Ralph’s dates


The boomerang

Sometimes in life you meet someone and find an immediate connection, it might be physical, intellectual or spiritual. It is this that keeps things alive, the flame kindled from that initial spark into an inferno or simply left to burn out. However, sometimes it can be tenacity that keeps the connection. Thus we happen upon the boomerang, those that simply come back, again and again, relentlessly ignoring all your protests, all your rejections, excuses and rebuffs.

Members of the readership, may I introduce exhibit A; a receipt from a service station coffee shop. It was this insalubrious setting where I met the boomerang. He was a persistent little bugger, but his doggedness paid off when I agreed to meet one Sunday evening at a motorway service station equidistant between our respective homes. He was no looker, but he was confident, certain of himself in a world of uncertainty. He was what is often described as a ‘bear’; think Grizzly Adams with less panache. He had a belly, a thinning crown and a pathetic need to dress like he was 25 years younger than his chronological age. He was a divorcee embarking on a new life where the little woman was to be replaced by a player from his own team. You might wonder how someone like this might even achieve a date but this man was not without his charms and his qualities. His text messages were complimentary, flattering and one always likes to be flattered; it reminds us that we are still beautiful, despite the signs of time offering stark contradictions. His determined efforts to engage in text communication created a dialogue to a point where it was not a stranger that was getting in-touch but someone I felt I knew. He then began the second in his three-phase attack, the telephone call. Having convinced me it might be good to exchange numbers, so that we could talk, I reluctantly agreed, after all, I knew this guy; we had been ‘chatting’ for weeks.

The call came late one evening and I was surprised to learn what a great telephone voice he had, a slight lilt as his accent came down the line. All of a sudden the rough edges of the profile picture were smoothed, or was that blurred? We conversed for over an hour and I was startled to see how quickly and how much time had elapsed during a conversation that seemed effortless. Phase-three; the rendezvous. It was unexpectedly arranged one Sunday with no real idea of where to meet, the hour meant that it was not easy to find somewhere that would be open for a drink that meant neither one had to drive excessively more than the other, and so the motorway service station was chosen. Brash and uncouth, the location was convenient rather than convivial, but it gave the opportunity to finally meet.

On seeing the boomerang I knew it was a ‘no’ but decided to have a coffee and a chat, he had held my interest for over an hour on the phone; there had to be more to him than the physical appearance. He was a huge individual, broad and very tall, a monster of a man, the sort that puts an arm around you and suddenly the external world disappears. Certainly this physical size has its charms; we all want to be taken care of at some point in our lives.

We talked, drank coffee, talked, drank hot chocolate, talked some more and had another drink that was less likely to prevent sleep as we returned to our respective homes. The whole encounter was actually quite pleasant, even the stolen kiss in the car park of a Moto service station. And so ended the first of two meetings with the boomerang.

Within a day we had exchanged a number of calls and texts, although I had to admit, I had fallen for the disembodied voice. Nonetheless we arranged to meet again, this time for dinner. It was to be far more civilised and in a setting more conducive to a date. I sourced an appropriate country pub and picked him up from the station as he travelled north from his day in the office. The meal was memorable only for the fact that it was a little bland and I was disappointed that my choice had turned out to be a poor one. After dinner we drank a coffee and enjoyed the last of the evening before I returned him to his connecting train. There was a few goodnight kisses before the date ended and I returned home questioning my superficiality in judging his physicality rather than the person I had enjoyed spending time with.

Subsequent texts lessened in frequency and the initial flame was definitely dwindling. I had almost regained my sense of perspective and determined that a man with a house still in joint custody, a daughter, a diary that prevented meeting up for another 5 weeks and an evident inability to now communicate via texts was just not for me.  When he did eventually regain the ability to use his thumbs to press a few keys on his phone I delivered the verdict I had been building up to; this was and would never go anywhere but I was glad to have met him. It was at this moment that the boomerang earned his name; in a huge u-turn he sent a flurry of texts and even called. That seductive voice worked its charms and despite my intentions I agreed to meet for a third date. Of course the communication then faltered again to which my response was rejection once more, I had not committed myself and there was no nuptial agreement, this was merely a date, a getting to know you sort of thing. This time when the stream of pleading, yes pleading, messages came through I ignored them. I had learnt his refined art of rhetoric and chose not to be convinced again. For three days he was relentless in his pleas, his admissions of devotion, his compliments and his desperation. I began to feel guilty. In a moment of weakness I responded to the message ‘hey sexy how r u’ (he neither punctuated his messages or wrote in correct English, something I always abhor).  My reply was brief but polite. Of course it was interpreted as an invitation for him to recommence his ‘seduction’ but unfortunately his skills of oration were in relation to the spoken word rather than the printed text and I was safe. Or so I thought. When I remained consistent to my heart and said I could see no future he became cruel and bitter, accusing me of leading him on and treating him unfairly.

And so began a series of communications that always began pleasantly, eventually received a reciprocal text and then moved to repeated rejection and bitter reply. The boomerang was nothing if not persistent. In fact, to this day there are still messages coming through now and again, only this time the caller is simply defined as ‘DO NOT RESPOND’, I felt it needed the capitalisation to remind me never to break in a moment of weakness or sympathy and offer a reply. The problem with boomerangs is when you throw one it can often come back and hit you if you ever lose your focus. This one is now certainly remaining in the (in)box under its appropriate cautionary heading.

Author: Ralph


Jake the snake and his interesting cake

Not matter how much we might think about Mr Right and that perfect guy to settle down with, the bad boy is always far more appealing. You know the type, tattoos, handsome with a menacing look, a great physique and who will be nonchalant enough to make you interested, as you have to work to keep their attention. It’s like we’ve all reverted back to the characters of Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko, no, he looked like a bad boy but was far too sweet to be the perfect Mr Wrong, let’s say Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski. You know, the one who will inevitably break your heart (and you know it) but who you will have fun with on the way to ultimate destruction. It’s like Winehouse and Fielder-Civil, we get caught up with the guy in such a way that makes the self-destruction all the more tragic yet compelling.

This is where Jake comes in, a tattooed bad boy, someone I had to flirt with outrageously in order to entice him out of ambivalence. The chase made him all the more appealing. He had the ripped torso I could only ever dream of, no matter how much quorn, rice and broccoli I ate or how many times I drove myself to the pinnacle of destruction at the gym. With tattoos running from neck through torso, legs and arms to the hands and knuckles, he was everything your mother (and society) would frown upon: perfect! As it turned out he liked quirky and I felt that I became more so as a result, sending the photo of me in a bowler hat as if it was everyday attire. His text messages were humorous, became flirtatious and eventually agreed to a date. Of course, I would be travelling to the capital to meet him, God forbid he should actually cross the M25 and leave the safety of his realm.

The date was arranged for a day when I would be down in the city seeing a play, well it does them good to realise that you have interests and a diary that might appear a little fuller than the reality. In accordance with my own dating rules I agreed to a drink. I was dressed on the conservative side of quirky in order to appear a little less ‘out there’ at the theatre and when moving around the city. Well aren’t we all a little more adventurous in our style when the concept is just that, a figment in our mind rather than the reality of actually leaving the house in that get-up?

Having arrived before Jake, I bought a drink, opting for the beer rather than cocktail, which might give all the wrong impressions. I found a stanchion to lean against in order to adopt a casual pose, after all, I wasn’t (openly) desperate. Sauntering in, fashionably late, I instantly recognised the confidence of the bad boy, someone for whom the world exists, whose every step allows the Earth to turn so that we mortals might experience intermittent sunshine. He looked great. Of course his leather top in the style of the Bahraini flag was far cooler than I had anticipated and I instantly regretted my choice of date attire. Before even arriving in front of me, I knew he was trouble but that I was willing to take the risk; he was a satyr who knew everything about hedonistic pleasure.

I ordered him a beer and returned to sit down and get to know him. He talked of his work, a stylist for high-end magazines, his passion for baking and the cakes. He was evidently adept at crafting the humble cake to look like a burger and fries, pizza, a cavalcade of savoury delights to entice the eyes. I should have realised the significance of his response to my question: “Do they taste as good as they look?” to which he replied, “Who cares?” This was a guy who was all about appearance rather than substance, but I was already hooked on the window display.

As he formed his words I was mesmerised by his lips and thought only about kissing him. Thank God dating etiquette kicked in and I refrained from such a suggestion. Needless to say I thought the date went well. I casually told him the club I would be at in the evening if he happened to be out. Of course he was far more casual, informing me that he was due to go to another club with a friend but might make an appearance where I was if he found the club dull. I was clearly in the presence of a master and felt myself being sucked in to his world, the aura of ‘me’ that he projected and protected himself with. Impenetrable bugger! Thinking no more of it, I left and went back to my friend’s abode to dine before getting ready for the evening out.

On arriving in the club I was surprised to see Jake already there. He had played it cool and I wasn’t sure if there was any interest so I politely acknowledged him ready to head off to get a drink with my friends, however, Jake beckoned me over and asked me to join him as he queued for the cloakroom. Maybe I had it wrong. Perhaps he was interested. I decided that it was worth pursuing so spent the next 2 hours laughing with him and listening to him tell me more about his world, his achievements, him. I was a sucker, I know, but he had that magnetism that drew me in. The conversation became more relaxed and eventually I thought I had to pursue the image of kissing him. As a gent I asked his permission, well I am a traditionalist. This was it, the moment I had been waiting for ever since the drink earlier in the day, I was proud of myself for taking the initiative. What was the kiss like? It never happened. Jake embarked on a long explanation about why he wasn’t sure about kissing when he had only just met me. To be honest, I am not sure of the entire contents of the 3-minute speech because all I heard after, ‘I am not sure.’ was ‘blah, blah, blah’. It was at that instant that the bubble burst, my magnet kicked in and my only action was ‘repel’. I left Jake stood there and headed off for the dance floor where I enjoyed my evening far more once the spell had been broken. I am not sure how someone who is confident can become so enamoured by someone like Jake. Yes I do, it’s that image we muster in our minds as we create a fantasy that is far more alluring than the reality. That was it, reality had hit me like a wet fish and I stunk of it and needed to dance the scales off my flesh.

As for the snake, well that was mere conjecture by friends after seeing the extent of his tattooing.

Author: Ralph




So you have signed-up to every dating site known to man, downloaded all those dreadful meat-market apps, you have trawled pages and pages of faces and faceless profiles in the hope of meeting someone remotely on your wavelength. You began with high hopes and higher expectations but now find that you are prepared to compromise on far more than you and anticipated; due to necessity rather than genuine choice. Months have passed by and finally you have a date.

The profile picture looks great; certainly your type. Things look positive, he’s even within the tolerant age range to prevent you feeling like a cradle-snatcher or like your dating a grandparent. He lives a realistic distance away to suggest that this could be a workable partnership. Trying to rein in your hopes you desperately seek not to have chosen the house, furnishings, pets and holidays together…yes, you really have been single for that long.

As the day finally arrives you dress to impress, bearing in mind it is only coffee, or it would have been had you not spoken on the phone and agreed (against your code of dating) to dinner as well. The train there is expensive, but then aren’t they always? You pay an exorbitant car parking fee as you’re running late, but ‘hey, it’s only money and this could be your future life partner’. The train is running late so you text ahead, that last thing you want to do is start the date on a wrong foot. You finally arrive and exit the train station to a restored signal and a message from the guy: ‘I’m here.’ Feeling light on your feet, you walk out into the dismal weather, what’s a bit of rain when you feel this good.

Arriving at the agreed meeting point your smile is replaced with confusion, he’s not there. Wait a minute, there is a second text, he’s in the station having arrived early. This is quickly remedied as he texts to say he’s on his way out. With the image of his profile picture in your mind you smile, ‘iIm happy to wait for this one.’ He’s handsome with a great body and enough tattoos to compensate for the fact that he is a hairdresser. The seconds pass like minutes, dawdling until his arrival….ahhh, if only time had stopped.

It is only then that you get a look at him in the flesh, his head looks far less proportionate in real life. ‘Perhaps it’s the hairstyle, a rather typically abrupt statement cut that one might expect from a hairdresser? No, the head is definitely too big for the body.’ On the plus side, he does have a good body. You decide to go with it, there was too much anticipation and effort to get to this point to give up so quickly. Heading for a coffee you talk, conversation is easy but there is a distinct drop in your spirits; no matter how often you remind yourself of his name you can only think of him as pumpkin head. Coffee is good, a nice little independent coffee house that he knows, of course it’s a shame that he drinks the sort of coffee one might give to a child; weak, milky and luke warm, perhaps it’s an omen. If only you had seen the sign being presented to you then.

Coffee inevitably leads on to the dinner you had agreed to, thank God you said you liked cocktails, they might take away some of the bitter taste in your mouth. As dinner progresses you move beyond the superficial and see the muscular torso, the tattoos and the ability to converse with ease, of course conversation seems to be far easier when you are the one listening; his skills are less attuned to others. Throughout the date you are conscious of not talking too much, asking questions and being engaged in what the other person s saying; you are playing the date by the book. You are adept at this. You choose a light meal in contrast to the exuberance of his appetite. The food is good and makes the date that much more pleasant.

Well the food is finished, that last of the cocktails sipped and there is a return train arriving imminently. It’s at this point that you take charge and say you will have to leave to head home. The bill is requested and he suggests a 50/50 split, well why wouldn’t he with a main course twice the price of yours and an insatiable appetite for drinks. It’s a tough blow to take after all of this but it would look cheap to contradict his decision, besides conversation has certainly made the dead shrink to a watermelon, progress is being made, who knows a few more cocktails and you might be thinking turnip head.

As you walk to the station you remain engaged in everything he says delivering the appropriate ‘Really’, ‘Wow’, ‘Yes’ when he pauses for a nano-second to take a breath. A hug concludes the date and you head off for your train, he’s said he will text you but you decide to be polite and respond first. The message is non-commital but polite and even suggests that a second date could be a possibility, I suppose you have to find something positive from all of this, after all you have spent the best part of £60. His response is far more distant. And so it ends. You spend the next 40 minutes on the train annoyed with yourself for agreeing to dinner against your dating rules, for listening to his banal conversation for almost 3 hours and for allowing him to interject throughout your input in the conversation in order to talk more. Yes, he had a great body but the first sight of that head should have been enough. You make more rules for yourself on the back of this experience, knowing that you are unlikely to go on another date for a while, this encounter has jaded you.

And so ends the date with pumpkin head the hairdresser. The only thought circulating in your mind: ‘Why?’

Author: Ralph

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