“You seem very bubbly and excited,” CatBoy says. He has two cats (good), is 31 (respectable) and is tanned, blond (nice) and 6 ft 7 (brilliant).
“I’m excited to meet you,” I say, smiling at him. “You’re so lovely and tall. I’m a bit of a gigantophile – like Lord Rothschild – I like very large animals and very tall chaps and…”
“Have you ever been sectioned?” he says, out of nowhere.
Looking around the garden of the pub, I try to ascertain whether anyone has just heard that, whilst I gather my thoughts.
“No, I haven’t,” I reply, “Although if I had, I’d still say no. That’s just not an appropriate first date question and…”
“Well, you seem very excitable,” he says, looking at me, assessing me. “I’m just wondering if you have any mental health issues or…”
“No, I just get excited about things and…”
“Why have you got Ice Age animal stickers on your phone?” he says, as I turn my phone off to put it away.
“I have a perfectly mentally normal interest in smilodons and woolly rhinos and mammoths – particularly smilodons and…why shouldn’t I be interested in Ice Age animals?”
“Is there anything I need to know about you, before we get involved with each other?” he says, still gazing at me with that this-is-a-psychiatric-assessment look.
A severe mental disorder, untreatable breast cancer, I’m not and never will be over Seb – I don’t know, not much, I think.
“Is there anything I need to know about you?” I fire back. “Is there a wife you haven’t mentioned, perhaps?”
“No wife,” he says, sipping his Rioja. “You got a husband?”
“No,” I say. “No husband,” relieved to be able to give an honest answer to something.
Later, I call MadFatRunner.
“Hi Tanya, how was CatBoy?” She says.
“Um, well, he asked me if I’ve ever been sectioned,” I say.
“What a strange question,” she says.
“Its not a first date question, is it?” I say.
“Absolutely not. You’re not meant to ask anything personal – just meant to talk about the weather and…it’s quite offensive isn’t it. What did you say?”
“Well, I said no, but that if I had been sectioned I wouldn’t tell him as it’s not a first date question. I was shocked, actually. My mood isn’t that high and…”
“Maybe he’s got form,” she says. “You know – maybe he’s had a couple of mentally ill girlfriends before or…”
“Or maybe his mother, or his sister has a mental disorder – or anyone – a friend, a…”
“I’m trying to work out whether your answer was an admission that you’ve been in a mental hospital voluntarily,” she says. “Or whether it just sounds like that, because I know.”
So, I don’t imagine I’ll be hearing from CatBoy again, I think, as I cuddle my furry smilodon.