When banter goes wrong

26 January 2018

Good banter is the holy grail in dating. It’s the foundation of attraction. The display of wit and verbal dexterity puts a lot of skills on show. Lightning fast reflexes, creativity, a certain sophistication (provided you stay on the right side of naughty) and, if texting, a good test of if you can spell.

I know friends who won’t date someone if they don’t engage in a good bit of banter before the date. But I don’t think you should write someone off too soon. You need to give them a chance to show they can take you on in a bit of verbal jousting. To charm you with their prowess.

It’s with all this in mind I tell you about my Monday night date. I’m shocked how it all went so wrong so quickly.

playful jibes

It started off a well enough. He had a slightly sincere look about him which I found a bit off putting but we had a few drinks and he loosened up. After a few playful jibes from me he started taking the piss back. The whole dynamic immediately changed and he went from a ‘meh 2/10’ to a ‘perky 7/10’. He was a reasonably good looking guy, but he had good banter so immediately went to the top of the class.

We ended having a real laugh and going for something to eat. You’re probably thinking wow, how did he manage to duff up such a head start? Well it was all in the banter. It took a turn for the worst. It got dirty.

Now dirty banter is the bedrock of any good relationship, or friendship for that matter. I’m a fan. But there’s an unwritten rule that you just don’t go there on a first date. Unless I suppose you’re looking to get laid. Which, just to be clear, I’m not on a first date thanks. So it’s a very risky strategy.

Total filth

We were having a decent conversation when he started to make some…let’s call them ‘playful’ comments. They were still within the bounds of decency and were actually quite funny so I gave as good as I got. But then he came out with a few comments that were total filth. And when I tried to steer the conversation onto safer territory he carried on, like he was just getting warmed up. Soon pretty much every other comment from him had a sex toy reference. He just wasn’t funny any more. Just a bit creepy. A bit pervy. I suggested we call it a night. We went our separate ways.

He’s probably a really nice guy but he really messed up by going in too early with the dirt. He misread his audience. I wanted a charming witty comeback machine but instead got Frankie Boyle on heat (sigh).

Date venue disasters

13 January 2018.

What is it with guys and choosing crap venues? I usually let them organise the date because I don’t want to come across as a massive control freak. Perhaps this is where I’m going wrong. So far I’ve been left stranded outside a grotty closed pub feeling like a prostitute, sandwiched in between other people in a trendy bar on a trestle table (where i flashed my knickers to the guy next to me when i tried to awkwardly straddle the bench) and been somewhere with music so loud I could have sworn he told me a story about David Hasselhoff’s erection.

The initial place my date suggested we meet was ‘Oxford circus tube’. Now this is ‪Saturday night‬ during the January sales and Oxford Circus is busy at the best of times, so this was a spectacularly shit idea. When I diplomatically pointed this out he suggested a local pub instead.

Unfortunately the first thing that hit me when I walked in the pub was the smell of stale sweat and the faint whiff of piss. The inside looked like it hadn’t been touched since the smoking ban and was sticky. Drinks were cheap. It was super popular. I arrived early, sighed, bought myself a drink and propped up the bar. I then got a text from my date saying he was outside and since the pub looked rammed how about we go to another bar across the road. I abandoned my drink in the hope of finding somewhere, well, less sticky.

The bar across the road was entirely personality free but at least we got seats. I thought it was a step up from the last pub until I discovered a piece of garlic bread in my hair that had been stuck to the back of my chair. Amazing. I thought about throwing it at him.

We got talking and he was actually a lovely guy and very easy to talk to. We got through a bottle of wine without incident. It’s a shame then when I suggested we get something to eat that he admitted he’s already eaten. Schoolboy error. I was famished and ordered food. He basically sat there and watched me eat while I tried to answer his questions without choking on my food and spitting in his face. I could have forgiven him for his crap choice of venue and eating before the date, if I fancied him. But I didn’t. I like confident guys with a bit of vim and good banter. This guy was too quiet. So it was game over. And not necessarily because of the garlic bread.

So what did I learn from this? Maybe I need to channel my control freakery and be the first to suggest a venue. After all, I know loads of great places and secret bars tucked away all over London. This fundamentally reduces the risk of a disastrous date and will be one less thing to worry about. Then I can just focus on channelling my inner ‪Beyonce‬ and trying to be fabulous.

Dating outfits and their perils

10 Dec 2017

I was wondering if my last date’s friskiness was at all related to the safety pin breaking in my top and me flashing a bit of boob. And it got me thinking about dating outfits and their perils.

Personally I’m always compromising myself with my footwear. Quite often on a date we’ll end up doing something vaguely active and competitive, like ping pong or table football. Usually at my instigation. But that does present certain limitations if wearing heels. Lunging for a ball in ping pong, for example, is a nightmare in stilettos. And I discovered it’s impossible to take a corner at speed wearing wedges.

There’s also the top half to consider. What looks like a sexy flash of cleavage whilst upright at the bar, when bending over a pool table potting a ball, looks like you’ve basically unbuttoned your top to the naval and screamed ‘hello boys!’.

Short skirts are also a liability. They’re a nightmare to look ladylike in. Getting in and out of cabs or clambering over a bench in a trendy bar almost guarantees a knicker flash.

And don’t get me started on tights. A ladder is not a stairway to heaven, it kills any attempt to be sophisticated. It makes any girl look like she’s been dragged through a hedge.

Jumpers you would think, are safe territory. But once I did remarkably well at a speed dating night and got nearly every guy’s number, only to realise in the loos later that my new black jumper was almost entirely see through under the bright lights. (Note to self – worth wearing again then).

So you see dating outfits are fraught with danger, with the smallest slip up potentially resulting in you unveiling more than you bargained for. Which can be half the fun I guess. I suppose then the perfect dating outfit doesn’t exist. It’s just down to how much you dare to bare when bending over.

Hot Santa

03 Dec 2017

He announced his arrival at the pub on Friday night by text: ‘look out for Father Christmas’. This was enough to make me run for the exit but unfortunately I bumped into him before I could make an excuse to escape. He was 6’2 and broad but without Santa’s tum. He had grey hair and a trimmed salt and pepper beard and sparkly eyes. In short, he was Hot Santa.

We went to a nearby pub. We had a good chat about food (Hot Santa was a burger man) and he had a few pints (I was on G & Ts). The evening looked up. But then things started to unravel. Hot Santa had previously been a sales director and had recently set up his own business. He had a really annoying habit of coaching me like he was a consultant. Then when we got onto a subject he clearly felt passionately about, he would launch into a ten-minute rant. At me. And I couldn’t really tell whether I had said something which meant the rant was directed at me. Or whether it was for my benefit. Either way, I couldn’t get a word in edgeways.

At some point we got dinner and I started drinking white wine. I’ll admit I was bored. So I sat there and drank while he talked at me. Then I decided to point out to him that I couldn’t get a word in edgeways. I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt I was being patronized.

This seemed to really piss him off and I vaguely remember him saying I’d end up alone with only cats for company.

So that went well then. And just to put the nail in the coffin we talked about politics too. And it won’t come as a surprise that we both traditionally voted for opposing parties.

Whilst this chat killed the date for me, Hot Santa seemed invigorated by this new opposition. And he soon became Frisky Santa. I was not up for sexy times with Frisky Santa and after fending off a few advances, left sharpish.

Good luck to him.

Instead I resolved to look forward to the various Christmas parties this month and promised myself to speak to someone new at every party.

Dancing waiters, live bands and flying tits

26 Nov 2017

Wednesday was a lot of fun. I went with new friend G to an event organised by dating network Inner Circle. If you look at IC online, it appears to exclusively attract entrepreneurs, CEOs and yacht owners. So I was initially a bit sceptical of meeting anyone who didn’t want a slim blond as a girlfriend and who wasn’t a massive knobhead. I’d also been to a match.com dating event before with a friend which was full of guys we didn’t fancy and spent the night pretending to be a Virgin air stewardess to spice things up. So I was a bit wary.

The first time I went to one of these IC events didn’t end so well as I ended up launching myself head first down some metal stairs after too many margaritas. Note to self: must learn to effortlessly glide down stairs in heels in posh places without face planting. Trying to chat up a guy while looking like I might need a lift to A&E doesn’t work.

The second event was at the Box. When I had recovered my jaw from the floor after learning that the jaeger bombs were £20 each (wtf?!) I then had my prude-o-meter tested when I discovered a stripper’s pole in the upstairs bar next to a bed big enough for 5 people. The prude-o-meter then went off the scale as a performer appeared in her underwear, climbed a column of silk suspended from the ceiling, then proceeded to remove her smalls with her toes under my nose, before performing the rest of the routine naked. I was lost for words mid-chat with a guy at the bar, with my view entirely obscured by flying tits. It certainly made for a different kind of small talk.

So I approached my latest mid-week excursion with a degree of curiosity. It was at a private members club called Tramp which  wasn’t the most auspicious of names.

Thankfully on arrival we were immediately given free cocktails by a rather flirty waiter. There was also a live band. Things were looking up.

There were plenty of hot guys there but G had other ideas. While everyone else was making polite small talk, G and I made friends with the band and in no time I was teaching them sign language for the most juvenile things I could think of.

I remember drinking a lot, talking to a stoned Italian called Marco in an overly tight shirt, getting a salsa lesson from the flirty waiter, getting into an argument with a hypnotherapist and smoking a roll up in a room upstairs for the sheer naughty novelty of being able to smoke indoors, despite ditching fags in my 20s.

I didn’t actually speak to any eligible hot men. The nearest I came was when I got warned for standing too near a sexy Mark Strong lookalike by his secretary (yes I know. I was confused about why she was there too. I think perhaps she was part of his advance vetting process).

Anyway, at the end of the night I talked to a forlorn looking Chinese guy who said he was going to hang around ‘for the scraps’. It was 1am and I realised I was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards. I didn’t fancy being a scrap. It was time to leave.

So are dating events worth the trouble? Are they just a collection of undateble singletons trying to get a shag? Well, I’ve had memorable evenings every time I’ve been to one of the IC events and not necessarily because they’ve led to anything. (Although I did end up dating that guy I was speaking to at the bar at The Box for 3 months). Hell I’d take my mates to one of these events even if they’re not single. Who doesn’t like dancing waiters, live bands and flying tits?

Language of love

18 Nov 2017

I use a dating app called Bumble which makes the girls message first within 24 hours, or else your ‘matched’ person disappears off the app forever. I suppose the idea is to put a rocket up the arses of all those who just swipe and never get around to messaging. And to put women in control of the opening gambit.

I started off carefully crafting opening messages personal to the guys I matched with. But it was really time consuming and ultimately I’m just trying to elicit a response to find out if they can spell/don’t use too many emojis and aren’t a fuck wit, sex pest or weirdo, so I can judge whether it’s worth me persevering. Guys do this too by the way. I’m sure they have similar rules. One guy even tried to put me through a general knowledge quiz but I told him to sod off.

So I was lazy and moved to a more generic message that I could send to lots of guys. Something a bit more than just a lame ‘hi’.

This one seemed to work best. Although I did occasionally get this sort of response:

This made me feel like a kid who does a nice drawing and gives it to the boy they fancy at school and he draws a dick and balls on it. So thanks for that buddy. I’m not on this app to get laid – I want to find a partner in crime, so this sort of approach won’t get him anywhere.

So going back to the message. This ping pong focused message gives them an inkling of my competitiveness which is no bad thing. If we do end up playing wiff waff they’ll get to know the real, rather competitive me.

If I win I’ll get to gauge how gracious they are about losing to a girl. Which is a helpful character trait around me and many of my sporty female friends.

If I lose I’ll try desperately hard to  not care but if they show the merest hint of weakness I won’t be able to help myself but go for the kill with an over ambitious forward smash. Usually in their face.

Which is clearly a bit of a flaw in this cunning plan for a boyfriend. So maybe I ought to focus on something a bit less… competitive. Maybe something which reigns in the killer instinct and doesn’t channel my inner Wonder Woman. Instead, I think I’m going to focus on my inner Nigella and talk about my culinary attempts in the kitchen. Everyone likes taking about food right? There are plenty of jokes about chunky nuts, icing your buns and soggy bottoms. What could possibly go wrong with this tactic?

What your dating pics say about you

12 Nov 2017

The holiday snap

These are everyone’s best holiday pics, with people sucking their bellies in, posing under picturesque waterfalls in their smalls, or frolicking on the beach with a carefully crafted ‘look at me I’m bronzed god/goddess’ glance. (Most of these are from 10 years ago before we all got wrinkles).

The hot friend
These pics say: ‘Look I have hot friends and if you look closely you’ll see that some of their hotness rubs off on me.’ The problem with this is that we inevitably wonder ‘ooo is the hot friend single too’?

The body part
What is it with dick pictures? Every time one springs into view on my screen i seem to be drinking a hot drink and gah! spray the nearest person with tea as I snort with amused disgust. I guess these guys are just trying to get laid. Some guys don’t go the whole hog and just show themselves with their shirts off at the gym or in the mirror at home. These guys also want to get laid. But maybe not as much as dick pic guy. Dick pic guy really goes all out to sell himself. I’ve seen photographs of his prized appendage next to various random items to give a bit of perspective – a Coke can, a sweet corn (!) and an aubergine (bad idea buddy. You’re never going to look good next to an aubergine).

Posing with your mum
There’s this new trend of posing with your mum or grandmother. It’s mainly guys doing it. I quite like it because you can clearly see when a guy really loves his Mum and vice versa and when she’s being used as some kind of involuntary wing woman. When it’s authentic it’s actually very endearing.

Posing with animals
There’s two kinds of posing with animals. The first is playing with cute animals like puppies. I once came across a picture of a hot guy with his shirt off ‘asleep’ in bed curled around a sleeping kitten. I thought ‘c’mon, that looks so staged!’ but I knew it would be capnip for single ladies who would all want to jump in there with him. (He did look very cute).

The second is a posing with drugged animals like lions and tigers. They’re probably thinking they look really cool but what they’re really saying is ‘I had my brain removed at birth’. You might have guessed I’m not a fan….

Being sporty
A bit like the holiday snap the sporty snap often shows people in not many clothes leaping around, running marathons or wind-surfing looking hot. I’m really sporty but you’ll never see any pictures of me doing sport. That’s because I go the colour of a baboon’s arse at the tiniest expenditure of effort. It’s not a good look. Good luck to you trying to actually play sport and look hot.

Did they ring a bell? Even if you’re happily hooked up, some of these still crop up a lot on Facebook! (thankfully not the dick pictures).

Show offs v limelight dodgers

04 Nov 2017

So…. Remind me not to go on a date after a seriously stressful few days of trying to remortgage/ update my lease/ manage air bnb bookings/ book a group trip away for my birthday. I was wired. My chaotic lifestyle was entirely opposed to my date’s ‘how do I get through life with the least amount of effort possible. Which is commendable. It’s just not my way. I went to the date turbo charged with the adrenaline needed to survive an ambush and talked like I’d done enough red bull to kill a horse.

I knew then it wasn’t going to work. He was as laid back as a stoned sloth and I need someone who likes a challenge. I also didn’t fancy him.

(I didn’t think he fancied me either but he went to kiss me on the mouth at the end of the night but l’d already turned my cheek! Super awkward!)!

It occurred to me that I have no clue what kind of guy me and other turbo charged woman should go for. Ambition, confidence and energy draw us in but would they make a good boyfriend? Would someone laid back and less willing to hog the limelight be better and be a good foil? And would they want to be with someone like us or would they just prefer other laid back women?

Lots of friends have extolled the virtues of the limelight dodger or quieter man. Limelight dodger, (or Beta man) is apparently very trustworthy and more in touch with his emotions.

I can’t help but be drawn to big show offs. But it might be time I ditch Alpha men and give their more measured side-kicks a go.

Lost in Translation

29 Oct 2017

My last date was with a promising sounding fellow but it didn’t begin well. For a start the pub he’d chosen had closed down. I loitered outside for 5 minutes before getting a text from him saying he was going to be another 15 mins late. Given the pub wasn’t in the most salubrious of surroundings (under a bridge and next to a grotty tattoo parlour) and the fact I was wearing killer heels, I went and found a nearby bar to avoid being mistaken for a prostitute. I was not impressed.

Frankly things didn’t get any better when he showed up.

I suppose it’s inevitable that I would come across someone I’ve already spoken to online and dismissed before getting to the date stage. This guy appeared to have a photographic memory and remember every detail of our previous conversation. Which wouldn’t necessarily have been a problem, if it’s wasn’t for my monumentally shit memory.

He asked me if I remembered him. Do I fess up and say no? Surely this either suggests that he’s so dull and uninteresting to be unmemorable. Or that I’m a massive hussy who speaks to so many guys I’m unable to differentiate between them all.

I fudged it. ‘You sure?’ He explained he never forgot a face and there are some rather distinctive things in my online profile. Shit. Busted….

The date went downhill from there. As a musician he had this annoying habit of singing along to the bar’s playlist out loud. The problem was the music had been turned up really loud so I could barely hear what he was saying. When I leaned in I was never sure whether he was answering my question or crooning along to the music (you want to do what to me tonight?!).

As if that wasn’t confusing enough he then claimed to have an utterly knockout story, that could kick the arse of any of my stories (well that’s what I think he said. It was something about stories and arses).

He proceeded to talk at me for about 20 minutes, gesticulating for emphasis. The loud music really didn’t help and I admit most of the time I sat there thinking ‘did he really just say ‘Hasselhoff’ and ‘erection’ in the same sentence?’

He finished and peered at me, no doubt expecting a standing ovation. ‘Excellent story’. ‘Well done’ I said. Not knowing whether to appear amused or horrified. I stared at him and realised he had particularly hairy nostrils.

He looked disappointed, muttered something about me being hard work and disappeared towards the bar.

I cut my losses. On his return I said I had to go and I made a quick escape after finishing my drink. I’m sure there’s someone out there for him but i’m saving the killer heels for someone else.

Eyebrow wars

14 Oct 2017

It seemed like a match made in heaven.

After matching on bumble and exchanging texts, he asked to talk on the phone. I explained that he hadn’t yet quite passed my usual basic assessment in order to get a date (no sex pests, weirdos, men who can’t spell or who use too many emojis). He understood the rules. He pointed out his spelling was amazing. I naturally assumed that he was going to make a joke about being a sex pest when he phoned. Lo and behold his voice was the most comically sexy voice you ever heard. As low as Barry White on twenty a day. I told him his sex pest voice was hilarious. He said he’s Glaswegian and that’s his actual voice. I died a little inside.

Thankfully he thought this was brilliantly funny and we ended up chatting for an hour about all kind of shit. Turns out he’s an ex-Mexican wrestler! (extra brownie points from me). We agreed to meet. When he showed up I was totally intrigued by his appearance. Like a cross between Brian Blessed and a young Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, he had the kind of expressive, beardy face that looks like it could be made up of a number of small furry animals, each trying to escape. He was also a veritable man mountain at six foot five.

It was soon clear he was a massive show off. Within five minutes he was showing me the perfect slut drop (it’s all in the wrists) and talking about how he was going to take me down at ping pong. We drank pints and then tequila, discussed Mexican wrestling moves and I showed him my infamous wrist lock learned from my days as a jujitsu instructor. We finished with an eyebrow war over the table – he won. (It’s like thumb war but about who has the best eyebrow moves). It was going very well.

He grabbed my arse at the end of the night when we kissed goodbye but I didn’t mind. He’d won me over with his eyebrows.

So it’s with a real sense of sadness that I tell you it didn’t work out. On our third date it was like all the energy and chemistry of the first date had just melted away. He showed up in yoga pants from that morning’s class. He fell asleep in the film. He stopped asking questions.

Its times like these I pick myself up, dust myself off and carry on. Because there’s no point dwelling on what might have been. And there are plenty more frogs out there willing to be shown a wrist lock.