I do love the internet God known as Tinder. I do. I imagine her as a fiery love gladiator who looks like a fitter version of Xena, no offense to Lucy Lawless I just wondered if she didn’t get a bit broad towards the end of the series. Anyway, back to Tinder, specifically my relationship with her. I’ve done pretty well. I get to decide who I like, and who I don’t, and then comes the glorious moment where she throws down the flaming love heart (why is this piece suddenly turning a bit Mills and Boon I don’t know but just ignore the discomfiture and go with it readers, go with it) and I get a match! A match! And then the pain-I-mean-fun (she is a gladiator after all) can really begin.
I mentioned in a previous piece the advice I got from my mate Trish when deciding to swipe right or left, she said, “Always go by the worst photograph” except she used the word ugliest instead of worst. Now, let me explain it is not about being shallow here, okay well it is a bit but shut up Sis you married for money, it’s about attraction. It’s about what the ugliest photo is saying about that person, what they’re wearing, where they are, who they’re with, how pissed they are, or if they’re in scuba diving gear. Incidentally I have worn scuba diving gear and no one looks good in that. All of this is how we size each other up on a day to day basis anyway, the pot luck factor to Tinder, making her a potentially cruel mistress is the fact that even with all of this information, you still don’t know what you’re really getting until you meet the person. I have discovered that on meeting them, one of three things can happen and you’ll know within about three to thirty seconds which of these it is. 1) You know that whatever happens it’s not going beyond this café come hell or high water. 2) Jury’s out. 3) You experience a Wayne’s World Dream Weaver moment accompanied by a lot of soft lighting and dry mouth. I have never felt all three over the course of date before, until…
The Bit That Comes After The Introduction
So, Gideon and I had been Tindering away for about a week. Tindering is what I call messaging via Tinder as opposed to some terrible euphemism for sex just to be clear and yes, it took an entire week for this to be said:
Me: Hey there, nice shirt Mr Darcy.
Just to be clear I now like to add a personal (and more often than not cringey) flirtatious note based on one of their Tinder pictures. In one of his photos Gideon happened to be at what I could only assume was a fancy dress party dressed as a character from an Austen novel. I only know Mark Darcy because of Bridget Jones and my pervy gran so I thought it safest to go for that one.
Gideon: Haha I prefer the roguish Wickham!
‘Bit gay’ I wanted to text – followed by a smiley face to show I’m not homophobic but my mate Trish told me over home made Friday night cocktails (i.e. vodka and orange juice with whatever Christmas spirit/fortified wine was left in the cupboard) not to be a dick and pointed out that this means he’s probably a gentleman and a scholar. Yes she did quote Catcher in the Rye and I know that because I did it for GCSE. Incidentally I did Bridget Jones for A Level Media Studies.
Me (after googling Wickham, Austen): That’s okay I have a thing for bad boys. Fancy a drink?
Smooth right? Oh yes, Trish typed it for me. I was going to say ‘Oooo naughty! Vino tinto por favor?’ Because in another picture he’s in Barcelona drinking sangria. I hope it’s not sangria and not that red wine and coke nonsense. Clearly Trish’s text was the right way to go because…
Gideon: Haha sounds good. Tomorrow then?
Bit keen. As if sensing this thought, Trish makes some glib comment about us being wed by next week and laughs until she sees my apprehensive face and promptly clips me upside the head.
Me: Grand. Vinoteca?
Gideon: I love that place.
Definitely a bit gay. 🙂 Kidding! I didn’t say that. I said something involving the time to meet blah blah then I spent some time with Trish choosing an appropriate outfit because it was a Sunday and we’d already watched the Come Dine With Me omnibus.
I decide on skinny jeans and a frilly blouse in honour of the whole Darcy joke so I’m looking smart but casually so. I find myself fifteen minutes early for the date with Gideon so I decide to order a glass of prosecco and just as I’m doing my first inward burp he arrives. He’s wearing the Darcy shirt. Read that sentence again and now read this next one: He is wearing the shirt as part of a normal suit. So, in your mind (you don’t have to close your eyes but feel free to) imagine a regular banker man but just replace the shirt and tie for a frilly period shirt much like the one the dashing fellow in the photo accompanying this article is wearing and you have a basic picture of what Gideon was wearing as he kissed me on the cheek in greeting. I barely noticed how hot he was and I was still holding my inward burp in shock. I was literally on pause.
Gideon (gesturing to my glass of bubbly): “Couldn’t wait for me to order hey? Alkie!”
Now what the hell is happening?
Gideon: “It’s pretty standard to wait for your date to arrive before ordering a drink.”
I am still in shock over the shirt, how is it not fancy dress?! It is fancy dress! Oh God people will think we’re wearing these shirts to match! This is the weirdest outfit I’ve seen since I saw Lady GaGa in concert. What? What’s wrong with LadyGaGa? It was the Monster Ball tour! Right, shut up and let’s move swiftly on.
Me: “You don’t seem to be a standard sort of guy.”
I’m trying not to look at his shirt. I’m trying really really hard and I’m failing miserably. Luckily he doesn’t seem to notice, it would seem that he is still attacking me.
Gideon: “I was going to order a bottle for us but that’s ruined-”
Me: “On a Monday night? Who’s the alkie now?”
This is met with an awkward silence I will do anything to diffuse.
Gideon: “I think it’s still you.”
Why didn’t I just walk out there and then? Was it merely that my card was imprisoned behind the bar? Seriously if I knew at that point what I know now I would have necked that glass of prosecco and fled and I don’t care if that makes me a meanie. I want so badly to be that meanie but I didn’t know then what I do know now and I am afflicted with an Englishness (or rather cowardliness) that means I just want everything to return to polite normalcy so this is what I did instead. I mime drawing a line under the conversation, which for the uninitiated looks like a horizontal karate chop.
Me: “Let’s re-ee-wind. When the crowd say…Can we start again?”
Me: “Let’s just start again. Yes?”
I’m so desperate for him to sit down my voice is almost at a pitch only dogs can hear. I mainly want him to sit down so no one notices the frilly shirt. Why didn’t I just leave? Gideon’s looking at me. Surely he can see how badly this is derailing. Come on fella, let’s go for a fresh start. He pauses for a minute before miming a clapperboard with his arms, for the love of Megatron please sit down.
Gideon: “Okay, take two. Sorry, I think it’s a bit of nerves thrown in with a bad day. So do you want a bottle then?”
I hesitate as it dawns on me that in diffusing this situation I am also wedding myself to at least an hour, over an hour for a bottle of wine, with Mills and Boon on crack.
Me: “A whole bottle? Yes, that sounds lovely.”
He then proceeds to choose a forty five pound bottle of Malbec.
Gideon: “Going dutch yeah?”
I get it now, this guy will happily go Georgian when it comes to a woman drinking alone but is all about equal opportunities when it comes to paying the bill. Should have left Scarlett. Since I consider spending over twenty five to be pushing the boat out I believe it was then that I experienced my first heart palpitation of the evening. Not helped by the fact I had just recently changed jobs from a solid career with a monthly paycheck to an utterly uncertain new business venture that was yet to pay out a single penny. I breathe through the palpitation and we enjoy a shared moment of relief, knowing we’re going to successfully pretend the awkward first greeting never happened.
Twenty minutes later I have finished both my bubbly and my measly glass of Malbec (measurements courtesy of Gideon) when it dawns on me that Gideon, as well as having the most beautiful brown eyes I have ever seen, has quite a high pitched voice. Nothing wrong with that I suppose but as he bangs on about tube strikes or something equally banal I start to wonder if he’s taking steroids and this weird thought process drifts into wondering what it would be like to be a woman with male genitals when I snap back into reality to realise that just ten miserable seconds have gone by and I’m still on this really weird date. He also drinks reeeaaallyyyy slowly. At this rate I’ll be here until the four horsemen of the apocalypse show up. Maybe they’ll want to date me. At this point Death seems to be the most attractive. Shit what’s he talking about now? He’s stopped. He’s looking at me with those eyes. Those eyes. Maybe I can just date them? Nope getting weird again Scarlett.
Gideon: “I wore it for you.”
Gideon: “The shirt? Since you’re obviously an Austen geek too.”
He almost looks smug. I don’t want to crush his gesture but I’m not getting into yet another web of lies. The way he’s leaning is making the shirt reveal his cleavage. I look sheepishly into my wine glass and mumble.
Me: “I’m a Google geek actually – I googled Austen.”
Another awkward silence. I want to fill this one with the rest of the bottle but I’m afraid that if I reach for it he’ll shoot me an incredulous look before slapping the back of my hand. My card is still very much behind the bar.
Gideon: So do you even like Austen?
Me: Not really my sort of film.
Gideon: So why did you bring up Mr Darcy in the first place then?
Me: Well I’m trying to personalise my Tinder introductions so more men will talk to me. It’s either that or upload naked pictures of myself and I’m just not prepared to go there. Yet. Plus I thought it was fancy dress. I mean you’d have to be mental to wear that in-
Gideon: I like to think it’s spontaneous.
Are his eyes watering? Nah. Naaaahhhhhh.
Me: I’d probably have to say, it’s a bit more, mad looking? And a bit camp in a strange way. Like a magician!
I smile at my revelation just as he starts rubbing the very real tears out of his eyes. I have just made a grown man, albeit a grown man with a lady voice who wears frilly shirts, cry. I take the opportunity to frantically fill up our glasses (but honestly pouring more in mine) whilst spilling about twenty percent of it on to the table and I don’t even care. Mainly because I’ve been drinking on an empty stomach and am now feeling a bit pissed. I even lick the side of my glass clean but he doesn’t notice. He doesn’t notice because he’s crying.
I should explain that although I have never experienced man-weeping on a date before, some dates can actually turn into a cheap form of therapy. I’ve only known women to take full advantage of this, and I’ll admit I might have been one of those women to work through my parents divorce (two years ago, I was still living at home, it was a very traumatic time) on about ten different guys but genuinely by the tenth date I was alright with it. So if this is anything it’s karmic retribution except poor Gideon has me for a therapist.
Me: So why was it a bad day?
Gideon: I got fired.
Me: Was it because of the shirt?
Gideon: No I changed!
Me: Sorry it’s just my Mums got- Nevermind. So why did they fire you?
Gideon: Do you really want to hear this?
And so began a story of such overwhelming dullness and tragedy (mainly because of the dullness) that I actually had another panic palpitation at the thought that maybe this would never end. To pull myself back from the brink I had to recall what my wise, if not a bit bleak, mother once said, “It will end. Whatever it is, it always does. End.”
And so concludes Part I of The Longest Date Known to Woman…
Will Gideon ever stop talking? Will Scarlett ever escape? Is Scarlett still on the date??
Tune in next week to find out what happens in Part II: The Bus.