Some months ago, having sat through an evening of incredible mediocrity in the lovely Café Boheme with Lawyer (?) from Bar, I said I’d rather have a bad date than a mediocre one. Those words have come back to bite me - firmly, leaving teeth marks - on the arse. And, having spent an evening in the company of a man with so few redeeming features I was tempted to give up dating altogether and just acquire more cats, I take those words back.
Once one’s been on a certain number of dates, one learns a few tips and tricks that help sort the wheat from the chaff, and the chaff from the no-hopers. And if he takes you to a chain pub, rammed with bankers and estate agents in slightly shiny suits, you know you’re not on to a winner.
So it’s unsurprising that, as I stood recently in a pub of the above description in London Bridge, I had a definite sense of foreboding.
Sending a text to inform of my uncharacteristic punctuality, I asked Chap in Question what he was drinking. I expected a reply that would tell me wait, and he’d get the first round (equality be damned: some things are just good manners) or - at the very least - some kind of generic pint. When the reply bounced back of single vodka and diet coke please!, I considered my options and very nearly left then and there.
And I wish I had, because what followed was a litany of terrible.
Having given the matter some serious consideration as Best Mate and I contemplated margaritas, I’m still at a loss to work out which of his features was least redeeming.
I don’t know whether it was his first anecdote about still being hungover from his previous night out at a ‘hot burlesque place’; his declaration that Russell Brand’s autobiography was the last great book he read; his assertion that he’s deeply interested in food and drink, and seriously into his music, yet his preferred wine is Chardonnay, and favourite band Keane.
Whether it was the fact that, despite being in his early thirties, he’s so far from being grown up as it’s possible to be without physically being in aisle two at Toys Я Us; whether it’s that he’s exceptionally proud of owning a house without being house-proud (seriously: how does anyone go eight months without owning anything to sit on?); that he thinks a wine rack containing four whole bottles (presumably of Chardonnay) is the pinnacle of sophistication.
Whether it was his total awe at having been to a black tie event at Christmas (spoken of with such fascination, I think it might have been the first time he ever put on a dinner jacket); his wonder at an upcoming work project of mine that’ll involve a couple of celebrities as if I’d mentioned I’d be working with a Nobel laureate; his embarrassment at partaking in any activities that he deemed ‘geeky’ (as far as I could tell, that’s pretty much anything that doesn’t involve getting utterly hammered).
It could have been the trying too hard; the faint tones of homophobia in his unfunny jokes; his terrible, total insistence on the glottal stop. His teeth. The peculiarly bad watch.
I could go on. But I won’t.
Just as I won’t, ever again, claim that a bad date isn’t the very worst kind.