Imagine being the most selfish person in the world. Never letting people pass on a narrow pavement, never caring about anyone else’s feelings, never censoring what you say, just barging your way through life satisfying only yourself.
I’ve often wondered what it would be like, but I’m not really a selfish person – it has been my downfall over the years. I’ve spent many lost hours wanting to claw my own eyes out in frustration at other people’s self-centeredness, or waiting – endlessly waiting – for people who can’t be bothered to turn up on time.
While the temptation to do exactly as you please seems so inviting, I have always stopped myself. I don’t ever want to be the person leaving disappointed people in my wake. And you have to hope that one day someone will do the same for you. Be considerate. Someone once told me this was my sexiest feature – but I wasn’t convinced at all. Everybody loves a bad boy. Holding doors open never got anybody laid.
My selflessness is being tested to the hilt tonight by Joshua, a tall, handsome young journalist – of course – who is possibly the most self-absorbed person I have ever met. We are three drinks in, and he hasn’t bought a single one of them. He is talking about his life, his loves, his successes, pausing for breath only to say yes to a drink.
He tells me has trodden on those lower than him and bitten the knees of those above to get where he has got today – which isn’t really that far. He randomly says he feels no sympathy for single mums or poverty-stricken pensioners as “you make your own luck in this world”, before going on to tell me his dad is a CEO and knows Jamie Oliver.
And on and on and on about himself. I feel redundant. I may as well be a video camera filming a monologue. I am on a date with a selfie. I am not to know I’m not far away from meeting the man who will ensure I never have to go on a date like this again, so I feel desolate and hopeless. I want a helicopter to winch me out of here – or at least drop a crate to land on this guy’s head.
He seemed good on paper, well, my screen; he laughed at my jokes and said he couldn’t wait to meet me. Sometimes that is enough. He was so handsome that yet again I let myself get carried away and flattered that he would be interested. Looking back now at photos of this period, I realise I looked probably the best I have ever looked, and ever will again.
But when you’re in the thick of it and feeling it and wondering where the next seductive voice is coming from, you allow yourself to think otherwise. The sky is always at its darkest when you’re there in the moment – you think you’ll never see sunrise again.
I can tell by the way my date is looking at me that he’s not really interested in me beyond offloading a few anecdotes and brags, but I know he’s mulling over taking me home, or perhaps trailing after me to mine, to make the journey to the pub worthwhile. For my part, I don’t do much to encourage him. I guess I could say more; I should be interrupting, making myself heard. But if you have to try this hard to butt in on a first date, it doesn’t bode well.
When he utters the immortal line “I consider kindness to be a form of weakness – it’s dog eat dog” I decide it is better to drain my bank account and get drunker than I have ever been before than to sit in sober silence.
As I head to the bar, I realise Joshua is one of those guys who has read one of those books on ‘rules’ for life. How to get ahead in business, or take what you want, or how to screw people over without guilt. Perhaps he has even read a dating blog just like mine and wrinkled his nose at the dating advice within, certain he doesn’t need it. He has almost definitely read a book that says the older man should buy all your drinks – I bet he needs sat nav to find his wallet.
“It’s so kind of you to treat me like this,” he says as he takes his double vodka and cranberry from my hand. “You’re such a gentleman.”
“No trouble,” I reply, wiping his figurative bootprint off my forehead. I feel a flash of envy. He’s still young and pretty enough that there will always be an old mug like me willing to put his hand in his pocket – or in Joshua’s for that matter – to ensure total loyalty. For one night only, at least.
Joshua checks his watch and switches on what I imagine he thinks are his come-to-bed eyes. But I don’t want to go.
I can’t spend more time on this, on dates like this, with men like this. I’m wasting my time; this isn’t fun. I don’t even want a boyfriend – I’m only doing it to get out of the house. I really need to have a word with myself. I resolve to get home as soon as possible and begin that process. Meanwhile, Joshua’s balloon needs deflating.
“So how come you brought me here?” he asks with hooded eyelids. “Was it so we could go next door to [redacted] and you could make a move?” Wow, maybe he really does read the blog.
“No, no,” I yawn, exaggeratedly. “It’s because it’s handy to get back to my house.”
He raises an eyebrow and shoots me the grin of a teenager who just found a porn mag in the park. “Really?” Oh, so now he can see me. Too late, Joshua. I yawn again.
“I’m tired,” I say, smiling like a grandma curled up under a tartan rug.
“No kidding,” deadpans my lanky friend.
“Think I’d better make a move,” I say, standing up, pretending I haven’t noticed his expressions of protest.
“Not the move I was expecting.” Joshua leans in for a kiss and I hold out my hand for him to shake. He stares down at it. “I guess I don’t need to ask if you’d like to do this again sometime,” he sighs, disappointed at his own failure, that he didn’t pay more attention to any one of those sassy dating blog tips.
“You can ask,” I say, brightly. “Text me.” I know he won’t.
I walk out into the night and feel springtime in the air, despite my icy breath making like a dragon ahead of me. I get round the corner and check my pockets, panicking that I’ve left my wallet on the chair. Phew, it’s there. I also realise I didn’t pay for that last round of drinks – it seems Joshua’s luck has run out.
“Never again,” I chuckle to myself. “Never.” And as I hail the taxi that will take me back to my bachelor pad, I have little clue how right – and wrong – I am.
Pre-date rating: 8/10
Post-date rating: 3.5/10
Date in one sentence: Self-absorbed youngster makes me take a long hard look at dating.