but over the course of a week or so, our conversation went like this:

Mr Dublin: I’m really good thank you, tired from all the travelling though.  I work in London.  Canary Wharf actually, lovely but a bit hectic.  How about you?  What’s work for you?

Me: I work for a Digital Marketing company in Bracknell.  Nice and local thankfully.  I used to work in Canary Wharf – many moons ago though, couldn’t go back to going into London everyday.  Do you live in London?

Mr Dublin: Kind of.

OK, I’ll bite

Me: Kind of?

Mr Dublin: I’m from Dublin actually, still live there but stay in London Monday to Friday for work.

Right…..

Me: Oh wow.  You must really enjoy your job to be so committed to coming to London for work.  What do you do?

Mr Dublin: I am.  But my family are all back home, so as vibrant as London is, the city can feel a bit lonely.

Here we go….

Me: Ah, I see.

Mr Dublin: Look, you seem really nice so I feel like I should be 110% honest with you.

Tell him to fuck off and hit delete

Me: You know you can only be 100% honest don’t you?

Mr Dublin: I have a wife.

Wanker

Me: Goodbye.

Mr Dublin: Wait, look, I’m trying to be honest.  I’ve been married for a long time and my wife lives in Dublin.  She’s my best friend and we get on really well but, well, she doesn’t stimulate me.  Physically.

Fucking wanker

Mr Dublin:  Me and my wife have an agreement.  We don’t want to separate so while I’m in England if I want to seek out the company of another woman I can.  I’m totally open about it with her.

Pretty sure it’s ‘my wife and I’ asshole

Mr Dublin: Come to London.

Me: You’re joking?

Mr Dublin: No.  Come to London.  I’d like to get to know you.  We can have dinner.

Me: Not even if hell freezes over.

Mr Dublin: LOL.  Stubborn.  I like that in a woman.

Persistent little fucker aren’t you

Mr Dublin: Where do you live?  I can send a car to come get you and bring you to London.  We’ll have drinks and dinner.  You won’t have to pay for a thing.  I’ll be a total gentleman.

Who will no doubt want to screw me after dinner.  Like a gentleman

Mr Dublin: I can put you up in a hotel if you don’t want to go home.  I’ll make sure you get home the next day.  We’ll have fun, I promise.  I’m really quite funny.

You’re a fucking moron

Mr Dublin: I’m serious.  The whole evening will be on me.

And you’ll be in me given half a fucking chance

Me: Look, I’m not sure how many times you’ve used this line on women before and how many of my kind have been bimbo enough to fall for it but I’m not interested.  Take the money you’d spend and get yourself some therapy.  You clearly need it.

Mr Dublin: You’d be well compensated for your time.  Its not just dinner and drinks I’d cover.

Outstanding

Me: Sorry?  Did you just offer to pay me for sex?  Are you fucking serious?  London is full of places where you can rent a woman by the hour so if you’re that fucking desperate and your right hand is no longer working for you sunshine, you might want to look there.  My tetanus isn’t quite up to date and men like you make my skin crawl.  I feel sorry for your wife.  Fuck off and don’t email me again.

You’re welcome, A x

The One With The Fiancee

At 46, MP wasn’t the oldest guy who’d ever messaged me on match.com but he was certainly at the top end of my specified age range.

He was tall, athletic, had salt and pepper hair and eyes as blue as the tropical seas.  He really was very handsome.

His first message landed in my inbox a week or so after my date with The Drunk and I proceeded with a new found air of caution.

I was surprised by how warm and friendly it was.  He’d given some thought to it’s content which thankfully avoided questions like ‘so, what are your views on being fingered?’ and statements like ‘you look really naughty, I bet you know how to have fun…’.  He finished the message by offering his full name and the name of where he worked so that if I wanted to check him out and make sure he wasn’t lying, I could.

Now, I’m not a massive bimbo all the time.  I was more than aware that it could have been one big elaborate hoax (though a tiny part of me wondered who the fuck has time for shit like that)  but having learned a valuable lesson with The Drunk I used the details he gave me and googled him.  Sure enough on the results page there was his company bio, linked-in profile and twitter account.

What a fucking relief.  I did a bit of a happy dance, gave myself a high five and emailed him back.

Messaging him was easy and dare I say it, I almost enjoyed hearing from him.

We talked about work, past relationships, our home life, ambitions, our kids and what we enjoyed in our spare time.  Though he was older we had a fair bit in common.  Where we differed was in our jobs.  I do nine to five for a firm of Financial Advisers whereas he worked in Software (what is with me and Hot Geeks?!) and looked after clients all over Europe so he travelled a lot.  That, he said, was why he’d struggled to find anyone long term.

I suspect it was more the fact he was a lying, cheating sack of shit.  But we’ll get to that later.

My Modus Operandi is to message for a while online and establish if things flow before moving into giving someone my number – God forbid it end up in a phone box advertising sexy services or worse still, on the internet where some rogue PPI claim company could get hold of me – but after a couple of weeks MP came straight out and asked if I’d like to meet for coffee.  Nothing strenuous; just a quick get together over lunch to see if we got on in person as much as we did online.

Not wanting another date which ends with being sexually assaulted and verbally abused I agreed and we met in a coffee shop near my work.

It was really lovely.  He was softly spoken (thank God for my hearing aid) but as nice in person as I’d imagined.  Truth be told, I could have spent all afternoon talking to him but as I had to go back to work we both agreed to go for a drink next time and something to eat.

Fast forward a couple of months and we’d started to see each other more regularly and were talking on the phone when we could.

Nothing in how he behaved gave me cause for concern.  But then I’d expect nothing less from a Master Manipulator.

Easter Saturday I woke to a text message which simply read:

“A, you’re so lovely and wonderful, but I cannot see you anymore”

What the fuck.  Like, what the actual fuck?

Screenshotting it I sent it the girls with a message that just said ‘I will never understand men’.

I couldn’t reply because (like a spineless bellend) he blocked me so feeling a bit bemused and a little upset (and quite a bit pissy) I took myself to Reading for the Easter Weekend.

At exactly 1:33pm on Easter Sunday my phone rang.  A number I didn’t have stored flashed across the screen and in that exact moment something inside me knew who would be on the other end of the phone.  The conversation went like this:

Me: Hello?

Her: Hi is that A?

Me: It is.

Her: Hi, I’m L.  MP’s fiancee.

Me: ….. and now it makes perfect sense.

Fuck. My. Actual. Fucking. Life.

For someone who had found the courage to pick up the phone and call me, L was surprisingly calm.  She didn’t shout (I would have), she didn’t swear (I absolutely would have) and she didn’t assign blame (I probably would have…).  What she was, was a woman looking for answers.

I made L one promise on that call: I would answer any question she had on the proviso that she understood two things:

  1. That I had absolutely no idea she existed.
  2. That she accepted she probably wasn’t going to like some of the answers she got.

Before you judge me know this: I genuinely had no idea she existed.  Not a fucking scooby.  I’ve been in relationships with men who can’t keep their dick in their pants so I know first hand how dogshit awful that feels.  NOTHING in how he behaved gave me reason to suspect he was with someone; we talked on the phone before work and after work, in the evenings and at the weekends.

For the next half an hour I told her everything.  Told her how MP and I met.  About our messages.  About our dates.  Where we’d been and when.  Everything.

I had nothing to hide because in my eyes I’d done nothing wrong.

Between us we pieced together a clusterfuck jigsaw of lies and deceit.  For every time MP was with me, he’d lied to L about where he was.  Every single time.

L had long suspected that he was unfaithful but having seized an opportunity to go through his phone she’d found the last of our text messages and frantically wrote my number down and called me when he was out.

I told her that it was unlikely I was the first woman he’d cheated with and I was undoubtedly not going to be the last.  My advice, not that it meant anything in the grand scheme of things, was to pack her bags and leave.  And maybe set fire to all of his shit before she go.

At the end of the conversation a tiny, broken voice just said thank you.

Thank you?  Was she serious I thought?  I’ve just told you things I hadn’t told my girlfriends and you’re thanking me?  In that very moment I felt fucking awful.  I felt like the bullet fired from a gun that shattered her heart and I felt disgusting for it.

And then I felt pure, unadulterated rage that a man I had come to trust had behaved like a prepubescent boy who had just discovered what his cock does and was determined to yield it like a bastard lightsaber at anyone he could.  What a selfish, lying, manipulative fuck.

Before L and I disconnected, MP came home and in a heartbeat I heard L find her ladyballs and tell him that she was on the phone to me and that she knew everything.  A tiny squeak emanated from MP and though I wasn’t there I knew his world had come crashing down.  She asked me if I wanted to speak to him one last time and I simply replied saying “Nah I’m good thanks, I’d rather stitch my vagina up that give him anymore of my time.  Good luck”

And with that, the call was done.

So now, when people mock me for my rules I tell them this story.

You’re welcome, A x

The One With The Drunk

Until recently, I had three rules that anyone who wanted to have the pleasure of my company for the long term was expected to keep:

  • Don’t lie
  • Don’t cheat
  • Don’t hit me

Basic, simple, standard stuff.

Rules that you shouldn’t really have to remind people to follow because, lets be honest, they shouldn’t be dicks.

Those rules have done me well…. that was, until I went out with M at the beginning of this year.

M had real potential.

He had a good job, owned his own home, had no crazy ex on the scene and more importantly had the kind of sense of humour that didn’t just make me chuckle, it made me belly laugh.

M and I spent the best part of a month chatting online before I took the plunge and gave him my mobile number which came with the obvious caveat of ‘no dick pics please’ and ‘don’t drunk text me’.  We spent another few weeks texting and chatting on the phone before we set the date.

We decided to meet for a late lunch at 3:30pm.  He lived in Thatcham and I’m in Wantage – as the venue was ladies choice I decided to pick a pub that’s run by a very good friend of mine mid way between us.  Plus I figured I’d be close to a friendly face if things went tits up.

Sometimes my subconscious is on fire!

Date Day arrived and shortly after midday I got a text from M to say he was at the pub.  I explained that I wasn’t ready with some things to finish off and that I was still planning on getting there for 3:30 – I politely suggested perhaps he might like to head home and go back later but he insisted on waiting and watching the rugby… he said it’d be fine.

It wasn’t.

By the time I arrived M was as pissed as a newt.  He could just about walk to the bar and gleefully admitted he was on pint number 6.  Excellent.

I should have turned round and run for the fucking hills left but I put the overindulgence down to nerves: he’d been married for quite a long time, separated about 18 months and hadn’t really been out with anyone in that time so figured I’d give him the benefit of the doubt!

I’d arranged for us to have a table away from the main bar where we could sit and talk and get to know each other.  That’s what I’d planned on doing.

Not M though…

With food ordered (mine, not his… he declared that ‘eating’s cheating’ and ordered wine) I nipped to the loo quickly to find a window to jump out of to give myself a pep talk but on my return I found M sat with 6 strangers.  Men who’d come to the pub to watch the rugby and who were now, it would seem, sat with us on one big table!

Things really started to unravel when one of the guys – Russ – leaned over to me and said “I think you’re really brave”.  What? Brave? For what I wondered?  Not. A. Clue what he was on about.  Confused, I looked at M who whispered “check your phone”.  While I’d been away, M had taken the liberty of fabricating a whole new backstory for us and had regaled his new friends with tales that I was his probation officer and that against all advice we’d embarked on a love affair.

I was quick to put Russ right much to M’s disappointment.

I know.  I know.  Fucking weirdo.

By the end of the game M had lost all ability to walk or stand upright but he did retain his faculties enough to declare how much he cared about me and how he really wanted to see me again and began pushing for a second date.

Now, in my head I’m screaming ‘you’re having a fucking laugh sunshine, I can’t believe I stayed on this one let alone go for another!’ but opted instead to say that it wasn’t going to work and that perhaps things would be best left and said we’ll call it a day.

Judging by the reaction I may as well have told him his house had been burned to the ground and his dog was dead.  He was raging.

Giving him time to calm down I retreated back to the loo and told my friend I’d be back in a moment.  When I came out, M was waiting for me.  He’d calmed down and opted to change tact – he’d decided that the only way to change my mind and for me to see what a catch he really was, was to for me to kiss him.

Fuck that.

I declined.  Politely (at first).

His ‘request’ was a more forceful second time round and came with him grabbing my wrists and trying to shove his tongue down my throat. Grim.

I said no again and to emphasise my point I shoved my knee between his legs.  He soon moved.

Upset and angry he told me that if he’d known I was going to be a ‘pissy bitch’ he wouldn’t have stayed.  Charming.

With that he grabbed his coat and stormed out.

I returned to my table and ordered a bottle of wine with my friend where we sat and read, with equal parts horror and amusement, the flurry of messages he sent me from his cab telling me I was a disgrace, I was a tease, how he cared about me and I just ripped his heart out…. blah, blah, blah

I never heard from him again.

So now I have four rules:

  • Don’t lie
  • Don’t cheat
  • Don’t hit me
  • Don’t get pissed on your first date

You’re welcome, A x

 

Date no.1

My name is Catherine and I’m an internet dater.

I’m one half of the pair of intrepid singles who will be regaling you with tales of our Match.com exploits.  The other is Amy, she will introduce herself soon enough…

To be fair, I’ve only been on one internet date thus far, but it was a date and it was with someone I met off the internet, so I don’t think I can be done for perjury.

It was with no small amount of trepidation that I embarked on Internet Date #1. My head was filled with cautionary tales (I’m sure Amy will elaborate on these in due course…) and memories of bad dates gone by. My previous first-date highlights include (but are not limited to):

  • The guy who insisted on balancing his full beer bottle atop the box-shaped napkin holder on the edge of our table (this box was about the height of your average toaster). He refuted my claims that this might be less than sensible, then proceeded to knock said bottle off its precarious perch and into the handbag of the lady dining at the next table.
  • The one who came back to mine for a coffee and asked if he could smoke. Upon being told he could smoke out the window, and confirming the window opened outwards, he shoved said window without opening the catch. Cue: blood everywhere; mild panic; sneaking suspicion that this might actually warrant an A&E visit; dawning realisation that this was actually going to end in tears and at a hospital; refusal by all taxi drivers to let us blood-spattered, slightly hysterical drunkards aboard; eventual arrival at A&E; interrogation by receptionist relating to whether or not I’d stabbed him…
  • The charmer who got really cross with me because I’d had the audacity to arrive early (apparently the man was ‘meant to arrive first’…) Weeks later he dumped me using that immortal phrase ‘It’s not you, it’s me’, but that’s a whole other story.

I’ve not actually been on that many first dates. Most highlights of my romantic history begin with variations of the ‘well, I bumped into him in the pub and we got kinda drunk and yeah, now we’re seeing each other’ opening act. But oh how times are a-changing… The pubs I frequent these days aren’t exactly well known for entertaining a plethora of eligible bachelors. So having taken advice from the incorrigible Amy, I decided to venture out into the realms of The Online …. Enter Match.com! At a later date, I’ll fill you in on why I settled on Match (as opposed to any of the many other dating websites out there), but you’ll have to wait. Instead, I’m going to give you a summary of Date #1

 

1.The Profile

A solid 6/10. There were a few clichés in there.  Under ‘likes’ he’d cited “hanging out with nieces and nephews” (translation: “pick me, pick me, I’m fun yet ready to settle down”), “wood fires” (cringe) and “the start of spring” (double cringe), but on the whole, nothing screamed freak at me. He could differentiate between ‘there’ and ‘their’, he wasn’t 47 yet looking for a very attractive female between the ages of 18 and 26, and we appeared to have a fair few interests in common.

 

2. The Photos

Three in number, all different (surprising just how many men have multiple identical photos on their profiles), none featuring fish / wild animals / bathroom mirrors.

One was the obligatory ‘holding small child with small child’s small head cropped out of picture’ shot (a prerequisite when one has banged on about one’s love of hanging out with one’s siblings’ spawn in one’s dating profile). The second pic was a rather awkward pose of him leaning over an older lady who was sporting a very fetching bright blue satin shirt. Mum? Older sister? Boss? Ex-wife? Who knows?! The third picture was side on, and looked like a completely different guy. In it he was pointing and laughing at something. Standard Catalogue Pose ™.

 

3. The research

By trade I am a researcher. It’s what I do. Of course I’m going to apply the tools of my trade to potential dates. Please don’t judge me (and if you want any tips, feel free to get in touch…)

On this occasion, research resulted in a Twitter account (private), verification that yes, he was in fact a teacher in the town he claimed to live and teach in, and an utterly hideous, cringesome feature in a national newspaper. The premise of this column is that each week, a reader waxes lyrical about why they lurrrrve this particular paper. The column featured Date #1. My date used the line ‘I regard the paper as my “natural home”’. I did a little bit of sick in my mouth as I typed that. I know it was my date and not someone with the same name / similar appearance, because he used the mystery-older- lady-resplendent-in-blue-satin photo (but cropped, so that it just showed his face).

Oh Lord.

The article was published in 2015 – my super-sleuth credentials enabled me to deduce that this meant his photo was at least 2 years old… I didn’t do my research until after arranging lunch – rookie error – and set off for my hot date with the words of Ammi ringing in my ears: “Don’t mention the newspaper thing!”

 

4. The date itself

Positives

  • No neck tattoos. This is relevant. I am currently being bombarded with messages from a man with very nice eyes and a very not-nice neck tattoo that says (no word of a lie) ‘tattoo’ in cursive script…*
  • Reading a paper (therefore can read) – he folded it up and put it on the floor before I could see if he was visiting his ‘spiritual home’…
  • No awkward silences (apart from when I said I didn’t really think cricket counted as a sport, and instead should be relegated to the ranks of non-sports like snooker and darts. In my defence, he claimed to be ‘devastated’ every time the cricket season ended…) Oh and there was another awkward silence after I told him in no uncertain terms that the Stereophonics definitely could not be classed as a Scottish band.
  • He was the height he claimed to be. Well, I think he was – I’m not all that good with heights, but he was taller than me (grasping at straws much?)

Negatives

  • He bore only a passing resemblance to his (presumably decade-old / highly flattering) photos. Hey, I’m not one to judge. My own photos aren’t exactly representative of what I look like all of the time… But I think you’d recognise me if you were looking for me in a pub (especially if I was wearing – as I awkwardly realised to be the case – the same outfit I was wearing in my profile picture… Like I planned it that way specially). As it was, I walked round, couldn’t see him, so retired to the bar and ordered a soft drink. Meanwhile, I texted him to say where I was perched, and then waited. And waited. And waited some more. I then felt obliged to set off looking for him again. I eventually recognised him. It was his dreamy expression as he lovingly caressed his paper than gave it away…
  • He wouldn’t go up to the bar. I think he thought I might steal his coat or something. Or maybe going to the bar was my punishment for being late. I had to go up to order food and then drinks. He counted out the exact change for his…
  • He ate his meal in about 90 seconds. It was a roast dinner, so no mean feat. Maybe I was talking more than him, or maybe he eats unusually quickly. Maybe he was desperate to escape. Who knows? What I do know is that as I ate my own food, he fired really thought-provoking questions at me (“So, what team sports do you play?” “So, what route does the train take from here to London? Does it, perhaps go through Richmond?”) This thrilling line of questioning was interspersed with some acute observations (“It’s quite unusual these days to find a nice pub on a main road… Especially one with a carpark.” “There are various routes out of this town.)

Thank the lord for Yorkshire puddings.

  • He subtly corrected my Scottish pronunciation. I say subtly, but it wasn’t really all that subtle at all. His modus operandi was to repeat a word I’d used recently and emphasise the ‘correct’ way to say it… So I would say: “I bought this top out of Pree-mark”, he would say: “I like it. Bright blue is my favourite colour… I haven’t been into Pryyyyyy-mark for ages because I’ve been too busy watching cricket.”**The first time he did it, thought I’d imagined it. The third time had some bearing on the fact that I headed to the bar (also for the third time) and on this occasion, for a well-needed glass of wine. He was probably just practising his classroom-leadership skills on me.

Oh, and on the subject of teaching, when I returned with my vino (and a third pint of lemonade for him), we had a particularly great conversation that went something like this:

Me: “It must be more time consuming marking essays in a posh school, I bet they use big words that you have to look up.” (Yep, I was on fire with my opening gambits!)

TeacherMan: (frowning) “Actually, I think you’ll find I know more words than my students.”

Me: (not exactly gunning for an argument, but willing to embark on one, should the opportunity arise) “I meant what with online thesauruses, they must stick big words in.”

TM: (pertinaciously**) “I know ALL the words.”

There are no words.

  • My pissed-offedness increased exponentially when he a) expressed disbelief that I’d attended Edinburgh University (“But isn’t that a really good university?”), b) stated rather pompously that “sometimes one has to forsake one’s beliefs if one wishes to get ahead in life”, and c) suggested that Coldplay were actually quite good. 

Eff. Right. Off.

  • He asked if I usually ‘double drink’… I’d like to point out that when he asked this question, I was drinking a small medium glass of wine (might as well face it; nobody who knows me would believe it was a small) and a pint of soda water. A. Pint. Of. Soda. Water. Maybe he thought I was drinking a pint of vodka alongside my Malbec… I guess he wouldn’t know, not having been to the bar! I resisted the urge to order myself a large whisky – a triple-drink-chaser as it were, and quietly seethed.

 

What I learned

Never, ever meet a first date for a meal. Go for a coffee. Thinking about it, don’t ever order tea. Order coffee as coffee tastes okay if you drown it in milk to cool it down (well, okay-er than tea does). Screw that. Order a cold drink.  A small, cold drink. Swiftly-consumed beverages make for a sharp getaway.

 

Over to you, Amy….

 

* As unlikely as this sounds (especially given my undying love of searching online for bad tattoos), I promise this is true. I messaged him asking him if his tattoo said ‘tattoo’ (it clearly did but I needed confirmation). He replied saying “yes I have a tattoo”. So I said “What does it say?” and he replied “Butterfly”…

**Example conversation, the chat wasn’t quite that bad…

*** Love an online thesaurus, me.