Another evening, another chap. Same venue – my pub. With all the new blocks of flats going up in the area, we really need more than one pub. The one in my road closed about a year after I moved in and now is about to be turned into flats, like everything else.
Anyway – this chap is 47, an older adult. He resembles Rupert Everett, and may well even know who that is. He’s a gymnast and gymnastics teacher.
“Nice to meet you,” I say. “How are you?”
“Oh, well, I have been training very hard – ten hours a day or so,” he says, and his voice is just great, all drawly and upper class and beautiful enunciation.
“That’s a lot of training,” I say, appraising him. He’s great looking: high cheekbones and big eyes and just a beautifully sculpted face.
“I do love what I do though,” he says, sweeping a hand through his luxuriant mop of dark hair. “I used to own bars and restaurants but I became tired of that and…”
“Would you like a drink?” I say.
“To be perfectly honest, Tanya,” he says. “I’m going to go now. I wanted to meet you but I don’t think we’re going to connect. I’m tired and I can’t be bothered to go through the motions when I’m just not interested. Sorry. Goodbye. ”
And with that he walks off towards his car.
Dumbfounded, I glance at my watch. The date lasted approximately seven minutes. He knows I’ve had a twenty five minute walk here, and I have a twenty five minute walk back. He hasn’t offered me a lift home. Maybe he thinks I’d burst into tears in the car.
Picking up my orange cardigan, I begin the walk home.
In all my years of dating, that’s the first time that’s ever happened. No-one else has ever refused to have even one drink. And of course they don’t usually say that they’re not interested. One isn’t meant to say personal things like that on a first date. What a twat, I think, and forget about him.
Yesterday, on the bus home from work – reader, I made it to the office – we crawl down a busy street. Glancing out of the window, I start with surprise. A chap in red trousers is walking just in front of the bus. He’s with a friend and they’re wearing gold and silver silk waistcoats over white shirts with their red trousers. The waistcoats resemble the ones in Another Country and those, I think, are modelled on the uniform of the Eton society Pop. They must be on the way to a posh drinking society or something.
Even from the back I’m fairly certain it’s the Priest. The traffic clears, we overtake him, and, yes, it is indeed him. As we pass him, I see that his nose hasn’t changed a bit. He hasn’t had a nose job. It was a lie.
“Just saw you in West Hampstead, your nose hasn’t changed,” I write, but as I’m about to press Send, I shake my head, delete it. There’s no point. He just made up something stupid: he knows he hasn’t had a nose job.
This little incident draws attention to a larger issue I think. Countless chaps have pretended at the end of the first date that they want to meet up again: the Priest went as far as booking a date with me the Wednesday after our first encounter. So, even at my elderly age, after twenty years of all this, I sit by my phone, awaiting the concrete arrangement that never comes.
There are probably behavioural signals that I miss. Usually, I think I can tell whether someone has enough of an interest in me to want to see me again. And yet time after time they say that they want to meet again, and then don’t call. Maybe in some ways the behaviour of the GymnastTwat – saying “I’m not interested”, not raising my hopes – is kinder.