Tag Archives: date disaster

Know your dating enemies: Texting

Apparently in the olden days, our phones were used for speaking to each other. Like, actual voices piping down the… what is it – airwaves? Line? Cable? Anyway, whatever. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away called the past, people would regularly use mobile phones – or just phones, as we now call them – to talk.

It was an awful experience. Either you would “screen” calls to avoid answering to somebody you wanted to avoid, or you would accidentally “pick up” and spend excruciating hours saying “uh huh, yeah” all the while wondering whose talk plan minutes this awkward chat was wasting – because things like that mattered then. Ha, minutes. Show me one person who needs more than 38 seconds of talktime a month and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t know predictive text has been invented yet.

Thankfully, to save us all from saying stupid, rash things like “Yes I will marry you” or “No, actually, the second series of Game On is much better than the first”  (‘90s refrence!) someone invented texting. Its built-in functionality of helping us swerve any human contact or giving extra time to come up with the most fire responses possible have endeared it to our hearts for ever and most of us would now rather see the voiceboxes of an entire generation ripped out and tossed on a bonfire than lose one of their very own texting fingers.

Giving way now to iMessage, WhatsApp and that proprietary Facebook one whose invasion was more aggressive than Napoleon without any breakfast, texting is our favoured way of communicating and long may it reign.

Sadly, every god must have his flaws and every hero must have her downside and texting – or messaging – has the biggest one of all. Continue reading Know your dating enemies: Texting

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Where not to meet your next boyfriend: The supermarket

The supermarket can be a boring and depressing place at the best of times, let alone if you’re single.

Couples snogging in front of the very shelf you’re trying to reach – lasagne for ONE – or, much more likely, arguing about being organic in front of the tenderstem broccoli. It’s a nonstop misery-fest, from the very moment you pick up your basket – complete with someone else’s scrunched up receipts in the bottom of it, the bastard – to the awkward hunt for your loyalty card as your cans of beer clang in straining carrier bags.

One way to brighten up your journey to the supermarket is, of course, to have a crush on almost everybody in there. You tell yourself you’ll never do it again, after that guy with the rippling muscles and the faux-geeky specs caught you salivating over him by the cottage cheese, but you can’t help yourself. Supermarkets are boring and hate you – you need something to look at.

And, oh look, there’s one now. His hair is just the right side of imperfect, his skin shines beautifully under the stark “prisoner loose at Alcatraz” supermarket lighting and he is sashaying down the aisles with a heady mixture of grace and vigour. He is Gigi and these tin-stacked corridors are his Champs-Elysées.

Let’s get one thing clear: following people around supermarkets checking out their arse is a bad idea, and you know this. But just this once won’t hurt, you tell yourself. I’ll keep a safe distance this time, you reason. It’s only really stalking if they see you, you decide. You are wrong on all counts, but there’s no stopping you now is there?

You do a quick glance up and down the aisle to see a) whether anybody has noticed your eyes are glued to the nape of this poor unsuspecting gentleman’s delicious neck and b) whether there’s a better option. There’s nothing. On you go.

What’s in his basket?
You sidle up to near where the object of your affection is standing. In your head, you do this nonchalantly, almost on casters. In reality, you loiter far too near to where he is, breathing heavily, and demonstrate the worst subtle side-eye since Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston last shared the red carpet.

You peer into the basket to see what he’s got. Hmmm, plenty of vegetables. Kale, even. How modern. Broccoli. OK. Mange tout. Right. Spinach. OK, that’s a lot of greenery. You picture, in the future when you live together, wandering into the bathroom after him – then backing away with your man-bag over your nose.

What else has he got? Fresh fish and chicken. No beef. You worry. Can you really feel a deep, sexual connection for a man who doesn’t chow down on burgers? Oh well, you shrug, you can always go to Byron on date night.

Who’s he with?
Hot people rarely go anywhere alone, because other people tend to want to be around hot people. You check for any flatmates, boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers – anybody who might spoil your dark, twisted fantasy by the deep freeze.

That he’s got no trolley is a good sign he’s flying solo – unless he’s a tight-arse who shops with his other half/flatmate but doesn’t split the bill.

Is he checking out anything other than his own basket?
Oh my God, you think, did he just look at me? The answer: yes, he did. The reason: he thinks it’s weird how you have been on every aisle he’s been on.

In your fantasy, he comes up to you and asks for your advice on the product he has in his hands (just pray it isn’t tripe). In the real world, however, he frowns at you quizzically before scratching his head and scurrying off to the checkouts. You follow, even though your basket contains only a tin of chickpeas, an iceberg lettuce and, inexplicably, some haemorrhoid cream.

Will you be the unexpected item in his bagging area?
He has gone to the self-checkout. This can be a dealbreaker  – so many fall at this final hurdle. You should never date a man who can’t hold his own at a self-checkout.

If he gets more than one shrill “Please remove last item, unexplained item in bagging area”, you should probably run for the hills. If he’s that useless at a self-checkout when all you have to do is scan, imagine him fumbling his way round your very own bag for life.

You scan your items, trying to catch his eye. Now is the wrong time to be flirting, you need to concentrate on what you’re doing. Uh-oh, those dreaded words. “Please place the item in the bag.” While you’re sorting out with the assistant why your haemorrhoid cream isn’t going through properly, your crush shoots you a swift glance and sails on through, sauntering out to the car park. You shoo away the checkout guy and race after him, frantically searching the horizon before he disappears over it.

You can’t see him anywhere. Dolefully you turn back into the store, only to find your crush there, his shopping bags in his hand and a smile on his face.

“How about a drink?” he asks, a glint in his sexy eyes.

You gulp. “Sure… I’d love to!”

“Great, come on then,” he says, putting his arm round you. “Oh, and by the way,” he whispers, “can we have medical assistance on aisle 3, please?”

You look at him, puzzled. “Sorry, what?”

“Medical assistance on aisle 3,” he barks in startling monotone. “We have a customer emergency.”

And suddenly your head hurts and the arm round your shoulder is an in-store cleaner asking you if you’re OK – and all around you are tins of chickpeas. Further up the aisle, your crush peeks at the carnage before him, before he’s joined by a hotter, taller, blonder guy who playfully squeezes his arse and pecks him on the cheek.

“Come on, babe,” he says. “Let’s leave them to it. I can sure they can help the poor old bugger.”

Oh well, at least the haemorrhoid cream was a dream, eh?

Oh. Oh.

Image:  Flickr

The Reluctant Mean Girl

Midweek. Another bar. Another pint with a stranger. I sit and wonder where I’ll be in five hours. Will I be back in my flat ignoring the ironing or will I be tangled in Egyptian cotton and kisses with tonight’s contestant?  You just never know.

“And you wore pink!”
I nod at his polo shirt, knowingly. “Perfect shirt for tonight!”

My date tonight bristles with efficiency. He was on time, buying drinks and sitting opposite me with a rictus grin on his face, in his pristine baby pink polo, before I knew what was happening.

“It seems weird going on a date on a Wednesday, no?” he says.

“Wednesdays are perfect, I think,” I reply. “And you wore pink!” I nod at his polo shirt, knowingly. “Perfect shirt for tonight!”

He narrows his eyes. “I don’t follow.”

“Oh, errr,” I stumble awkwardly. “It’s from Mean Girls. They say ‘On Wednesdays we wear pink’. Yes?”

His face is blanker than a blank thing on a blank day in a town called Blankton.

I probe further: “Do you know Mean Girls?”

He leans back in his chair and his face changes to a look of bemusement tinged with disgust and a dash of weariness.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he sighs.

“I mean…” he shakes his head dismissively. “I just wouldn’t even want to watch Mean Girls. I’m not into trashy movies.”

I gulp, feeling dumb and shallow.

“It’s a film. Written by Tina Fey. Lindsay Lohan was in it? It’s quite old.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of it. I mean…” he shakes his head dismissively. “I just wouldn’t even want to watch it. I’m not into trashy movies.”

I shrug. “It’s not trashy, really. It’s quite a clever, knowing kind of comedy. Not as good as Heathers, but in the same ballpark.”

“I don’t really like the kind of films that gay men usually like,” he replies.

Oh, I see! BINGO! We have the new gay stereotype – the gay man who refuses to conform to a stereotype! How lucky for me to have snared this rarest of beasts. And barely halfway through our first drink.

I could just let this go, or I could take a tin-opener to that can of worms he’s waving in front of me.

I have two options. I could just let this go, or I could take a tin-opener to that can of worms he’s waving in front of me. Egyptian cotton, or home alone? I imagine the pristine sheets. Lovely. Then I think of him in them, beckoning me to a world where sex means never watching a popular movie again. Decision made.

“I don’t like it because I’m gay, you total snob. I like it because it’s funny.”

“Yeah, right,” he replies, folding his arms. A drawbridge goes up with great speed. “But you think it’s a  funny film because of the bitchy dialogue and the pretty, evil girls being all ‘fabulous’, right? It’s just a bit… obvious.” He unfolds his arms for a brief second and waves them dramatically in the air.

“So you have seen it, then?” I smirk.

“Uh.” A pause so long you could actually use it to nip off to watch Mean Girls. And then: “I might have done actually.”

I’m back in my own kitchen – alone – within the hour.

Stats: 5’10”, 31, mousy brown/brown, Devon
Pre-date rating: 7/10
Post-date rating: 3.5/10
Date in one sentence: Gay guy thinks pretending popular culture isn’t a thing makes him less gay.

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.

The Also-Ran

Is there anything less sexy than a date who dumps all his problems on you? Is it really only nice guys who finish last?

Internet dating attracts the loneliest of souls. Behind every profile advertising a “vivacious go-getter”, there’s a self-doubting emotional wreck searching for a friendly face upon which they can offload their problems – and little else. Sadly. Thankfully. Everybody’s got their problems; some of them like to share them on a supposedly romantic evening. It’s a risky seduction technique, but depressingly popular.

Tonight, I’m playing shrink to Christopher, an aspiring novelist with faux-messy hair and a bowtie. Aspiring. Bonjour alarm bells – aspirations are doppelgangers of unrealised, far-fetched fantasies.

His profile promised the romantic equivalent of high-speed broadband. Instead he is, at best, alternately fizzing and flatlining dial-up on the Isle of Skye. He’s telling me about his career thus far. It’s light on comedy.

“I’ve wasted chances, fucked up opportunities, chased stupid dreams that turned into nightmares and missed out on a podium place every single time. I try not to be bitter about it, but it’s hard. I wish things were different. I wish I wasn’t such a, such a…” he begins to stammer.

I eye my beer wearily. “Such a what?” I prompt.

He sighs heavily. Any joy remaining in the room is quickly sucked out of it.
He continues: “Such an also-ran. A bystander. I’ve never been at the centre of anything. Always in orbit. Uranus.”

I do the obligatory schoolboy laugh, but he ploughs on, deadly serious. “I wish I’d been less of a loser.”

I begin to wish he hadn’t ordered that gin and tonic.
“You don’t really feel that way about yourself, do you?” I say.

He looks up from the table, his eyes sad and grey, like the unluckiest pensioner in the bingo hall.

“I’m afraid so. I try and try but nothing seems to work. All my relationships have been a disaster. Men screw me over all the time.”

He’s doing a dreadful PR job on himself. What am I supposed to say? I have never met him before; I only have his side of the story. If he was this scintillating on dates to other men, no wonder all they wanted to do was roll in the hay and run.

Do nice guys all really finish last? Or is there a reason you’re destined to be runner-up? I’m not sure I want to find out, and he doesn’t look like he needs psychoanalysing. Just a hug and that gin taking away from him would do, I reckon.

We haven’t known each other long enough for physical contact, so a verbal ruffling of the hair will have to do.

“I’m sure you’ve just been unlucky,” I offer.

He looks down again, utterly convinced. “Yeah, maybe.”

A huge sigh. His eyes return to mine. “Not much chance of a second date, I suppose?” he says.

My mouth dribbles into a weak smile.  I feel celibacy’s icy fingers grip my balls.

“I think you’ve just had a bad day. Let’s try another, some other time.” It feels about as sincere as a Christmas card with a live grenade attached.

“Thanks,” he says quietly, and we finish our drinks before heading out into the night and away from each other.

Over the next few days, I think about whether to contact him again. Sure, he was a bit of a downer, but maybe he’d had a bad day. And while he’d been screwed over by men before, perhaps I can prove we’re not all the same. Considering those vulnerable eyes, I finally do contact him – a text proposing a drink.

I wait. Nothing comes in return that evening. Busy, maybe. Out of the country. And, then two days later, my phone buzzes.

“Nice of you to get in touch,” comes the reply. “But I kind of got a better offer. LOL. Was nice to meet you. Take care.”

Maybe I should be irked, but I’m not. His curse looks to be finally broken. Second prize now belongs to me.

Stats: 35, 5’8”, brown/grey, Shropshire
Where: Columbia Rd, London
Pre-date rating: 7/10
Post-date rating: 3/10
Date in one sentence: The world’s biggest loser wins the lottery.

Image: Flickr

The Raincheck

“It’s raining” is the first thing out of his mouth.

“I know.”

He hops from one foot to the other as if avoiding drops of lava from the sky. He seems stressed. “Well, what should we do?” he asks. “It’s raining!”

“Let’s go into the gallery,” I reply, wishing I had brought an umbrella – not to keep me dry, but to shove in my date’s mouth. I try to shake the last time I went to a gallery with a date from my mind. This will be different.

Afternoon dates are always a risk. Daylight can be unforgiving, of course, and going for a drink in the afternoon always seems a little seedy when you’re with a stranger.

But here I am, in the absence of anything to do on a grey Saturday afternoon other than count the spatters of tea next to the bin (I’m quite athletic when it comes to chucking tea bags away). I didn’t factor in the rain, but here it is, like a gooseberry. A wet, miserable chaperone to match my date’s mood.

I know exactly why he’s upset: he has a ‘hairstyle’.

It’s a huge quiff, which wasn’t in his photos, so either it’s a new thing he’s trying out (with limited success today), or his dating profile pictures are aeons old. I watch the rain trickle down the lines by his eyes. The quiff, like his profile photo, is not new.

We duck into the National Portrait Gallery, usually one of my favourites. Obviously, lots of other people have had the same idea – the lobby is filled with pissed-off looking people who wouldn’t normally be in here, shaking off sodden cuffs and looking bewildered. The air is heavy and humid. It smells of wet hair and halitosis and museum and doom.

“Do you want to start at the top and work our way down, or look around the bottom floor?” I ask, cursing myself as I do, and praying he won’t come back with a double-entendre.

“Well,” he whispers, narrowing his eyes in a way I imagine he thinks is sexy. Oh dear. “I was hoping to get to know you a bit better first, but I always like to start at the top.”

There is no God.

I laugh a laugh so fake I should either be arrested or given an Oscar, and we make our way up the long escalator to the top floor.

We talk, mainly about the pictures of various Tudors in front of us. I’m not particularly highbrow, but his exclamations about how difficult it must’ve been to have sex in the outfits they wore and musing whether Henry VIII was well-endowed make me feel like a schoolteacher taking a wang-obsessed pupil on a day out. I have to get him away from these paintings.

Down a floor, then. He finally stops ruminating on the sex lives of all the subjects in the portraits and casts his dirty little mind to me instead.

“I hope you don’t mind my wee joke about tops earlier,” he says.

Ah, so he’s kind of read me already. That’s good, I suppose. I’m not a prude or anything, but it was a bit awkward. But, really, I should lighten up. It was just a joke. Anyone else would’ve answered similarly, I’m sure.

“No, of course not.” I smile. Too widely.

“Good,” he says, and our eyes exchange a look that means something and it feels nice. “But out of interest,” he carries on. “Which are you? Give or take? I’ll do you either way; I’m not that fussy.”

I am back out in the rain ten minutes later and it has never felt so good to be wet and alone.

Stats: 38, 5’10”, brown/brown, Inverness
Where: Central London
Pre-date rating: 7/10

Post-date rating: 1/10
Date in one word: Versatile.

Image: Flickr

Guest post: Blindsided by Harry

Sometimes when you are cast adrift on the vast ocean of online dating, it feels like you are the only person in the world going through it. Nobody else, surely, is experiencing this lame conversation, those awkward drinks, that long trek home with a bellyful of boredom, regret and wine. It is, then, both heartening and depressing to know that dating disasters are happening the world over. And to prove it, here is a guest post, from a regular reader named Adam, who was pulled on that most romantic of places, the dance floor. But when the lights came on, was his dancing partner worthy of more than a quick tango of the tonsils? Take it away, Adam…

If I’m being honest, my expectations for this date aren’t high.

While a tall, dark stranger starting a drunken conversation with “You’re kinda hot” in the middle of a dance floor is traditionally seen as the first milestone in a long and happy life together, I have a quiet suspicion that Harry and I may not in fact be a match made in heaven. So when I give him my number and agree to go for a drink the following week it’s more out of curious optimism than undeniable chemistry; after all not everyone makes the best impression while half-drunk and sweaty amid pounding techno, I tell myself.

The days running up to the drink reveal the first cracks in this blossoming romance, as Harry seems intent on being in constant communication with me despite the fact that it appears he doesn’t have a lot to say. (When the third text that Sunday afternoon arrives, asking, for a third time, ‘Hows you? x’, I decide it’s best not to reply.) I recheck my schedule in the vain hope that I’ve accidentally double-booked our date with plans to be struck by an asteroid but no luck. Maybe the date will be better, I tell myself. After all, not everyone makes the best impression via text.

As I make my way to the bar I realise that I’ve abstained from my typical espionage-worthy virtual background-check of Harry, proud that I don’t want to enter into the date with false preconceptions of him. The pessimist in me points out the only reason I haven’t gone looking is because I can’t actually remember if Harry was tall and dark or if the club was just… dark. Knowing somehow makes it worse.

In keeping with this pessimism, I’ve scheduled the date after a discussion on contemporary writing I’m attending in the same place, meaning even if Harry turns out to be as big a snooze in person as he is via text, the evening won’t have been a total washout. Following the conclusion of the talk, I work my way across the crowded bar to look for my date, scanning the room for someone hopefully handsome. The sight of the vaguely awkward figure exaggeratedly waving from a table in the middle of the room hits me like an anvil. Stupid lighting.

“Sorry I’m late, the Literature Society thing ran a couple of minutes over,” I interject as the awkward handshake/hug/kiss-greeting dilemma arises, using the opportunity to hurriedly sit down before he can lunge towards me.

“Literature society? That’s lame!” he guffaws as I stare back uncertain, not quite sure if he expects me to reply with “I know, I’m such a loser!” As he swaggers off to the bar to get the first round, I slump in my chair. Maybe he’s just nervous, I tell myself.

Upon his return, the conversation begins to move in circles. Every time Harry dislikes something about my personality he makes it perfectly clear. (For example, the fact that I run a website about video games elicits an outcry of “Nerd!”) The only problem is if I returned the favour it’d sound like I had Tourette’s; Harry reveals that he decided to study accounting at uni “for the money”, plays the clarinet, loves Cheryl Cole and describes his main hobbies as “dyeing my hair” and “sleeping all day”.

I can only imagine what my face must look like in response to this. Every attempt to engage with him about any of these subjects falls flat and the frustration quickly begins to creep in. The only thing I say about myself that receives any kind of meaningful response is when I talk about my autism, mentioning how it affects my daily life but has also gifted me with an ability to sense a squinty picture frame within fifteen miles. “I get what you mean in terms of having a disability,” he empathises, “y’know, cause I’m legally blind.”

“You’re blind…?” I would have most likely spat my drink in his face had I not already inhaled it upon its arrival, disappointedly tried to take a sip from the empty glass on no less than three occasions after that and then, somewhat embarrassingly, tried to subtly lick the ice cube for any remaining traces of alcohol.

“Yeah? Didn’t I already tell you?” The slightest suggestion of judgement filters into his voice.

“No, I think I would remember someone mentioning that they were blind. That’s the kind of thing you remember.” I begin to think back to the prior 15 minutes of mind-numbing discussion of accounting practices and wonder at what point exactly this was going to come up in our relationship had I luckily not been similarly disabled. “Well how blind are you exactly?”

“Well they won’t let me drive a car…” he ponders.

The fact that Harry’s partially sighted is in no way a dealbreaker for me; in many ways it’s the most genuinely interesting thing about him, which makes me feel a little sad at how disastrous this evening has been. The conversation rambles on for another half an hour or so – I lose myself in an existentialist analysis of breakfast cereals and briefly forget Harry’s still there – but the writing’s on the wall for this match-up. When he asks me out again at the end of the date I have to politely turn him down.

While he seems willing to look past all my glaring faults of lameness and geekery, I tell myself that I’m sadly not willing to do the same for him.

Adam Sorice is a literature student and writer who would much rather talk about Sabrina the Teenage Witch than Jane Eyre. His writing spans all kinds of pop culture, from The Legend of Zelda to Lady Gaga, and aims to explore cultural ideas regarding sexuality, gender and society.
Read more of Adam’s writing.

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.