Thursday, April 19, 2012

S and the weeping woman... (that'd be me)

After the exchange of some fruity post-date texts suggesting we visit Mary W's gravestone in Bournemouth, all went quiet on the S front. Considering the evening had cost him the best part of £150 I thought it only polite to follow up the next day with a sober thank you for the delicious dinner "and post-meal entertainment" which elicited an amused and enthusiastic reply, but this followed what I've learnt is his typical pattern of courteous responses and zero initiation. Hmm... Just maybe I scared him off with my drunken recommendation not to do "the man-nonsense of waiting until it was too late"?!

S somehow manages to have a profound effect on my mood - when he's keen it's like the sun shining down a blessing on me; when he's politely dismissive it's like the thunder clouds have opened over my head and battered out any self-esteem I might have ever possessed.  I enjoy his company and find him exceedingly attractive. I know he's no good for me. I suggest we meet as friends.

My plan was just to have a coffee and brief catch up, possibly with a view towards making myself indispensable as a friend (and perhaps along the way provoke him into realising he'd missed out on a good catch), but avoiding alcohol and anything that could be implicit in "getting my hopes up". This morphed into going to the cinema, and then going to the cinema and getting something to eat (both his idea).

Unfortunately for him, it was the once a month free bar at my work, and we weren't meeting until 7.30. I had been planning to fill the time gap with a spot of light reading, but following a major work-related vexation at 5.29pm, I was persuaded to join my colleagues in the pub. The same colleagues who, on ascertaining my plans for the evening, ribbed me with "Not a date?! Yeah right!" until a few beers and sufficient innuendo later, I was riding the crest of certainty that I was the most desirable woman in London and was essentially heading out to be proposed to.

Within minutes of meeting S, my confidence and mild alcohol-induced elation were doused. 

"I've started seeing someone," he announces as we sit down opposite each other in the restaurant of his choice. "I've taken my profile off the website, we're serious about each other."

"Oh? The One?" I reply nonchalantly, possibly in a slightly higher pitch than usual. "That's nice. How long have you been together?"

"You're going to laugh. Since Tuesday."

Laugh? I should have. But not many people laugh when they receive a metaphorical slap. Today is Thursday. He made categorically clear that he did not want to "rush into" a relationship after first meeting me. I'm starting to feel a little... well, shit.
Bla Bla talking hand

"I thought you weren't into rushing into anything?" I allow myself (trying to avoid doing the petulant mimc voice and accompanying "talking hand" when quoting his words back at him).

"Yes, well, we'd been writing to each other for three weeks, so we felt like we knew each other well already."

There's a pause as at least one of us contemplates the fact that he and I were writing to each other for three months before we finally met up. He gets up to pay for the meal (you have to pay when you order in this place).

"Wait!" I say. "How much do I owe you?" I'm not accepting dinner from someone else's boyfriend.

He declines to take any money. Guilt? Pity? Flash? Still wanting to be charming? Just a nice guy?

"Come on," I text (he is now in the queue), "you should be saving your money for your new fiancee."

"Yes, weddings are exorbitant nowadays!" He texts back.

Fine. "Can I be a bridesmaid?"
This is what my outfit should say!

Dear reader, before reading his response, note that I was wearing what I'll pretend to think of as my Lois Lane outfit - i.e. a satin pencil skirt, non-slutty fishnet tights, boots and a low cut but smart white shirt. I probably wear this to work about once a week, but it doubles up as my work-to-date-without-looking-like-I've-made-any-particular-effort-for-you outfit.

His reply: "Definitely, if you wear that outfit!"

I shrugged the inappropriately flirtatious comment off with, "What? Office wear?"

But really, what game are we playing here? Is he seeing someone or not? And either way, why is he even meeting me? To take his turn at knocking me back? I was too unsettled to eat much, or to even mentally note infractions of commonly held table manner conventions for later ridicule. Yes, it was that bad.

We go to the cinema. To see Martha Macy Myrtle Margery Miranda... This was my choice and not a good one. Brooding, sinister, alienating, wholly depressing... the ideal film to give a very wide berth when you're exhausted, haven't really eaten, have pmt, are reaching the groggily depressed stage of drunkenness and have just been publicly given the mega-brush off by someone you have been pretending to everyone (yourself included) not to like a quarter as much as you do.

The film is like walking further and further into a dank, deserted forest at dusk. As, three-quarters of the way through, a character submits herself to rape, a tear slips down my face. I lose the will to pretend I'm enjoying myself anymore and the tear's followed by a cascade of more. This is the sort of mood where you need to be in bed with a hot chocolate, a Pixar DVD and a sleeping pill, not out on a date with someone you like but have somehow blown it with. The film ends and I go to the toilet to have a sob (experience has taught me that teariness needs immediate purging or I'll be on the cusp of a breakdown all evening).  I emerge red-eyed and -nosed, hoping the dark will conceal this and I can emerge with a thread of dignity.

No such luck!

S appears to jolly me along: "Remind you of your experiences in a cult, did it?"

"Yes." I retort, flatly.

I recall that S is a psychiatrist. At this moment there are few professions I would less like to be on a date with.

He seems, understandably, in a slight hurry to get his tube. I tell him to go ahead: I need a hot chocolate or I'm going to spend the whole night being haunted by the film (I'm very suggestible). He accompanies me despite my internal pleas that he doesn't decide to benevolently humour me. He gets kinder and more distant by the minute. I feel more and more like a young and foolish patient... I wonder if he has any diazepam.

We have hot drinks and a share a cake. He makes the sort of kindly gestures to cheer me up that a psychiatrist would of course be so adept at - steering the conversation towards my past successes, asking questions he already knows the (cheering) answers to in a bid to buoy my mood, all the while keeping it impersonal and himself detached. This is smart and considerate of him, and truly depresses the hell out of me. The only thing that could possibly make it worse would be if he started telling me what a catch I would be - for some other man. And that's exactly what he does. If I'm that good a catch... but no, I don't labour that point.

Goddam phoney psychiatrists!
The next day I will send him a message apologising, explaining I am not on the verge of a nervous breakdown, do not want a fling, do not go home with men after only meeting them once, am not persistently drunk, have not been in a cult and do not like seeing films with anything higher than a 12 rating. He will write back telling me he accepts my self-evaluation, and how funny and intelligent I am, how I owe him dinner and how he can't wait to see my published work on the 3 for 2 table in Waterstone's: "All I ask is to be a character in your book, so that I can tell my friends."

But for tonight, this week, this month, I have had enough. I listen to assorted tunes of torment on repeat all the way home and snivel into my pillow, with a plan for the morrow to invest my future energies into dull essays instead of phantasmagoric romances.

Here endeth the blog (for the rest of this month, anyway).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Q – the profile and the reality!

A man doing this for the camera? Please no.

I met Q through a mutual friend a couple of years back and we had a brief fling followed by a superficial and occasional gesture at friendship, so it was with some amusement I recently stumbled upon his online dating profile. This seemed an excellent opportunity to gauge the ratio of truth to nonsense of a man's self-analysis (a qualitative rather than quantitative survey, you understand).

The profile commenced with a photo of Q looking imploringly up at the camera, hand coyly over mouth, puppy dog eyes.  This alone would usually be enough for me to "Next!" a bloke (no effete manipulators, please).

The content of the profile itself however, was more engaging. He comes across as funny, articulate, self-effacing, genuine, charming, sweet. A fantastic date and/or boyfriend in fact.

I will refrain from quoting it directly, in the interests of maintaining some shred of decency and anonymity (for him not me), but I think it is fair to say that were I to rewrite this profile (as many men request a female acquaintance do), here are some of the key points I noticed were missing:

  • Happy to offer unsolicited unconstructive criticism on anything from your career to your choice of footwear to what you are cooking for dinner this evening (even if he is not invited to said dinner).
  • Rude to taxi drivers, and potentially anyone else who is working class and/or an ethnic minority.
  • Likes to receive texts and exclaim expletives such as “bugger” (or the strangely unplummy "motherfucker") in loud voice to provoke you into asking what the problem is. If ignored will repeat in attention-seeking manner until he gets the go ahead to disclose a "teaser" about the latest girl who is "stalking" him.
  • Enjoys point-scoring off friends, particularly in front of their new girlfriends.
  • Inability to give compliments: they "have to be earnt" - yes headmaster!
  • Frequent difficulty in distinguishing between wit and tactlessness/rudeness.
  • Capacity for occasional acts of charm and sweetness, but only activated after at least a bottle of wine, and likely to be strenously denied in the morning.
  • And let's not forget my personal favourite: the post-coital baby voice with accompanying lisp. Irresistible.
On the other hand (after all, it wouldn't do to appear one-sided), also unrecorded on his profile was the fact that he possesses a rather nice, sleek body.

Can I ever approach a profile with my prelapsarian innocence again?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Date with T: Renaissance Man.

Is he a doctor? Is he a banker? Is he a philosophy and theology double postgraduate from Oxford University?

Yes, this was my date from last week.

Instead of taking me to planet Krypton he takes me to a restaurant that looks rather ordinary (in fact, verging on dingy) on the outside, but inside, tardis/phonebooth-like, opens down into a indoor south Indian villa replete with fountains, palm trees, grottos and multi-level splendour. Wow.

And despite the fact he doesn't drink the evening passes fluidly. He's intelligent, interesting, asks questions I want to answer (engaging ones). He orders vegetarian to share. He's open. He's straight-talking and witty (therefore slightly dangerous). He's foppish (I wasn't sure about the pink blazer at first, but I'm now of the opinion that individuality is an excellent thing). He's going on holiday to North Korea (as above).

So - ticks all my boxes. But do I fancy him? Unsure. In the sense that if he flirted with me more overtly I'm sure I would, but it seems I'm required to do the chasing, which leaves me a little cold: I don't like to feel I'm with someone because I've ground them down, even if they are resplendently out of my league. And does he fancy me? We exchanged texts, but as he seems to be waiting for me to make the move twice (something he said he prefers women to do) I get the impression the answer is, if at all, then not enough.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In which I have a moral dilemma.

Until now, all the men I've met I was talking to prior to commencing The Blog. Whilst I do sometimes feel a little pinprick of guilt typing our meetings up, this is waylaid by the fact I leave it at least a week before publishing each post in case I change my mind (or my interpretation - they have time to make reparations), and also the fact that I hadn't met them originally with the intention of publicly humiliating them - if that's what they feel has happened, perhaps they should look to their own behaviour?
Kiss and tell
Now, starting new conversations, I feel rather like a venus fly trap - luring men in to ensnare them in a report of their own weaknesses. Am I more expectant of finding someone to love, or more expectant of finding someone to laugh at? It's surely the latter (although I hope you'll agree I am equally willing to laugh at myself). This has definitely taken the sting out of rejection: however badly a date goes instead of feeling I've wasted an evening, two cheering words spring to mind: "blog fodder."

In my last LTR I behaved pretty badly at times, little thinking that the intimacies of our relationship would ever go beyond our bedroom (imagining, as you do when you're 20-something and living together, it'll be 4EVA).  In fact, one of the cruellest parts of the break up was the thought of him sharing with some sympathetic eyelid-batting 6-stone beauty what a monster (both physical and mental) his ex had been (Of course, this did not extend to any hint of remorse about doing the same thing to him - and to be frank at times he'd bordered on the beastly).
For example, no jokes like this. 

However, from this I learnt the valuable lesson that you should never do anything you'd regret having done if someone else found out (e.g. no slamming-door-and-marching-off tantrums, no farting in bed, no using tears to get what you want, no silent treatment, perhaps exerting a fraction more effort in toeing the line with the rude mother-in-law, and no using the full range of my whiplash tongue on a man* - exceptional circumstances notwithstanding).


So is blogging about the men I'm dating an abuse of trust, akin to trampling on their Yeatsian dreams; or is it fair enough that consenting adults should be held accountable for their behaviour, albeit through the medium of a secret, snidey pre-meditated blog?!

*See what an amazing gf I'd be?!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back to the drawing board?

Attractive only to P V Glob 
It's been a rather dry month for new contacts. Here are some of the highlights:

- A cousin of the Tollund Man, from Staines, who wants to share tea and "banter"... 

- "Mr Efervescent" who is too bubbly to check the dictionary and see his username is spelt incorrectly, and thinks a mildly homophobic joke makea good introduction.
I don't want to wake up with you.

- Shapher, who makes the extraordinary claim: "In the near future I am going to be one of the best selling authors in the world". Yes, we did both read that correctly...

- Mark, a lumpish Pole, who believes in "Cerpe Diem" (which I first misread as "Herpes Diem") and looks like he's wearing a wig.

- Dan, who sent me the following incisive yet tantalising message: "Hi." (Yes, that really was it).

And how about this for a bizarre introduction from someone who seems to have forgotten that he has already sent me this email (or a variant of it) twice before, at six monthly intervals: 

I suppose I could begin with a harmless, mundane opening email that induces a yawn in you but won't offend and may well lead to a harmless, mundane reply in return. We then spent a few months emailing pleasantries to each other, at the end of which we decide to meet up. If we haven't slit our wrists in boredom by then, that is.
So I'll just be honest here and say that you're cute. Superficial I know but screw it, I'm a man and blame it on that y chromosome. Fancy a drink?
His profile only further enhances the impression of a tolerant, agreeable, open-minded, jolly good sport:
- cooking (I do a fair bit. I mean good, solid, old-fashioned french+italian cooking. So if you dislike butter & garlic, piss off).  
- Real ale. Belgian trappist beer. German weissbier. Old-man pubs (preferably full of old men, rather than wanky advertising types). 
- opera (it's not just for posh tossers. The music and singing are actually rather good) 
-jazz (no wanky modern stuff - mostly crackly old recordings from the 1920s-40s) 
Talk about a glaring mismatching of style to audience and occasion... With this man I'd probably be asking for "a kick in the c*nt" if I tuned into the "wrong" radio station. And in light of my intellectual revulsion, there is really no need to venture into the aesthetic with any commentary on the photo evidence of his extreme swollen-faced morbid obesity...
Not lying: he was much bigger than this.