I decide that I have nothing to lose by seeing Make-up Madam again, but in the same breath I also have nothing to lose by meeting someone else too. A month ago I had been swapping messages with somebody on the national newspaper’s dating site, but although we had made noises about meeting it didn’t happen. I arrange to meet her this coming Saturday.
First I have some unfinished business with Make-up Madam. She’s gone away on another ‘girly weekend’ and is getting back on Monday morning. We arrange to meet late on Monday afternoon at a pub near where she lives. I drive for an hour into the wilds of the English countryside. It reminds me of the time I met Miss Indecisive in a lonely pub on a stormy night; internet dating was certainly broadening my geographic knowledge.
As usual I get to the venue first and it isn’t long before Make-up Madam arrives in her car with her pug strapped into the seat next to her. Is that curious chappy a safety blanket of sorts for her? We meet in the middle of the car park and politely kiss each other hello. Again my gut reaction is one of disapproval at the sight of all that unnecessary make-up. Does she use a shovel to plaster it on?
It’s a pleasant Autumnal dusk as we sit chatting in the beer-garden of the pub. There’s nobody else in the pub except the staff but that will soon change. I have no idea how this date will turn out or when it might even end up. Sex is not on my agenda; I want to know if this person and I can have a loving relationship.
“So you live nearby?” I ask.
“Yes, only a five minute drive away. I must tell you that I have a lodger,” she replies with an inquisitive look in her eyes.
Why is she choosing to tell me this? Is she trying to tell me that we can’t go back to her place? If so, does she think I’m only interested in sex? Well she’s wrong. Perhaps she’s letting me know that her living arrangements are complicated and planning is required if things go down that route. My brain sprints about and my silence makes her tell me more.
“It’s a guy, but nothing has ever happened between us. The money I make from that spare room pays for my horse,” she says.
I’m still not entirely sure why she’s telling me this, I’ll have to figure it out later. Men and women communicate in such different ways. Women prefer to be subtle and graceful, but unfortunately it often leads to ambiguity and then confusion on the man’s part.
“So what happened on this weekend away?” I ask as a way of changing the subject and fishing for information about what she gets up to with her friends in her free time.
“Well, it was a friend’s birthday so we went to the coast and boogied the nights away,” she says with a hint of defensiveness.
I decide to go on the offensive. Is she the type to sleep around?
“Oh c’mon, I know what happens on these girly weekends. Did you get lucky?” I ask calmly with my best naughty smile.
“No, I didn’t but my best friend did, but if you ever meet her please don’t say anything,” she replies.
“I won’t say anything. So what happened? I’m curious,” I proceed, pushing my luck. Hmm, she’s already picturing me meeting her social circle.
“Well, we had our Disney costumes again which the fellas really like. I think it’s the short skirts. My mate went home with a different fella each night. I went back to my hotel room alone,” she answers, giving me far more information than I was expecting.
A red flag goes up and I now start to feel somewhat uncomfortable about Make-up Madam. Birds of a feather flock and fuck together. If this is what goes on with her best friend then it’s not too far-fetched to think that Make-up Madam has also indulged in this kind of loose behaviour.
I’ve always been wary of promiscuous women. As a younger man my outlook was driven by a concern about sexual health. As a teenager I worked in a scrap-metal yard as a foreman and one day a labourer came to me about a health problem he had. An enormous growth the size of my fist was perched next to his genitals. This was quite shocking to me at the age of sixteen. I had this guy taken off to a clinic immediately. That sight caused me to be sexually conservative, something that I am grateful for. Now as an older man I see promiscuous women in a different light. In my experience their behaviour is driven by an emotion, an issue or a self-perception about themselves. They are using sex – and men – as a way of getting something that they feel they are lacking. They have an emotional issue or two that is not just sabotaging their relationships with men, but it is also hobbling their lives. I want and need to be with someone who is emotionally healthy.
It gets dark and cold so we go inside the pub and share a meal. No topic of conversation seems to be off-limits with Make-up Madam. As we talk I’m charmed by her sweetness and willingness to be honest with me. Those are two things that I value in a woman, largely because each is rare and together in one person is even rarer still.
Despite my misgivings about how she chooses to socialize, from everything else that she has shared with me, I sense that I can trust and respect her. Yes, I can have a relationship with her I conclude, but there are a few red flags that just can’t be ignored. First, that ghastly make-up is always going to bother me. Second, she doesn’t seem to go anywhere without her dog; that’s just not practical in my world. Third, she has a back problem from her riding accident that might never heal, so our sex-life might never be what it might have been. Lastly, she has a lodger; we can forget about baptising every room and lazing about as we please in her place. Memories of that time with Krazy Girl having a lodger come to mind. Yes, all of those things are temporary and can be changed, but I don’t want to go changing anybody, in the same way that I don’t want anybody trying to change me.
On the plus-side, I do enjoy her company. A major bonus is that she loves my dry, twisted sense of humour and doesn’t mind the occasional pun. She has a positive outlook on life and has her shit sorted; she doesn’t need a man in her life, she only wants one to share things with. Those things matter to me.
The evening ends with her starting to fade and even the pug has fallen asleep. A brief bout of sweet kisses ensues before I walk Make-up Madam to her car. She speeds off into the dark and I drive home feeling conflicted.
The next evening we chat on the phone and I invite her to my home for the Friday night. I offer to cook for her, which excites her. Then she asks if she can bring her dog, to which I agree. I realize that there is a very real prospect of things getting physical between us on Friday night; I think that if I wanted to she’d be easy to seduce. The thought of that does not fill me with the feelings that it should.
The next day I rethink things and conclude that she’s not The One. On a purely logical level there is cause for optimism for us having a relationship. The problem is that love is a matter of the heart. My heart does not crave her. I’m learning about myself that I need to feel besotted with a woman, like I did with Baltic Babe and Krazy Girl.
I don’t want to hurt Make-up Madam in any way. She’s a good decent person who does not deserve to be used or misled. The kind of love that her and I would share can only be a sympathetic love, which is never the best kind. I want another love: the best kind.
I want to share my life with someone whom I cannot imagine being without. A woman who I cherish, treasure and will never fail. She has a way about her that I find mesmerising, an effortless femininity that I find alluring and reassuring. She has a heart untouched by the strife of life. She completes my world and I am prepared to die defending her. When I look at her, I must be stirred. When I touch her I must feel something inside me react. When I kiss her my body must rise to the pleasure. When I hold her hand it must feel just right. When we look at each other, words are unnecessary, we just know and can’t help but smile at each other. When we make love, every part of who we are is involved and satisfied. We must feel like we’re made for each other.
From what I have experienced with her, I do not for a moment believe that Make-up Madam fits that description, so I send her my standard goodbye text message.
She responds with:
I have to just say that I am feeling sad today as you are the first guy in a very long time whose company and conversation I have really enjoyed. I fear that you have got me wrong and have me down as a party girl which I’m not at all. I haven’t had the joy of a good relationship in a long time. I miss having a lover who is my best friend and giving each other support. Either way I am pleased that I met you and do wish you every happiness. X
I find her words touching so I respond with soothing thoughts and a suggestion that she join my Happy Humping Ground dating site which, I believe, has a better type of person on there.
I’m looking forward to meeting someone new on Saturday and that in itself tells me that my decision is the correct one.
Tom Odell – Another love
The exchange of emails died abruptly just before Xmas and now, ten months later, she re-appears. I instantly assume that she’s been seeing someone. She catches my suspicions off-guard by telling me that she had been involved in a bad horse-riding accident and has been in rehabilitation which involved three months in traction. This story is too outrageous not to be true, so I decide to give her the benefit of the doubt.
I had come across her profile on Plenty of Fish, being instantly struck by her beauty in her profile picture. The usual opening messages flew about quickly, so I suggested we meet. Until that point the banter had been good. I was a little disappointed by her suddenly disappearing, but it’s not unusual for women to indulge in endless messages then baulk at the first mention of meeting face-to-face.
Now it’s a perfect, sunny Sunday afternoon as I loiter in the car park of a nature reserve on the outskirts of London. I’m cautiously optimistic about this date; it could be heaven or it could be hell. The banter via email and text message has again been quick and positive, which is always a good sign, but it’s that personal magic that makes or breaks matters.
Could she be The One?
I notice her car arriving because it has her prize dog sitting in the front seat next to her. The dog is one of those pugs with wild, googly eyes and a sideways-dangling tongue. An appearance like that can only garner attention from other dogs and humans alike.
It’s quite a sight and I almost burst out laughing but manage to turn it into a smile as our eyes meet. Her facial expression doesn’t change much except for a reciprocating smile.
She parks her car and I walk over to greet her. As she gets out she stands upright and we get a good look at each other. I’m underwhelmed. From a distance she looks like her photos which, given my experiences of late, is something of a relief. The issue is that up close it’s all fake.
She’s got hair extensions, somewhat dyed natural hair, heaps of make-up on her face (her foundation might have foundation), freakishly long false eyelashes and fake nails. There’s even unseasonal bronze suntan lotion slathered on her exposed bits. Almost everything about her appearance is carefully thought-out and presented…and it’s almost all fake. I feel disappointed.
I instantly think of her as ‘Make-up Madam’.
Memories of The Russian Model come to mind. Have I arrived at a point in my dating life that I am now going to start seeing the same types of women? Is there a finite cast of types of women on dating sites? The thought of that fills me with dread. Am I now going to embark on a series of Groundhog Day-like experiences? If so, then I will be better able to make the most of what’s on offer a second time around, if that’s what’s coming. Just like Bill Murray’s character started having fun with his predicament I think that I should too.
We make pleasant small-talk about her dog, which I don’t mind because I love dogs. You always know where you stand with a dog; you can’t with a human.
The obvious thing to do is to walk around the reserve just like the dozens of other people intent on enjoying the last of the sunshine before another dour Winter arrives. We set off on our walk of discovery being lead by a pugnacious little creature on the end of a leash.
Make-up Madam seems a little nervous and apprehensive at first, which isn’t unusual for a first date. She smiles unconvincingly a few times and lets ofl ill-timed laughs. I feel that I’m becoming such an old hand at this that I hardly ever feel any kind of butterflies any more. I’ll just be me and within a couple of hours she’ll be relaxed enough to just be her.
It’s a pretty setting where we are. Leaves are changing character, a stream trickles by and people are smiley. My soul longs for the day when I walk somewhere like this, holding hands with The One. Right now that feels further away than ever before. I just haven’t had that thunderbolt moment that makes me suspect that this is the person for me.
About an hour later Make-up Madam is much more relaxed and natural around me. Her laugh has become genuine and her eyes twinkle at me from behind the facade. She’s even comfortable enough to let her pooch off his leash and let him roam free, defecating on foliage that children will play in later.
We end up having tea and cake at a quaint tea-house in the grounds of the reserve. Conversation is easy to come by and I ask about something that is intriguing me: star signs. I’ve noticed in my dating escapades that there are some star signs that I seem to get along with best, such as Taurus and Libra. It’s also a topic of conversation that most women enjoy.
“So what’s your star sign?” I ask.
“I’m a Libra,” she answers.
“Oh, so your birthday has been or is close by,” I reply.
“It was yesterday.,” she says with a smile.
“Congratulations. I hope that you had a great day,” I respond.
“Thanks. Yes, I was away with my friends for a girly weekend. We went to Brighton on Friday night and came home this morning, which is why I could only meet you after lunch today,” she replies.
Make-up Madam takes her phone out and starts showing me photos from her weekend away. She and her friends made an effort to dress up in Disney character costumes…and then hit the night-clubs.
Remembering her profile details more clearly now I realize that she’s now the same age as me, with me being a month older. I find it a bit odd that a woman in her early forties still goes off for “girly weekends”. That’s behaviour more for a woman in her twenties. Is she a Good-time Girl? I can’t help but wonder.
We stroll back toward our cars but being careful to take the long route back. I’m enjoying her company and she gets my sense of humour. She seems to be warming to me too. There’s a steep hill and her shoes struggle with the grass, so I see the chance for an old favourite.
“Tell me something, do you like chicken?” I ask.
“Yes, why?” she answers, just like so many other women before her.
“Take a wing,” I say extending an arm towards her.
Make-up madam lets off an almighty laugh, as if it is the funniest thing she’s heard in ages. The dog turns and looks at her as if she’s just gone insane. She then couples up with me and I help her up the hill. The physical barrier between us has been broken. As we get to the top of the hill I let go of her.
“Hmm, you’ve got muscles. I like that in a man,” she says with a naughty smile.
That was the first unprovoked comment about me that she’s made all date. So far she has been all politeness and civility. I’m learning that if I make no mention of anything sexual during a date, if a woman is the first to do so, then it’s a sign that she’s thought of doing it with me. Do I want to bed her? Maybe. It could be interesting. Then I remember her bad back.
At the car park we decide to sit down for a coffee at a thronging cafe. She doesn’t seem in a hurry to leave and I’m enjoying spending time with her. As I stand waiting for our drinks, Make-up Madam plus doggy go off to find us a table. My thoughts take flight to assessing her. Is she The One? I don’t think so, there’s no reason to believe so. Do I fancy her enough to want to shag her? I’m not sure; there’s just too much make-up. Is she a good, decent person? I’m inclined to say so. Do I know what to do next? Nope; haven’t a clue. I hate indecision.
We sit talking amidst the noisy crowd and to make each other heard I move to sit next to her. She smiles at my doing so and doesn’t lurch away in horror. As she tells me about her job as a civil servant I get a chance to have a good look at her. Underneath all that gunk is a naturally pretty woman. She doesn’t need all that stuff on her face. I guess she’s a fashion slave and all her friends are too. She strikes me as being the sort of woman who buys a fashion magazine or two every week and knows all the celebrity gossip. She must just be vain.
I don’t know why I did this, but at an opportune moment I leaned in to kiss her. She came forward to meet my lips and as first kisses go it was good. I pull away before she does and her heavy eyelids flutter and she smiles at me.
“Tell me about your back situation,” I ask before she gets to say anything.
“Oh, it’s getting better. I’m still on meds, but the days of endless niggly pains are over,” she replies.
Hmm, so getting rough in bed is out of the question. I’m not actually keen to bed her but it’s good to know what her situation is in case matters head in that direction.
“Do that again,” she says with that naughty smile of hers.
I think quickly and realize that she wants me to kiss her again. It’s not every day that I get a woman asking me to kiss her. I take it as a compliment. I think of it as adult fun, but I also know that you can tell a lot from a kiss. Our lips match, there’s a little magic to it for us…and no teeth or tongue getting in the way like it has with some other dates.
This time I stray a little further and kiss her neck too. I’ve learned that that can really turn a woman on. I stop before matters go too far and resume my composure. Make-up Madam stares at me blankly for a few seconds before speaking.
“I was expecting this to be another pointless date,” she says.
I find her honesty refreshing and astounding at the same time. She’s just told me that she thinks I’m some kind of special, which is always nice to hear. While I smile in surprise and think of what to say next, it seems that when I was getting us coffee earlier Make-up Madam was hatching a plan.
“I’m getting really hungry. I don’t suppose you fancy a bite to eat at a nearby pub?” she asks.
Now she’s inviting me out for dinner? That’s a first. Wow, she’s very keen to keep spending time with me. This is most unexpected and flattering. I’ve got nothing better to do, so what the hell, why not? We end up driving for what seems like an eternity to a pub in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully my satnav will get me home, or does somebody else have ideas about where tonight will end?
Make-up Madam and I spend several pleasant hours sitting chatting in that pub…with her dog on a stool by her side. Several times patrons would come over to make a fuss over the dog, which at first was charming but by the third time it became intrusive. Memories of Sweet Thing come back to me, focussing on how having a pet is much like having a child. It requires consideration, planning and often inconvenience when dating. I’m not sure that I want a repeat of that experience, having to arrange my plans around the needs of a pet.
We talk about anything and everything; we get along very well. I am Passive-Disinterested for most of the date which slowly leads to her pursuing me by way of asking more and more questions about me. I have a weakness for sweetness and Make-up Madam was starting to show a genuine sweetness to her. Saying goodnight involved being wrapped around each other in the car park of the pub at closing time. Our kisses were sweet, tender and endless. We certainly kissed well together. I take that as a sign that we’ll fuck well together too.
Maybe with it being a first date she’s gone overboard with the make-up. Maybe next time she’ll be more natural-looking. Maybe I should give her – and us – more time.
“Are you free next weekend?” I ask.
“No, sorry. I’m going away with my girlfriends,” she says.
Another ‘girly weekend’? So soon? Hmm, maybe she’s a bit of a party animal who hasn’t outgrown it yet. Is that why she’s single? I say nothing and leave it at that, not entirely sure what to make of her answer. By the time I get home she’s sent me a text message.
Make-up Madam: Thank you again for such a lovely afternoon. Would really like to see you again :0) xx
I give it some thought, decide to proceed with cautious optimism and reply as follows:
Grey Knight: I want to spend more time with you too. We could have talked all night – that is rare. I’m not going to wait 2 weeks – are you free any night this week?
After swapping many messages it turned out we could only see each other again the following Monday. I decided to leave matters there, thinking I’d make contact later in the week; I didn’t want to seem too keen. She had other ideas though. I woke up the next morning to a text message from her.
Make-up Madam: Morning. Hope you slept well? Have a great day xx
I responded and she then launches into a series of messages about her dog having a seizure in the morning and how she’s now having to go off to the vet. All of this at 8am? It feels like I’m being instantly jammed into a relationship in which I have to give emotional support and input on every trivial little matter. It all feels so clingy and desperate; very off-putting. Later in the day she texts me a lengthy report on what happened at the vets.
What am I going to do?
Carly Simon – You’re So Vain