Don’t judge me. I promise that there is nothing wrong with me. I don’t have any dodgy ex-boyfriends, or too many cats. I don’t snore, and I am not actually that fussy when it comes to men… it’s just that for whatever reason I am unable to meet men in normal acceptable social situations. I met my last long-term boyfriend whilst I was walking my neighbour’s dog. I’ll be honest; I’m not that great with animals, especially other peoples, and on this particular day, I was not dressed to meet a man, I wouldn’t even say I was dressed. Well, I had clothes on but… Oh let me start at the beginning. I had had a really long and really busy day at work, and when I got home all I wanted to do was have a bath and get in my pyjamas and get straight into bed. I got home and was soon pounced upon by the neighbour’s dog, who I had vague recollections of agreeing to dog-sit while they went on their annual cruise. They had a spare key so the dog and all his worldly possessions, were sitting waiting for me when I got home. I tried to have a bath but it was cut short by his whining. I got into my pyjamas, threw my coat on over the top and grabbed his lead. His long tongue went into overdrive, throwing saliva into all corners of my living room, his tail acting like a bat, hitting the drops into splash zones.
To cut a long story short, I was out walking the dog in my pyjamas, successfully throwing sticks for him to catch, when I threw one a little too far, and the big doofus dog ran straight into the legs of my now ex-boyfriend, taking him down. We were together for three years, so it couldn’t have hurt that much. (So why did you break up I hear you cry! It was all to do with an opportunity to work in Japan, a long distance relationship and bizarre new found fame as a karaoke star – but that is a different story, for another time).
Anyway. Now, I have turned to speed dating. Speed dating is perfect for me. I don’t have to pretend to like them if they are boring me, and vice-versa. We all know the rules. And I think I’ve got my unique selling points down to a tee (32years old, work in a local authority, yes, yes, I’m a Council worker, haha, no I won’t be claiming this on expenses, I live on my own, been single for nearly two years, focussed on work and travel, but now I want to settle down). That settling down part is key. I look closely at them whilst telling them this to see how their eyes react. If they widen in shock and start looking anywhere else in the room rather than at me, then I know he is not right for me and he has just come here for a quick shag. If he looks straight into my eyes with dilated pupils while blinking rapidly with a small layer of sweat on his top lip, nodding like a dog, then I know he is not right for me, even for a quick shag. If his expression doesn’t change, and he just gives a slight nod of the head, then I know he is right for me, and we are going to live happily ever after. (I haven’t met the last one yet. Yet.)
Speed dating can get a little monotonous. So I went online to see what else I could try. Who knew such strange worlds were out there? There were all sorts, from Clown Dating (Everybody loves a clown… let a clown love you) to Date a Granny (because experience counts), from The Cat Lovers Social Media Network (meet other cat lovers who really match your PURRsonality!) to Sea Captain Date (find your first mate!). I’ve already told you I am not that crazy, but I needed to try something new. So I started with Dating in the Dark (let your senses do the talking).
So there I was. At yet another speed dating session. In complete darkness eating dinner, trying to make conversation with the strangers next to me, whilst trying not to throw spaghetti sauce down my cleavage. I was resisting the temptation to stroke the man’s face next to me. It went quiet, and I realised it is my turn to speak. I can do this, I thought. I have conversations with people all the time. Although I do normally concentrate a little and at least remember what the topic of conversation was…
“Hahahahaha!!!” It exploded from me into the darkness. I have no idea if that was the reaction he was expecting, but it felt safe so I stuck with it. I grasped onto his arm in mirth, while snorting through the sauce. I soon shut up when I felt him stiffen under my grip and pull his arm away from mine. I cleared my throat.
“Is everything ok?” A high-pitched squeak emerged from me.
“I was just saying how my wife left me for my sister and that I haven’t been on a date for six years. Why was that so funny?”
“Um… well… it’s just such a cliché isn’t it? My wife left me for my sister… sort of thing you’d watch on Jerry Springer, haha” I filled my mouth (and my cleavage) with spaghetti again; in the hope my mouth would stop talking and let my brain take charge. No such luck.
“I mean, honestly, how many sympathy shags has that actually gained you? How many girls round this table would fall for a line like that?” I waved my fork randomly into the darkness, gesturing at the girls around the table, until it hit something soft.
“What the…!” A voice as smooth as chocolate trickled into my ear as my fork made contact with his cheek. I decided to go with it and poked him gently a couple of times.
“Would you use that as a chat up line? Does that sort of thing actually work?” I prodded him a couple more times until I realised that I was forking a stranger in the dark and quickly placed my fork back onto what I hoped is my plate. Hmmmm. I really need to stay away from the wine. Chocolate voice chuckled softly in my ear and I felt his voice flow through me like fondue. I wanted to stay to see if the rest of him is as smooth as his voice, but after drinking the table dry of wine, I figured it would be best to head home. I asked the waiter to lead me out of the dark room, and I soon found myself back in my apartment, alone, in my pyjamas. I didn’t let it stop me from trying other ways of meeting men though…
A few days later I found myself at another event, this time I had to keep my mouth shut. Yup. I was on a silent speed date. The idea is that you keep your mouth shut and let your body language do all the talking. I was matched with a guy who had sandy blonde hair, slight stubble and a lack of silent conversation. I realise that sounds strange, surely being quiet is the point, but I was gesturing, miming, writing in the air, even going to the age old game of charades trying to get some conversation from him. Nothing. I got nothing. He sat there looking at me slightly oddly, as if I were out of focus. I was relieved when we moved onto the next round.
During the second round, you sit with the same person and stare into each other’s eyes for a full two minutes, no miming, no charades, just looking into the windows of each other’s souls. It was then that I realised that my date was steaming drunk. Not just a little bit drunk, but bleary eyed, whisky dripping from his pores drunk. I lifted my eyebrows at him, as if to question why he turned up that hammered to a speed dating event. He half shrugged his shoulders, before promptly vomiting. All over me. All over my hair, my dress, my shoes. I sat there, my mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water, unable to stop the smell of whisky, burgers and grease from hitting my nostrils. It took all my strength not to puke all over him. But I held back. All I could picture was the video on you tube with the two of us covered in vomit entitled; ‘When speed dates go wrong’. It was a shame really, from what I remember he had nice eyes. Bloodshot, but nice.
I turned up to work, with a banging headache and a sense of loss. I couldn’t figure it out, why I felt like I had missed out on something, but it was there and I couldn’t shake it off. My assistant manager, Fran, was lovely enough to decipher the voicemail I left her at stupid o’clock last night and had come in before me to open up the coffee shop. That’s one good thing about owning my own coffee shop. I had unlimited supplies of coffee and pastries to help cope with a hangover. I didn’t mean to get so hammered last night. It was Dave’s fault. Ever since he has been all loved up with Katy, he has been on a mission to get someone for me. So we can all hang out and do couples things together. So far I have been dragged along to several speed dating events, including one on a rollercoaster (don’t ask), but the one last night has made me realise that I am not cut out for the speed dating scene. I am vowing, from today onwards, that I will be using traditional methods to find me a woman. Like in seedy nightclubs or low lit bookshops.
Last night I had shut up shop and stayed behind with Fran and a couple of the baristas to celebrate my coffee shop’s first birthday. There was cake, and of course there was whisky. Before I knew it, I had had a good few large whiskeys and was thinking I needed something to eat to help soak it up. This is where I made my mistake. I called Dave. Just to see what he was up to, and whether he wanted to join me for a bite to eat. He agreed and met me at the burger bar down the road. As soon as I met him, I could tell he was up to something. He was jiggling about in his seat like a four year old desperate to share a secret. I was eating my suspicious smelling surf and turf burger with chips, feeling slightly more sober than before, when Dave mentioned a new way of speed dating; silent dating. After the catastrophe of the last speed date, I turned to the waiter for more whiskey.
We wandered off to the venue. I say we, I mean Dave wandered off to the venue whereas I mainly bounced off walls in order to stay standing up long enough to get there. Inside the venue (the very quiet venue), I was sat opposite a goddess. An actual goddess. She was stunning. Like a mermaid. Without the fishiness and the tail. I was glad we couldn’t talk as I knew I’d only say something stupid. For the first round she was trying to mime something at me, it looked quite rude but I’m not sure she meant it to be. She tried starting up a game of charades, but I was far too gone to concentrate on that so all I could do was stare at her. My arms were heavy, like they had weights attached to them. It was probably a good thing as I would definitely have mimed something rude to her.
The next round came along and we were to stare into each others eyes. Easy. Or so I thought. The world began to spin around her. Like we were on a roundabout and I couldn’t get off. I tried to focus on her but there was no stopping it. I was sick all over her. Everywhere. I ran to the loo, in an attempt to hide my flaming red cheeks. I saw Dave sauntering over with a pack of wet wipes to help my date. I was too ashamed to look back at her.
So that is why I am never going on another speed date ever again. Que Sera Sera and all that.
The doorbell goes, waking me up from my self pitying day dream. Its her. The woman I vomited prawns and burger all over last night. My mermaid. I look around in a panic. Someone must be free to serve her. Everyone is busy. It is up to me to be a man about it. And what do men do? They hide. So I hid. Under the counter. Until I knew she was safely ensconced into a booth in the corner of the shop. I took a deep breath. I had to do the right thing and go and apologise for my behaviour. Nobody is going to die. (apart from that tiny scrap of pride I have left).
I walk over to her. She has her head down, busy reading a morning newspaper. I clear my throat and say; “I think I owe you an apology. And payment for your dry cleaning bill.”
She looks up at me, stunned. Her eyes lit up her face. She nodded and asked me to join her.
“You forgive me?” I asked, in a stupor.
“Of course I forgive you! Do you forgive me?” Now I was even more confused. What on earth do I need to forgive her for?
Sat here in a coffee shop when who comes to find me? The man I forked with the beautiful chocolate fondue voice. I think we are even.