Tag Archives: slightly strange

Know your dating enemies: Science fiction

There are three things you should really avoid talking about on a first date. Food, politics and science fiction.  Star Wars, Star Trek, comic books, Doctor Who, Alien, the lot. Just avoid it if you can until you’re “going steady”, because if the sci-fi chat comes out too early on, the chances are you’ll have an intergalactic battle on your hands before you even get to the bedroom.

So why is sci-fi a no-no? Put simply, it is extremely political, and sci-fi fans get very touchy when you don’t get their hobby.

If you’re not into it and the other half is, you will find yourself competing with Batman and/or Spidey for your lover’s affections. And Batman will always win – he’s Batman.

There’s nothing wrong with liking sci-fi, it’s just if you’re going to do it, you have to do it right . It’s a lifestyle choice, and unless you’re committed, you’ll screw it up. You’ll call someone a “Whovian” and before you know it, you’ll be a permanent resident of social Siberia.

If you’re not a sci-fi or fantasy fan, trips to the cinema will be ruined for you, as every other new release is based on a comic book, and he will want to see them all. You never realised you could become tired so quickly of watching buff blokes suited up in rubber bounce around a giant screen.

There will be conventions too. You will avoid these at first and just leave your man to his hobby, but this is a mistake. Conventions are a hotbed of drunk, awkward regrettable sex. Don’t believe me? A room – nay a hangar – absolutely packed to the rafters with people dressed up as your lover’s favourite characters? Have you seen these outfits? There is an ocean of flesh on display, and some of it is toned and tattooed and on its way to steal your man. Continue reading Know your dating enemies: Science fiction

Advertisements

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 Hogmanay Kiss

Have you ever been to Edinburgh for New Year? You really should. Edinburgh is beautiful.

The year I go to Edinburgh’s annual street party, usually avoided by the locals, is 1997. I am 22. I have just broken up with my girlfriend. Yes, girlfriend. We weren’t together very long and my tears had dried before we’d even got to the second syllable of goodbye.

My friend and I don’t have tickets for the street party, but we are not-very-reliably informed it is the ‘place to go’, so we buy lots of beer and make sure we are within the boundaries before they are roped off for ticketholders. It is ludicrously easy. But now it is 7.30pm, it’s freezing and I am going to be here for at least five hours.

I light a cigarette in the absence of absolutely anything else to do (this is a very long time ago – I haven’t smoked for over a decade) and as I take a drag, a group of people my age appear before me, one guy and two girls. They are what my grandmother would call “merry”. They ask for a light and we chat for a while.

Alex laughs longest and loudest of everyone.

My friend is very sociable and boisterous, so we soon develop a kind of camaraderie. The guy is warm and friendly and introduces himself as Alex. I’m sorry, girls, but your names escape me all these years later. We get chatting to another group of guys and soon we have a little posse all of our own, swaying as the beers take hold, lighting each other’s cigarettes and talking utter rubbish – each of us pretending it isn’t absolutely freezing. Everybody laughs at all my jokes, even the ones that aren’t funny. Alex laughs longest and loudest of everyone.

The hours crawl by and eventually we resort to the game you can only comfortably play with strangers – Truth or Dare. Various dull revelations are uncovered during the first couple of rounds: weirdest place you’ve had sex, weird celebrity crushes etc. One of the guys we have met, who is freezing his balls off in a kilt, asks Alex if he is gay. Alex says he is, and looks straight at me.

One of the girls, who has been feeling my backside on and off for about half an hour with absolutely zero response from me, dares the man in the kilt to kiss Alex for ten seconds.

Something happens to me that I don’t quite understand. I want to back away from them all, to run. I’m not homophobic – or at least I don’t think I am – but I don’t want that question to come my way. I shuffle from foot to foot and feign blowing into my hands to keep them warm. They are not cold – my gloves are thicker than axminster. I feel nervous and excited. And yet I drip with dread.

The game continues. A dare. One of the girls, who has been feeling my backside on and off for about half an hour with absolutely zero response from me, dares the man in the kilt to kiss Alex for ten seconds. My stomach churns; I feel sick. Mr Kilt reluctantly accepts this challenge. We all watch and cheer.

I play along and exclaim “Urrrrgh” loudly as they kiss, noticing that Alex tries to slip the other guy his tongue. And just as he does, for the last second, he looks me right in the eye.

Then, it is my turn to be asked. I pick “truth” – I don’t want to be dared the same.

The other girl tries to focus on me and asks my question: “Do you fancy Alex?”

I try not to glare back. I think what my reaction should be. I pull what I think is my best puzzled grimace.

“Me? No, no.” I laugh nervously.

And then I look at Alex and pat his shoulder with a pathetic ‘matey’ stroke.

“Sorry, man. You’re just not my type. Wrong sex and all that.” I am basically chucking out a #NoHomo response.

Alex smiles back at me without even a hint of snide. “Haha, no problem!”

And then it is over. For the moment.

The game fizzles out once everybody else has snogged each other – it is fairly obvious the man in the kilt will be going home with almost every female within a 10-mile radius – and I drain my can of beer and excuse myself to go to the loo. I’m glad to be away from them, but I am not alone for long. I hear my name being called and turn to see Alex bounding up behind me.

“I need the loo too so thought I’d chum you along,” he says.

My stomach lurches and I start to feel light-headed. He chats to me as we queue for a portable loo but I feel awkward and can’t really process what he’s saying. Suddenly, he produces a cigarette for me and lights it. I look at him.

“I thought you didn’t have a light?” I ask.

He looks from my face to the lighter and back again. Busted.

“Ah,” he says. If his cheeks weren’t already rosy from the cold, he’d blush. “That was just a ruse.”

“A ruse?”

“Yeah, to get to talk to you.”

“What?” I ask. “One of the girls wanted to talk to me?”

“No,” says Alex patiently, gently. “I wanted to talk to you.”

“Oh, why?” I reply, not being deliberately stupid, I promise. I am 22, remember.

He takes a really long drag of his cigarette. “I thought you and your friend were together, a couple,” he chuckles. “I just wanted to check.”

“Why?”

“Because…” he begins, but then a loo becomes free in front of us and a man further back in the queue tells me to “get a fucking move on, pal”, so I leap into it and have a very shaky, anxious piss.

“I want to talk to you,” says Alex, gulping.
“What about?”
“You. You’re gay, aren’t you? I mean–” he scratches his head. “I hope you are. Are you?”

When I come back out, there’s no sign of Alex, so I assume he has gone back to the group. I then feel a hand on my shoulder. It’s him.

“I want to talk to you,” he says, gulping.

“What about?”

“You,” he says, his eyes desperately searching mine. “You’re… you’re gay, aren’t you? I mean–” he scratches his head. “I hope you are. Are you?”

I pull my mouth in tight and attempt to shrug. “No, I’m not.”

Alex leans in closer. “Are you sure?”

I look around to see if anybody from the group is near us. They’re miles away, but I have to make sure. I run my hands over my face and try to think.

Finally, I pull Alex away farther down the street.

“What are you doing?” he smiles drunkenly. I don’t reply. I don’t know what to say. We just keep moving. 

We end up on a narrow, dark street, free of Hogmanay drunks. There is an even smaller close just off to the right, and we scoot down it. It is drizzling. There is just one streetlight, glowing bright orange but far from warming. There is a metal fire escape staircase. It’s almost like I know I will never forget this.

Alex clears his throat. “I want to kiss you. But I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do.”

My mind explodes over and over again. A supernova of confusion, curiosity and fear. I have been cautious all my life, risk-averse. Tonight, something feels different.

I put my hand round Alex’s waist and pull him to me. I feel the damp chill of the fire escape pressing into my back. I am surprised by the feel of his stubble and the forcefulness of his mouth. Somewhere, on another planet, a crowd starts to count backward from ten. Everything melts away.

When we break apart, it is 1998. And nothing will ever be the same again.

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 Boy in the Apple Store

The Apple Store is a strange place. It does its very best to pretend it isn’t a shop. There are no tills ringing or sour-faced shopgirls stacking shelves with garish product or hurrying along pretending they’re too busy to help you, no groaning rails or higgledy-piggledy stacks of boxes. The Apple Store, especially the one in London’s Covent Garden, is more of an ‘experience’. Smiling pretty boys in skinny jeans loiter at the doorway with eager smiles and eyes so wide they can only be the result of a recently dropped ecstasy pill. They have youth, enthusiasm and a handy line in charming condescension. You could be excused for mistaking it for a bar or café, not a global corporation desperate to get its hands on your hard-earned cash – the more noughts at the end, the better.

But where there is wireless, hardware, oak beams and credit cards, there is retail; and here I am, wandering around it on a Saturday, looking for nothing in particular. I’m glad my own MacBook Pro, which wheezes like an asthmatic vuvuzela every time I turn it on, is at home and not here to see the sleek, steel-encased upstarts that will one day replace it both in my affections and upon my knee. The place is crammed with Apple fanatics in all shapes and sizes and with every variety of facial hair imaginable. Ageing computer geeks, tight-skinned students, emo girls, hipster grandmas, confused middle-class parents rife for a fleecing by their offspring and me, peeking over everybody’s shoulder to get a look-in at a machine so I can check my email, as my ever-unreliable phone is about to gasp its last in battery power.

I’m having no luck, so decide to move upstairs to find a free computer. As I make my way to the staircase, I notice three younger people – two guys and a girl – standing at the foot of it and looking my way. One guy is whispering in the ear of the other guy and looking at me. It’s making me a bit uncomfortable, but I carry on – I’ll leave being afraid of youths until I’m elderly. They’re dressed in that odd, young way – nothing seems to fit them properly and one of the guys looks like he hasn’t taken his baseball cap off since he was a toddler. They are, of course, all beautiful in their own way. One of them especially so.

I walk past them and start up the steps. I manage only two or three paces before I feel someone rush past me and stop right in front of me. It is Guy 1, the whisperer, sans baseball cap. I don’t have much time to take him in, but he is young, cute and staring quizzically at me.

“Excuse me?” he says, in an accent I immediately recognise as French. By stopping, I’ve already excused him, I guess, so I don’t reply. He goes on: “Are you gay?”
I’m confused. It’s not often I get asked this question in public, let alone in the middle of the day. And even though we’re in the middle of the uber-liberal, peacenik outpost of sun-kissed California that is the Apple Store, I’m wary. Why would he be asking? Is he a homo or a homophobe? Is he going to kiss me or punch me on the nose?

I can’t think of what to say, so I say nothing. His eyes search my face, desperate for an answer. I eventually say “Sorry?” to fill some stale air.
He begins to falter, before continuing: “It’s just that you are very good-looking.”
He pauses for a second, bows his head in embarrassment and looks like he’s about to say something else. He doesn’t, however, and darts off, away from me, just as I manage to blurt out a stunned “Thanks”.

Thanks? Is that it? The best I can do? It’s not as if I get told this every day. Not since my adoring grandmothers died have I received such enthusiastic (not to mention unsolicited) compliments on the way my face is set out. How are you supposed to react when someone praises your looks? And why would they be doing it right here, right now? Does he want me? What for? Should I be flattered? I am more than flattered. Would I feel the same if he hadn’t been such a mouthwatering proposition himself?

I start to make my way back down the stairs, I don’t know why. To get his number, maybe? To ask if he’d like mine? Instead, I notice him leave the store. As he does, he gives me a backward glance, full of mortification and missed opportunity.

And then he’s gone. Shit.

More like this:
– The Hogmanay Kiss
– The Steal
– The First Crush
– The Late Great Letdown

Image: Flickr

The Aspidistra

Stats: 34, 5’9”, mousey brown/blue, hometown unknown
When: Summer 2011
Where: South London
Pre-date rating: 6/10

I’m not really a fan of slogans. They belong to cheesy adverts and the kind of T-shirts I used to wear in the early 2000s. If I’ve something to say, I prefer to say it directly; mottos, maxims and proverbs are not my thing. One slogan I do have a fondness for, however, is ‘shop local’. It’s nice to keep things in the neighbourhood, to contribute to the good of the community, and so it is that I find myself in a bar not a 20-minute walk from my house, waiting for the next Guy. I’ve spread the Guyliner magic – or should that be tragic – far and wide, but I don’t want the boys next door to miss out. They deserve to see why I’m so utterly ineligible for themselves.

Local boys are usually sourced via Grindr; GPS doing all the hard work and the instant messenger-style chat ensuring you dispense with the formalities early on and cut straight to the chase – not that anybody is running particularly fast.

Tonight’s Guy, however, has been found the new old-fashioned way, from the dating site. We’ve paid to meet each other, which has to be a good sign, right? Well, let’s hope so. While the chat between us, over email, has been light and polite, when it comes to arranging somewhere to go, we meet our first hitch. He really doesn’t want to decide where to go on the date. I understand his trepidation to a degree; the venue you select can say much more about you than any amount of electronic chitchat can do. A poor choice of location can speedily reveal the personality flaws you are so eager to conceal. I don’t press the issue, and, as he lives quite near me, choose a delightful pub equidistant from our homes, with ample space and a good drinks menu. Our date is midweek, so it’s important not to meet somewhere too dead. An essential part of a date is people watching. If the endless chat about your families and pastimes starts to dry up like reheated shepherd’s pie, you can easily move on to a running commentary on the crowds around you – as long as there’s a crowd to talk about.

He agrees the pub is a good choice and I look forward to the date. Within an hour or two, however, he’s back in touch. He’s decided he doesn’t like the venue after all, as he won’t be able to get a direct bus there. I see. Am I wrong to feel a little irked? The pub is practically walkable from where he lives, and if he really likes me surely he would save his nitpicking for another date – not to mention that he couldn’t be bothered choosing somewhere more convenient himself in the first place.  Finally, he suggests somewhere else, and I acquiesce, as it’s a slightly handier place to get to for me. But why didn’t he just propose it earlier?

So here I am. I have never been particularly fond of this pub. The menu is fish-heavy and the scent of it hangs in the air. Its clientele are making the awkward journey over broken glass between hipsterville and settling down; they swig guest beers and share platters of dough sticks and potted haddock and try not to think about their biological clocks. I, on the other hand, have a regular old pint in front of me, much-dwindled thanks to my date being 20 minutes late. There have been no texts or calls to explain why, but if he’s in a hurry to get here – and he’d better be – he won’t be stopping to text pleasantries.

Just as I’m wondering whether I should get another drink in so it looks like I just arrived, he comes through the door, wearing a crumpled T-shirt, faded jeans and a frown. He walks over to me, looking neither disappointed nor particularly thrilled. He just is. I eagerly await his first words.

“You’re here,” he says plainly.
I ignore the obviousness of his statement and thrust out my hand, offering up my name and a “how are you?” to show that his lateness hasn’t bothered me, although he doesn’t seem particularly concerned by it himself. He slumps down on his bar stool so, as I’m still standing, I offer to get him a drink and he tells me what he wants. I slope over to the bar, disheartened that he doesn’t even bother turning round to watch my arse as I walk away from him.

It’s clear from the get-go that this Guy isn’t accustomed to dating, at least not the normal kind. Sure, he asks questions, but they’re all a bit weird, like he’s reading them out from a sex quiz or is on his seventh round at a speed-dating evening. What kind of car would I be? What kind of meal would I cook for the Prime Minister? The dreaded question about my wish list of dinner party guests alive or dead and, weirdest of all, what kind of potplant I would be.

These questions would be more charming toward the end of the evening, if we were a little drunk perhaps, but it’s 7 on a Wednesday, this is my second drink and he hasn’t even asked where I’m from and what I do yet. I never realised I’d miss those bog-standard, drivelling questions until they didn’t show up.

I’m still ruminating over the potplant question. What should I say? Venus fly trap? Cheese plant? Deadly nightshade? Maybe the questions would work better if he threw in some jokey suggestions or kept talking while I chewed them over, but for each one he stares in silence until I come up with my responses. Finally, having mentally taken a trip round every garden centre I can ever remember visiting, I come up with my answer: a spider plant. I’m fairly adaptable, don’t take too much looking after and even when you cut a bit off, I can thrive.

The last part is a joke, obviously, but the look on his face makes me think he is now imagining I have lost my penis in a horrible accident.

“And what about you?” I say, desperate to somehow get off this whole topic and, if I’m honest, away from this date, which is going nowhere at a rate of knots.
“I’d be an aspidistra,” he quips immediately. He answers all these questions far too quickly. He’s been practising. I try to visualise an aspidistra. I can’t think of a remarkable feature about them. I then look back at my date. OK, it fits.
“Why an aspidistra?”
“Well, I’m thoroughly middle-class,” he says proudly, “and every living room should have one.” Perfectly rehearsed.
I laugh. “Great answer!”

I decide to move things back into normal mode. I know that he’d make beef Wellington for the Prime Minister and that he’d have Che Guevara and Lauren Bacall at his ideal dinner party but I know nothing about his job, his life, anything.

“So what do you do?” I ask brightly. This proves to by my fatal error. He works on a classical music magazine and is a music teacher. You’d think that music must be his passion, but neither metier seems to fill him with inspiration. He hates his colleagues, his students, classical music, playing music, musical instruments, music fans, and people who don’t like music. He loathes publishers, journalists, awards, the charts, singers, failed musicians, venues… the list goes on. The one thing he will admit to liking is Whitney Houston. Once he’s done with serving up his bile, he sits back in his chair, with a poker face welded to the front of his head. He folds his arms and nods his head. “So that’s me,” he says finally.

At that moment, the barman comes to collect our empties. “Another drink, gents?” he says amiably, oblivious to the iceberg slowly forming across the table. My date shrugs. I look from him to the barman, and back to my empty glass.

I begin to shake my head, but stop myself. My date has just unloaded all his woes and dislikes onto me like a dumper truck at a landfill, and all I had to say was that I’d be a fucking spider plant? Nuh-huh, I don’t think so. It’s been a long hour. Now it’s my turn to spout.

“Yes, thanks,” I say, “beer for me.” I gesture my head toward my impassive date. “And this smiler’s buying.”

Post-date rating: 4/10
Date in one sentence: A local potplant learns his lines wordperfect but fails to photosynthesise his way into my affections

The Invisible Man

Sometimes you have those periods where you don’t have a date for what seems like decades. Then, before you know it, you’re swamped. A mere 24 hours after my bizarre, yet fun, adventure with the drama teacher, I am once more heading to a date. I might as well get my kicks while I’m young enough to get them, right?

This next guy is someone I wouldn’t say I’m particularly interested in, looks-wise. His pictures seem OK, if a little blurred, but his profile is funny and the emails and texts we have been exchanging have been good-natured and definitely on my wavelength. He also seems very interested — I’m still at the stage in my dating ‘career’ where someone being keen is an attractive trait to me — and so, after less than a week of chatting, we agree to meet for a drink and, if we’re not horrified at the sight of each other, go on to dinner. Continue reading The Invisible Man