Here's the deal. I've been single since time immemorial. So, in an attempt to remedy my eternal singledom, and to get over my nauseatingly pathological fear of dates, I've decided to challenge myself. The challenge? To go on one first date a week for a year! So in 52 weeks time, I will have either found my Mr Right, or I'll stay forever Miss Write. This is what happens...

The Rules

Here are the rules to the 52 First Dates challenge...

1. A first date must be had once a week, EVERY week, for a year, that's 52 dates in 52 weeks.

2. Taking someone home after a drunken night on the cider does NOT count.

3. Second and third dates are allowed, I must continue first dates unless there are exceptional mitigating circumstances. For example, God forbid, the start of a relationship.

4. Each date must be blogged.

24 April 2012

Mr #45 - The Real Greek

The preamble:
I hadn't been messaging Mr #45 very long before we agreed to meet, but I found him rather intriguing. He was very easy on the eye and enticingly moody-looking, with an artistic streak and an alluring profile, and I was keen to get to know this hopefully tall, dark and handsome Greek stranger. So when he suggested meeting for a drink, I jumped at the chance.

The man:
Age: 31

Profession: Illustrator
Random factoid: Has survived no less than 15 earthquakes when he lived in Greece.

The date:
The first I knew of Mr #45 was when he appeared in front of me at point blank range outside Boots inside Victoria station. He was relatively tall, reasonably handsome, and definitely moody. There was little to no small talk en route to the pub despite my attempts to crack out the fail safe questions, although he was the consummate gentleman in holding open every door for me as we went along. 

Once at the pub, we had to stand at the bar for about 15 minutes, and this bugger was not talking. At all. After about 5 minutes of decent interrogation, he wasn't giving much back, so instead I just stood there at the bar with him, behaved myself and shut up. 

Once equipped with drinks, we headed outside to find some seats. I plonked myself down at the nearest table without thinking and expected my date to do the same. But what then ensued was a rather lengthy debacle by which he inspected every single chair in the vicinity (and I'm talking about twenty here) until he found the cleanest one. Once he'd selected his chair of choice, we then had to move tables on account of a tiny bit of bird shit at the other end. Warning sign number one. See, I live with two parrots. Anyone that frightened of avian faeces probably wouldn't feel too comfy in a room with two of them that poo like clockwork (albeit normally in their own cages but occasionally on visitors to let them know who's boss). 

Once we'd sat in our final positions, we resumed the chatting. It took Mr #45 a little while to warm up, but once he got going, boy did he get going! I could hardly get a word in, and for me and my garrulous gob that's quite an achievement. He talked about his work as an illustrator, his previous jobs as doorman and railway worker, his extra work (nay background artiste work dahling) on such blockbusters as Johnny English, and his heady ambitions to become a regular extra in something like EastEnders or Hollyoaks (methinks he should go on a date with Mr #44 - they have a LOT in common!). 

He told me about his childhood friend who used to ritually slaughter local cats and hide the bodies, how he once saw a policeman have his eye gouged out with a broken bottle and bitched about how poor the rail replacement works are. He then decided to show me some of his 'etchings', and credit with credit is due, he's a very talented illustrator, although if we're being REALLY critical, his portrait of Captain Jean-Luc Picard was a tad over-generous on the cranium, and he did look rather like a Conehead. 

Over the course of the date, Mr #45 had gone from monosyllabic and moody to chatty and arrogant, and throughout the talking and drinking I became hypnotised by this grey bit of gum circling the inside of his mouth with cow-and-cud-like rhythm. Anyone who knows me knows what a mahoosive pet peeve open-mouthed mastication is of mine, and I could not take my eyes off it. At one point I willed it to leap down his throat just so I could get a word in. 

The only facts he gleaned out of me over the course of the date were where I lived (Whitechapel - you already knew that from emails), my job, and the fact I owned parrots (something I had to crowbar in there). I had to make a tactical trip to the bathroom after one drink, and by the time I returned he was yawning his gum-ridden chops off, and suggested we called it a day. Fine by me! And then, as we stood up to leave and I was finally able to see him in his full glory I saw them. Mustard-coloured shoes. Fucking mustard-coloured shoes. Three words my friends: straw, camel and back. 

We walked back to the station, and at the Tube entrance he kissed me on the cheek and said 'let's do this again sometime'. What, so you can talk about yourself all over again? No thanks. Sadly what came out of my mouth in that split second made me hate myself, as without thinking I blurted 'yeah, sure', and then pretending it hadn't happened I hot-footed it off down the escalator. Error. Bad CTS.

Memorable Quotes:
'My mate...the one who killed the cats...he has diabetes now and is like a balloon. Even the Army won't have him.'

'You have parrots? Why? Birds should never be kept as pets'. Uh oh...

Events of note:
During my only bathroom break of the evening, I ended up assisting a woman with the most spectacular mullet I've ever seen with a rather embarrassing coffee spillage on her revolting magenta shirt. I didn't have the heart to tell her that the coffee had probably done her a favour. I wish I'd taken a photo, just to mark the occasion.

The Verdict:
Oh dear. So much for the tall, dark and handsome cliche. Turns out his moody pictures were indicative of a very moody man, and a man who would probably have had just as much fun on a date sat in front of a mirror, like a giant bald budgie, pecking at his own refection and chattering to himself. And speaking of birds, anyone that anti my two favourite little feathered beasts is never going to be a genuine contender for my affections. Love me, love my parrots. That's the deal. Deal with it.

21 April 2012

Mr #44 - Telly Addict

The preamble:
Mr #44 and I have been texting on and off for what seems like forever, but in truth I think it was around Christmas when he sent his first fateful message. His dating profile was minimalist, but he appeared to be a very svelte, elegant and handsome Indian fellow from his profile (like he was modelling for an catalogue company - lots of choice knitwear) and he sounded pretty keen, so we exchanged numbers.

But 4 attempts to meet later his texting was getting a little irritating, and I think he may now hold the record for the most uses of the word 'babe' in the course of our messaging history, which regular 52 First Dates readers will acknowledge is a real pet peeve mine. We'd been messaging so long, and he was trying to spark up text chats during work on such a regular basis, I decided we really should meet once and for all lest we ended up texting until Hell froze over. So finally, after months or sporadic and partially irksome messaging, we arranged the date. 

He chose the venue, and it was in a brand new pub...right in the middle of Kings Cross station. Hmm...

The man:
Age: 38

Profession: IT developer
Random factoid: Used to be an extra, and has starred in such commercials as McDonalds, Barclays and Halifax (he was one of the people making up the giant X).

The date:
I bowled up to the date a bit late on account of being distracted by beverages with workmates, and the first thing that struck me about my date, when I eventually identified him, was that he looked nothing, and I mean NOTHING, like his profile photo. He was about a foot shorter, a foot wider and none of the luscious hair previously depicted in his photos. There was also a distinct lack of knitwear, and he was clad head to toe in a very crisp business suit complete with novelty cuff links. I, however, had turned up in jeans, converse, shirt and waistcoat and headscarf. It rapidly occurred to me that we were by far the oddest couple in the bar (which was surprisingly nice for a venue slap bang in the middle of a train station), and anyone looking at us would have instantly spotted that we'd met online, as we were, most probably, the oddest couple in the actual world. It was almost laughable. 

Mr #44, however, was very cheery and polite, so we grabbed some drinks and set about possibly the most elusive date of the quest. Pretty much the first thing Mr #44 brought up was the subject of online dating - it turns out he was new to t'interweb dating having escaped an arranged marriage, and I was the first person he'd met. He seemed baffled that I had told people about the fact I did online dating as he found it embarrassing. I, obviously, underplayed my involvement for obvious reasons. 

We spoke at length about his all his older siblings had been married off in an arranged fashion, but following the death of his mother, his father had chilled out a bit and let forced nuptials slip for the sake of his youngest son - pretty intense for the first 15 minutes of a date! He then started probing into the circumstances surrounding my singledom, and before I could protest my innocence he launched into how he'd tried to rekindle the love of his life a couple of months ago, but she'd knocked him back, and going online for dates was his rebound mechanism. Good-o! 

Anyway, once the deep and meaningfuls had been covered, the lighter chat got underway. I did have to question the inconsistency between his photo and the reality as it was such a drastic difference, and he claimed that his photo was from 5 years ago. And actually it probably was from 5 years ago...from someone else's Facebook profile! 

It turned out he's quite the telly fan, being a massive EastEnders fan, and a connoisseur of all things Take Me Out, Britains Got Talent, X Factor and The Voice. He spoke with great adoration for a little known character called William on the latter (or Will.I.Am to everyone else in the world). 

Once on his favourite subject and he'd relaxed a little, there was no stopping him! He then revealed his love for old school movies, and he had an almost Rainman-esque knowledge of Carry On films. He then moved onto his various talents, of which creating council tax databases, drawing and dancing were but a couple, and he recreated with glee and gusto his audition dance to be part of the Olympics opening ceremony dance. He'd made it through to the second round, and was pretty confident that his skills would be seen by the entire globe, so when you watch the opening ceremony, keep an eye out for the Indian guy from the background of a McDonalds advert who looks nothing like a tall, slim handsome catalogue model throwing some rather spectacular shapes. 

Mr #44 was a fidgetty sort, and the more he spoke, the more he involved himself with some rather off-putting under-the-table scratchings which increased as the evening went on. But he was really entertaining company, but I have to admit I was relieved that the babe-infused textings might finally be over.

Memorable Quotes:
When I returned from the facilities - 'what did you think of the toilets?'
'You have perfect eyebrows'
'George Clooney, he's such a heart throbe, I think he's the ultimate heart throbe'. (note - I have not misspelt this quote)
'On Saturday night, I love to get takeaway, and sit in and watch TV all night at home. In my 3 bedroom house.'

Events of note:
After declaring his skills at being able to draw 'with a pencil, on the papers, bare-hand', I challenged Mr #44 to demonstrate his skills, and demonstrate them he did. This is what he did. I think I should point out that although, this is pretty much exactly what I look like in real life (and yes, I am just as sketchy...)
The Verdict:
Bless him, Mr #44 was excellent value, and he absolutely has a heart of gold. But I don't think I've ever met someone so drastically different to me, and although it made for a good write up, I was never destined to move to Romford to spend my Saturday nights in eating fried chicken and watching talent shows. 

Within 10 minutes of my getting on the bus, he'd texted to try and arrange another date. I'd dozed off on the bus before replying, and half an hour later when I awoke to get off at my stop, he had messaged again pressing for an answer. I graciously declined, but I wished him well on his quest as I'm pretty sure there'll be a chicken-loving lady out there somewhere for whom Essex and X Factor are the absolute dream. But not me. That said, that chicken burger was rather lush...

14 April 2012

Mr #43 - The Murderer. Probably.

The preamble:
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I eventually agreed to meet Mr #43. When we first started emailing, I thought Mr #43 was quite sweet. We'd bonded over our mutual love of African grey parrots and he had a lovely way with words. But then in the middle of our e-chat, suddenly I was unable to reply to his messages. Then, a couple of days later, he emailed to apologise for 'accidentally' blocking me. Weird. 
But nevermind, chatting resumed, we swapped numbers, and arranged a date. 

A couple of days before the date, however, he texted to say he had to get something off his conscience, that he'd lied on his profile and that he was actually 40, and not 35, but that his colleagues had advised him to fess up before the date. He justified the claim by saying he actually looked a lot younger than 40, and thought he could get away with it. Weirder. So to refresh my memory even further, I logged back onto the site to have a look at his profile. And it was no longer there. Weirdest yet. 

So I texted Mr #43 querying his absence, and made it perfectly clear that if he was dicking around for whatever reason, I wasn't interested, and that I had concerns he might not be who he said he was. He concurred that his behaviour had been pretty odd, explained away, and allayed my fears enough that I would go and meet him. But in broad daylight. And not before getting the ladies in my office to look for him on t'internet in case I didn't turn up to work the next day and pieces of my anatomy were found floating along the river in Asda bags. The more astute of you may have deduced by the very presence of this write up that I probably wasn't dismembered and discarded into the Thames. 

Or was I?

Okay, I wasn't.

The man:
Age: 40

Profession: Something to do with law and publishing
Random factoid: He had a number of ex girlfriends. From the following write up, you'll see why this might seem really rather random...

The date:
So, bracing myself for a potential face off with a genuine interweb weirdo and after practising my rapid deo-in-face self-defence move, I headed off to Waterloo to meet Mr #43. We were due to meet at the bottom of the main steps, and as if I wasn't suspicious enough, when I arrived there were two police officers stood there also waiting for someone, hopefully not my date, but at least if it WAS my date then a. I'd have survived a watery grave and b. I'd have had the night off. Lovely. But no, they didn't accost my date before he accosted me, more's the pity. And why I say 'accost', it was actually more of a polite approachment and cheek peck. 

My first thoughts were how quiet and petite he was, and also how camp he was. Had I maybe mislead him from my profile? Perhaps my picture with the handlebar moustache had been a bit "confusing". Was he expecting a date with a dude? It seemed not. Or if he was, he masked his disappointment well.

First assessments made, we pottered off to a nearby bar, and attempted to procure some beverages. Like a fool, I'd rushed out of the office without the precautionary bladder-empty I would usually employ before going on a date, so  I left my date with my drinks order and scampered off to the facilities before making the date memorable for rather more embarrassing reasons. 

When I returned to my rum and coke, I was rather surprised when my date said 'now I'm not an alcoholic...but I was forced to buy TWO Kronenbergs'. I see, so you've got two pints there, and I have a little rum and coke to nurture. Don't get me wrong, I am no fan of double parking on a first date, nor did I want him to buy me two drinks. But I'm a swift drinker, and struggle at the best of times to pace a spirit and mixer against a date's pint, let alone two. Plus I always like to buy a round myself, but it's only polite to do so once my date has finished. And if I'd gone before he'd had his second, that'd just seem rude. It's funny how rapidly these thoughts whizz around your head when faced with such a situation. Anyone would think I've been on one too many dates...! 

Drinks aside, we got to the talky part of the date, which proved a little problematic. He was very quiet and not very chatty, and although I'm pretty good at getting some sort of evenly-balanced dialogue out of my dates, with him I was definitely responsible for 80% of the chat. That's not why I go on dates, if I wanted to hear the sound of my own voice I could just stay at home, talk to myself about the same old shit and work my way through a bottle of Morgan's Spiced. It'd be a lot cheaper. 

I also studied his face, and the more I realised yes, he did have very young features, but his skin was very thin and crinkly, like crepe paper, the sort of skin you'd see atop a bald octogenarian that would be so soft you'd be frightened to tear it. As we spoke, or more accuretly, as I spoke and he listened, my date did become more animated, and with the animation came more effeminate flourishes.

Memorable Quotes:
'You may have noticed I'm a keen swimmer' No, I hadn't. You're in a suit, not Speedos...! Oh, but if you were...
'I don't read newspapers. Or watch the news...' Er, what???

Events of note:
The distinct lack of any sort of murder. Don't get me wrong, I am very pleased about that.

The Verdict:
I won't be seeing Mr #43 again, partly because I suspect I'm not quite as masculine as I suspect he might secretly have liked, but mainly because he was so polite although he didn't murder me on a first date, he definitely would have done so on the second date and I have shit to do, a life to live, bills to pay, more dates to go on...death would really put a dampener on the whole thing, so best we leave things as is.

06 April 2012

Mr #42 - Dumb Blonde

First of all, apologies for the tardiness in bringing Mr #42 to your computer screens. I've had a bit of a bugger of a time trying to squeeze in dates with a bonkers work schedule, and last week when I was finally able to line one up, he cancelled the same day on account of a sniffle. Sadly I wasn't able to turn another date around in time, so last week my date life was more barren than Samantha Bricks' soul. But this week, by way of apology to the followers of 52 First Dates who haven't had their fix of interweb weirdness, I managed to pull the elusive #42 out of my sleeve in the nick of time, and with the promise of a Mr #43 as back up.  Double date week leading up to Easter? Well, it's what Jesus would have wanted. Probably.

The preamble:
Mr #42 have been in touch for about two months or so prior to meeting, but thanks to him jetting off to China for two weeks and me working all hours at work, it took us a while to have a date. Although he was 10 years older, he looked like a game sort of fella from his pictures (most of which for some reason were topless which I hasten to add did not influence my decision to meet him in any way, although for the record, he did have a wonderfully carved torso), and he had a good sense of humour, despite the fact he used LOL a little too freely for my liking. 

However, once we'd exchange numbers, he was pretty keen to spark up the text banter, and from past experience I try not to get too deep into the old texting malarkey as it always ends up getting sticky and disappointing, never a good combination of words. It felt a little like a vetting process, asking whether I wanted kids, my living arrangements, and sending me pictures of him with his daughters, his garden, and some weird chest of drawers he was selling on eBay.  Hmm, possibly the strangest dating preamble to date. But the date was already in the calendar, and it was too late to back out now!

The man:
Age: 41

Profession: Runs his own property business as well as selling weird shit on eBay.
Random factoid: Once owned 20 guinea pigs.

The date:
I'll be the first to admit I wasn't on my finest form leading up to the date, on account of an irresponsible marshmallow eating competition in the office which lead to me rapidly growing the equivalent of a 6 months sugar baby in my very bloated belly. So, hoping I wouldn't encounter any awkward questions about my due date, I hauled my mallow-child off to Waterloo to meet Mr #42. 

If my date was an animal from a film, he would have without doubt have been Marley from my least favourite film in the whole wide world ever. He bounded over in a shock of blonde hair like some sort of Haribo-psyched Labrador and before I knew it we were both bounding off together in search of a pub. 

After grabbing some drinks, we found a little corner in which to perch, and get down to the dating. On closer inspection, my date looked like the bastard lovechild of Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee and Mick Jagger (a union definitely made to make the mind boggle). He had the shaggy hair of an aging Aussie rock star, and the deep facial crevices of someone who enjoyed the eighties and probably forgot the nineties. 

He was incredibly attentive, very chatty, and really easy-going. He was also not very bright. For someone who runs a couple of his own businesses, I was really surprised by some of the shit he was coming out with. We covered all the main bases, work, family, travel, and the one thing that I found a little uncomfortable was the amount he dwelt on my single status. He said on no less than 4 occasions how surprised he was I was single, and every time he did so he made me feel more and more insecure that maybe I do have some massive personality flaw that I've not acknowledged yet but that my friends and family are all too kind to point out. 

He spoke at great length about his ex who was a cleaner, and his two daughters, It's clear he's an awesome dad who adores his children, but he was so forthcoming about wanting more kids I was slightly concerned I might've been fertilised there and then by intoxicating paternal osmosis. But after calling me a 'clever girl' for living on my own in London, and then drawing a comparison between the age gap between my sister and I to that of his daughters, It suddenly made me very aware of my age and how much older he was. Another example was his constant allusions to the fact that as a young(ish), single girl I must be out getting irrationally bladdered and pulling boys left, right and centre every night of the week. How little he knew of me. One blanket, a tub of Haagen-Dasz and a Horlicks, please barkeep.

Memorable Quotes:
Oh there were a lot of these...
'I showed my colleague your photo before I left work. She said you looked like you were 25. She also said you looked really normal, which is strange as people on the internet aren't normal'
'I don't drink rose wine, it's poofy'
'I've never been to a gig before. Except when I went to see Bon Jovi. Three times.'
'What do you like to do? I like holidays'
'I got a swan stuck in an oar once. Turned the boat over. But it was okay, as I had a few layers of lycra on'
And the best question on a date yet...'Who is your best friend?' No, that one's for your daughters, NOT your dates...
Events of note:
When two girls with absolutely no sense of propriety plonked themselves down at our little round table without asking or even acknowledging we were probably on a date, and about 10 minutes later a bottle of wine and two plates of pasta arrived at our table. For them.
The Verdict:
Oh dear, I feel a bit sad writing this. Throughout the date Mr #42 was incredibly complimentary, very tactile, obviously keen, and well-meaning. He's obviously someone without a bad bone in his body, and would make someone a wonderful partner. But trying to find some sort of chemistry between us was way too forced, and I think it was more hopeful from his side of things rather than sensing a genuine connection. I won't be seeing him again, but I sincerely hope he finds that special boat-loving lady with whom he can pop out a whole tribe of mini Hogan-Jaggers