The Right Peter
Stats: 30, 6’0”, blond/blue, London
Where: East Dulwich, SE22
When: Summer 2o11
Pre-date rating: 8/10
I’m a big believer in putting things right if I can. If I’m in a supermarket and knock something over, I’ll quickly pick it up and place it back on the shelf. Should I underpay (or overpay) for something, I’ll endeavour to fix it so that nobody’s out of pocket. I like everything just-so. My date with this guy, then, simply had to happen whether I wanted it to or not, so I could make amends with myself for the fact that I accidentally went on a date with a guy who had the same name as this one, thinking it was him. It was time to go on a date with the right Peter after all.
Regular readers will be aware of my hugely embarrassing faux-pas when I agreed to go on a date with a guy over text, only to discover that it was someone else entirely, who I didn’t want to meet. I duly went on it anyway, and had an excruciating couple of hours in the company of the wrong Peter and his offensive cologne. You can read up on this, if you like. So, 6 guys and a pile of texts and instant messages later, here we are ready to do battle with the guy I should’ve gone out with in the first place.
On first glance, everything’s pretty good. We have been chatting for months on a dating app (well, I use the term ‘dating app’ very loosely; very few dates seem to actually happen) and he seems clever, handsome and funny. He doesn’t say much about himself on his profile. I know that he works in TV, and his age and his height and that’s about it. The only blurb he has says “Straight-acting, good-humoured guy looking for dates”. My eyes narrow a little at the ‘straight-acting’ tag he’s so keen to get out there. What he means here is that he isn’t camp, I suppose. He should maybe say that instead, rather than aligning his firm-wristedness with the heterosexuals, but I resolve not to get too bogged down in this. Finally, after months of toing and froing – not to mention the abysmal date with his dreary namesake – we actually arrange a time and place to meet. The date comes during a busy period; there has been a flurry of meet-ups and most of them wildly unsuitable. Peter comes right after my extraordinary evening with the eccentric composer, so I am looking forward to hooking up with someone regular, down-to-earth and, dare I say it, normal?
I arrive on time at the pub and have a look around. Can’t see any six-foot blond guys anywhere, so I get myself a drink. He texts to say he’s on his way. I don’t reply; it seems pointless if he’s nearly here. I sip my lager and wait on. The phone rings. It’s his number.
“Oh hiiiii.” Strange. He appears to have asked camp comedian Alan Carr to call me up. Perhaps it’s a stunt and I am appearing live on his chat show – Peter does work in TV, after all.
“Sorry, are you in the pub? You didn’t answer my text,” says Alan, who clearly isn’t Alan Carr at all, but Peter himself.
I reply that I am here, yes, and he says he’ll be here soon. And, boy, did he mean it. Not 20 seconds later, a blond person comes through the door. I don’t look up and acknowledge him – that would just be too easy for him, and he is a little late, after all – so instead I actually turn my back on him and face the bar, leaning on it over-casually and messing about on my phone.
A voice behind me says my name. I turn around, tilting my head up, expecting to be looking up at an angle and into the baby blues of a six-foot blond. All I see is empty space. I adjust my gaze downward and there is his face. He is certainly blond, the eyes, yep, they are blue, but 6’ tall he is not. And I mean really not. He’s as tall as me. I wonder what else he can so blatantly lie about. I’m not kept in the dark for long.
Momentarily stunned by the fact that he really thought I wouldn’t notice his reduced stature, I wheel round to order him a drink. It’s not that I’m disappointed, he’s quite good-looking, but why say you are six feet tall when you’re not? What is his excuse? “Oh I left my other, longer legs at home”?! I get him his beer and we decide to go out on the pub’s roof terrace. I step aside to let him walk ahead. He sashays on through the pub and goes outside. It’s like watching Naomi Campbell swagger down the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week. I see.
I trudge behind him, feeling ungainly. He selects a table and sits down at it very gracefully, full of purpose, like a ballerina. He considers me as if looking into the face of a child with learning difficulties, the line between compassion and disappointment being crossed a million times and back again by his huge, darting eyes. We talk, as is customary, about our jobs. He goes first. He has worked on some fairly high-profile TV shows, not as a producer as he suggested in our initial chats – he’s actually a production assistant. I suppose he thinks I won’t know what they do, so he can big it up – he’s wrong. I don’t care what people do for a living, truly. As long as they like it and earn money from it, then it’s cool. But to hear young Peter talk (well, I say ‘young’; he may also have lied about his age), you’d think he singlehandedly kept his TV shows going. He is, he says, about to enter a dry spell when it comes to work, but I don’t think he needs to worry – with his powers of storytelling he could soon talk his way into another high-flying position, I’m sure.
He talks on. And on. And on. This is partly my fault. I don’t really have anything to say to him, as he doesn’t seem that interested. Plus, he’s camp as Christmas, yet said he wasn’t on his profile, and this irritates me. Not that he’s camp, I don’t give a shit about that, but that he felt he had to put that on his profile in an effort to differentiate himself from camp (and thus, in his eyes, less attractive) gay men, as it is quite clearly bullshit. I toy with the idea of bringing up the whole concept of ‘straight-acting’ and what it means to him, but realise I don’t want to have a highly-charged debate on a roof terrace on a hot evening. In fact, I would really rather not be here at all.
Out of nowhere, he asks my age. Here we go. I don’t reveal this on the phone dating app profile for various reasons, which I begin to explain. He again asks me how old I am. I begin to tell him, but as I do, he goes in for a guess; I’ve no idea why. He’s four years out, erring on the junior side. I suppose I should be buoyed by this. Man, is he going to be disappointed when I slam down the actual age. I tell him I’m 35. He visibly blanches, recovers quickly (but not quickly enough) and says “Well, you don ‘t look it at all. As I, er, said, um, before”. He doesn’t hide his disappointment now, but he doesn’t really need to. He has totally unravelled in front of my eyes and his attractiveness has diminished to the point of fiction, like his height and straight-acting demeanour. I don’t think he’s a bad person – in fact, a couple of things he said about friends and family made me very briefly think he might be a catch for someone – but he is utterly ill-at-ease in his own skin. So uncomfortable is he with his body and soul’s natural state that he covers for them, tries to make them something they’re not. He’s got a lot of growing up to do, I fear, and I am definitely not the right person to be his support while he does it.
We leave and walk some of the way home together. I regret this, as he starts to act as if I am somehow trying to get him to take me home with him. He very pointedly says that he has to get up early in the morning, and that he is going to go a shortcut way to his house. I roll my eyes inwardly and say “Goodnight then”.
He leans toward me as if to shake my hand but I’m already bounding off, pausing only to offer him a jaunty wave before I stride on into the darkness.
Post-date rating: 4.5/10
Date in one sentence: I interrupt the busy schedule of a man with big issues who couldn’t quite measure up.