I'm really not sure where to start. Friday seems a long time ago and I have had a weekend of friends and godchildren to try and forget the hideousness of the big date(thank the lord). However a promise is a promise, so I shall relive the experience of the last of the cybermen for your edification.
Friday morning saw me rather frantically getting ready for my much anticipated date. You know what it is like when you are in a rush? Suddenly there are a million and one things to do, none of which are things you actually want to do. Somehow, in between client phone calls, I dug up some clean clothes and found my makeup which I remembered to apply. I even located my hairbrush and was in the car and on my way in good time.
I looked ok, as good as I could hope for and as I drove to our meeting place my stomach churned queasily at the prospect ahead of me. Was this going to be another disaster or, more frightening still, somebody sane and normal and interested? I really wasn't sure which prospect made me more nervous.
I arrived a little early and headed for the pub to find that it was closed. Oops. Crossing my fingers that I hadn't made a hideous error and suggested a meeting place that wouldn't open at all, I waited outside the front door. There was no sign of HM (hospitality man) but I found myself scanning the faces of everyone who passed by wondering if they might be him. Absorbed in this entertaining pasttime I was pulled out of my reverie by a voice shouting my name from an upstairs window. It was Andy, my friend who runs the pub.
He came downstairs and let me in through the staff door and ensconsed me at the bar. I instantly told him that I was there on a blind date and filled him in on all we knew. He promised to duck out of the way as soon as HM arrived and we moved onto chatting about other things. Soon enough the pub opened for business and early lunch guests started turning up. The bar was still quiet though so I couldn't help but notice when a lone man came up and stood just round the corner of the bar from me.
He wasn't exactly like his photo, but then nobody ever is, so I decided to take the plunge and turning to him said 'Hospitality Man?' in what I would think is a friendly tone. He turned. He stared at me blankly with no recognition whatsover. He turned again and stared at the bar before turning back to look at me once more. I started to feel a blush rise across my face. How mortifying. I had obviously just accosted a stranger and he couldn't work out how to tell me so. Aaaaargh. He turned back to the bar and ordered a drink and I turned back to Andy to wince and carry on our interrupted conversation. But it didn't feel right. I was sure the man next to me was HM. I turned back again and there he was, staring at me. He put out his hand and I, not wanting to be rude, took it. He shook it without speaking then said 'Hospitality Man,'.
I was rather flustered by this and must have had an interesting expression on my face. A combination of relief that I hadn't been mistaken, and horror that I hadn't been mistaken. This was him. The man that had been e mailing nearly non stop all week. He wasn't a horror to look at or anything but neither did my heart go 'pit a pat' or my knees go week. (I wasn't really thinking either of those things would happen but a girl can hope). Still, it was early days and we had both made it to the assignation. Who knew what lay ahead of us? He still seemed incapable of saying anything so I suggested we move from the bar to a table. Since he seemed unable to do anything but stare at this point, I led the way and found a table round the corner where we both sat down. Bear in mind that he still hadn't really said anything other than his name at this point.
Once we sat down, he put out his hand and said once more 'Hospitality Man'. Being British, and unfailingly polite, I shook his hand and introduced myself again. He gazed speechlessly at me and I carefully removed my hand from his grasp. To break the silence I asked whether he had found the pub without any problems. He stared at the wall ahead of him and took several deep breaths. I wondered nervously if asking him if he found the pub was an offensive opening bid. Finally he spoke. "Do you think we can sit outside?" he said. I'm pretty sure he said that anyway. It turned out that he spoke with a south african accent and in a mumbling tone that you would expect from someone wearing ill fitting false teeth. "Certainly" I said. Up we got from our table and went outside and found a new table. Once we had sat down he again proferred his hand. I again took it. He shook it, again. He introduced himself, again.
At this point we have spent five minutes together and I am already feeling desperate. However, this is obviously his first 'blind date' so I decide that I had better try to get the ball rolling and say 'So, this would be your first blind date then'. He looks away from me and stares across the river. He draws a breath, as though he is going to speak and I look at him expectantly. He lets it out. He draws another. Finally he says 'so you have done this before?'. Relieved to have got a complete sentence that didn't involve an introduction out of him, I reply that I have and add that they are always awkward to start with. He starts several sentences but never finishes them. This makes having a conversation quite awkward. I decide to try a new tack. This has the same result.
We are now ten minutes in and I am already wondering whether throwing myself into the river might look desperate. Suddenly HM lurches into action. "Would you" he asks "be a good mother?" WHAT? That's his first question??? Seriously? I answer that I would be ok I supposed but that I didn't long for babies. He offers nothing back himself on this topic but after some more staring and failed sentences he suddenly says: "our eyes are the same colour". I agree that they are similar, though it is difficult to compare them as I don't have a mirror handy. Facetious I know but I couldn't help it. He then seizes the conversation once more and says: "what kind of wedding would you have?" The direction the conversation is going in is a little alarming but at least he is actually talking. Each answer I give involves him sucking my words up like a hoover and, with lips pursed (a personal hatred of mine) he would stare into space. If I asked him a question he simple couldn't answer it. It didn't matter what avenue I tried. Each one ended the same, with an awkward silence which he ignored by staring into space or staring at me in what I can only describe as wonderment.
He then asks why I live in Wales. I answer. Three minutes later, he asks why I live in Wales. I point out that I have just answered this question but he seems to think that it is not the same question if you ask it twice so I answered, again. At this point I have drained my drink and am wondering if it is too early for a triple vodka and tonic but he shows no sign of noticing that I have an empty glass and I am uncertain of how to excuse myself so early in the conversation. Luckily nature comes to my rescue and it starts to rain. I suggest we move back in (he seemed oblivious to the fact that we were getting drenched). As we pass the bar I realise that if I get myself another drink I'll have to stay longer. I decide death by dehydration would be better and we find another table to sit at.
I then struggle to find things to talk about. How was his interview? How long has he been in his last job? How did he like living in South Africa? None of these questions generate answers longer than a sentence so I start running out of gambits all too quickly. Every answer involves him starting into space for a disconcertingly long time, heaving in deep breaths as though he is going to answer, then letting them out without saying another word. Occasionally I try to prompt him but it is useless. He seems oblivious to the awkwardness of the whole thing. Indeed one of the complete sentences he gives me is how amazing it is to meet me and how he is struggling to come to terms with the idea of us. I am now worried.
Even worse, he would suddenly fire a question at me. This would be unrelated to anything else we might be trying to talk about at that moment. An example of this would be when he said to me 'Girl or Boy?' I looked blankly at him. Was this some kind of a test? Was he not sure what I was? which direction my sexual orientation was? I went with the first option and said 'Girl'. For once he wasn't lost for words and said 'Why'. I was bewildered but tried to help out by pointing out that I knew I was a girl because I didn't have the necessary anatomy to make me a boy. Seeing his expression I suddenly realise he was still on the baby / motherhood question and wanted to know which I would like, a girl or a boy.
Vexed I answered that is was a pointless question as you can't control what you get so wishing for one or the other is a sure road to disappointment. At this point I realise I can't keep going for much longer. I make up an appointment with the accountants and explain that I will need to leave.
He looks crestfallen and says that he was hoping to take me out for lunch (possibly on to a registry office afterwards?). I gently point out that I had only agreed to a drink and that I don't have time for lunch. He then eagerly says that he can meet me again on Saturday. Having already told him that I have friends staying for the weekend I am surprised at this. I remind him of the houseguests and he says 'are they not the sort of friends who would like to meet me?'. I firmly squash this and reply that we are going to be busy all weekend and he can't see me at anypoint in the weekend. 'Well' he says, 'when can I see you again?' Resisting the urge to say 'never' I say I will e mail him but that I am VERY busy for the next six years or so, and for the fourth, and hopefully last time, I shake his hand and leave him in the pub. Still staring at the wall and gaping like a fish. He was probably mid sentence but I didn't have the time to stay and find out.
Despite the fact that I had shopping I needed to do in order to feed my friends at the weekend, I fled the town. I arrived home and without further ado wrote my first 'Dear John' e mail. I very much hope that that will be the last I ever see or hear of him. Thinking of him now makes me go 'eeeeurgh' and shudder.
I officially give up on internet dating. Cybermen are all nutters and I can't put myself through this anymore. The Loyal Hound and I will have to grow old together and I shall start wearing purple and hats and banging my stick along the railings. It has to be a better way to live....
Book challenge by Erin: bonus round complete
10 hours ago