We’re a 99% match on OKCupid and I like her profile and, yes, all her answers check out with me. The only negative is that she isn’t as pretty as I would like. She’s blonde, her photos show an average build for a 36 year-old, she’s not ugly, but her looks don’t take my breath away. You can’t have it all, I tell myself and the prospect of meeting a 99% match on OKCupid just can’t be ignored, right?
Relatively good banter via email kicks off and we quickly agree to meet up. I’m looking forward to meeting her because this surely is as good as it gets on OKCupid?
Could she be The One?
I’m standing outside Tower Hill Tube station at dusk. It’s a balmy early-July Friday evening and there’s a happy vibe in the air. The smell of frying onions from a nearby hot-dog stand is making me hungry. I’m getting excited about meeting her because everything with her has gone so well, so easily, so far. It all feels good.
Is this my last first date? I hope so because this is getting tedious now; 26 first dates in a year is a bit much. Not at any point in my life did I think that I would go on so many dates. I’m starting to feel like a veteran at this because I don’t feel any kind of negative nervousness like I used in my first outings. Is that a good thing? I think I must be part-swan or part-penguin because all I want is a great mate for life.
Other singletons waiting to meet their date are standing around too. Some of the guys look nervous, some look scruffy, some look like newly-released felons, but all have spent a lot of time on their hair; must be a British guy thing. The ladies all look well-dressed, even if they’re just in jeans and a jacket, because I can see that they have given their appearance a lot of thought. Some are smoking a last cigarette with a breath mint ready in the other hand.
I get that familiar feeling that someone is looking at me, so I look to my left and a big, fat girl is smiling at me.
Oh jeez, not again!
Yep, it’s my date. Oh, for fuck’s sake! Not another woman who doesn’t look like her photos!
She waddles over to me as all the energy drains from my body, collects in an invisible puddle at my feet and evaporates as I go cold and numb inside. Hopefully my sense of disappointment doesn’t show on my face…but what the fuck?! How old are her photos?! What is she playing at?! This is not a good start! This is not the way to start a relationship.
In her photographs she is about a size 12; nothing wrong with that. The person she is now is at least a size 18; I’m probably being kind to her and cruel to size 18 women. This deliberate deception on her part sets a very negative tone. It’s like a nuclear bomb going off at the start of a date, except that it isn’t invisible radioactive fallout that covers all around us, but custard-like lard that has splattered over everything, including the singletons standing too close, their finely quaffed hair now a hideous mess. Everybody is standing like statues, creamy splotches of lard on their clothing, on their faces and dripping off their cigarettes. Their eyes are big, nobody speaks but their faces say, “What the fuck just happened?!”
There is something in London called the Gentleman’s Tube Dilemma. On the London underground train system, known as ‘the Tube’, it is the done thing for a man to give up his seat for a pregnant woman. The dilemma stems from some women being so fat that they look pregnant. If a man offers a fat woman his seat, it is not unheard of for the heffalump to start crying. I am now confronted with the dating equivalent of this; do I stay or do I go and make a fat girl cry?
I opt to stay. The eternal optimist in me thinks that maybe I can help her shift the weight if everything else is worth the effort. She’s a 99% match after all. Let’s sexercise! My disappointment is that she doesn’t look like her photos, not her size.
I kiss her hello on a very round cheek and she beams at me…and makes the expression that women make when they fancy a man. Oh dear God; this is going to be a long night.
Standing at the top of the stairs, out of habit more than anything else, I ask her, “Do you like chicken?”
“Better take a wing then,” I say with a fake smile.
She laughs out loud and happily hooks up with my extended arm. If she loses her balance she’s going to take me with her down these stairs. At least I’ll have a soft landing.
I get conversation flowing by asking her the usual question of, “So what do you do for work?”
“I’m in nursing, what used to be a matron,” she replies cheerily.
Guess what? I think of her as The Matron.
I would have thought that a matron would be walking around all day and thus slim and trim. This one must be chained to her desk and intravenously fed chocolate.
Once at the Dickens Inn, my usual waiter of the last few weeks attends to us and he gives me a knowing look, but tonight I’m embarrassed so I look away. Does he think I’m a male escort for the chronically lonely and now undateable? Or does he think I’m a gigolo and a public health hazard?
Without speaking he and I start heading for my favourite table outside, but The Matron grabs my arm and says, “Can we sit inside. I feel the cold very easily.”
You’re so fat and yet you feel the cold? Really? So we end up sitting inside when the balcony on such a perfectly warm July evening would have been more enjoyable, romantic even. What is she like to sleep next to in Winter? What the hell am I thinking?! My bed could never take her weight.
I can just imagine trying to shag her doggy-style, then giving her backside a playful smack, watching the ripple on her skin move away from me…then come speeding back with a greater, angry force and knocking me off of her. Not nice.
The Matron starts telling me her life-story in minute detail which, to be quite honest, I couldn’t care less about. I feel deflated and deceived. I know there is no long-term future here, I don’t need to remember it, so her detail is just noise. She prattles on and a sense of failure takes hold of me. How can I get some good out of this evening? I’ve come all this way and I’ll foot all the expense, so it’s in my interest to get something out of this.
Over The Matron’s shoulder I spot a very attractive, petite brunette. She’s sitting by herself at a table on the balcony overlooking the marina. She’s no more than 25 years old, in a white dress with matching gold necklace, watch and earrings and it seems she’s waiting for her date. Elegance and style personified. Sitting back in her seat in a very relaxed fashion, the cute little brunette is constantly fidgeting with her clothing, accessories and hair, making unnecessary adjustments here and there. Periodically she looks at her watch and frowns.
I return my gaze to The Matron and ask an open-ended question which sends her off on a monologue. She does like the sound of her own voice. She hasn’t asked me a single question so far, which actually suits me fine, I’m not feeling talkative at all. I spot movement over her shoulder.
The brunette’s date arrives. He’s skinny, on the short side and definitely under thirty given his low hairline. He’s wearing black chinos and a white short-sleeved shirt hanging over his belt. He’s not a bad looking guy, but no chiselled Greek god either and has short black hair. He kisses her hello on a cheek and then sits down, leaning back in his seat. Instantly her body language becomes tense, her shoulders are hunched and she leans forward towards him, resting her elbows on the table. I can’t hear what they’re saying but he’s speaking and she’s paying rapt attention, smiling.
I’m struck by the sudden and clear change in her body language. She’s obviously very interested in him and is totally focussed on him. His body language is the opposite of hers. He’s relaxed, looking around the restaurant and marina, one arm slung over the back of his chair, a leg crossed over one knee, feet pointing away from her, making only occasional eye-contact with her. She can’t take her eyes off of him. Visually this guy is nothing special, but obviously he has elicited a feeling in her that makes her act the way that she is. This must be their first or second date; nothing tells me that they know each other very well.
I focus on my own date and she’s still nattering on about something. I don’t feel guilty about my behaviour toward her. I feel that she has jerked me around, so I’ll do the same to her because obviously to her it’s acceptable behaviour. I ask another open-ended question and away she goes. I resume looking over her shoulder at my new-found social experiment.
There is no way of knowing what the guy is saying, but the pretty brunette is now playing with her earrings and hair. Yep, she’s totally into him and it’s not because of his looks. He’s still leaning back in his seat and she looks like she’s ready to jump into his lap and ride him. It doesn’t seem like he can lick his eyebrows, but this guy’s demeanour and words are turning her on. It dawns on me that I must have come across the same way with the Russian Model last week. My accidental passive disinterest way of being and speaking resulted in her wanting to take me home. That guy’s doing a version of what I was doing. I must do this more often if I fancy my date.
The guy says something and then gets up. The brunette quickly gathers her stuff and jumps up, following him. They’re not even staying for anything to eat or drink? I’m struck by how this guy’s effortless confidence and intransigent attitude results in this little cutie becoming his lapdog, his toy for the evening. He arrives late and didn’t even buy her a drink. He just got up without waiting to see if she agreed with what he said, he just did it…and she went along with it. A smooth operator, very impressive.
I’m now convinced that most women want a man to initiate and take the lead, but to do it in a nice way, not be a bullying, selfish arsehole about it.
I re-focus on The Matron who just finishes saying something. It hits me like cold water in Winter that our body language is almost that of the couple behind her. I’m leaning back in my seat, my feet facing away from her and I’ve not been looking at her. She’s totally focussed on me, leaning in towards me, her feet pointed at me and it seems she can’t get close enough to me. Oh shit, I’ve inadvertently gone passive disinterested on her and she totally wants me now.
We each have a pizza and share a bottle of wine while she keeps talking. The strong silent type is how I must have seemed to The Matron, but I truly am totally disinterested in her. Nothing I have heard her say elicits any kind of attraction in me that overcomes the profound effect of her obvious deception. Yes, from what she has said I can see that she is a Good Girl and a Giver, but there’s no hope for an ‘us’. Trust takes a long time to build and she destroyed it before a word was said.
She had to work in the morning so we call it a night. I pay our bill for which she thanks me. I appreciate her manners that Country Girl so sorely lacked. I escort The Matron to her preferred Tube station and give her a peck on the cheek.
I go home feeling deflated and cheated. Am I doing something wrong?
LESSONS LEARNED: 1) Even a 99% match on OKCupid isn’t all it promises; that missing 1% seems vital 2) A relaxed almost disinterested posture can cause a woman to sit up and pay attention; passive disinterest works 3) Looks mattering more to men than women is true. 4) Initiate and lead and the woman is yours.
Sade – Smooth Operator