Dating Horror Story #1

Well, I guess I should begin with why I’m doing this.

In part, therapy. I’ve been on a lot of bad dates in my time (thank you, tinder and the crushing loneliness a young person living single in a big city feels) and I feel it’s time to give you all a laugh, make you all realise that you are not alone if you want to run out after one sip of lukewarm beer they insisted you get because their flatmate ‘owes them rent’. If their body odour makes you hurl a bit when they pull you in for that oh-so-awkward first hug when you meet them outside Camden Town tube station at 8:15pm (even though you agreed on 8, and they come out cursing the trains which you got and were perfectly fine 15 minutes ago). And yes, even if you find yourself thinking to yourself ‘they look nothing like the picture’ even though you’ve never been one to question looks and go for a sense of humour over cheekbones like Tilda Swinton or Benedict Cumberbatch, but they’re just straight up lying.

Don’t worry ladies, gentlemen and everything and anything else. You’re not alone. And maybe, possibly, somehow, it’ll all be worth it.

So, my first dating horror story is probably a prime example of, when single (and generally in life) you should go for sisters before misters. Bros before hoes.

Flashback to the start of my second year of uni and I had ombre pink hair. It was my pride and glory. A dream of mine ever since I learnt you could make your hair pink (which was about 5? I think). My piercings had been gradually reduced to a cheeky nose stud and a few in my ears but I had just as many tattoos as before (I used to work as a tattooist and piercer and the perks of the job were constant needles poking me- don’t get me wrong, I loved it at the time but alas I had grown up a bit).

And I was lonely. Quite lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I had such a great group of friends, consisting mainly of what we dubbed ourselves ‘The Three Muscabeers’ because that’s what 95% of our time was spent doing; guzzling cans of special brew or whatever cheap beer our favourite Nisa Local had on offer (they knew us so well they’d only try to chat us up once or twice and always served us after licensing hours). Nata, who I still live with to this day, and Luke, a fellow Arctic Monkeys stan. We were quite the group.

They invited me out one Friday night when I had next to no money (as usual, as student life goes) but I had already had an invite from a tall, possibly handsome brunette off of Tinder. Let’s call him G. G and I had been speaking for about a week, and I’m not, to this day entirely sure what about. He had a job in something corporate (boring, it translated to then for me, but well paid, I considered- turns out I was right about one of those things and not the one I wanted to be right about) and I was studying costume design at university; opposites attract they say, I say we were both lonely and trying to make things work for fear of being alone.

We also had nothing in common. And I mean nothing. Nothing, at all.

And, I should just say, the reason why I say he was ‘possibly’ handsome is because I hadn’t actually seen a picture of him, properly. His tinder profile consisted of a series of group pictures, from the classic ‘drunk at a club’ to the ‘work-sponsored team bonding session of kayaking or some sorts’ which meant I spent one evening playing a sort of ‘millennial where’s wally’ trying to find the same blurry man who popped up in all of these pictures. Eventually I deduced he was tall, brunette, with a beard. And that’s it. Couldn’t even make out his eye colour properly. That should’ve been a warning sign. But I didn’t take it as one, because he was giving me the time of day.

So, being the lonely 19 year old I was, I agreed to meet him. Now, this wasn’t the first tinder date I’d been on, but I had yet to be on a successful one. I wasn’t doing it just for sex or whatever, I was one of the losers who believed maybe there was someone out there on tinder who thought the same as me. Who thought maybe we could start something. All I wanted was a relationship, but growing up in the Middle East, I was vastly inexperienced in that department and had no idea how or where to look. So, naturally, I went to tinder.

We agreed to meet at Camden Town; the go-to for tinder dates this side of the river. It was a chilly weekday evening and I wore my best dress and Dr Martens boot combo. We agreed to meet on top of the bridge. I had basically no idea who I was looking for.

I was a bit early, maybe only five minutes or so, but was pacing about eagerly because my nerves were getting to me. Will this be the one? I dared to ask myself, about G, aged 24, from Bromley.*

*All of these facts are false, but similar, as to give y'all an image

So, after a few minutes of pacing back and forth, wondering whether I could cheekily smoke a cigarette in the time I was waiting for G (I tend to never show that I smoke on the first date lol, trap em first), I checked my phone and he was running a few minutes late. It’s fine! I told myself, it happens!

Then, fifteen minutes only later, a tall Dick from Dick and Dom in da bungalow appeared, doing what can only be described as looming over me. He was 6ft 6 maybe? And, I hate to say it, looked nothing like the pictures.

Even though I have never been one to care about looks, generally, I thought what he did was straight up misleading. But still, we had managed to whatsapp for about a week with only mediocre awkwardness, so, should I give it a go? You never know, he could be the kindest, most hard working and funny human being I’ll ever meet! Stay optimistic, Ciz!

(I feel like I won’t be spoiling anything considering this is called Dating Horror Stories by telling you this is not what happened).

So, we did the walk to whatever pub I knew of form student pub crawls in sufficient awkwardness, both of us not really sure what to say.

We got to said pub, and got to the bar. I asked him what he was having and before I could even finish the sentence he came out with ‘do you mind getting in the first round?’ and made up some vague excuse about rent or something.

It’s not that I mind going dutch on a date, I actually prefer it personally, however it was the way he went about it. Asking if I could pay instead of waiting for me to offer like I was planning.

By the time we ordered and I paid for our pints, the conversation was already suitably dry.

We went outside to the beer garden and took a seat. I asked him if he smoked (‘yes, but I don’t have any on me, would you mind if you rolled me one?’).

We sat in silence, smoking my badly rolled cigarettes for a couple of minutes. I thought I should break the awkwardness with some small talk. It went a little like this.

‘So, been to any gigs recently?’

‘No, don’t really go to gigs.’

‘What kind of music do you listen to then?’

‘I don’t really listen to music.’

‘What about films? What’s your favourite film?’

‘I don’t really watch films that much.’

‘What about TV shows then? The Walking Dead has just come out with a new season..’

‘Oh no I don’t watch TV and I hate that TV show. Not my thing.’

It was like talking to a brick wall with less personality. I was trying not to laugh, wondering if it was just the nerves or if he was hired by my friends to embarrass me.

Then I said something which I absolutely do not regret to this day, and showed me who he really was.

‘Well, what about all this about Trump then? I can’t believe he’s actually running for president!’*

*Authors note; what a poor, naïve, young Ciara

And he turned around in shock.

‘What do you mean?’

And I knew I’d touched a nerve. But I was running with it. Finally getting something out of the conversation. A healthy bit of political debate. Let’s do this.

‘Well, it’s his attitude to women and the fact he’s a sex offender…’

And he cut me straight off.

‘It was never actually proven in court.’

‘Well, what about all those gun laws then! Have you seen the amount of shootings there!’

‘Yes but you need them for protection.’

‘So you believe that everyone should have access to guns?’

‘Given the right mental state.’

‘What about his views on a women’s right to choice?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘To do what she wants with her body. In particular abortion.’

And I saw him recoil in horror at the mere word. And I knew I had to get out.

‘Women shouldn’t be allowed to get abortions.’

At this point, I didn’t even see the point in trying to educate him.

‘What about if she’s raped?’

And he started to stutter out a point.

‘Well, uh, maybe, but you know…’

At this point, I ran to the bathroom.

Standing in the grimy bathroom stall, I phoned my flatmate at the time and said the date was a disaster, and that in exactly three minutes she should call me and say she has to go to hospital. So unbelievable, I know, but I was too timid to tell him exactly what I thought and walk out.

And then I flushed the toilet to mimic going, and went back out and put my phone on loud in my coat pocket.

And three minutes later, she rang and did her best sick-person impersonation, saying it was a matter of life and death and proper hammed it up. I, on the other end, was trying to keep my nervous laughter in.

‘Okay, okay, I’ll be there right away!’

I turned to him, so sincerely, to ask if he heard through the phone. He seemed upset and said yes, but he’d had a pleasure talking to me. I meekly agreed and said it was a shame. He went for a hug and I completely dodged it, packing my things up in record timing.

I had had three sips maybe of my pint and we’d been there for approximately 22 minutes (not that I was keeping count).

And then he said something which made me almost gasp in horror.

‘I’ll just stay here and finish our pints then?’

I mumbled a ‘yeah sure’ and I turned around and basically ran away, laughing as I got out the pub. I could not believe what had actually just happened.

Was I too rash to make a judgement on someone like that?

Was I too mean to do something like that to someone?

I guess, no. The date had been flawed since the minute I matched with him and couldn’t work out which one in the pictures he was. It was the dead-set way he was in his political views and the way he didn’t even want to discuss them, that they were fact to him, that made me get out of there at lightning pace.

And so, as I sat on the 31 bus home, I group-phoned the three Muscabeers to explain what had happened and we agreed to have the sesh instead and it turned out to be another pissed-up student night that I look back on and smile about. We even toasted to G and hoped one day someone will be able to sway his steadfast Republican ways.

He sent me a text at 11pm saying he was sorry about my flatmate but wished we could see each other again. I then had to spell it out for him that I wasn’t interested in someone like that.

And that was that.

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© 2019 Ciara Loane

Created by Ciara Loane.

London-based writer and stylist.

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