Tag Archives: he’s just not that into me

The first crush is the deepest

I once read a brilliant interview with the ever-awkward Simon Amstell, which included him talking about his first celebrity crush.

It is rare for gay celebrities to talk about their crushes. Usually we don’t really like to imagine anyone knocking one out thinking about another, let alone gay men.

Also, for a gay man to admit he may at one time have dreamed of kissing a straight man would mean he were in some way determined to make it happen, right?

As we all know, a straight man left alone in a room with a gay man is bound to feel under threat and oppressed – we can’t keep our hands to ourselves, we love to intimidate.

Sigh.

And then I got to thinking about my first crush and surmised there must have been many, even before I realised what sex actually was, and what went where, and even dreamed of putting anything anywhere. But the first one that stuck in my mind was Harry.

Harry. I remember thinking about Harry.

Even before I knew I was gay, I knew I wanted to see Harry with no shirt on. And thankfully, once a week I did – every single Monday for three years in PE.

Holding in sobs on the rugby pitch, getting my knees battered in hockey, being too short for basketball, watching 130mph serves whistle by me in tennis, trudging dejectedly across the field after one run in cricket, and the endless, infernal hell of football for the remaining millennia – all worth it, in their perverse way, for the 10 minutes either side that I got to furtively look at Harry’s skin in the changing rooms. Continue reading The first crush is the deepest

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The Charm Offensive

I am 24 and at a friend’s flat. She is having a party. Well, I say party – the lounge is full of people, there are bottles of vodka and dubious mixers on the kitchen table and there is a queue for the toilet. It’s as close to a party as we’re going to get this evening.

I am a different animal as a 24-year-old. I’ve yet to endure all the various, turbulent life experiences that will teach me to be kinder, more humble, accommodating, friendly – all that shit.

Instead I am almost a quarter of a century of awkwardness, curiosity and sugar-topped vitriol masquerading as confidence. A familiar tale to many, I’m sure.

I’ve not been out of the closet long – I’m still working out what to do with my wonky wiring and feelings that I’m now allowed to have. And I get super-nervous around other gay men.

As I pour myself a really large gin and tonic, alone, my friend glides into the kitchen and says: “Claire’s friend Matt is here. He’s gay, but a bit weird. Watch out for him.”

I thank her for – well, warning me, I guess – and pour an extra shot of gin into my glass, sending the contents splashing all over the table. 38-year-old me would get a cloth and wipe it up, but time machines aren’t a thing yet and so 24-year-old me vaguely waggles some kitchen roll in the spillage’s direction and strides out to the lounge to witness this weirdo for myself.

I spy him immediately. He is kind of good-looking, despite being dressed in clothes you would describe unfortunate at best. He throws his head back in laughter at something the guy he’s with is saying.

I have met the other guy before and know for a fact his banter is up there with a night in a Bangkok prison in the LOL stakes, so I assume the hysterical laughter is for somebody else’s benefit. It then occurs to me that maybe he too has had a ‘warning’.

I play that desperately unoriginal game every young gay plays: faux-blindness. Oh, boys, you all think you’re being so clever, but coyness is the one trick every gay guy likes to pull out of the bag first. It’s never convincing and always ends in disaster. But I’m yet to learn that.

So it begins. I pretend I haven’t seen Matt at all and instead trundle over to a corner and start talking to someone much better looking.

It continues this way for around an hour or so. Whenever he walks into a room, I find the earliest opportunity to leave it and if finding myself trapped in a group conversation, smile politely before making my excuses and going to the loo. He does the same – he never addresses me directly and doesn’t cast his eye over me at all.

While our paths don’t cross and we haven’t said a word to each other, the air is thick with something – and it’s not cigarette smoke. Our fellow party guests eyeball us nervously, nudging each other, as if wondering who’s going to bite first.

Eventually, I take a pew in the kitchen and join another conversation. Matt enters soon after me and sits opposite. I am between the kitchen wall and the table and can’t possibly get out without appearing very rude. So the conversation continues.

Matt doesn’t say much, but looks across at me often. It is definitely not lust in his eyes – his hooded eyelids convey a dash of contempt, if anything. I decide I don’t have anybody to impress and let forth what I suppose at the time would’ve passed for bawdy humour but would now seem crass and attention-seeking. I’d do anything for a laugh.

At the next gap in conversation, Matt takes a swig of his drink and leans over, saying loudly to me: “Do you know, I think you’re the most arrogant person I’ve ever met.”

The room goes deathly quiet – the only sound is the ice clinking in my glass as my hand trembles.

I laugh derisively and he gets up and walks out of the room.

About half an hour later, I decide it is time to go. I call a cab and wait for it outside the flat – the sky getting lighter and lighter as I smoke the bollocks off a Marlboro Light.

I hear the familiar diesel engine sound and my chariot pulls up. Suddenly by my side is Matt.

“Er, hi,” he says.
“It’s bye, actually,” I beam as I open the cab door.
“But…” he starts breathlessly. “Aren’t I coming with you?”
“What?!” I shriek. “Why would you be coming with me?”
“I thought I’d be coming home with you,” he says plainly.
I’m incredulous. “Why? I thought I was the most arrogant person you’d ever met.”
“You are. And I want to come home with you.”

I’ll never forget his look as I carefully close the cab door and tell the driver to go – his hopeful face getting smaller and smaller in the distance until it is just a dot.

I’m sure Matt wanted to teach me a lesson I’d never forget, and he did – just not the one he was hoping for. The only thing I learned from him was that I should stop being a dick at parties – and that men are depressingly impossible to read.

Image: cathydelmarnie on Flickr

The Plus One

“I’m going to a friend’s for dinner on Friday. Come.”

I should say “No thank you, Toby; it’s only our second date”. I don’t.

“Is there anything you don’t eat?”

I should tell him about my phobia of celeriac and meringues. I don’t.

When I ask “What shall I bring?” and he replies “Nothing, just yourself!” I should listen, but I don’t.

When Toby spies the prosecco I’m clutching to my chest as we arrive and tells me “You can’t bring that; they’re teetotal and Polly won’t have it in the house” I should hang on to it, but I don’t. I leave it by the doorstep.

Polly answers the door and eyes me with the same suspicion a white carpet would afford a dog with diarrhoea. I should scowl back. I don’t.

When Polly’s boyfriend Max sloshes elderflower cordial into my wine glass, I shouldn’t quip that it’s a waste of a perfectly good glass, but I do. Max shouldn’t laugh and wink conspiratorially. But he does.

As Polly serves up every food I’ve ever hated in my life, with the icy glare of a serial killer, I should politely decline the offer of pudding, despite eating nothing of the main course. But I don’t.

When Polly goes on and on about Toby’s previous boyfriends, all of them beautiful demigods who adored Polly and would probably have turned straight for had she asked, I should defend myself, or step up my patter in an attempt to impress her. But I don’t care what she thinks, so I nod politely and play with my napkin.

As I laugh uproariously at one of Max’s jokes and see, out of the corner of my eye, Toby’s face fall, I should tone it down and pay more attention to the date who’s barely said a word to me all night. But I can’t. Why get out of Max’s sleek limousine of a conversation only to clamber into Toby and Polly’s knackered old Nissan Micra chit-chat?

When Max and I are stacking the dishwasher and he confesses to me he’s bored rigid living with Polly, I should act surprised and encourage them to stay together. But I’m not, so I don’t.

Usually when a man tells you his problems, he’s hoping you’ll solve them, so perhaps I should pretend we’re in a film and put my hand on his leg and stroke my mouth suggestively. But I don’t want to turn a horrendous evening into an apocalyptic one, so my hands stay where they are.

When I walk back into the lounge, it is obvious I have been getting an absolute skewering from Polly, as her and Toby redden immediately. I can see Toby running back to one of those holy exes within a month – Polly wouldn’t have it any other way.

When it’s time to leave and Max says he’s looking forward to seeing Toby and me again really soon, I should tell him that’s extremely unlikely, but I don’t.

When Toby makes it clear he’s going straight home and says he’ll call me, I should feel sorry and protest a little, but I don’t. Instead I proffer my cheek and he pecks it politely, begrudgingly, finally.

Perhaps I should feel sad that I’ll never see Toby again, but I do not – I feel a rush of relief or elation. The regret may come later, but it will be brief and I’ll have probably have somebody else close to hand to take my mind off it.

I shouldn’t pick up that abandoned bottle of prosecco from the doorstep and drink it on the bus on the way home. But I do. And that turns out to be the best part of the evening.

Stats: 32, 5’9″, auburn/blue, Newcastle
Pre-date rating: 8/10
Post-date rating: 3.5/10 – that score’s for me, really, isn’t it?

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 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.

Beware the flirtatious straight man – six types to look out for

When you are growing up a future gay, you learn very quickly that your relationships with straight men are never going to be anything other than complex.

Whether you’re trying to explain to your dad for the eightieth time that you’re not going to kick that football back at him no matter how many times it flies over your head, or enduring the weekly terror of “Backs against the wall, lads” in the showers after PE, it can be difficult to make yourself understood. So alike, but oceans apart.

Many a time I have spent a puzzling fifteen minutes in a kitchen full of vodka bottles, while a straight guy slinks around me like smoke from Marlene Dietrich’s fiftieth cigarette of the evening.

In less enlightened times, when I was much younger and even more socially awkward, I clearly remember almost dreading being introduced to straight men in case they mocked me or disliked me, preferring instead to make a beeline for their girlfriends, sisters or mothers. There’s also the added misery of emotionally crippling crushes on these men, the ultimate in the unobtainable, or not daring to catch someone’s eye in the gym changing rooms – the PE anxiety nightmare does not end with your last GCSE – in case they thought you were checking out their pecker. Almost never, boys. Almost never.

But now, everyone has chilled out a bit – at least in my little bubble of existence, anyway – and I can’t even imagine ever feeling that way again. I have straight male friends and gay male friends and obviously loads of ladies and everybody is getting married – it’s just like Peter’s Friends or This Life, but everybody’s got a crick in their neck from using their smartphones day in, day out and we’re all tweeting our breakfasts instead of calling each other.

In fact, things seem to have gone so far the other way that there’s now a new kind of straight man you’ll meet: the one who openly flirts with you.

Oh, he’s always been there, of course – the invention of ecstasy and house music has seen to it that the lines are blurrier than ever when it comes to when you can and can’t put your heads on each other’s shoulders.

Many a time I’ve spent a puzzling 15 minutes in a kitchen full of vodka bottles while a straight guy slinks around me, like smoke from Marlene Dietrich’s fiftieth cigarette of the evening.

But as more boys move away from a fear of gay men toward a mild curiosity, it’s all too easy to misinterpret it and get carried away. You mustn’t get ahead of yourself. And if it’s annoying, tell them so. But first let’s meet these young bucks with all this attention to lavish and eyes so wide.

Mr Bored
Some straight men flirt with you just because they are bored. They would flirt with anyone or anything. Watch them around someone’s mother or grandmother, they’re just the same – extra attentive, slightly suggestive, but never enough to cause offence. They have moved on to you because a) you are there and b) well, see a).

It isn’t sexual; he is not going to whisper in your ear that he wants to try something ‘new’. He’s just terribly bored and wants something to do until the football is on/his girlfriend notices him again. Once she does – and she will, their girlfriends are always watching what you’re up to – he’ll go back to being his formal old bro self. He might even clench his buttocks in discomfort if you’re lucky.

Mr Tell Me I’m Pretty
We all like to feel attractive and, although many of us feign shyness or modesty, we like to be told we are too. Obviously we can’t go around willy-nilly telling people they’re hot, because that’s massively inappropriate and, again, you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of somebody’s better half. So, if we’re feeling attractive and want someone to appraise us, even silently, we move the flirtatiousness up a notch. And straight boys do this too.

I have a good female friend whose then-boyfriend would walk into the kitchen like he was trying to pick me up – sometimes in just his boxers. He wasn’t gay, or remotely interested in trying it out, but wanted to be found attractive. He couldn’t understand why, as a gay man, I wasn’t salivating over what was before me like a cartoon dog drooling at the sausages in a butcher’s window. Of course, I rewarded this behaviour by playing dumb and pretending not to notice until he gave up and put some clothes on.

Mr What If
The most seriously flirtatious straight man of all is Mr What If. He treats you like he’s researching a huge scientific study. Thanks to advances in gay sex scenes on TV, nobody really asks “Who plays the man and who is the woman?” any more, but most of his questions make you start to wonder whether he’s merely factually curious or, um, physically so.

“Have you ever kissed a straight guy?” Ah, tantalising stuff, but he doesn’t want to bone you, I’m afraid. He may be toying with the idea, of course, but all he’s really doing is trying to get you to think all this interest is in you, and not what you do when behind closed doors. Instead, he’ll go home, stream some ‘adult videos’ and dream about doing it all to a lady instead.

The Waiter
Customer service. What does it mean to you? A smile, a thank you, a general air of interest in you being alive. That’s about it, usually. But sometimes when you go to a restaurant as a gay man, usually when there’s more than one of you, something odd seems to happen to some straight waiters.

Perhaps sensing that you’re a sucker for a firm jawline, he’ll do all he can to make sure that pink pound he has heard so much about will be jangling in his own pocket once you leave.

Out for dinner with my other half recently, we were left exhausted by the lascivious attention of the waiter in the Cheap Monday jeans. Nothing was too much trouble, including midriff-exposing yawns, Sid James-style winks, innuendo-packed retorts and more lip-licking than I have ever seen outside of an ice cream parlour. On the way home, we considered buying pregnancy tests. Just in case.

Mr Drunk
He’s just drunk. Tell him to fuck off.

Mr Right-On
This guy is pretty harmless – he just wants to atone for all the sins of previous generations of straight boys who made you feel uncomfortable or did a fake lisping voice whenever they said your name. He’ll be tactile, friendly, maybe even say the odd salacious comment, but ultimately, he’s just trying to show you that not all straight men think you are on a mission to bum every single last one of them. If there is beer involved, he may even end the conversation with a big hug, a tear in his eye and “I’m really glad to have met you”.

He is the best reminder that while being gently flirted with by a straight men doesn’t mean you’re super-hot and they’re going to run off with you, it’s kind of nice that it’s happening at all – it shows just how far we have all come.

Just don’t get into a taxi alone with any of them.

Image: James Franco on Instagram

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 Late Great Letdown

Searching for Mr Right, it’s a sad fact that I’m equally Mr Wrong for plenty of others. Could tonight be different? It is, after all, our second outing. Our first date seemed to be a meeting of minds, if not bodies. While we both definitely fancied each other, we didn’t so much as kiss. It felt liberating, refreshing, to end things on a high note but stay out of the bedroom. Not that every good date has ended in a roll in the hay, but there’s nothing wrong with a wander round the field if you fancy it.

After a few texts, we agree to meet again. It does take a good fortnight before any plans are in place, and while usually alarm bells would be ringing – if you really want things to get going, you see each other pretty sharpish – he does sound genuinely regretful that he’s been so busy. I have half-forgotten what he looks like, but I do remember liking what I saw, so am looking forward to round two – a Sunday evening.

Oddly, he says he wants to go back to the same pub we met in first time around. This has never happened before – usually a date will want to try something different for a second date, or leave the choosing up to me, but my date is adamant. One concession to changing things up is “Maybe we can eat this time?”

When he arrives, I see he is still good-looking, although not as smiley. Plus, he’s 15 minutes late. He was also late on our first date, but this time there are no apologetic texts or jokey drink requests, he just turns up, panting like a poodle. It does, at least, look to have run the last few steps to the pub. His eyes flick over me, but his expression is unreadable. He gets himself a drink. He didn’t offer me one, but perhaps he saw I already had one. It is, of course half-empty. I was on time.

He finally sits, looking me and up and down again, keenly, I think. He’s sexy, stylish and smells like a corner of heaven. We’ve both browsed the aisles and been enchanted by the packaging – let’s see what’s inside.

At first it is almost like the last date. He’s funny, and talkative, saying all the right things when I ask, but I’m not sure he’s quite as enamoured. He says he has come straight from a barbecue with friends and that he’d been having a great afternoon. I start to feel sorry I dragged him away. He’s distracted, and can’t get comfortable on the large couch we’re sitting on, turning that way and this until he finds the perfect spot – with every limb facing away from me. OK, then.

I rapidly become nervous as I see a sure thing slip away from me. The first date went so well, I hadn’t really felt like I was trying; now I’m flailing and babbling. And when I’m not firing off questions, there is silence. I watch him fidget like a constipated toddler on a tricycle trying to let out a fart. He fiddles with his laces, runs his hands through his hair, undoes and refastens the top couple of buttons on his shirt and taps his tanned throat edgily. He’s about as excited to be here as you would be your own cremation. It is all going to shit, but I don’t think it’s anything I have done. I have played it exactly like last time. He said he wanted to do it again. We’re even in the same pub, a perfect spot for an exact rerun. What’s changed in two weeks? Apart from absolutely everything?

A waiter approaches the table with menus.
“Will you be eating?” he drawls, running a stained cloth over one far corner of the table.
I look at my date for confirmation. “Are we?”
He stares back blankly. “Errrr.”
The waiter lingers, silently. I gaze up at him. “We’ll have a look at the menus.”
The waiter shrugs and slides the menu across the table, now even stickier thanks to his half-arsed wiping, and walks off. My date and I both stare at them, but do not pick them up.

Finally, a question from my date. “Do you watch any boxsets?” he asks, his eyes trained about three kilometres to the left of my head.
Great. I shouldn’t waste the opportunity, though, so start to tell him about what I’ve been watching.

Suddenly, as I’m three sentences in, he jumps up, announcing he’s off to the loo. I sit meekly, awaiting his return. I’m sure I heard the distinctive hum of a vibrating phone just before he leapt up. No. Surely not. I’m probably being paranoid. A barmaid comes over, asking whether we need more drinks. I consider this. Best to wait.

And wait I do, a good five or six minutes. It doesn’t sound like very long, but when you’re on a date it is an eternity. Eventually, he returns, sits and turns toward me (finally!) with a pathetic little cough.

“I’m starting to feel a bit ill,” he says, patting his stomach.
“Oh dear,” I reply, with a hint of genuine concern. “Are you OK? Do you need to, erm, go?”

I am, naturally, expecting him to say no. He didn’t say he was dying and he looks, well, fine. I am about to be disappointed.

“Yeah, I wanna go,” comes the heart-stopping reply. As soon as he says it, he visibly brightens and picks up his drink. Realising an ‘ill’ person probably wouldn’t want to finish the dregs of a pint, he quickly puts the glass back down and turns to me once more.

“Thanks for being so understanding,” he whimpers.
I look back at my glass, by now long empty, and feel sorry this handsome man isn’t likely to be buying me a drink any time soon. He could really be unwell, of course. But I know he isn’t. Call it cold feet, a change of heart or a better offer coming his way, but he regretted making the date before he’d even set off. He’s used his Get Out Of Jail card; I’ve been there.

We leave together. I check my reflection briefly in the mirror as we walk out of the door, wondering whether I have grown an extra head since our last date or aged twenty years. “I’m really sorry,” he says, with the smallest allusion of sincerity. “Let’s rearrange for next week when I’m better.”

Last time we met I offered to wait with him for his bus, but tonight I just nod dumbly and turn away. I look back just once to see him bounding up the road, checking his phone. I hop on my bus and slump into the seat farthest away from everyone else, guessing (correctly) that I’ll never hear from him again.

Home time, Mr Wrong.

Date rating: 3/10
Date in one line: Time’s up.

This post is a follow-up to the Late Great. It went pretty well, surprisingly. Give it a read.

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.

Image: Flickr