First date nerves and being yourself

I had two Plenty of Fish dates this weekend. TWO. I am a sexual predator. I am going to end up on Crimewatch, or in Closer magazine.

Having little to two Tinder dates worth of experience in this respect, I was understandably fairly nervous. All of the usual thoughts were buzzing around my brain as I prepared for my first date at a local bar on Friday night. What if he doesn’t like me? What if we have nothing to talk about? What if I stand under a certain light and he spots my moustache?

So after defuzzing, I had a couple of pre-drinks to calm my nerves. Unfortunately, the result of this was that I was a) already slightly drunk by the time I got to my first date and b) really hungover on my second date the next morning. Because that is how much I have my life together right now.

To make things worse, the second date was at the King Richard III museum in Leicester (who doesn’t love looking at skeletons of 15th century monarchs when they’re hanging), which meant that not only did I have to get up early and catch a train, but also shuffle nauseated around a building where fucking everything is white and historically significant.

At first I tried to style it out, but I eventually had to concede defeat and diverted us to a café for an XL maple spice latte. I may have been hungover, but I am always #basic.

There are loads of rules for first dates. Don’t sleep with them. Don’t talk about exes. Don’t eat their food when they’re not looking. Don’t turn up in a Chewbacca costume. Don’t repeat everything they say back to them in a robot voice.

Clearly, some of these are blindingly obvious. Like bitch, don’t touch my food unless you value your fingers. But a lot of them, I think you should ignore.

Think about it. What is the point of acting like a different person during a meeting designed to assess each other as potential partners? It would be like buying a chicken and mushroom bake from Greggs and then it turning into a sausage and bean pasty half-way through.

Yes, I did just compare myself to a Greggs pasty.

So I decided to be myself. I admitted I was hungover, told him about the time I had to go to my birthday spa day with tramp sick in my hair, sat in awkward silence a few times, and made him wait for ages while I chose three psycho killer books in the 3-for-£5 deal at The Works. And he still asked me out on a second date.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t worry if you are weird and can’t handle your drink and have no idea how to act on dates. Be your own pasty.

If you think you may have an alcohol problem, visit www.drinkaware.co.uk

I got called a c*nt on Plenty of Fish, and it was liberating

A week ago, I joined the online dating website Plenty of Fish.

For those who don’t know, it’s a site where single people upload a couple of pictures of themselves, an insufferable ‘About Me’ biography, and statistics such as their height and religion – all in the hope of finding Mr Don’t Worry, You’re No Longer Going To Die Alone.

I’d always been a bit skeptical about joining. Partly because I’ve done a couple of stories with women who have been brutally attacked by guys they met online, and partly because it felt a bit too ‘officially looking 4 love’, a bit too ‘I’ve exhausted all of my other options and the panic has well and truly set in’.

Of course, I’d heard the horror stories. Policemen who turned out to be married with kids. Funeral directors who were 1ft 8in shorter than they’d indicated in their profiles. Dick pic after flaccid dick pic. But I’m a journalist to the core, and to be completely honest, I relished the idea of meeting some weirdos.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Within hours, I’d been snapped up by this delightful gentleman. Let’s call him Jack. Now Jack had a lovely little profile. Everything spelled correctly, no pictures of him on the toilet, no mention of bodily fluids. Plus he’d included a charming sentence about how he wasn’t on there for ‘fun’, and it was ‘time for mortgages and babies’. So when he messaged me, I replied.

But what initially started off as polite chit-chat rapidly turned into him trying to order my fanny off the internet like a £20 Pizza Hut meal deal. With nothing to do of an evening, I decided to play along:

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For my efforts, I was called a cunt. Not a bitch, not a slag, but a cunt. LOL.

Because I wasn’t willing to hand over my genitals like a free cracker sample at Morrisons, I was deemed a cunt. Because I wasn’t up for bumping uglies with someone who couldn’t be bothered driving for half an hour to see me, I was decreed a cunt.

It’s not even that he was trying it on that annoyed me. Trust me, there’s been a new prime minister and an EU referendum since I last got my leg over: I know the drill. It’s that he thought it would be so easy. Like mate, I didn’t spend half an hour crafting a witty About Me section and uploading pictures of me looking swotty at my graduation to get prodded in a Premier Inn just off the M5.

I should probably be upset that a complete stranger called me a cunt, but if anything, it’s given me a bit of a buzz. Emboldened by my new title, I have begun parking across two spaces and talking loudly on my mobile in the quiet zone of the train.

Determined not to let my encounter scupper my Plenty of Fish experience, I have matched with some other guys and hope to have more stories to tell soon.

Cunt over and out.

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As the door blew open, a blast of cold air engulfed the coffee shop. Customers looked up from their chai lattes in surprise, teaspoons tinkling, biscuits crumbling.

But their surprise soon turned to terror. For the wind had brought an unwelcome guest into their safe little village.

The only person on Facebook who wasn’t engaged or pregnant had left her lair.

Fathers covered their children’s eyes, pensioners crossed themselves and mothers stifled their sobs.

Since time began, the villagers had appeased this evil entity with sacrificial offerings of snacks and a Netflix subscription. Every year, they held a Yankee Candle vigil outside her cave to ward off her malicious spirit. Every Halloween, teenagers dressed up as her and told her chilling tale around a bonfire.

“Many moons ago,” they whispered, “she was a perfectly normal girl in her mid-twenties with an okay job and no insanely gross attributes. But try as she might, no-one wanted to put a ring on it. In fact, no-one wanted to put anything on it. She might as well have sewn up her vagina. Things got so bad, she even tried Tinder.”

But now here she was. She hadn’t sizzled under the sunlight. She didn’t have hairy palms. Her eyes didn’t glow red. All of the scriptures and Channel 5 documentaries had been wrong.

“Can I have a hot chocolate, please?” she asked the cowering barista.

It speaks,” the town busybody spat through a mouthful of brownie.

Families huddled closer together as she grabbed her hot chocolate and a muffin and left the coffee shop. Either to eat children, or join Bumble. One or the other.

 

THE END

It’s OK if your 20s haven’t gone to plan
kid

So young. So full of hope.

Being 26 is a curious thing. And by curious, I mean bewildering, soul-destroying and occasionally absolutely terrifying. It’s a ‘nothing’ age. You’re neither young nor old. You’re like an awkward fringe you can’t quite grow out.

When I was younger, I thought that people in their twenties were adults, they had their shit together, they were O-L-D. But now I realise that they weren’t old at all. They were like me. A child trapped in an adult’s body, squeaking desperately for someone to come and rescue them.

Over time, I have learnt that life isn’t like one of those Goosebumps books where you can sneakily flick to the alternative endings and pick the one where you don’t get eaten by a mutant sponge. It’s scary and unpredictable, and you just have to roll with it.

So here is a list of 7 things I thought I would have going for me in my mid-20s that I seriously, seriously don’t:

1.I thought I would be married with at least one kid by now.

I used to think that people who were still single in their late twenties had some kind of icky, gross malady that prevented suitors from wanting to put a ring on it. But sometimes relationships just don’t pan out the way you hope they will. And sometimes it’s for the best. Plus I am definitely not ready for offspring. I had to hold a baby at a wedding last month and I hated every second of it.  Between trying to look maternal, all I could think was ‘why won’t it blink?’ and ‘why does it not cry when people pick it up by its armpits when I cry if I catch my bingo wing on a door frame?’

2. I thought I would be a sex goddess by now.

I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing. It’s like trying to assemble an IKEA wardrobe. WHERE DOES THIS BIT GO? WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS WEIRD LITTLE LEFTOVER THING?! My predicament is not helped by frantically reading bizarre sex tips in women’s magazines. Instead, I am left with further performance anxiety after discovering that I can’t quite pull off rubbing cocoa beans over my lover’s scrotum while in the Grab Your Coat You’ve Pulled a Cheeky Flamenco position.

3. I thought I would understand bills and general life crap by now.

I do not understand bills and general life crap.

4. I thought I would be a stunnah by now.

The one thing I clung to when I was a teenager and my hair was greasy and I had no boobs and developed a moustache was that one day I would be peng. One day, puberty would wave her magic wand, release me from this sarcophagus of 4-out-of-10-ness and rebirth me as a beautiful butterfly. But if anything, I am grosser now than ever. I have fat in places I didn’t even know you could have fat. I am spottier. I am hairier. I am scalier. I am basically turning into an armadillo.

5. I thought I would be on the property ladder by now. 

One of the many perks of being a journalist is that I earn way below the average graduate salary. Like if the graduate salary was a bus, I would be running after it panting. If the graduate salary was Leonardo DiCaprio, I would be being restrained by a security guard after trying to stroke its face. If the graduate salary was a Snitch, I would be chasing it on a mop. So unless I immediately marry a Russian oil tycoon, I shan’t be owning my own house anytime soon.

6. I thought I would stop getting ID’d by now.

When I got the A Level results I needed to get into university but couldn’t celebrate with my two friends at Ko-Ko’s in Rochdale town centre because I didn’t have ID and had the face of a Cabbage Patch Kid, I was fuming. “You will pay for this,” I vowed, as thunderstorms cracked in the midnight sky. I considered writing to Parliament. I considered a dirty protest. I considered launching my own charity to help other victims. But now, it’s the opposite. As I inch closer to 30, looking young is a compliment. In fact, I am offended if people don’t ID me. “Wait, don’t you want to verify my age?” I want to cry indignantly. “Don’t you think I’m too young-looking to be purchasing this alcoholic beverage?” I reach into my bag. “I have ID. Check my ID. Please,” I beg, before slamming my driving licence, passport, birth certificate and 22-week ultrasound scan onto the counter.

7. I thought I would have outgrown my ‘awkward phase’ by now.

Chink chink. The sound of glass tinkling, a champagne cork popping. Laughter. Schmoozing. Another glamorous cocktail party organised by yours truly. So, this one didn’t pan out. Mainly because I don’t live in the 1980s, but also because I am still super awkward.

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It was Adam and Georgia’s first date. They’d chosen a cosy little Italian in the exclusive district of Kensington, London. They’d cracked a joke about oysters, Adam had done his spiel about being different to all the other guys, Georgia had made it clear that she wasn’t the kind of girl that slept with men on the first date but had trimmed down below just in case, they’d shared a slightly cold garlic baguette. Now it was time to get down to the nitty-gritty.

“Can we have the bill, please?” Adam asked the waiter, leaning back confidently in his chair.

Georgia smiled coquettishly, fingers stroking the flute of her wine glass. “I’ve had a great time, thank you.”

Their eyes met briefly over the flickering candlelight.

The waiter appeared between them both, coughing politely. “The bill.” He cleared a space between them, clutching the paper in his slender, tanned hands.

Adam and Georgia both paused momentarily.

The waiter nodded knowingly. He’d seen this scene play out more times than he could count.

Placing the bill flat against the table with his right hand, he felt under the table with his left – hesitating when he felt the lever. With one firm twist of his fingers, he yanked the lever down.

The table creaked and shuddered before the centre rose majestically to reveal a glass case of weapons.

Probably should have mentioned this earlier, but it is now the year 3067. Men and women fight to the death for the bill, for their honour, for the love of their countrymen.

As trumpets sounded and diners pushed their chairs back in anticipation, Adam and Georgia lunged forward and grabbed their respective weapons. Adam went for a sword, whilst Georgia rather twistedly selected a flail.

After a gruesome seven-hour battle it was pronounced a draw and they coughed up £46.80 each, including a tip.

Adam and Georgia now live in Surrey with their four children and a Labrador Border Collie cross named Oscar. They laugh about their first date now. Oh, how they laugh.

THE END