I set myself a challenge of going on a date before Christmas. My first ever date as a single mother. I don’t know why. It is an arbitrary deadline, but I wanted to get over the hurdle of going on my first date in seven years (yes, you read that correctly, seven years) before the year was out. It was also my first date as a mother, a single mother, and yes, that felt a bit weird too.
We met at Baker Street tube at 9pm. I texted him to say that I was five minutes early and waiting outside Marks and Spencer (isn’t my life glamorous!) I am too old for trying to be cool and not too eager by being a little bit late. He was a little bit late…and I didn’t think it was cool.
I wasn’t sure it was him when I first saw him. He looked absolutely nothing like his Tinder photo. Yes, Tinder – the shame! And I know that I should not really be surprised that a date doesn’t look like his Tinder photo. I was tempted to turn round and walk away when I first saw him, or say ‘no sorry’ when he asked whether my name was Pen. I didn’t though; standing someone up when you are supposed to be meeting is really bad form and I would have felt really guilty.
We went for a drink.
He was Greek and a banker, but said that he didn’t actually need to work because he was building his property empire and it was raking in profit. He had bought a flat in Kilburn that day and planned to renovate it before renting it out. He said he had quite a few flats, but didn’t seem to want to tell me how many.
I tried to make conversation by telling him about my flat, my decorating endeavours and the fact that I had bought it from a lovely old lady in her 80s so there was a lot of work to do. He made the point that he likes to buy from old people because they don’t argue much when he tries to negotiate the price down. It was after this comment that I decided that, not only did we not have much in common, but I really didn’t like him at all.
He didn’t much like art, theatre or reading. He liked going to the gym and was very annoyed that his work had just turned the basement of their building into a bar for employees rather than a gym. He said he didn’t much like alcohol, but he just about managed to drink his glass of red wine. He clearly didn’t enjoy it. Just for the record, he was the one who suggested a wine bar.
I gulped down my glass of white.
I don’t know what he was expecting, but it clearly wasn’t me. He was very obviously disappointed at first sight, just as I was. He probably thought about turning round to, or pretending that he was someone else and not waiting for a date.
He knew I was a single mother, I have made that quite clear on my online dating profiles. He also knew that I had come straight from work, but wasn’t keen to talk about either.
In the end I did most of the talking. This is rare for me. I am a better listener than I am a talker. But I had to ask him questions and try to get a conversation going. We could not both sit and drink our glasses of wine in silence in a busy bar just before Christmas. I asked him about his family, his work, when he came over to the UK, his plans for Christmas.
Fortunately, once I had finished my glass of wine, he collared a waiter and asked for the bill. He was just as desperate to leave as I was. He was just less polite about it. We paid and left. He ordered a taxi the moment we left the wine bar. I walked the 10 minute walk back to Baker Street tube to head home.
The evening wasn’t totally wasted. I met my objective of going on a date before Xmas. I made up my mind that I should not let my life be ruled by arbitrary and largely pointless objectives. The highlight of my evening was the chicken and mushroom cornish pasty that I bought at Waterloo to eat on the train home.
Oh, and I sat opposite a woman doing her knitting on the train. She was great!