First dates: The one where I got locked up.

The year was 2007. I was beginning to think that I’d never meet a good looking, kind, nice, genuine, honest, trustworthy, funny man of my own. And then I got invited out by some work friends one night to Widnes.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Guys of such calibre are a rare find, and finding one in Widnes was unlikely, but miraculously, across the flashing lights and music of a Widdy bar, a cute looking guy was leant back against a wall, a beer in hand. I walked past him bumping into him on purpose and he stopped me. We chatted and danced and flirted for the next couple of hours until the bouncer started to do the rounds and throw everyone out into the street at closing time.

For the next couple of weeks we exchanged texts but no date ever followed. The story of my life.

Until one evening, some three months later, he messgaed me out of the blue, asking me to meet him for a drink. There was no way I was going to go, especially since the place he suggested was about 8 miles away from my house, and about 1 mile away from his. Who on earth would be desperate enough to agree to go on date with someone so lazy and selfish, I wondered, whilst applying foundation to my face and sucking in my cheeks to brush over some blusher.
Me, apparently.
I was feeling pretty low.
I pulled straighteners through my hair, spritzed on some perfume and stuffed my bag with lipstick and mobile, and arrived at the pub at 7.15.
I gave myself a once over in the window reflection, and hesitantly, half terrified, I took a deep breath and walked inside, trying to be optimistic. Often, the best nights out are the ones that aren’t planned, arent they?

My eyes rested upon quite a good looking bloke in a blue shirt that suddenly looked familiar and he gave me a hand gesture (thankfully a little wave and not the finger). He was sitting in a corner – it looked hidden and conspicuous behind a pillar and there was a fire escape door beside it. There was an empty seat opposite him as if he was awaiting a guest, and so I smiled a nervous smile, and when he smiled back, I made my way past some randomly placed chairs and edged closer.
The spanner in the works was that he appeared to be halfway through a plateful of steak and chips.
‘Alright’, he flicked his eyes up at me momentarily. ‘Wanna drink?’. He spoke with a scouse accent and he had a bottle of wine infront of him that he was three quarters the way through.
‘Um. I’ll have a white wine, please.’
He smiled obligingly as he finished mopping up some sauce before standing up.

I nervously fixed my hair as I appraised him. ‘He’s tall‘, I thought. ‘Very tall, in fact. He’s good looking too. Better than I remember. But his hair is just too….
‘Been waiting long?’, I asked.
‘….long! Yes, that’s it’, I thought. ‘His hair is long. He was a short back and sides guy three months ago; so who was this catfish in his place?
‘Not too long’, he replied. ‘About 5 minutes’.
He went off to order me a drink at the bar and he didnt trip over his hair on the way.
‘You look nice‘, Steve said on his return, glancing up briefly from examining his change.
‘Thanks’, I replied. ‘So do you’. I wanted to know why he was wearing a fucking ponytail though.
I slipped off my coat and hung it on the back of my seat. Just a couple of glasses and the conversation would be flowing- I’d be bright, bubbly, chatty and full of hope.
‘So’, I ventured after a considerable gap and no emerging signs of any conversation.
’You’ve been pretty busy for the last few months?’ I chanced.
‘Yeah. You?’ He had nice eyes, I noticed.
‘Er, yeah.’ I fibbed, feeling incredibly sober and uncomfortable. This was a bad idea.
He piled the last of his peas onto his fork, and inbetween that we managed to have a stifled conversation in which we established some basics about each other.
I learnt that he’d been single for a week and that he was currently looking for a job.
I smiled tightly.
‘Summat wrong lid?’, he asked, and I wanted to hide under the table but I was sober and wimpishly so, so I stuttered ‘No, I’m fine’, and I mustered a smile.

Over another glas of wine or three, things improved. He made me laugh (it could have been the wine) and I pushed aside the alarming news that he had only been single for a week despite texting me on a weekly basis. Desperate times make people act like fools. So does too much wine.

So much so that after several hours, he suggested I call a cab home from his house, which was a two minute walk around the corner.
‘Er, I really don’t think so…’. I shifted in my chair.
But rhen….

I had no sooner perched on the edge of his sofa when his front doorbell rang. Followed shortly by a fierce hammering that was a sign that someone wasn’t about to just cut their losses and go away. And then the doorbell started ringing again. Steve did a commando roll off the sofa and then army crawled his way to the corner of the room where he tried to camoflauge himself into his shagpile carpet. I was still on the sofa and he told me, quite sternly- “Lie flat. Don’t move”. I think he had been watching a few too many crime films, but weirdly, I did as he asked.
The doorbell rang again. Followed now by some pounding on the window.
This went on, someone pounding on the door, then moving to the doorbell to ring it incessantly for what seemed like a lifetime, until eventually, he pleaded with me to go and wait in the toilet in the kitchen whilst he went to answer the door.
So I did.
But only because I thought the mafia were outside. Or the bailiffs. Or the neighbour from hell. Or his wife.
I heard him open the front door and a hysterical girl started shouting. ‘Who’s here with you?’. She accused him of being “cheating scum” and she ran upstairs, opening and slamming doors looking for the mysterious woman he was hiding up there. Which would be me. Hiding in the downstairs toilet.
I hardly dared breathe. I could hear him walking around, pacing up and down, consoling her as if she was delusional, and on finding nothing upstairs, the girl sounded even more hyseterical. I think she was crying more-so now because she believed that she actually was delusional, like he’d told her.
Next thing I know, I heard them make their way back into the living room and she kept repeating that she was sorry and then it all just went a bit muffled and then suddenly, it was quiet. I think they were making up. And I mean – making up. ‘Errr, excuse me , but I am still here you know. I’m not a hologram’, I wanted to call out, and land him in deep shit, but then, through the stillness of the house, I heard my mobile ringing in my bag. I dashed into my bag for it. I scrambled around my bag and when I couldn’t find it, I shook the contents crazily and some of them spilled out on the floor. I spotted the phone and picked it up and held my finger on the ‘reject call’ button…but it was too late.
‘Hey. Who’s here?’ the girl had approached the toilet room I was locked inside of and was banging on it. Hard.
I stayed still and said nothing.
She banged again. Louder this time.
There was a tiny hole in the door and I could see through it that she was very heavily fake tanned. She was wearing a weird orangey coloured lipstick that had smudged all around het mouth with the snogging and it looked like a toddler’s face after eating a spagettti bolognese.
Scenarios were already beginning to materialise in my head.
‘Why the hell have you brought me here?’, I wanted to shout out at my ‘date’. I felt incredibly sorry for myself. I’d been full of hope about this date. Secretly. In private.
I thought about making a run for it to the door, but no, I should walk calmly. Don’t run. Isn’t that what they say to do if you’re about to get attacked by a wild animal? Don’t make any eye contact, let it know you don’t want a fight. That was key.

‘Open this door! I know there’s someone in there’ she hissed.
‘Listen’, I could hear this Steve guy trying to console, or rather, convince her. ‘It’s just my mate Kev from work. He’s pissed. He’s fell asleep in there’.
She appeared to believe him for a moment or two. ‘Kev?’ she banged on the door again. ‘Kev? Are you in there?’
I cleared my throat as silently as I could and prepared to try and disguise my voice. I was actually going to go along with this?
‘Er, yuh hullo, it’s me. Kev, I’m …just having a…’
Oh my God, this was ridiculous. What on earth was I doing?
I flung the door open and screwed my eyes shut and stood still for about 5 long seconds and when I didn’t get socked in the face, I chanced open an eye to see that her own eyes had practically doubled in size. An orange glow loomed over me like the sunrise. Up close she looked as if she’d took a bath in crushed wotsits.
‘Who’s this then?’ the voice demanded to know from Steve.
Steve ignored her.
‘Fucking answer me NOWWW’, she snarled, seeming a bit more aggravated.
YES, STEVE, I thought. Fucking answer her NOW. Please. Pretty please. Before I end up with a fist in my face.
There was an eerie silence and then, just like Helen from Sliding Doors, she just turned around, walked to the front door, opened it, walked through it, and just before she closed it behind her, she called ‘You’re welcome to him, love. Arsehole.’

I grabbed my coat brusquely and told Steve to piss right off. ‘Don’t you touch me’, I said He wasn’t about to, it seemed. He didn’t even have the decency to look ashamed.
‘So. That was my girlfriend’ he then supplied, matter of factly.
No shit.
And just to add inslt to injury, he just wanted to double check that I didnt fancy fooling around now that she had gone and they were definately finished.
Errr, I felt like the biggest fool around alright, but not in the way he meant it.
‘Piss off’, I told him, slamming the door beind me and as I stepped out onto the pavement outside something hit me.
Thankfully, it was just the cold air.
Oh, and the painful reality that I was quite possbly going to be single FOREVER.


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