A NEW feature on the blog tonight readers is Lookback Friday – an evening where I dedicate the blog to a story which happened way back in the echelons of time about me and Yer Man and what got us to this point of almost-wedded bliss.
Cast your minds back, if you will, to September 8, 2006. It was a fine day, if a little chilly. Maybe it rained a little. Ok, I’m talking about Ireland. In September. It definitely rained a little.
I found myself standing outside Chanz Chinese Restaurant on St Andrew’s Street – alas it is no more, it’s a posh coffee shop now – at 8pm waiting for my date to arrive.
A man walked towards me.
5’10” perhaps. Bearded. Wearing an anorak. A stained anorak. And carrying a worn Tesco bag.
Surely not. Surely this wasn’t him?
Anorak man stopped beside me and gave me a terrifying grin. “Got a smoke?” he asked.
Shaking with relief, I shook my head mutely.
It wasn’t him. Anorak man shuffled on and I was left to peruse the street. Hoping. Ever hoping.
I was on a blind date you see. But not just any old blind date. A blind date with a man from an online dating agency. A blind date with a man from an online dating agency which I had arranged.
A blind date with a man from an online dating agency which I had arranged and would have to write about in a newspaper the following week.
Your common or garden blind date goes wrong, you tell your friends, you cringe, it’s over with. This blind date however, I was sharing with the world.
At the time I was blogging under another guise and had been offered a weekly column with a local newspaper in Dublin, along the lines of my blog.
I was to write about my single self, go on dates, and report back. After a while though, my regular dates weren’t enough for my sadistic editor so I was, well, gently encouraged to sign up online, to get more fodder for the column.
And so it began.
The endless blind dates with highly unsuitable men, the broken hearts, the stinging disappointments, the laughs, the downright weirdness.
How about the chap who had a bizarre form of agoraphobia and could never leave Finglas?
“You’d like it over here,” sez he “I just get a bit panicky when I leave Dublin 11, so I live, work and socialise here.”
The guy who mailed me to say he was into ‘backyard fun with scantily clad ladies’ – he got short shrift. Though, naturally, I couldn’t resist a goo at his profile. I was right. Fat. Balding. 50.
The guy who wined me and dined me for two months, letting me think that maybe, just maybe, there might be something to it, before dropping the bombshell that he had a girlfriend – a pregnant girlfriend – abroad. And, you know, he wasn’t ready for commitment.
The Most Boring Man in the Universe TM who took me out to dinner and spent the night making eye-contact with his plate of pasta, and giving me monosyllabic answers. A quick trip ‘to the loo’ later and I was on the way to the bus stop, leaving him with the bill. Sue me!
How about the guy from Belfast I ended up having a miserable drink in the Foggy Dew with? Miserable mainly because he spent the whole time complaining about the Tia Maria and Coke he bought me and how much it cost. €7.20 if you’re interested. He left after one drink. Couldn’t afford me apparently.
Then there was the guy who looked me up and down with a sigh when we met. “Oh,” he huffed “you’re not as pretty as I thought you’d be.” And you’re just as ignorant as I thought YOU’D be was my witty rejoinder. I never saw him again.
“Are you Karen?” a voice asked, interrupting my thoughts.
Average height, average build, brown hair, friendly blue eyes, big white smile.
It was him. Yer Man. Complete with freshly cut hair and pressed shirt.
He ushered me in the door and taking my coat off I gave him the Blind Date Once Over – normal shoes [trendy shoes on a man give me the heebie jeebies] dark denims, good ass, smaller than mine, but you can’t win ’em all, blue shirt, bit of hair on the chest. He’d do.
We chatted for two hours and stuffed ourselves silly – prawns in honey followed by duck for me, chicken and sweetcorn soup followed by chicken fried rice for him – before venturing into the night.
As with all blind dates, the end of the night was awkward. No kiss. No sneaky hand holding. Just a peck on the cheek, a quick duck into a taxi and everything left up in the air.
I sat back into the leather seat, letting the taxi driver’s chatter roll over me. Was it a good date? I wasn’t sure. He was nice. And normal. So very normal. Surely, there had to be something wrong with him?
My phone beeped with a text. It was him.
“I just realised I never told you how beautiful you looked tonight. I wanted you to know that.”
Well, after that, what was a girl to do?