I got chatting to this girl on Facebook – Joanna. A common interest in politics, three inches shorter than me – this could be it.
A tad intense mind. Offers her number, then initiates seven text conversations in one day. Wetin happen? Next I get an email with some of her artwork. Bit weird. Turns out she has an unhealthy interest in dead celebrities.
Went through her photos. Pretty, especially when a pair of glasses disguise her less than dainty nose. Message saying she looks sexy in specs. She’ll definitely wear them on our date now.
Joanna lives far away but there’s no way I’m traipsing over there. She agrees to met me halfway in town. Arrange to meet at the mall – that way I can disappear in the crowds if she’s not what I expected.
It’s a little awkward at first. She won’t make eye contact and I pick up an unpleasant odour: Dettol. Least she’s got her glasses on.
We find a booth in bar and for a painful moment neither of us can think of anything to say. She stares into her Bacardi and lemonade, teasing the ice with a pink straw.
Ask about her family. Already mentioned I’ve got a memory like a sieve. Always get that in early, then I don’t have to remember the boring bits like what her dad does.
We drink with haste and move on after one. Concert Square’s packed. The metallic sound of a bottle smashing to the floor signals trouble ahead.
“The working classes, eh,” I quip.
“I’m working class,” she replies.
Two minutes later Joanna complains about all the walking.
“It’ll do us good,” I suggest.
“My feet hurt – I told you I’ve got arthritis in my toes.”
Bloody memory again.
“But you’re only 26?”
“I know how old I am.”
The mood lightens in The Beehive, where after a few more drinks (all on me) we agree that our second date will be a game of tennis. Claims she whopped two lads single-handedly at school. That was before the arthritis kicked in – I’ll batter her.
“Come on, let’s go for something to eat before you get me drunk,” says my date.
End up in this American diner, where she asks over a starter what I thought of her artwork.
“You’ve got real talent,” I say.
“Aw, thanks hun – you’re really sweet. If I didn’t have coleslaw in my teeth I’d reach over and kiss you.”
the Waitress was very chatty. She is a part-time dance teacher, apparently. She went on about some moves which allegedly cleared a dancefloor at wherever. I told her, she was in my top three restaurant staff of all time.
“Can’t believe you’re flirting with the waitress,” says Joanna, with jovial annoyance.
Bump into the waitress again en route to the loo. Three hairs on her chin and a bit of a belly but the banter’s good. Exchange another joke before she disappears into the kitchen.
One of her workmates pipes up:
“You two seem to be getting on well?”
“Yeah, she’s hilarious. I’ve just been told off for flirting with her actually – I’m on a first date.”
“How’s it going?”
“Oh, well… The waitress is single if you want her number?”
An embarrassed laugh accompanies me to the men’s and it seems the chance has gone. But she – the colleague, the matchmaker – is waiting with a piece of paper as I leave the toilet.
“Does she know you’ve given me this?” I ask.
Head back to the table, where we’re just about done. Our waitress is nowhere to be seen so another girl obliges with the bill while others smirk in the shadows. Joanna doesn’t offer to go halves.
It’s back down town for drinks, and she finally gets a round in while I dart for another piss.
We find a table. The conversation turns to a psychic she saw last year. Reckons it was dead weird.
“Somehow she knew about a condition I suffer from – it really spooked me out.”
“What, your arthritis?”
“No, no – something else.”
“Okay, well, spit it out.”
Joanna takes a sip, staring deep into her drink as if it offers a cure for whatever she’s got. A few seconds later she turns and whispers solemnly in my ear.
“Depression? That’s a very honest thing to tell someone on a first date,” I say.
“Do you think I’m a fruitloop now?”
“No, no – don’t be soft. I don’t care – as long as you’re happy around me!”
Her smile reveals a bit too much gum. Then, out of the blue, she reaches over to meet my lips. At last I’m getting something for my £50.
“That was to say thank-you,” she explains, checking her mobile as she talks. “Just got to nip to the loo.”
Something occurs in the minutes that follow, for when she returns the awkwardness of Lime Street is back. Her eyes avoid mine once more.
Tell her I’m relieved she looks like her photos – the compliment isn’t returned. She seems distracted and the silence is starting to linger.
Ask what’s up. Turns out this place reminds her of an ex.
“Bad memories?” I enquire.
“No, not at all. Actually, coming in here has made me realise – I don’t think I’m over him.”
“I feel like such a bitch.”
“It’s okay, not a problem. It’s a shame but…”
“No but I’ve really messed you around.”
Assure her it’s fine and suggest we call it a night.
“I’m really sorry,” she persists.
“Look, I’m cool – plenty more fish. I’ll walk you to the train station.”
“I know but you like me and I’ve messed you around.”
“Why do you think I like you?” I quiz.
“Because you kissed me.”
“I kissed YOU? Er, no. You kissed ME.”
“I was just saying thanks for being nice about my depression.”
“That’s a bit weird.”
“Well, sorry. I’m sorry I kissed you and I’m sorry I’ve messed you around.”
“Listen, you don’t need to worry about me – I got the waitress’s number anyway.”
Joanna’s face is scarlet. She peels off her spectacles, takes a step back and yells:
“I can’t believe you told me that.”
Her nose is pointing my way like a dagger. People turn their heads anticipating a scene.
“Well, you were acting as if you’d broken my heart,” I counter.
“Who the fuck does this waitress think she is, the fat bitch? I can’t believe she did that.”
“Why you bothered?”
“I’m not. I don’t fancy you – I just think it’s cheeky is all.”
“Why did you come on a date if you didn’t fancy me?”
“You don’t look how I expected you to look.”
I try not to appear bruised.
“Well you should have done your homework and gone through my pictures, shouldn’t you?” I say.
“I’m not a stalker like you, clearly.”
“I’m not being funny, Joanna, but you’re not as pretty as most of your pictures either. There’s things I could say.”
“Fuck off you knob.”
With that she storms off.
An hour later I get a text apologising for the way it ended. Reply in kind before turning off my phone.
Switch it on next morning to find nine messages. A selection:
– U an that waitress wud b good togeva x
– Uve had a lucky escape from me n e hew!
– If it helps I haven’t laughed like that in ages, would like to stay friends if u don’t mind?
– Just comparing myself to that waitress stupidly. So u gunna go out with her?
– Can’t believe how nasty uve bn to me, im insecure about the way I look and uve made me feel worse.
– Uve got issues.
Log on to Facebook – she’s blocked me.
Shame. I was looking forward to that game of tennis.
Culled from http://www.plentymorefishoutofwater.com/