Licence my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
John Donne (Elegy XIX: To His Mistress Going to Bed)
When I first started this blog about a month ago I wrote:
“There’s a part of me that hopes this blog will be short lived, that the next date will be the ‘one’.”
At the time I thought that the chances of that happening were remote; I’d been doing internet dating long enough to know that meeting someone special is rare. I was fairly sure that I’d be spending a large chunk of 2013 writing this blog and regaling both of my readers with stories of all the weirdos I’d met and the awkward situations I’d managed to get myself into.
It’s therefore a bit of a surprise to find myself wanting to put the narrative part of this blog on hold.
Despite my self-professed date-aholic tendencies, I’ve always been a one-woman at a time kind of a guy. I’ve never cheated on a partner and it’s unlikely that I ever will. It takes a lot to win my affections, but once I’m hooked I give 110% to a relationship.
So after the recent successful dates with #56, I wasn’t that excited about the idea of meeting up with Date #58; she’d have to be pretty damn hot to be able to crowbar #56 out of my thoughts. But I’d arranged the date a few weeks ago and I felt a certain amount of moral obligation to continue, not least because she was a friend of #53.
You would have thought that I’d have learnt my lesson by now: when a woman says that her friend is “a bit of a looker” she’s almost certainly deluded, especially if she’s no oil painting herself. To be fair, #58 wasn’t unattractive but it was clear pretty quickly that there was no physical attraction between us. She was enjoyable to talk to, though her body language was incredibly defensive for the first 20 minutes or so.
Part of the problem, I think, was that she wasn’t internet dating herself—we’d only met up because we’d been set up by #53. If you choose to peddle your wares online, then your mindset is already open towards the possibility of love. I got the impression that #58 wasn’t that bothered about being single, which is absolutely fine—admirable even—but it does make the whole dating thing a bit awkward. Needless to say, after a couple of drinks we went our separate ways.
Two days later I met up with #56 again. Every year the International Mime Festival comes to London. Around 10 groups of performers put on shows in various venues across town. I went to a show a few years ago when I was dating #47, and the performance was brilliantly funny. So I thought I was onto a winner when I suggested to #56 that we go to see one of the mime shows at the Royal Opera House.
How wrong could I be?
It started well enough, although #56 arrived slightly flustered having been groped on the tube. It happens to her quite regularly, she said. I didn’t have too much trouble believing that. If I was a pervert, her perfectly formed buttocks would certainly register a ‘ping’ on my randy radar, and I’d probably sidle up next to her on the tube and gave them a squeeze.
But I’m not a pervert, of course, and so to calm her down I suggested we have a drink in the ROH bar—an amazing space that sets just the right tone for a romantic date. After a large glass of wine we went into the ROH studio, where the performance took place.
Words can’t describe just how awful the production was. Actually, ‘awful’ doesn’t do it justice. It was so pretentiously dreadful it was funny. About 10 minutes in #56 started to get the giggles, which set me off. I almost lost it completely when one of the mime artists arrived on stage with a fluffy crocodile attached to his foot. This wasn’t meant to be a comedy, I hasten to add. This was ‘Art’ with a capital ‘A’.
The show went on for nearly an hour. It could have been the longest and most painful hour of my life if I’d been on a date with anyone other than #56. But, as it turned out, #56 and I bonded in the face of artistic adversity.
The lady sat two seats away from me wasn’t too impressed with our incessant giggling, however. When we got up to leave, she blocked my path and in an American accent said:
“You clearly don’t go to the theatre very much, so I thought I should point out that your behaviour was inexcusable. You may not understand the art that you’re watching, but the artists demand your attention. You’re not in front of the television set at home now.”
There have been a few times in my life when I’ve been completely lost for words and this was one of them. I didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to tell her to stop being a pretentious cow and to ask her whether she had been watching the same production as me, but instead my Englishness kicked in and I just said “sorry”.
The arrogant way she addressed me makes me angry even now, nearly 2 weeks later. I can’t claim to be a theatre buff but I’ve been to enough productions over the years to know an absolute stinker when I see one. The show was dreadful. It had no redeeming features at all and I felt as though the ROH producer had put a gun to my head and robbed me of £32.
To dull the pain of the artistic robbery, #56 and I decamped to the pub over the road and, to cut a long story short, #56 got her tube pass out early again. The angels sang their refrain. The mime artists stayed away. Everyone was happy.
In the 10 days that followed, #56 and I met up a further 5 times. We’re getting on very well. So well, in fact, that I don’t feel comfortable giving a detailed account of our blossoming relationship here. It’s too early to tell whether this is the start of something long-lasting. I hope it is, but I’m also pragmatic enough to know that it takes a while to get to know someone properly. It’s possible that she’ll turn out to be a bunny boiler yet, and, if she does, I’ll definitely be back here to tell you all about it. I’m rather hoping that my instincts are right and that she’s ‘a keeper’, however.
In the meantime, I’m not quite sure how to use this blog. I’d like to write some more “Dating Guide” articles as I would have valued some practical advice from an ‘expert’ when I started internet dating 5 years ago. I’ve enjoyed writing the narrative portions of the blog and have started to think seriously about writing a highly fictionalised account of the last 5 years. There are so many good stories to tell. Like the time I Google-stalked a potential date and found photos of her and her ex-husband dressed up as orcs. Yes, my internet-dating friends, there are some odd people out there and it always pays to do some research in advance.