Category Archives: Good dates

The Last First Date

It isn’t a date. Definitely not.

We are not meeting with a view to anything other than having a few drinks and, at my request, ten-pin bowling. It’s all perfectly innocent. Two pals going to score some strikes, but not each other. Yep.

So if it isn’t a date, why am I wearing those trousers that hug my backside the snuggest, and that polo shirt that makes me look the buffest (no mean feat, I can tell you)? Why am I spending too long making my hair ‘just so’ and leaving my flat super early to make sure I get there on time?

It’s not a date; there’s no romance. I don’t need him to be impressed; I don’t care whether he fancies me, right? I have no answer for myself so I glare into the mirror one last time and head out of the door.

This is actually our third meeting. I’ve always told myself it is better not to meet people from Twitter or Facebook – despite lots of very kind, and some really quite salacious, offers – yet there’s no point having a rule if you’re not going to break it. We have actually been aware of each other for the best part of a decade: contributing to the same messageboards (God, remember those?), being friends on MySpace, connecting on LinkedIn and basically using every single outdated social media vessel – and watching them all go under – to be in each other’s lives without ever actually meeting. There has never been even a hint of romantic interest – and we were both with other people for the most part, anyway – but I do, for whatever reason, find him interesting. Fascinating, even.

A few years back when, on the eighth day, God creates his biggest blunder @theguyliner, he follows me. Anonymous is as anonymous does, so I don’t let him know we have a real-life connection, as gossamer-thin as it is, and we @ occasionally and there are maybe a couple of DMs but it’s never anything other than talking about telly or awful old gay venues that have long since bitten the dust.

And then I make a mistake. Continue reading The Last First Date

The Wow Moment

Everybody should have their Wow Moment – that one moment in time where you look and feel fantastic and are at your absolute pinnacle of excellence, confidence and desirability. Most people aren’t aware of theirs when it’s happening – which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it – but if I’m ever going to have mine, it’s now, as I walk into the bar precisely 33 seconds late for my date with a man ten years my junior.

The wow is all over my date’s face as I approach him. I don’t see that look too often, sadly. I am nothing if not realistic; I know the only way I’m ever likely to grace the cover of a magazine is if I become a famous serial killer. But whether his expectations were low, or my pictures were bad, or he’s just really desperate, I have no idea – all I know is that his eyes widened when he saw me. And not in horror. It’s delight. I’ve seen it just about enough times to know the difference.

He’s wearing a blue button-down shirt which looks like it was ironed by a depressed cat and chinos the shade of every unlovely hotel room you’ve ever stayed in.

He is 25, “a musician” and has a name that sounds like a countryside railway station – Clark Deeping or Brent Malling or something like that – and he is tall and sturdy and looks just the right side of sexy-boring. He definitely collects things, I can tell; I just hope it’s not scalps of hapless middle-aged midgets he goes on dates with. He tells me he’s glad I gave up my Saturday night to meet him. Yes, a first date on a Saturday! Very unlike me, but there was something in his jolly-masquerading-as-confident texts that told me it wouldn’t be a miserable evening. He’s wearing a blue button-down shirt which looks like it was ironed by a depressed cat and chinos the shade of every unlovely hotel room you’ve ever stayed in. I have always had a soft spot for sartorial awkwardness, so I am not remotely deterred. Clothes come off, after all.

We have been together for precisely two hours. He has touched my hand eight times. We have had four drinks. Not that I’m counting.

For someone so youthful, he seems a serious soul. There is much knitting of brows and thinking before he speaks. I, of course, am in this ridiculous Wow Moment mode, so am doing lots of what I’m assuming are enigmatic smiles peppered with sparkling conversation. To the outsider I probably look like someone having a stroke while they read out a shopping list. Whatever it is, it is working. We have been together for precisely two hours. He has touched my hand eight times. We have had four drinks. Not that I’m counting.

He asks me how many dates I’ve been on, and I pretend to mull this over in my head, staring into middle distance, as one would expect a person thinking about something to do. After a few seconds, my acting master class moves on to a lying one, and I throw out a number that shows I have experience, but doesn’t make me look like a miserable slut who uses dating as an excuse to go the pub and stare at men’s nipples through their shirt. He tells me he is fairly new to dating – I have no idea whether this is true but he trembles a bit as he picks up his pint so it may well be – and then says he often ends up going home with his dates.
“What an odd thing to tell someone you’re actually on a date with,” I say.
“I am a bit odd,” he replies.
“How odd?”
“Odd enough.”

An excellent reply. Barman, drink number five, please.

He suggests moving on somewhere else. Given that he has done everything but write “You are going to see me naked later” on a Post-it note and pass it to me, I pretty much know it’s a sure thing, but am intrigued by how much effort he’s going to put in. I play as dumb as I dare, letting him decide where we go. Which direction will he take?

He suggests a place that I happen to know isn’t too far from where he lives. I’d congratulate him for being so smooth if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve played this game so many times before. And with more subtlety. But for a near-novice, he’s doing pretty well. I reward him by pretending I haven’t caught on to his ruse.

Getting off in the middle of the club like the teenager I’m glad I never was.

We arrive at a club that sounds very loud from the outside. I wince, but we queue behind lots of fashionable people who are talking about haircuts and DJing and chlamydia. To my surprise, the girl on the door smiles widely at us and we are waved into the club. I have no idea why: he’s dressed like a member of the Oxford rowing team having Sunday lunch with his parents and I’m sporting what I call my ‘date-boring’ look – a simple polo and slim fitting cords.

My threads are dull to make my personality – and my eyes – stand out more. It’s a boring old tactic, but a well-tried one. And what do you know, within minutes of our arrival, it becomes apparent it’s doing the trick.

Without so much as a warning, his face is on mine and I stand awkwardly – although enjoying myself immensely – spilling my beer all over the floor while we go to town on each other. Getting off in the middle of the club like the teenager I’m glad I never was. The Wow continues.

We break apart and sit down at a table occupied only by one very drunk girl who is trying to do cocaine off her hand, but spilling it everywhere every time she exaggeratedly hiccups. Ignoring her, my date leans in and whispers: “I just want to rip your clothes off right here.”

I can’t help but laugh. First of all, what he’s just said is totally fucking preposterous; we’re in the middle of a club, music is banging and drinks sloshing left, right and centre. Also, I am not the kind of guy that men want to tear the trousers off. In a way, I’m flattered, but it rings hollow. See? My Wow Moment is happening in front of my very eyes and I don’t want to believe it’s true. Perhaps his confession that he takes a lot of his dates home make me feel less special.

However, if this young buck thinks that clumsy line will work on me, who am I to knock his confidence? I’m going to leave life’s harsh lessons for another time – tonight I’m going to have some fun.

“Probably best not to do it right here,” I smile, idly playing with the open neck of his shirt. “How long will it take to get back to yours?”
“About 15 minutes.”
I break into my last enigmatic smile of the evening. And then: “Let’s try to make it 10.”

Stats: 6’3″, 25, brown/brown, Gloucestershire
Pre-date rating: 6.5/10
Post-date rating: 9/10
If the date were a song: Betcha by golly wow

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly dating column I used to do in Gay Times magazine. I now answer GT readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: johnwennerberg on Flickr

The House Whisperer

It is always important to answer questions honestly. Well, as honestly as you possibly can.

So when Mark, a civil servant from Kent, asks me “Do you like looking round old houses?” I should’ve at least replied “Not sure, depends” instead of an over-enthusiastic “Yes! I love that kind of thing”. But he’s so hot and charming (over email, at least) I reckon I can skip the usual first meeting in a pub for something cultural.

In a rare show of confidence in this guy, I am sacrificing the holiest time of the week – Saturday afternoon. I usually spend them wondering if I’m already too old for Topman (probably) and queuing up for coffee (which will have my name misspelled on the side of it). We’re meeting at an opulent house that’s been converted into a museum of, well, nothing in particular. It’s a collection of old curiosities. As I approach, I can almost smell the dust, the culture, the history, seeping out from its windows. It doesn’t really look like it has a bar, which makes me nervous.

Alcohol isn’t always a must on a date, but it helps. Not only can inebriation aid attraction and conversation or soothe disappointment, it is also handy to have something to sip during awkward silences. Will I really be able to fall in love without a glass of beer in my hand?

Mark is there already, nice and early – his bright blue eyes shining. He looks freshly laundered and optimistic. He has beautiful hair and one of his shoes is shinier than the other. I break into a grin. We shake hands and exchange hellos. He looks pleased with what he sees. That feeling never gets old. Not ever.

We step into the building, which smells like long-unopened boxes of letters and dusty old cupboards, and approach a desk staffed by Methuselah’s much older brother.
“I’ll pay,” Mark says. “It was my idea to come.”
I’m impressed by his gallantry, but Destiny’s Child taught me well. “No, it’s OK. I’ll pay for myself.”
He touches my hand. “No, please, let me.” Those eyes.
“OK.”

We begin walking around the house. It’s very beautiful and quiet. So quiet. Quiet is good if you’re at a relaxation spa, not a first date. I try to ignore my nagging doubts about how this is going to go, but they’re the loudest thing in the room.

After three or four rooms filled with paintings and dark furniture, I’m flagging. I plough on gamely by his side while he silently peruses the dog-eared information cards next to each artefact. Everything is behind glass or roped off so you can’t touch it – and that includes my date.

After another couple of rooms, we trudge up a huge polished staircase and when I reach the top I forget myself, giving a huge yawn. Mark looks at me worriedly.

“Are you bored?” he whispers. “Isn’t this the kind of thing you enjoy doing?”
“No, I’m not bored, honestly.” A small lie.
“I thought we’d be talking more,” he admits, his face downcast.
“Oh. Erm. I just thought you were busy reading,” I reply awkwardly.
He brushes his fringe out of his eyes. “I suppose I thought it would be a ‘different’ thing to do,” he sighs. “But I think I’d rather be in the pub. Shall we?”
I smile with relief. My hero. “Yes, let’s. It’ll be good to get to know you better.”
He beams. “You’re right. We should be looking at each other, not a load of pictures.”
Boom.

And so my newfound work of art puts his hand round my shoulder and we leave behind the antiques and exhibits to get started on a history all of our own.

Stats: 29, 5’9″, blond/blue, Kent
Pre-date rating: 7/10
Post-date rating: 8.5/10
Date in one sentence: I pretend I can get through a first date without going to the pub – and my date proves I can’t.

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly column I had in Gay Times magazine. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: Flickr

The One-Hour Wonder

The main problem with huge, exhilarating events is the crash back down to planet normal afterward. There is the inevitable need to prolong the high, to stave off the mundane.

It is when bored that I am at my most very dangerous, and the warning lights are certainly flashing now as I sit in my lounge staring at the wall just minutes after arriving back home after my friends’ beautiful wedding. The day itself was perfect and the couple radiant. The setting, in the grounds of the groom’s parents’ house in Kent, was so idyllic and flawless that my flat feels like an oversized KFC bucket in comparison.

It is Sunday. The phone goes on. And that app is launched. Last time I was this bored, I ended up sharing a bath with a stranger. Like I said, boredom can be dangerous.

Being literate and enjoying full sentences can be something of a barrier on Grindr. While all those little avatars of six-packs claim to be erudite grammarians, it seems nobody is safe from that dreary “hows u??” or “heyy mister”. So when I hear that magic ping and see a headless torso wishing me “a very good afternoon, handsome” I am intrigued, interested.

We get the usual rigmarole out of the way very quickly. “Any more pics?” and “Yes, but can I see what your face looks like” are soon despatched and I find myself chatting amiably to a very good-looking man with strong features and the most marvellously perfect body I have seen in a long time.

His thighs are huge and muscular, his stomach and chest rippling and he has biceps that would make Zac Efron self-conscious. Yet none of this perfection looks over the top or ridiculous; it’s all in proportion and not at all intimidating.

This isn’t someone who spends all day and night in the gym – he’s actually fit. These are real muscles; they are earned. In the next breath comes the reason: “I’m a volleyball player.”

Hold. The. Phone.

I instantly assume this poor creature is massively bored and only talking to me to pass the time of day. He is woefully out of my league. But it seems he has different criteria he needs to tick off because before I know it he is complimenting me on my English (he is, it transpires, Spanish) and saying I sound as if I might be quite bossy. Well, he’s got me there.

“I do like to get what I want, yes,” I reply, before realising that makes me sound like a high-maintenance bonehead. I quickly add: “But I always ask very nicely.”

His reply comes as fast as lightning. “And what would you ask me to do? And you don’t have to ask nicely.”

OMG am I being sexted at? I start to mildly panic. I’m not at good at this. Despite my sexually liberal leanings, I am at heart a mortified Victorian.

Luckily, my brain remembers I am still drunk from last night and so the ribald charmer who only gets an airing once I’ve had several pink gins comes to the fore. It only takes three or four more sentences that are, um, unsuitable to print in a family newspaper before he is firing over his address, telling me his real name and asking me to hurry up.

I put product through my hair, change my T-shirt, give it two squirts of Chanel (my two is like your four) and am skipping down the stairs to the street like I am off to meet Santa himself.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

I know exactly what I’m doing.

My bravado is terrifying, but it’s all I have right now.

It takes me about 25 minutes to get to the street where he lives, amid a sprawling estate with tower blocks looming over me. I ring a buzzer, hear a gruff “hello” and get in a very frightening lift with scratched mirrors and a carrier bag filled with something.

The lift doors open at the appropriate floor and I can see the apartment door directly of me ahead is ajar, yet behind a security grille which covers the entire doorway and is locked. Keys jangle. A face appears. And then a body. There is my ‘date’.

We seem to have different ideas of what 5’10” actually is, as he is shorter than me, but no matter. He looks much more average in the flesh but is still good-looking, and looks like he has just got out of the bath. While he’s not wet, he is super clean and is dressed in a crisp white T and some baggy shorts. He’s pale.

He says my name, and lets me in. I follow him down the hall into his lounge which is clean but packed with too much furniture and three clothes-dryers groaning with fashion I would generously call ‘European’, along with assorted sporty attire.

“Would you like a drink?” he asks with a tiny smile. His lips are quite thin. My mother would not approve. Of any of this.

“Water, please.”

He gets me the tiniest glass of water in the world and I sip it nervously while he stares into space and asks me a few questions about myself.

After five minutes of this sexually-charged inanity, he moves toward me. I moisten my lips in anticipation, trembling slightly – my Dutch courage but a memory.

“I don’t like kissing that much,” he says. Oh. I am disappointed. I do. “Shall we go to the bedroom?”

He leads me to his room – a bright, white sparse cell with a huge window and no blinds – and undresses me quickly. And then himself. My disappointment evaporates.

When it is over, I look down at my belly – bloated from the excesses of yesterday and pale and unappealing – then to his: taut, exquisite, and rising and falling with his deep, rapid breathing. He looks straight at me. “Shall we have a shower?”

We make our way through to his bathroom. It is the usual rented flat shade of depressing, with mushroom-coloured tiles and a mottled shower screen that probably won’t last many more drenchings.

I clamber into the bath, feeling as gracious as a fawn on rollerblades, and stand feeling hopelessly exposed and stupid. He climbs in too and starts the water, holding the shower attachment in his hand and showering first him and then me, in turns like an old man absentmindedly hosing his begonias.

He’s expressionless as he takes shower gel and squirts it into his hands, soaping himself before slathering my shoulders with a few stray suds.

I simply have to speak because he’s not kissing me or anything and the sight of the bubbles running down his body is making me feel light-headed. But it seems this is not sexual for him at all; he may as well be bathing a pug.

“We should have done this earlier,” I squeak. “Got us, errr, in the mood.”

He continues to look through me, and a mere slit of a smile crosses his lips. “Uh huh.”

It’s increasingly clear this shower is purely functional; there isn’t to be an encore. I am not to be treated to a satisfactory outcome of my own.

Eventually my X-rated water torture comes to an end and he turns off the shower and hops out, grabbing the nearest towel and offering it to me. I step out with all the grace of a ‘90s ladette getting out of a black cab and take the towel.

He stands before me, his face a picture of vague amusement, and helpfully guides the towel to places I may have missed, carefully patting me dry before taking his hands and smoothing down my hair into a side parting, so that I look like a superannuated schoolboy. Butter, however, certainly would melt.

I follow him back to the bedroom and begin to pull on my clothes, which now smell stale and beery and belong to what I felt like an hour ago.

He regards me as I dress before breaking the silence with a shaky “You have a nice, uh, butt. And legs.”

I laugh nervously in the hope it will stop him calling out any further random body parts.

“Yes.” I sigh. “You look like a painting,” I say, revelling in his furrowed brow as I zip up.

As he opens the door to see me out and unlock the unwieldy grille, he almost leans in for a kiss but then seems to change his mind and shakes my hand. I wonder why he chooses the hand; it’s not as if he doesn’t know where my mouth has been. But like he said, he doesn’t like kissing that much.

I say goodbye cheerily and slink down the stairs and out into the open air again, breathing in deeply and joyfully. I chuckle to myself as I make my way back to my seedy bachelor’s pad.

Life – it’s fucking brilliant, isn’t it?

Stats: 27, 5’10” (not), brown/brown, Santander
Post-date rating:
Date? Come on. But 8/10

Date in one sentence: I never cease to surprise myself.

Image: Flickr

The Reluctant Casanova

Stats: 31, 6’, brown/light brown, London
Where: Soho, W1
Pre-date rating: 8/10

I lean forward on my hand and do my best ‘interested’ face as tonight’s contestant, dark-eyed, floppy-haired Matthew, regales me with stories about his ex-boyfriends. Well, I say, boyfriends – he’s dispatched them with a fervour and speed usually reserved for delousing a nit-ridden child.

“I just can’t seem to tie myself down to one person,” he drawls, his eyes flicking to all corners of the room – no doubt scoping it out for any other, sexier men, just in case this date doesn’t turn out well.

“What are you doing on a dating site, then?” I ask, much less confrontationally than he deserves.

“Well,” he shrugs, “I suppose at the time I really do think I want to settle down, but when I get into it, it doesn’t really happen that way.”

I’m puzzled, but more intrigued. Why would a potential date try to present themselves as such an emotional fuck-up on the first meeting? Is it a misguided attempt at a boast? And yet I can’t help myself; I have to find out more.

“And so how does it happen?” I find myself blurting.

He raises an eyebrow in what appears to be a well-practised move. My buttocks clench. “Same thing happens every time,” he says. “They fall in love, I get bored, and I break their heart. Every. Fucking. Time.” His eyes rest on me as he finishes his little speech.

I laugh out loud at his conceit. I think I’m a bit drunk already. He certainly is. “And pray, oh mighty one,” I mock, “just how many hearts have you broken?”

He takes me through the trail of destruction he’s left behind him, and I imagine his bedroom wall lined with pelts of his previous conquests – a tattooed arm here, an ironic haircut there.

I can believe the prospect of never having his mouth on you again would lead to much weeping and wailing. He’s so pretty, so charming (at first), that you’d be reluctant to let him go. But let him go you must, before he drives you totally mad.

He may think he’s ruining their lives when he ditches his latest fling, but in the long run he’s doing them a favour – being in love with such a heartless work of art would be an expressway to insanity.

I have already decided I’ll sleep with him, purely to see what it would be like but I almost don’t want to give him the victory he so obviously expects.

Although I really want to break the mould and be the fly in his ointment, I’d only be taking a scalpel to own nose if I were to go home alone. Do I care whether he does a celebratory fist pump as I leave, his run of bedpost notches unchallenged?

While I’m not eager to further feed his monstrous ego – it’s already morbidly obese – sometimes itches should be scratched. I prefer my disappointments first thing in the morning, with a whole day ahead to ruminate before shrugging them off.

Not for me a frustrated bus ride home on a rainy night, with a cold duvet at the end of it and a sleepless night of “what if” beyond.

“OK,” I say. “I’ve heard enough. Let’s go.”

We leave the pub, but I don’t let him hold my hand. I’m fairly certain my heart, encased as it is in my iron will, is sure to remain intact. But I may as well let him have a crack at it. He’s got one night only.

Post-date rating: 7.5/10
Date in one sentence: This damaged Casanova comes up against the hardest heart to break.

– A truncated version of this post originally appeared in my monthly column in Gay Times.

The Better Offer

Stats: 29, 5’8”, brown/hazel, Cheltenham
Where: East London, E1
Pre-date rating: 7/10

My date has just got back from New York. I know this because he mentions it every five sentences. The shimmering neon is still visible in his starstruck eyes, and has blinded him to the fact that my own glazed over some time ago.

I tune back in to hear him telling me, in a rainy Tuesday monotone, about a go-go bar he went to in the East Village and quickly zone out again, my eye wandering over his shoulder to someone standing in the distance. That someone looks familiar. Hotly familiar. We catch each other’s eye and stare a millisecond too long. I remember. Why, we went on a date only the other week. As I recall, he turned up looking hotter than hell, ate a burger, spat most of it over me and then left me the morning after with an oniony taste in my mouth I couldn’t shake for days. So far, so normal.

The gay world is too small, I sigh. I decide to refocus, however, on my current date, who is in full flow about a carriage ride through Central Park. It’s not that New York is boring – it’s one of my most favourite places on Earth. Yet my date is recalling his trip with all the vigour of a bank teller warning me the next direct debit to leave my account will send me overdrawn. I hold in a yawn so hard that my lungs start to sizzle. My phone buzzes. A text message. Guess who?

“You look bored. Fancy a drink?”

I glance over to where my observer is standing. He looks mischievous. He raises his glass and gives me a lopsided grin.

I turn back to my date and start to weigh things up. I’ve not been great company. I’m unresponsive. He deserves better. Plus, he picked his nose and wiped it under the table when he thought I wasn’t looking. The SMS intruder, on the other hand, looks a lot more fun.  I’m no pushover, though. Let’s make him work for it. Plus, it’s my round and I don’t want to look stingy.

At the bar I reply:
“Well, look who it is. I’m actually having an outstanding time, thanks.”

Quick as a flash, he’s back at me:
“You’re full of it. Your eyelids are drooping. Again – do you fancy a drink?”

I’m so excited, I almost fancy I can taste onion in my mouth again. But I’m not a ball of knitting, to be picked up whenever he’s bored. I haven’t heard from him since our date. And so I reply:
“Maybe I do. You never called.”

In a heartbeat comes the retort:
“Neither did you. Consider this the call. What’s your answer?”

Touché. I return to my date smiling to myself, but knowing I’m beaten. That’s a good answer. The cocksure bastard.

But how to extricate myself from the king of Manhattan? We sip our drinks for another 5 minutes until I spot my date stifling a yawn and see my opportunity.

“I’m a bit tired,” I say. “Do you mind if we call it a night?”

My date nods a little too eagerly – clearly he’s not head over heels in love with me either – and we leave the pub, the texter’s eyes burning into us. Out of the corner of my eye I see him reach for his phone. Ideally, I’m aiming to be standing in front of him before he can even type “WTF?”

As I say my goodbyes to the Big Apple enthusiast, I feel my phone buzz angrily in my pocket. And then again. Eventually I see the date into a cab and victoriously turn back to the pub, texting the words that will get me my ‘Access All Areas’ pass deep into the fires of Hell:
“Yes. Pint. See you in 5.”

Post-date rating: 4 for the guy I started out on the date with. A solid 8 for the one I ended it with.
Date in one sentence: If you can’t love the one you want, love the one you’re with – unless someone hotter is standing in the corner.

A truncated version of this post first appeared in GT magazine, where I write a monthly column about my dating experiences. Find out when the next issue is due on the GT website.

The Boyfriend

As you schlep your way through single life, you find yourself arriving at a lot of parties alone. At first, you try to avoid it, and make plans with friends to meet up at least 10 minutes beforehand at a nearby tube station or off-licence so you don’t have the awkwardness of standing on the doorstep by yourself, eagerly pressing the buzzer. After a while, though, you care less and less; you become more accustomed to your status as a solitary animal. Insecurities at no longer being one of two fade like old newsprint.

I am at a party full of people I don’t really know. Somebody I used to work with has invited me, and while there are former colleagues dotted about here and there and the odd face I recognise, I have never taken my lead from Ally McBeal when it comes to work relationships – I prefer to keep them strictly professional, save for the odd foray into disastrously going on a date with one. So I am alone for more than a few moments, hovering awkwardly in doorways like a vague scent, not quite brave enough to edge myself into strangers’ conversations, but not quite willing to give in and go home by myself. There is gin here, and champagne. And I am thirsty.

I slink over to the kitchen and scour the worktops for a tipple. I settle on a big bottle of Plymouth gin and glug as much as decency will allow into the nearest clean glass, before peeking around the kitchen, meerkat-like, on the search for tonic. I soon see a bottle of it; it is attached to the hand of God, or his nearest approximation on Earth. A man made from the 10 hottest Hollywood leading men melted down into one is sloshing tonic into two glasses. Seeing that I want the tonic too, he smiles and waves the bottle at me, holding out his hand for my glass. He takes it from me and holds it up in mock horror.

“Wow, I like your measures,” he says, with a wicked grin. “I wish you were coming to my house on Christmas Day – my mum usually controls the gin and she does so religiously!”
I am instantly at ease with this delectable deity and so move a little closer, shuffling along the worktop to stand next to him.
“If everyone can still see straight by the Queen’s speech, I obviously haven’t been doing my job right,” I chuckle, and we clink glasses. He looks over his shoulder but obviously doesn’t find what he’s looking for and so we talk a little more and fix another round of drinks with equally dangerous measures. His name is Rod (“short for Roderick, NOT Rodney, I swear”) and he designs T-shirts in between studying architecture. I’ve no idea how old he is, but on the surface of it he is an embryo to my fossil.

Just as we are laughing a bit too loudly over a really stupid, unfunny joke, a taller, slightly older guy comes along and snakes his arm between us. He’s not moving in for a bear hug, however; he’s come to retrieve his drink. The second G&T Rod was making – it feels like hours ago, and the gin now looks stagnant – was for him.
He doesn’t stop to chat, just gives me a cursory glance that could wilt lilies, snatches his drink and nods to Rod. “I’ll be through there, babe,” he spits, before turning on his heels and gliding away into the next room where something dangerously hip is booming out of the speakers.

“That’s my other half,” Rod explains, almost dolefully.
I nod and smile weakly.
“What about you? Who are you here with? Boyfriend? Uh, girlfriend?”
I reply with a hollow laugh. “Errr, no, I have no other half. I am, um, my whole.”
His eyes crinkle in confusion.  “You’re a hole?” It really was a big gin.
“No, no, I’m two halves of the same whole. You see?” I’m floundering. “Shit. No. I mean I’m single. There is no boyfriend. Not yet. Not now.”
He grins. I see him consider me. “Ah, okay. Cool.”

We continue chatting for a while and are just finishing another round of lethal gins when I see Rod’s boyfriend coming into view. I ask good-naturedly if he too would like a drink and he says yes, his eyes slits. Rod then excuses himself to go to the loo. I hand the boyfriend his G&T and he sips it. I can tell it’s too strong for him, but he is desperately trying not to show it in his face. The eyes, as narrowed in distaste as they are, don’t lie, though.

He asks my name and when I tell him, he repeats it a couple of times, in sibilant monotone. He then asks where my boyfriend is, and when I reply that I don’t have one, he fixes me with a chilly “I see”, and looks me up and down, eyes suddenly widening in a failed attempt at breeziness. He leans in and touches my arm.
“It can be so hard to meet someone these days,” he smiles, sourly. “Everyone our age seems to be paired up, I suppose. Well, I say our age – how old are you?”
I laugh at the blatant barb and tell him.
“Well,” he gushes in faux-sincerity, “I don’t think you look it at all. And I’m sure the right guy is out there for you somewhere.” But not here, his eyes say. Not my guy. Subtle.

At that moment, Rod comes back. The boyfriend gives me one last withering look and turns to Rod. “Shall we go soon?”
Rod shrugs, disappointed. “Well, I suppose so, if you want.”
“I do,” says the boyfriend. “I’ll just go for one more quick boogie. You coming?”
“Yeah,” says Rod. “I’ll get us another drink for the road.”
“Fine,” replies his paramour, dismissively waving to me as he walks away. “Bye, then,” he says, giving my name one more swirl around his tongue like it’s a particularly nasty-tasting mouthwash. And he’s gone.

Rod turns to me. “Another?”
I nod. As he pours, he keeps looking furtively at me. Like he wants to say something, but obviously doesn’t feel he can. I’m not quite drunk enough to drag it out of him, so I just gaze back at him and smile like a simpleton. Until…

“It’s been great to talk to you,” he stutters. “We should exchange numbers or something. And, uh, meet up or something.”
I start to tremble a bit. My slight inebriation gifts me a brief frankness: “And will you be bringing your boyfriend along?”
Rod flushes red and breathes quickly. “No, I definitely won’t.”

I look back at him and then my eyes flick to the other room. I can just see Rod’s boyfriend in the distance, his back to me, talking to a girl who’s laughing uproariously at whatever he’s saying. I look back at Rod, who has his phone in his hand, primed to take those digits. I look back one final time to the boyfriend.

I should do this to you, I think. I should take his number and give him mine and meet him, just to spite you, you sour bastard. I should teach you a lesson for looking down your nose at me just for talking to your precious – and, yes, ridiculously handsome – boyfriend in the kitchen, you insecure dolt. I should meet him and meet him again and meet him yet again and eventually take him from you, and prove it isn’t really “hard to find someone” at all, and that even though “everyone is paired up at our age”, pairs can be halved. Relationships can be sliced right in two before your very eyes. I should ruin you. I sigh. But I won’t. I know I won’t.

It isn’t for me to serve him his own head on a plate. If Rod is to go a-wandering – and something tells me that eventuality isn’t too far off – I don’t want it to be with me. I don’t want that responsibility and have no desire to cause someone else that heartache. Not to mention, I don’t want to be the one creeping through to the kitchen at all subsequent parties just to check my beautiful boyfriend isn’t talking to yet another gin-pouring stranger with his eyes on my man.

I reel off my telephone number to Rod, switching out the last digit for another incorrect one so he won’t get through to me should he try, shake his hand and go in for a light hug. Then I drain the last of my gin and watch him walk off toward his boyfriend, who now has at least one more chance to keep Rod all to himself.

At the next party, he may not be so lucky.



Pre-date rating: N/A
Post-date rating:
8.5/10 – knocking off 0.5 for the adulterous potential and another 1 for terrible taste in men.

Date in one sentence: You will always find me in the kitchen at parties, probably talking to your boyfriend.

Image: Flickr