I fear I’ve had more than my fair share of disastrous dates: the guy who invoiced me for my £10 share of dinner; the guy who asked me to a gig purely to make another girl there jealous; the guy who had a sex dungeon in his basement. Sometimes I write about these horrors in my novels – sometimes they’re just too depressing to commit to paper. Dan X (surname omitted to protect the guilty) falls into the Awful - but 18 years later I can laugh about it category. And when I say laugh, I mean wince – but still:
We met on a blind date on February 14th in the tomato aisle of Sainsbury’s, Cromwell Road. He was carrying a copy of The Evening Standard, I wore a carnation in my hair. Romantic or what? My old boss had just had a baby, and Dan accompanied me to the maternity ward, which I thought was sporting and cool of him. He was attractive. He was interesting. He claimed his father had invented the ultrasound machine (which is a bit like that part in Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion where Lisa Kudrow’s character claims she invented the post-it note.) I’m not sure why I believed him – I guess because I wanted to.
We laughed, we drank, we went for a fantastic dinner of nachos (honestly, I love nachos), and at the end of the night had a great kiss. So far so good. Cut to three weeks later, we’d seen each other half a dozen times, all was going swimmingly. Until he invited me out for drinks with his work partner. When he went to the bar she leaned over and said, ‘You do realise Dan lives with his girlfriend, don’t you?’
Er, clearly not? I think I would have remembered that somewhat deal-breaking and pertinent fact if he’d chosen to share it with me. Oh, if only I’d been brave enough for the classic pint over the head move. But no, to my shame I carried on drinking and it was only in the cab home that I finally turned to him and asked in a very chippy tone: Were you ever actually planning on telling me you lived with your girlfriend?
At which point, bless him – he said: I thought you knew. Most outrageous defence ever! I pointed out that we’d first met on a date: on Valentine’s Day. Then he told me I was naive. Again, I wish I could tell you that I clocked him one right there in the back of the taxi, but I didn’t – I took the mental blow myself.
Five years later I was at a random party and I spotted the little bugger walk in with a glamorous blonde on his arm. Closer inspection revealed a wedding ring on his finger. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask if this was the same woman he’d been living with when he was briefly dating me. Instead, I went up and said hi. And he looked straight through me. Thinking, momentarily, that he might have a lookalike, I checked: your name is Dan X, you do work in advertising? Yes, yes, but I don’t know you, he said.
The world is full of wonderful people, but there are also some really wrong ones out there. I dodged a bullet with Dan. Perhaps I should have given the sex dungeon guy more of a chance? But either way, you live and learn.
And in case you’re wondering, the ultrasound scanner was invented by Dr Ian Donald and Tom Brown – neither of whom were remotely related to my date.