The blonde Eastern European was Polish, she told me so in the emails we exchanged before agreeing to meet up on Sunday. I’ve never dated a Polish girl before, so I was curious about what that would be like. My experiences with Baltic Babe, Fitness Freak and the Hirsute Russian have shown me that Eastern European women are different compared to their English counterparts. It’s a difference I find alluring.
On the Thursday, while I was slaving away at that awful thing called my job, I get a text message from the Pole. (As part of agreeing to meet for a date, I always provide my phone number so that on the day I can be contacted. I think it also solidifies the fact that things are becoming more real, which is exciting.) I was pleased that she felt confident enough to text me first, it shows a bit of strength of character and a confidence that I like.
She was inviting me to join her that evening at the theatre. I like spontaneity so I say yes. She replies that she will see if she can get an extra ticket for me. I decide to call her and talk, now that I have her number, instead of having text messages flying backwards and forwards. She seemed surprised to speak to me, but we chat amiably. I was concerned that she might be hiding her poor English language skills behind a device, but my fear is misplaced because her English is excellent. She’s polite with a hint of feistiness. Sadly tickets weren’t available and we had to drop the idea, but I appreciated the initiative shown. She seemed different to anyone else I’ve encountered at this stage of dating.
Could she be The One?
It’s a beautiful Sunday at noon and I’m standing at my usual spot outside Tower Hill Tube station. I’m early because I don’t like keeping a lady waiting; it’s not a great start to the date for her. I’m wearing smart blue jeans, white shirt, brownish jacket and brown ankle boots. I look good and feel good. I’m looking forward to this date, something tells me it’s going to be memorable.
I spot the Pole in an approaching crowd and the initial impression is disappointing. She’s wearing old, faded jeans, a scruffy red sweater with a hole in it and white trainers. You only get one chance at making a good first impression and she got it wrong. We were badly mismatched in terms of style.
Nevertheless she has a pretty face, lovely blue eyes, natural blonde hair and a hint of boobage. Fashion isn’t a high priority to me, so I let her faux pas slide and decide to focus on the person inside the shabby clothes. Her profile says that she is 36 years old and five foot five inches tall, which she certainly is. She also describes herself on her profile as ‘easy-going, relaxed and fun’.
I kiss her hello on a cheek to which she smiles politely. I’m so taken aback at her poor dress sense that I don’t notice if she made the look that a woman makes when she fancies a man. I tell her that I’m taking her somewhere special for lunch. As we approach the stairs that go down to the walkway that leads to St Katharine Docks, I slip into my usual routine to test her sense of humour and do another ‘does she fancy me’ test.
“Tell me, do you like chicken?” I asked.
“Then take a wing,” I say and offer her my arm.
“Er, no thanks. I can manage,” she replies, to my amazement.
She was the first woman to decline my gesture and she also didn’t laugh. It appears that she doesn’t like the look of me. The sense of humour might be lost in translation. This could be a long afternoon. I’ll give her time to warm up.
As we approach the road that leads onto Tower Bridge, she says to me, “Hey, why don’t we go this way?”
“Uhm, no the path to where I’m taking you for lunch is this way,” I say with a smile. She doesn’t know where we’re going so is she feeling unsafe? I’ll give it time, she’ll see that she’s safe with me.
We approach the Dickens Inn and I tell her that the middle floor, on the balcony, is where we’ll be having lunch. To which she responds, “Why don’t we go to the top floor. The view will be better.”
“Er, we can’t because you need a reservation and there’s a dress code,” is all I say. I wonder if she understands that the clothes she’s wearing is not acceptable in high-end eateries, but I don’t want to make her feel bad, so I say nothing more.
The menu at the Dickens Inn is generous and varied. It even has vegetarian dishes. The main cuisines are Italian, with pizza being their speciality and Mexican. Who doesn’t like either of those? This Pole didn’t. Eventually she relents and orders a pizza, while voicing displeasure at the fact that they didn’t have any Polish beers in the pub on the ground floor.
I was starting to think of her as the Picky Pole.
And that pretty much was how the afternoon unfolded. She was constantly picky about everything. Every wine on the wine list had to be discussed. The waiter had to go find out what kind of cheese was going to be used on her pizza. We had to move to another table as she found the first one too wobbly for her liking, despite my doing a good improvisation with a napkin to steady it.
I notice something else too. No topic of conversation lasts too long before she abruptly changes it to something totally unrelated. Maybe I was one of her first dates after a bad break-up and she was nervous? No, nervous is not a word I would use to describe her. A better term would be ‘hard work’. She was constantly flitting from one thing to another, never allowing anything to reach its natural ending, always hurrying off to something new and different. Nothing was allowed to mature, to be enjoyed to its full. She seemed driven by an almost insane need to constantly be starting something new.
Was this how she conducted her life? Is this how she came to be in London? How long before she flitted off somewhere else? Is this why she’s single?
After lunch I suggest that we go for a walk along the Southbank. It’s a perfect sunny day in early June, the Thames is majestic, there’s a happy vibe in the air from all the awestruck tourists around us…and I do like the look of her. On a score out of ten I’ll give her one (wink). I’ll give it time for her to calm down and be more comfortable with me.
As we approach the Tate Modern art gallery, she says, “Hey, let’s go in there” to which I agree. Modern art isn’t my thing but I’m keen to see her in a tranquil environment. Let’s see if any of it rubs off on her and her behaviour moderates.
Nope. She seems to want to move from exhibition room to room as quickly as possible. Is there some kind of race going on that I wasn’t aware of? I keep up with her and then there comes a point when she wants to move onto the next room. I decide to entertain myself at her expense and stay put to see what she will do. I feign interest in something that someone had thrown out with the garbage and now someone else is trying pass off as art. Out of the corner of my eye I can see her getting frustrated at waiting for me. Eventually she moves off without me.
I don’t know what her problem is, but I want nothing to do with it. She lied on her profile; she’s not easy-going, not relaxed, nor fun. She’s not for me. I’m wasting my time here; I may as well call this a dead loss and go home. I’m not enjoying this.
I tell her that I have to go and she says that she has to too. I escort her to a nearby bus-stop and wait with her until her bus arrives. Just before she boards it, I say to her “If you’d like to see me again, send me a message.” She says nothing, just smiles and boards the bus. I feel no compulsion to kiss her goodbye.
I’m utterly disappointed in how this date turned out. She’s high-maintenance, picky and slightly pushy. Not feminine or elegant at all. I have no desire to ever see her again.
Then that malicious imp Cupid toys with me.
My train home is crowded and I end up standing near a door. In typical London-commuter fashion I pretend to stare out the window into the gloom outside, but I’m actually looking at a scene reflected in the window. Opposite me is a man in a wheelchair. He’s wearing a white rugby jersey and blue jeans. His hair is greying, wrinkles abound, but he still has a youthful energy about his face. I would say he is in his mid-fifties. His legs from the waist down look lifeless and thin. He seems uncertain about how stable his position is as the train rocks when it hits high speed, but he keeps smiling.
He’s looking up and smiling at the women next to him. She seems the same age, perhaps slightly younger. She’s carrying a plastic shopping bag crammed with what looks like books, magazines and cold-drinks. They’re engaged in a light-hearted conversation, both occasionally laugh. I can’t hear what they’re saying, but I notice their wedding rings which look similar. She straightens an errant hair on his head, runs the side of her finger along his jaw and smiles at him; a loving smile.
She takes a magazine out of the bag and sits on his lap, as if she has done it thousands of times before, as if it is the most natural thing in the world to do. He puts a protective arm around her hip. She starts flipping through the magazine and he shows interest. Now and again she stops at a page, points something out and they discuss it. Their eyes twinkle at each other, like lovestruck teenagers. They’re in their own world, a world for two and are oblivious of the voyeur, the silent intruder that is me.
How long had they been together? Did they know each other before he lost the use of his legs? Or did Fate decree that this had to happen before they met? Was this the price he had to pay in exchange for who and what is probably the best thing to ever happen to him?
I felt pleased for him for having someone like her in his life. Another feeling wells up inside me though, a feeling that I’m not comfortable or too familiar with because it’s not in my nature, but I felt a bit jealous of him. Yes, I was jealous of a cripple. Jealous because he had the one thing that I want more than anything else, he has the love of a good woman. A woman who is obviously kind of heart and pure in spirit. A woman who sees him for who he is and not what he lacks.
Would I give my legs in exchange for having a woman like that in my life?
Will Young – Jealousy