Young people. I tend to have very little contact with them, except for the ones who play dubstep through their mobile phones on buses or ‘tsk’ me loudly if I take too long a while packing my shopping bags in the supermarket.
So it is with a sense of dread that I discover on the dating site I have been ‘favourited’ by a mere 25-year-old. He first adds me as a favourite way back when I first join the dating site, and although he doesn’t have any publicly-available pictures – a no-no from me usually – something about the way he describes himself makes me warm to him. I’m a sucker for a well-constructed sentence, after all. I consider the fact that no 25-year-old in their right mind would ever look twice at me in the street and my vanity gets the better of me, I’m afraid; I send him a brief message saying hello. I’m not entirely surprised that I don’t hear anything back and so shrug it off and forget about it, and indeed him.
Months later, I see he’s been looking at my profile again. There are no secrets on this dating website: practically every move you make is monitored and reported back to those it may or may not concern, like a particularly keen office gossip. If he’s looking again, it must mean he’s interested, right?
I send him another message, inviting him to show me his photos and opening myself up to an acre of disappointment and embarrassment if he doesn’t respond. Eventually, he does. I’m expecting Frankenstein’s monster, but I take a look.
He’s cute. He doesn’t look quite as young as his 26 years (he’s had a birthday since we first ‘met’), yet still has a fresh, cheeky face. I’m intrigued. Why the secrecy? He won’t say. We arrange to meet.
The day of the date, I wake up with tonsillitis, and have to cancel. Is this a sign? He’s fairly unperturbed and seems happy to rearrange, which we do – a couple of weeks later once my tonsils have retracted back to a more manageable size, ripe for tickling. We are to meet at a railway station, straight after work. A fairly insalubrious venue, yes, but I’m conscious of retreading the same old ground and/or bumping into someone I’ve already been on a date with. So here I am at the station.
I arrive first, my date turning up just seconds after. As surreptitiously as possible, I quickly give him the once-over. He’s come straight from work, so I’ll have to make allowances, but I’m really not impressed with what he’s wearing. Standard-issue white shirt, trousers that only a mother could love and the drabbest of shoes which look like he took all of five minutes to select. And they are scuffed. We’re on a date, mate, pull it out of the bag. His face, however, is quite handsome and he has a winning smile. Let’s give it a go.
Straight away, we get on. We talk easily about our respective jobs and he seems happy to take my lead when it comes to suggesting where to go. I can tell he doesn’t go out in this area of London often and I actually take some comfort in that. Because he’s younger, I feel a lot more in control than perhaps I have in previous dates. I’m not a control freak, but I do feel a lot happier if I’m not leaving the thinking to someone else – well, they inevitably take too long. At the first bar, we get a pint each and take a seat outside in the sun, which looks like it’s dangerously close to sodding off. As we sit opposite each other and chat away, I can feel his eyes burning into me when I’m not looking at him. When I look back, he doesn’t avert his gaze. Hello, I think, we’ve got a keen one here.
Maybe it’s the beer, or the fact that he very obviously fancies me, but I start to feel super-relaxed and confident. He’s not a wallflower, but has a very sexy shyness about him and I can also tell that he’s not very much into the ‘scene’. That, most definitely, is a plus point. Our rumbling bellies and booze consumption are threatening to prematurely end the evening, so we make our way to another pub to have something to eat. I switch to soft drinks; he doesn’t.
Our legs touch every so often under the table and I start to feel a little light-headed. What am I doing? The absurdity of being out on a date with a 26-year-old who is not-so-gently flirting with me hits me all of a sudden, and I bring myself forcibly back into reality. So, what next? The bill. And then somewhere I won’t be stoned to death if this guy tries to kiss me. And that’s looking pretty damn imminent, let me tell you.
As for the lack of photos on his profile? He claims he was just shy, but after a few more drinks, he confesses: he has political ambitions and doesn’t want to be spotted. I see.
We go, then, to a gay pub round the corner. I haven’t been there since my very last night out with a former fling, and I half expect to see him standing in the corner. So I don’t look in the corners. The date and I grab a pint – I’m going to have to go back on the booze if I’m to make my move – and manage to find a seat. We sit alongside each other, talking the usual semi-drunken drivel. I go to the toilet and look at myself in the mirror to assess my lined visage. OK. Not looking too bad, I guess. How wise is it to go any further on the first date? Should I learn my lesson from previous experiences? Or should I just shut up and go with it?
As soon as I sit back down, my date and I begin to nudge noses and then we are indeed going for it. I have always found it extremely distasteful to be confronted by couples’ slobbery public displays of affection – gay or straight – but that was all before I actually tried it. It’s nice and it’s quite sexy and we’re not putting our hands down each other’s trousers or anything. It’s all wholesome, pre-watershed stuff. For now.
After a few minutes of this, we pause for breath. I look at my watch and realise it’s a weeknight and it’s getting late. “I’m really going to have to go,” I explain, “I’ve got to be up at 6.45”.
He looks crestfallen.
“What do you want to do?” I ask him.
“I want to carry on kissing you as long as possible,” he replies.
“Let’s get a cab then.”
Within two minutes flat, our drinks are drained, and we leave the bar and throw ourselves into a taxi, our fingers firmly interlocked. And soon our mouths will be too.
Stats: 26, 5’9″, black/ brown, north-east England When: July 2010 Where: Shoreditch, E1 Pre-date rating: 7/10 Post-date rating: 9/10 Date in one sentence: I relive my youth and get up to a little more than snogging behind the bike sheds.