While all the drama with Whippersnapper was unfolding, I made an effort to keep dating. I didn’t want to put all my eggs in WS’s basket, as it seemed quite likely to turn out to be just a drawing of a basket. Drawn on a whiteboard.
The day after he said he loves me, I had a good look on OkCupid.
I saw a couple of profiles that looked more promising than they turned out to be, then I received a message from a guy.
He said “it says your personality is energetic but suave. This seems like an unusual but excellent combo.”
On OkCupid, you can answer lots of questions about various things – your lifestyle, sexual things you like, ethical dilemmas – and when you’ve answered enough, it puts personality attributes on your profile.
I replied “you’re mathematical and scientific, and yet literary!”
He said he’d just noticed he’s not romantic, according to OkCupid. I suggested he light a candle and answer some more questions. He said he’d sit on a bed of rose petals and listen to Marvin Gaye.
After a bit of a chat, we arranged a date for that Wednesday and exchanged numbers.
When we successfully messaged each other on WhatsApp, he said “Hurrah. Technology worked.”
I said “I haven’t heard ‘hurrah’ in a while.”
He said “I’m not very current in my expressions of happiness.”
A bit later, he said something was “outstanding.” And then added “another under-used one.”
The first thing that comes into my head, when I hear ‘outstanding’, is this:
It’s a drama about a group of lawyers in their 20s, who live together in London. It was on in the 90s, and was very edgy and cool at the time, and the soundtrack was amazing.
In that moment, it’s the wedding reception of Miles and Francesca; Ferdy has just had sex in the toilets with that nice ginger plumber (one of the first gay sex scenes on British TV), Egg is crying because his girlfriend slept with her boss, and Milly is punching Rachel for telling him. Warren, who we last saw going to Australia after being arrested for cottaging, looks on and says “Outstanding.”
(Sorry about the spoilers, but I think the statute of limitations applies after 20 years.)
I said “I can never read ‘outstanding’ without hearing Warren from This Life saying it.”
As soon as I’d sent it, I thought That’s pretty niche. That show is 20 years old. He probably won’t know what I’m talking about.
But then he replied “I loved that show. I always felt slightly aggrieved that I never lived in a massive houseshare like that.”
We are going to get on!
It was hot on the day of the date. I drove home from work and, amazingly, managed to get ready in 20 minutes, including having a shower and shaving my legs, before rushing out to catch my train.
The Perfect-in-lots-of-ways Guy had just moved to Marylebone, which was ideal as that’s where my train terminates.
I suggested a pub I like. He googled it and said “apparently it’s a hidden gem.” Then he added “although there’s a fine line between a hidden gem and a justifiably ignored disaster.”
I said “That’s funny, I almost went with ‘justifiably ignored disaster’ as the name of my dating profile.”
As I sat on the train, he texted saying “Our hidden gem is quite rammed. I’ll stay outside and meet you!”
My first impression, when I met him, was that he seemed posh.
I already knew his job was ‘corporate wage slave’ or ‘something boring in finance, helping rich people get richer.’ On the train, I had done some last minute cramming and read through his questions on OkCupid, and saw he’d answered ‘private school’ for ‘would you prefer to send your children to a private or state school?’.
Then he cemented his poshness by looking posh in the flesh, and doing the air-kiss greeting thing on both cheeks. I prefer an awkward hug.
His first name is a very salt-of-the-earth, working-class-hero name, and I remember thinking he seemed like more of a Julian or Piers.
However, despite his poshness, I felt at ease with him straight away. He bought us some drinks at the bar, and we went back outside, into the sun, and found somewhere to stand outside the pub.
There was a bouncer, making sure people stood on the right part of the pavement, and Perfect-in-lots-of-ways Guy (PILW Guy) told me that, just before I arrived, he had been told off by the bouncer.
We discussed whereabouts we were from, and it turned out he was from the same county as me, in the west of England. I seem to have met very few people from there since I came to London, so it felt nice so it felt nice (The Pauser was from… the same general area but not the same county).
It turned out he wasn’t that posh after all – he went to private school on a scholarship but had a similar background to me in a lot of ways. Our mothers were both primary school teachers (and may have even met).
I talked a bit about my job, and he had the ideal reaction of finding it interesting and asking lots of good questions, but not launching into his own mental health.
At that point, some Morris Dancers arrived, and prepared to do a dance outside the pub.
I’m not sure if people outside of the UK know what Morris Dancers are, and I’m not sure where to start. It’s a very strange British tradition, where people dance dress up and dance with bells on their legs and sticks or handkerchiefs. I think unless you’re a Morris Dancer yourself, you tend to think it’s bananas and a bit ridiculous.
As they did their dance, I liked PILW Guy’s reaction, which was the same as mine. We both kind of gently took the piss but also admired the Morris Dancers for seeming passionate about their hobby and having the courage to do it.
At the end, they collected some money for their dancing troupe. I put a pound in and I don’t know how much PILW Guy put in, but I think it was paper! (ie at least £5). I think he must be the richest person I’ve been on a date with.
We had about two or three drinks outside, and seemed to be getting on really well. We talked about This Life, and I told him some of my house-share stories. We talked about politics and religion a bit. It turned out we both went to weddings in India in January.
I was having a really good time. He was fun to hang out with. He was a few years older than me, and I liked the fact we seemed to be at similar life stages. He was handsome in more of an old-fashioned way than I’ve become used to, and he looked a bit like a like the Glamorous Adulterer (an older guy I had a fling with a few years ago, and became besotted with). His face seemed a tiny bit weathered and craggy, but only because he wasn’t a baby-faced embryo like I’ve got used to dating.
One thing I noticed about him, was that a few times, I was halfway through saying something (usually answering a question he’d specifically asked), and he’d suddenly interrupt to tell me something that was happening behind me (e.g. someone else being told off by the bouncer, or trying to work out the age-gap of the couple behind me). I do like people watching, but I also like finishing my sentences.
After a while, we decided to go inside and order some food.
We started to talk about dating a bit more. We talked about age-gaps, and both agreed we were pretty relaxed about them. He said he wasn’t surprised a few younger guys have wanted to date me, saying “you look young and you’re clearly attractive.”
We talked about dating apps, and I said I find it stressful going through people’s profiles and swiping left or right, because if I don’t like someone, I think Well, no, not based on that photo, but I’m sure lots of the people I’ve loved would choose a bad photo on their dating app, and what if this guy is actually great and I’ve just dismissed him because of one photo?
He said “that’s because you’re really nice.”
My memory of the night starts to get a bit hazy. I remember him coming back from the toilets and trying to start a conversation about the Grenfell fire, which happened that day (this was a few weeks ago).
I said cheerfully “I experienced a house fire actually, so I hate talking about stuff like that.”
He tried to ask me more about it and I smiled and said “Oh, it’s really not a first date conversation, I just wanted to explain why I don’t like talking about fire.” And then I changed the subject.
He seemed nice and respectful about it, and I felt glad I had been able to say it. All day, people had been talking about Grenfell at work and I kept wanting to run away, thinking I can’t cope with hearing about this!
So I was glad I felt comfortable enough to say that to him. It was probably not a classic first date comment, but after lots of first dates where people have told me all about their mental health, I felt glad to be able to say a two-second thing and then move on.
He saw I had answered ‘yes’ to a question on OkCupid about whether I’d like to have sexual encounter with someone of the same sex, so he asked me about this. I told him about the non-event which was my date with a woman, and we discussed gender and sexuality. It felt like we agreed on most things.
At about 11, we went back to Marylebone so I could get my train home. We hugged, but didn’t kiss.
He texted me saying “Well that was great. Don’t fall asleep on the train! Or at least if you do, no watch marks.” (This was because I told him about the date where I fell asleep in the toilets, and came back with my watch imprinted on my forehead.)
I actually did fall asleep on the train, and missed my stop, and had to get an Uber home from a random station. I admitted to this, and he said “I knew I should have tried to persuade you to stay with me :-)”.
It was a good date. The only thing was, I felt like I fancied him with my head, but not with my heart or my hormones.
We didn’t kiss, and I couldn’t really imagine kissing him.
I think it was mainly because I was distracted by my feelings for Whippersnapper.
Also, PILW Guy seemed to have a very slightly buffoonish, Dad-joke vibe to him.
I’m hoping those two issues will turn out not to be deal-breakers for me. I’m hoping the first one will be temporary and the second will be unimportant. A lot of my jokes are buffoonish too.
It’s certainly a nice change to be with some with a Dad-vibe, instead of a boy I need to mother.