Last Friday I went on the second worst date I have ever been on. We both swiped right on Bumble. He was fairly chatty. Some of his early questions were a bit deep and direct considering that we’d never met; he asked me why a partner might want to split up with me. I found this a curious question, but I answered because I have an aversion to small talk and sometimes you just have to cut to the chase.
Meaningful conversation is quite difficult over text so we arranged to meet.
A couple of hours before we were due to meet he sent me a text message to confess that he was actually a decade older than the age he claimed to be on his profile. He wanted to warn me because he didn’t want me to be crestfallen when we met. To be fair to him he did say that he would understand if I wanted to call it off. I was tempted and with hindsight this is when I should have politely declined the date.
I replied about twenty minutes later saying that I like to meet new and interesting people for a different type of conversation.
I turned up.
I always find meeting my dating app dates a little nerve-wracking. The trouble with dating apps, like all social media I guess, is that it is so easy to present a façade, a false impression and to create an identity. When you meet your date in real life the curtain comes down and you realise that the image of your date that you formed in your head bears no resemblance to the person standing in front of you.
Peak nervousness for me is about two minutes before I am due to arrive. It is at this point that I think of my comfy sofa and my nice bottle of white wine chilling in the fridge. I have to talk myself out of turning round and going home. Turning round and going home would make me a bad person.
The first time you see your date is the most difficult moment. You know instantly whether you will like them. You know that your date will see the crestfallen look or the relief in your face. You know that you will see delight and disappointment in theirs.
It is so true that we form an impression of someone within the first three seconds of meeting someone. I’d go further and say that it is a matter of milliseconds. I knew within a split second of seeing him that this was going to be a date to be endured rather than enjoyed.
I’d like to be able to report that I’ve been on a date and my first impressions were wrong. I am sorry to say that they never have.
His coat was a little big, one shoulder seemed higher than the other, his teeth yellow and he was fidgeting, furtive and a little wonky. I wondered whether he’d been drinking, or taking something.
I took and deep breath and said ‘hello’.
We met at Liverpool station which I later discovered was quite conveniently for him just around the corner from his flat. I had trekked for an hour across London. The bars near Liverpool Street on a Friday night were all very busy and we couldn’t find somewhere to talk. He knew where he was going and we wound through the back streets to what turned out to be his local.
I sat down. There was a large clock on the opposite wall which said 8:45pm. I told myself that I would be out of there by 9:30pm. He bought me a large glass of white wine. I looked at it and hoped that it hadn’t been spiked with anything. I couldn’t be sure, but I decided to put my anxieties and unease to one side and I drank it anyway. I needed wine to get me through this.
I am an introvert at heart and small talk isn’t my favourite past time. As a result I often find myself politely listening when I go on dates. I told him that I write a bit. I didn’t tell him about my blog because it is anonymous and I also had a sneaking suspicion that I would end up writing this blog post.
He told me that he wrote a bit too. He said that he wrote comedy. He recounted a story about how he removed, manipulated and re-posted pictures of his acquaintances on Facebook. A picture of a friend in passionate embrace with his girlfriend would be doctored so that his friend was kissing his mother. He would then use the inevitable angry tirade from his ‘friend’ as material for his comedy sketches.
Another story involved my date placing lonely hearts style adverts in phone boxes near motor way service stations up and down the country. A lorry driver contacted him requesting company and my date recounted his two year text affair with said lorry driver. “The lorry driver was very much in love with me” my date scoffed. My date even told me that he’d bought voice manipulation software so that he could speak to the lorry driver and to carry on the façade.
Is that not a bit morally and ethically dubious? I asked. I didn’t want to come across as judgemental, but my ethics and morals were outraged. He told me that the lorry driver was not a nice person, and was abusive over text. My date concluded that that made it all okay.
It was 8:59pm.
My date also had strong views on parenting. He’d read a lot about child brain development and felt strongly that nurseries were damaging if a child was sent to a nursery before the age of four.
This really got me going and I could feel my politeness slipping away. I told him that my son went to nursery, that I returned to work when he was 7 months old and that I worked full time.
I told my date quite firmly that parenting is easy until you have children, and that in my view there is no universally right answer; there is a solution that just about works for the situation that the parents and child find themselves in. Some mothers have no option but to send their child to nursery, some mothers have no option but to give up work and look after their children themselves. Some mothers are made redundant when they get pregnant, or their job disappears whilst they are on maternity leave. Often there is very little real choice in the matter.
I didn’t use my son’s name. There was something about this guy that made me feel uncomfortable even disclosing my son’s first name.
I finished my drink and said that I had to leave. He insisted on walking me back to Liverpool Street.
I politely said that it was nice to meet him and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I clicked through the ticket barriers at Liverpool Street.
It was 9:17pm.
That was the second worst date I’ve ever been on.
P.S. Do you dare to read about the worst date I’ve ever been on?
What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on? Please, make me feel better.