My first internet date …. when I was still wide eyed and filled with hope ….

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So the guy’s name was and probably is still Leonard.  I am going to skip pseudonyms here.

I was happily sitting  chatting on dating sites. I thought I could keep this cyber chatting going for almost forever.  I know me.  My social phobia and my fear of meeting new people, will keep me glued to a keyboard and a screen, happily hiding there.

After a few drinks (when all good decisions are made) – I drink alone. It’s  not quite the 12 step programme, but it is less than 12 steps from my computer to my bed, so it is sort of the same thing.

I decided GO ON A DATE!  And then I had this internal monologue.  I often do it out loud so I am not sure how internal it is, and I convince myself that I need to “grow a pair” and just go out with people.

These people.  Just go.  Pick 10. Even if randomly, and go on 10 dates.

If after 10 dates it is still as much as a cluster fk as I anticipate it will be, then I will say fuck it all, eat chocolate until I am as wide as I am tall, and stop brushing my teeth.  And get cats.

That people is my plan.

I ask Leonard out.  Remember this is my first step out into this rather strange space.  I have not been able to set up my “rules” my “codes” that I stick to when meeting strange people in strange locations.

We book a time, Saturday 16h00 – my thoughts are I can be out of there whilst the sun is still up.

I make the mistake of letting him select the place.  Never made that mistake again.

He selected The Fat Cactus in Mowbray.  Should have been my first clue.  I was giddy with the excitement of it all, and forgave a lot of details that right now would not pass the muster.

I got myself ready for this date, like I was going to meet Leonard and we were going to run away and live together on his private estate, forever and ever and ever.

Yep, that is the way I was pitching this in my head.

I had not been on a date in more than 20 years.  Unless you count the time the plumber came over.  And I do.

I was channeling Cinderella and Snow White. It was all going to be magical.  Little woodland animals would come along and clean my house after I danced around with them in a clearing in the woods to music by Mr Bolton himself.

I arrive at the venue.  Early.

I want to make sure I have all exits mapped out.  I want to check out the toilet, see if I can fit through the toilet window if push comes to shove.  Shove being the operative word.

I am sitting at the “restaurant” and I got a sense of being 22 and drinking too much tecquila – it’s that kind of place, where you are singing “Come on Eileen” at about 11pm with people you don’t know, but whose sweaty armpits you are sort of leaning in to.  The decor leaned towards a grungy homeless shelter than say a place one magically meets their prince.

Again, I am trying not to be too judgey.  Be cool.

The table top was particularly sticky. Once I found a position where my arms were comfortable they just sort of stuck there.  Adhered there.  I kept it looking casual.  {I am not 100% sure what the sticky was, but I decided not to look at it too closely …..}

I am thinking about all the preening and stupid things girls do when getting ready for a date, and then this guy walks in.

He is the exact opposite of what a girl does to get ready for a date.

I cannot confirm, or deny, but he looked like he had been in that set of clothes since this morning,.  And at some point had had a relaxing deep afternoon sleep in those clothes on his gomma gomma couch.

Was woken up with a fright, no time for grooming, donned a white hat —- a fedora I think — I can’t make this shit up people, and appeared there before me.  Visions of stallions and being swept off my feet leaked away quietly.

It turned out he was my date.

Lucky. Lucky me.

I unglued my arms and said hello.  Now already any expectations have flown out the window.  Not up to the sky in wonder, but straight into the tarmac making that thunk-thunk sound like an injured pigeon does as it tries to tarmac dive after being in the sun too long.

I have long started regretting I got a full body wax for this, and the new underwear is starting to creep.

Anyway he introduced himself, Leonard, and I said hi and then he started to talk.  About himself mostly.  He did ask me a question, and as I tried to answer, he sort of cut me off and answered it.  For me.

I felt it was going so well we were finishing each other’s sentences.

By that I mean, I just ordered Millers and thought I would focus on drinking them.  I would let him speak. He seemed to have a lot to say.  Nothing really interesting, but with enough Millers things that are loud can turn int a quiet drone. I have done the field work, trust me on this.

Almost the first thing he said was that he did not carry credit cards – he only paid in cash.  I got a strange “Big Brother Conspiracy” going on —– but as said I did not have much time to ask questions —- or answer any.

He told me he owned his own home and car — which of course countered my initial sense that he was tres cool and homeless.  But I left it.  I thought that is sort of odd in this day and age, but hey white old folks be crazy, so I will just decided to go with the flow.

I knew that this date was not going well.  It wasn’t to the point where I felt I needed to throw a candle at the alcohol stand to form a fire ball so I could escape in the chaos that ensued.  I realised that at least I had a back up plan because the only thing going down here, was my expectations and hope of this ending soon.

As he talked he name dropped.

The problem with name dropping is if the person sitting across from you is not suitably impressed then stop fucking name dropping.  Name dropping is not cool if you have to keep explaining who the name is.

To the person drinking Millers sitting across from you.

I stopped opening my mouth to explain I did not know who so-and-so was, and realised I was not really going to get a word in, so I shrugged and ordered another Millers.

I looked around for something to read and found a menu.  I quickly jumped in with “I am starving – I am going to order something” and he then agreed and continue to tell me things about the menu.  It appeared he was a regular here.

Efficient and friendly server arrived, we ordered, and again I sat and drank my beer.

I was alarming sober.  I had fallen into that comfort level where I no longer cared. I started looking around and found things that amused me.

Food arrived.  It was really good.  Great mexican food – really enjoyed it.

He ate his. I think he ate what I didn’t eat. Or something else equally as endearing.

I thought okay, I have gone about as far as I was with this one.  I think I ordered another beer – and asked him if he wanted anything else, he said no.

I said great, I am going to call for the bill, which I did.

Leonard started to tell me that he gets 10% discount at this particular establishment.

If you have known me for 13 minutes you will know telling me you get a discount for anything is akin to making my vagina dry up, shrivel and catch the first taxi home.

I looked at him in my most convincing “listen here mate” look I could muster and said “it is fine really…”

And he kept saying it. 10% discount.

I was now wondering if we had moved into a sort of autism territory.  I kept staying IT IS FINE but slower and louder, because well, it was fine. The quicker I can get the fuck out of here, the quicker I can get home, phone my friend Judith and drink wine.

That was my short to medium term plan at this point.

Then he goes “I don’t have any cash on me……..”

I offered him what I though was a withering look, it might have just being “DUDE YOU ARE FUCKING SHITTING ME RIGHT NOW …..”

I did actually glance around waiting for Ashton Kutcher to appear and scream “PUNKED…”  He didn’t.

I am not sure how many seconds had passed  he said “I will run across the road and draw some money”

I looked at him and said “YOU ARE NOT FUCKING RUNNING ACROSS THE ROAD. TO DRAW MONEY.  JESUS.  I WILL GET IT.  I MEAN SERIOUSLY …….”

{key note:  the issue is not that I am paying.  I am fine with that.  Fine.  It is the fact that he announced he had no credit cards, then announced he had no money —– surely anyone in their sort of half right mind comes to a date with some money, or a cow to barter, or maybe some beans to barter for a cow …….. something dumbass….}

I was thinking that inside my head but it slipped out and I said it aloud.

I took control of my voice, stood up went to the bathroom, had a bit of a laugh and thought, well you know 9 more dates cannot be worse/stranger/more disappointing than this…. right?

I got back to the table.

He was still talking.  The server returned with the credit card machine.  He kept muttering about his 10% discount.  I wondered if I hit him against the side of the head with the credit care machine it would stop his bleating.

I know your frontal lobe controls conversation so it might need to be a full frontal head butt with an iron.

I paid the bill, said thank you and stood up.

My aim here was to leave, fast.  Avoid any contact.  ANY.

He insisted he walk me to my car.  Yeah, not.  I pointed to my car and said it was fine, it was right there, it was broad daylight and I would be fine.

He invited me back to his car.  I was a little unclear of where this was going.  I have not dated in 20 odd years, lots of things could have changed.

I agreed, only because I thought if I walked him to his car, that means I could leave him AT HIS car, walk to my car ALONE and be able to snigger uncontrollably the entire way.

I get to his car —- and this is a true story —- he takes out a brochure and starts to sell me something.  Not something interesting like a vibrator that gets 200 km to the litre, but cleaning products.

I shit you not.

I just stood there.  I took a deep breath. Smiled as politely as I was able, said thank and good-bye.

I walked back to my car – a little bit unsteadily.  It was not the beer, I was wearing heels that made me walk like a new born Kudu calf.

I called my friend Judith and told her to get her raggedy little arse over to mine as I seriously just needed someone to talk to.

She came over and we laughed, and then screamed with laughter and drank too much wine.

The next morning I checked my phone — I am that person who puts their phone down and then does not look at it for 15 hours.

There were a list of messages from Leonard.

They started off with “thanks, it was lovely to meet you” to “lets do it again” to “do you dance?” and then moved on to the more uncomfortable ones “why aren’t you answering my messages” and “okay, okay fine….”  There weren’t hundreds, but there were say 11 or so – but they got decidedly more needy as they went on.

How on earth could this guy think or feel that what he had just experienced would be considered a good date?

That I would want to repeat.  Maybe he was just following up on his cleaning product order and see if I was going to order 25 litres of Handy Andy or VIM.

I realise I am niave and a tad low on street smart, but for fuck sake, dude ………. dude!!  Even I know when a bomb is a bomb.

Needless to say I wished Leonard well, and said we would not be seeing each other again.

He did ask again if “we could go dancing … as friends”

Bless.  So that was my first time.  Done and dusted.  No more dating virgin here.  I owned that!

Dating older men …. and them wanting to date younger women …..

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Part of setting up a profile for yourself on any dating site is that you indicate your age, and you indicate the age range of a potential partner.

The site uses this as one facet to “match” you to potential partners.

There are load of other criteria:  religious beliefs, ethnicity, the colour of someone’s eyes, the colour of their hair, whether they have any hair, whether they have piercings or tattoos, whether they drink, whether they smoke, the sort of job they do, their educational level, whether they attend church, whether they have dogs, whether they have brothers and sisters …. the list is pretty endless.

The idea is that the more specific information you supply, the less likely you are going to end up in chats with people who are so far out of your “acceptable range” that it will make you question humanity, and the dating site you are subscribed to.

Realistically the first search criteria are location, age, ethnicity, and belief system, and whether they drink.

I have connected weights to these and all the others that I have been given to select from.  If you say you do not want children, then you need to rate it according to “deal breaker” versus “well, let’s see where this conversation goes.”

A few days ago I was approached by someone older than me.

I glanced at his profile, and it was not so much the age that was an issue for me — but his series of photographs that not only left me going “what were you thinking?”  They immediately introduced me to someone that I probably would not gravitate to at a dinner table.

All the photographs appeared to be taken with a self timer — maybe not a well set self timer, which may explain his expression – but in more or less the same position in his lounge.

I was also led to believe that he owns white vests and black vests, and rugby shorts.

Without putting too much emphasis on how someone chooses to cloth themselves, I think it would make sense to say vests are not going to assist in moving this into any direction which may or may not result in a relationship of any kind.  A restraining order is probably more likely as the happy ending here.

The reason I am ambling through this post, is I replied to his first two messages and explained that the age gap was going to be an issue for me.  I wished him well for his day, and then got on with mine.

I try my utmost to be honest with people so that we both do not get emotionally invested in this process.  Possibly when I get a bit more jaded (which I am on the cusp of doing) I will just push delete and not respond at all.

I received quite an extensive response from R. and he explained how society creates these scripts we follow with regards to age, and that meeting and connecting with someone often has nothing to do with age.  Interesting people find each other interesting no matter how many birthdays they have had and so on.

I am paraphrasing, but that was the sense of it.

It was polite and well written,and pretty darn convincing.

By the end of it, I really started to think about the “ageism” I was practicing.  For a few moments I started to judge myself quite harshly for excluding this guy, because of his age.  And that is really bad of me.  Judgy.  And short sighted.

I had decided to say nothing about the photographs.  I had been shamed, and now I feel ashamed.

I  tend to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I thought let’s go read through his profile again, and just look at the rest and “ignore” the age and the vests —- and that he is wearing “hooker” stockings in the one photograph, which was not taken at a party, but looks like he was alone in his lounge.  Again.  Like the others.  That besides.

Keep an open mind I said.

I read through his profile again.  Here was the part where I thought —– interesting.  He is 55.  His age range for potential people he wants to meet is 29 – 44 years old!

Well now, that is an interesting little age band for someone who has no sense of age and how we are connected.

Seriously do I really really want to meet a guy who is 55 who has aspirations of dating a 29 year old girl.  And wears hooker stockings, with a vest and a rugby shorts in the privacy of his own home?

Probably not, so I am going to make a rash judgement here — PROFILE BLOCKED!

 

First date on a dating site ….. well the intro at any rate ….

I sat before my flashing screen and my keyboard typing away.  Chatting to people, and feeling slowly more brave.

Not brave enough to tell anyone my name, but brave enough to enter into conversations.  Light conversations. Nothing of substance.

I decided to treat on-line dating like real life dating, and always have a glass of wine on hand.

Sometimes I would put out snacks, but the glass of wine was a non-negotiable.

One of those evening when the glass turned into glasses I realised that I was never actually going to go on a date IRL with anyone.

I had years of blogging, social forums and other inter web experiences behind me where I had managed to form high functioning relationships that were personal and familiar, but where I had never NEVER met the person on the other end of the cyber wire.

I realised I was doing the same thing here — I was chatting away to people, and there was this sense of familiarity, but jesus creepers, there was absolutely no chance I was ever going to put clean underwear on and step out and actually meet these people.

Good god no!

A few more glasses of wine later and I was feeling slightly braver and then I made a little pact with myself.

Go on 10 dates – 10 dates, that is all.

Go on 10 dates, they do not even have to be people you would consider sharing an ice cream with, but 10 people who have a pulse, possibly a penis (clearly my standards were pretty low), and you can sit across a table with them for a minimum of 60 minutes, try and aim for 120 minutes.  Just try.

Come on — I said to myself —- what do you have to lose?

Me back to myself —- well that will mean there will be some dignity being traded, and a fairly good chance I will make an a-hole of myself.

Scratch that, there is an almost certainty I will make an a-hole of myself.  Have you seen me in public or at social engagements?  Like that, but worse.

The Wine was talking now —- come on, go, it will be fun.

Me looking at the Wine knowingly —- you have often said things will be fun, and you have been wrong in the past.  Would you like to see the pictures of me doing the Gangnam Style dance, with the mickey mouse ears? That I did? No?  Exactly.

{Wine decided to start talking to me from this point on wards ….. yes, I know they have meetings for people like me}

Wine — it was fun though?

Me —- yeah, it was actually.

Wine — come on stop being a chicken, go on 10 dates.  After the 1o dates if it is all quite sucky, then you can advertise for a friends with benefits, laugh this dating thing off totally, wear your slippers all day, and just not go out ever.  Butd you will need to get cats.

Me —- why the fuck will I need to get cats?

Wine —- crazy cat lady needs cats.

Me —– I have a cat.  Crazy cat lady actually indicates a level of insanity and only requires the ownership of one cat.

Wine — yes, but Kennith has listed the cat as an asset on the spreadsheet.  If he gets awarded the cat in the divorce negotiations, then well you are all crazy lady with fuck all cat.

Me — wine, I must tell you, you are starting to make an alarmingly convincing argument at this stage of the evening.

Wine — yes, funny that.

Me —- okay, Wine, let’s get our shit sorted, who am I going to ask out on a date?

Wine — can I suggest a little walk by the fridge for a fill up before you step out off this rather uncertain little ledge.

Me — fuck Wine there you go again, with all the good ideas.

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Just in case there are parts that do not make sense …… granted even with this, much of the above still does not make sense, but let’s blame it on wine.

IRL = In real life

Cyber wire = The magic thread that connects us all to the inter web

Inter web = Internet, but the term is ridiculous enough to make me smile each time I see it.

Wine =Chenin Blanc

Glass = Large fish bowl