I’d been seeing a guy for a little while; he lived a long way away, so all our dates had been in restaurants and bars. Things had been going well, and I’d agreed I’d stay the night at his.
When I arrived, he was apologetic; there was a problem at work and he’d been thinking about cancelling, but still wanted to see me. However, he’d need to check in with work occasionally.
He left me with a drink while he answered a few emails. I checked out his books and his CD collection while he was gone (doesn’t everyone?) When he came back, he explained he’d have to keep an eye on his phone during dinner.
Well, there’s a difference between keeping an eye on your phone and giving it your full attention. We didn’t talk much during the meal, and he seemed to get more and more agitated about work. I tried to chat about his taste in music and books, but a frostiness settled; he shut the conversation down and went back to looking at his phone and ignoring me.
It just didn’t make sense. He’d said he was happy to see me, but his actions said the opposite. It’s not fun hanging out with someone who blatantly doesn’t want you there, and I wanted to leave; but I was 70 miles from home, I’d had a few drinks and couldn’t drive, and public transport wasn’t an option.
I was stuck at his. There was nothing that could be done but brave it out until the morning.
He had the one bed, so we both had to spend the night sharing it, keeping as much distance from each other as possible; not talking, not touching. I didn’t sleep a wink.
The next morning, he woke and said he had to get onto a conference call with work immediately. I said I’d leave, but he told me to stay, saying that the call wouldn’t take long. I didn’t want to seem rude, so I stayed.
Two hours later, he was still on his call, and I was feeling thoroughly stupid. Several times, I stuck my head around the door to say I’d be going, but he insisted I stay, that he’d be off the call soon.
Eventually, my anger and discomfort finally overtook my desire to be polite. Enough. He didn’t want me there, whether he was prepared to admit it or not. And—more importantly, although it’d taken me long enough to get there—I really didn’t want to be there. Time to go.
Time to go. As I headed for the door, he muted his call to tell me: “It’s been a long time since I’ve had anyone over to mine. I’m not good with having other people in my personal space.”
I drove home, angry and upset. I presumed I’d never hear from him again, but he phoned me three days later. Maybe he thought he hadn’t insulted me enough yet; he told me he’d called to explain that he didn’t want to “take the relationship any further, because you’re obviously much keener on me than I am on you.” And in the next breath, he asked, “Do you want to be friends, though?”
I laughed—a sharp, hollow, laugh—and said no, thank you.
Before the date, he warned me that he got very nervous on first dates and often talked a lot. Fine, I sometimes talk a lot too.
But he really wasn’t kidding; I sat and listened to him talk about himself for the best part of three hours.
Eventually, he paused for breath, looked at me and said:
Date: “I suppose I’d better ask you something about yourself, hadn’t I?”
Me: “That’d be nice.”
Date: “So, tell me about your ex-husband.”
Date: “Your ex-husband. How did you meet each other, how long were you together and when did it all go wrong?”
Me: “I don’t really want to talk about my marriage, thanks. Isn’t there anything else you want to know about me?”
Turns out there wasn’t, as he went straight back to talking about himself again. At the end of the evening, he apologised again, put it down to nerves, and promised to do less talking and more listening if I’d meet him for a second date. I agreed.
So, the second date arrived and, again, the gentleman started talking about himself without asking me a single question. I tried to get the odd word in, but he was a tsunami of conversation. After two hours:
Date: “I said I was going to ask you something about yourself tonight, didn’t I?”
Me: “Yes, you did.”
Date: “So, tell me about your ex-husband.”
Date: “Yes. How did you meet each other, how long were you together and when did it all go wrong?”
Me: “You know what? I’ve got an early start in the morning, let’s call it a night.”
We’d been flirting online for weeks. It had all been leading towards a real-life-actual-date but—just as I headed out the door to meet him—my phone rang.
It was him.
He sounded panicked: “I can’t make it tonight. My dog’s not very well.”
Well, fair enough. When you have dependents—whether they’re a human or a furry friend—you have a duty to look after them. So, I didn’t mind him cancelling at all.
I texted him the next day to ask how the dog was, and to see when he wanted to meet.
But I never heard from him again.
I still have no idea whether he’d got cold feet and the dog was just an excuse, or whether dog-illness-sadness prevented him ever dating again, or perhaps he was whisked off his feet by a particularly sexy vet.
This is terribly shallow of me, and I’m still quite ashamed of myself.
I went on a date with a chap who may well have been very nice. Or perhaps he wasn’t. I genuinely have no idea.
I couldn’t concentrate on a word he said, all evening, because I was too transfixed by the enormous pulsating boil next to his nose.
Seriously, I think it had hypnotic powers as I couldn’t look away from it all night. If I close my eyes, I can still picture its magnificent glory. I don’t remember the guy’s name, but I do remember that I named the pustule “Augustus The Majestic”.
I’m very sorry, Mr Whoever-You-Were. I hope you found someone more deserving of your company than me.
I popped into my mate’s workplace, and he introduced me to his colleague Rob. I recognised Rob instantly, but apparently he didn’t remember me:
Rob: “Hey there, nice to meet you.”
Me: “Ah, Rob. You don’t recognise me, do you?”
Rob: (somewhat nervously) “Err, sorry, could you remind me?”
Me: “Sure! Two years ago, we had a blind date. We went to see Blur together. I don’t think you were very impressed with me because, three songs into the gig, you told me that didn’t feel well and had to go home. I never heard from you again. Remember me now?”
Rob: “Oh god.”
Me: “It’s been lovely catching up with you again!”
He spent the start of our date complaining about his ex: “She never loved me, she just saw me as a sperm donor!”.
He also spent the middle part of our date complaining about her: “I love my daughter, even though my ex just sees me as the man who donated the sperm to make her!”
By the end of the date: “My ex is a heartless cow! I’m just a sperm donor to her!”, I was wearing a rictus grin & contemplating stabbing myself to death with a spoon.
I kept a tally of how many times he used the phrase “sperm donor”. Nine times. That’s nine times too many. (And, no, by the end of the evening, I couldn’t have been less interested in procuring any of his sperm myself.)
I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day. I firmly believe that, if you love someone, you should show them every damn day.
Perhaps you’ve been admiring someone from afar for a while, and think that Valentine’s Day might be the day to show your hand? No. If you like them today, do something about it today. It might not work out, of course, but so much better to get on and get over it, rather than moping around until February 14th.
Anyway. It was Valentine’s Day and I had a boyfriend, although he is not the subject of this story.
That honour goes to an ex of mine. Well, I call him an ex although that’s rather misleading. We’d been seeing each other for a while, but never officially dated; every time we drew together he’d retreat (I’d usually hear him shouting: “I’m not ready for a relationship!” as he vanished into the distance.)
Tiring of this, eventually, I started dating someone else. But the ex (as it were) and I had stayed in touch, agreeing to just be friends.
Valentine’s Day arrived. The first post in my Facebook newsfeed was by my ex. He’d uploaded a video of himself, singing a song “for the woman I love, and have probably lost forever.”
“Oh dear”, I thought, when I saw it. “I wonder who that’s for?”
Then I checked into the website I ran (at the time). He’d posted the same thing there. Oh. It couldn’t possibly… could it?… he wouldn’t?…
On cue, the doorbell rang. The postman needed me to sign for a letter. Turns out, it was a Valentine’s card from my ex.
I watched the video again. Now, you may know “Wonderful Life”. It is a tremendous song, but possibly the worst choice of love song ever. It’s a song abut the singer: how lonely he was. How he needed a friend. How unfair it was. “Look at me”, said the lyrics, “Look at me standing here”. You learn nothing about the person he’s singing to. Nothing.
None of this was about me: it was only about him. And he’d sent me a Valentine’s card, even though he knew full well I had a boyfriend. What did he think was going to happen, that I was going to immediately ditch my boyfriend and declare my undying love? Did he really think I was that shallow? That’s not love. I was merely a prize to be won, like I was a bloody goldfish at the fair.
I fumed for a while about how to respond. I started composing a restrained “Sorry, but you know I’m not available” text, when I checked Facebook again.
He’d updated his status again. Now it read: “Fuck this, I’m sick of waiting for a response, I’m going back to bed”.