The Invisible Man
Sometimes you have those periods where you don’t have a date for what seems like decades. Then, before you know it, you’re swamped. A mere 24 hours after my bizarre, yet fun, adventure with the drama teacher, I am once more heading to a date. I might as well get my kicks while I’m young enough to get them, right?
This next guy is someone I wouldn’t say I’m particularly interested in, looks-wise. His pictures seem OK, if a little blurred, but his profile is funny and the emails and texts we have been exchanging have been good-natured and definitely on my wavelength. He also seems very interested — I’m still at the stage in my dating ‘career’ where someone being keen is an attractive trait to me — and so, after less than a week of chatting, we agree to meet for a drink and, if we’re not horrified at the sight of each other, go on to dinner.
As my date says he works in fashion, I agonise a little over what to wear. I like to look good, but I’m not a high-fashion person at all and truly believe less is more. There’s also the fact that I’ll be coming straight from work so may have to tone down my usual disco attire (usual disco attire: same as daywear but with more Chanel splashed on). Because we’ve been getting on so well, I’m fairly confident that any misgivings about him not being my usual type will be washed away by his sparkling personality.
I arrive at our pre-arranged destination a little early, so decide to go into the pub and get a drink. As it’s roasting hot outside, most drinkers are out on the pavement so the bar’s not too busy. I have a quick scoot around the pub to make sure he’s not there already. No sign. I order a drink, sit at a table where I can see the door and absent-mindedly scroll through Facebook and Twitter and all those other sites the world could quite happily live without. After a few moments, I check my watch. 6.35. I send a text:
“Hello. I am here. Are you?”
I wait a further ten minutes but no response is forthcoming. Let’s try again:
“Did you die in the night? Or perhaps you bumped into someone hotter en route.”
Five minutes later, he sends the response that he is stuck in a conference call to a supplier who he had fired that day and that he was trying to keep a lid on things. I text back straight away and ask if he wants me to wait. He doesn’t reply for 15 minutes, but when he does he says “Probably best not”. I text back that I’ll amuse myself shopping for a while in case he gets out soon. He sends me a garbled message with words missing that makes no sense, but then gist of which is “I’ll come to you when I’m done”. I ask him to clarify, but there’s no response. I shop until 8pm and then admit defeat. I text him that I’m heading home. No reply. Weird.
A few days later, I am on my way to another date – no point hanging around – when I get a text from the guy who stood me up out of the blue telling me there was a family tragedy at the weekend and that he hopes we can pick things up again.
I’m wary, but I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Don’t I? Even though he didn’t contact me at all after my last text, I suppose if something bad happened, he couldn’t help it. And we’d got on so well over text; it was like I’d known him years.
He offers to buy me dinner and I agree. He then calls me but I am with the other date so don’t answer. His message suggests meeting near his work on Bond Street.
When I get home, I notice that he has added me as a ‘favourite’ – the system the dating site uses for you to show your interest in someone. And, oddly, his username is different. I remember already being a favourite, so am confused. I text him to ask why he’s done this and he said there was something wrong with his account so he lost all his previous favourites. Hmmm. OK.
The night before our re-arranged date, I’m at a barbecue and he texts once more. I notice that when he replies, his answers seem to mirror what I’ve said to him: I’m drinking too much champagne, while he’s drinking too much chablis; I’ve got an early conference call the next day, while he’s got a meeting first thing. It’s like my very own bot.
I wonder why he’s trying so hard. He’s trying to force a rapport that would otherwise be there anyway. Then, out of the blue, he phones me. Edit from future self: This is 2010 so, like, people still do the whole phoning thing.
We chat for 5–10 minutes and, I have to say, the signs are good. He jokes how he’s worried that I’m going to stand him up this time and I joke that I may not be bothered enough to turn up. The tone is flirtatious, our humour is very much aligned and, again, I feel fairly positive about the date to come. At the very least, he’ll probably end up being a friend.
After work the next day, I head to our meeting point outside the Tube station with a strange feeling that things aren’t going to be straightforward. I arrive on time – as always – and begin to wait. After five minutes, I decide to text. It’s 6.35, and he could be delayed, but if it were me who had stood him up the week before, I’d have made the extra effort to get there early. I send the text:
“Hello. I’ll wait until 6.45 unless I hear otherwise.”
I start to get really paranoid and begin to feel low. Why would he stand me up again? I know he works in the large building opposite the station; is he peering at me through the window and dismissing me as too ugly? What kind of person would bother re-arranging a date only to stand me up again? 6.45 arrives and I walk away without a backward glance. I go to a nearby pub for a much-needed beer. I check the dating website and see that the snake has just looked at my profile and is online now. Weirdo. I send him a message:
I don’t know what happened to make you feel it was OK to stand me up again, but I think it’s a good idea to leave it.”
I finish my pint, smooth down my shirt and start walking home. When I get home, I check the dating site. He hasn’t read my message and his profile has been deleted. Strange. I decide not to make any further contact. I get the feeling that he’s the kind of person who would enjoy the attention. He’s obviously stood me up on purpose at least once and while I’m puzzled why anyone would want to pay a subscription just to arrange fictitious dates, I’m wise enough to know that eventually he’ll pick the wrong person to piss off.
I look at the entry for him in my iPhone contacts list. My last thought on the matter will be a small act of defiance. I don’t want to delete the number in case he texts and I have to reply to see who it is, so I go to his entry, delete the name ‘Joe’ (for that is his name; I am naming and shaming for one blog post only) and type in ‘STAND UP CUNT’. From now on, he’ll be easily identifiable.
A few days later, I notice his profile is live again, but with a different username. I don’t know what his game is, and I don’t want to know. Fuck you, Joe.
Stats: 34, 5’10”, brown/blue, London
Pre-date rating: 5/10
Post-date rating: -10/10
Date in one sentence: A weirdo acts weirdly, twice.