It could be said that I’ve not learnt anything from the lessons I’ve been taught. Friendly advice from well meaning confidants, self-help books and internet articles. Pages and pages of acquired knowledge absorbed into my brainbox that I have not yet properly road tested. It galls me a tad that I haven’t used this information because I remember telling a friend of mine about the Red Pill last year, and he successfully adopted the theory, becoming proactive and resourceful. Most importantly he was able to stroll around like Billy Big Balls and become a confident Casanova figure. A surprise hit with the ladies, which wasn’t bad for a man who described himself as a hopeless geek.
I however have not managed to chance my arm, say to hell with it and live life like I had a deadline. I have not swallowed the Red Pill. For example, this message was drummed into my skull when I was listening to the Radio one evening whilst cooking my meal for one. I overheard a stomach cancer survivor talk about his urgent approach to life. He paraphrased Samuel Johnson, who once said – “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” I think his point was – never mind about the what ifs, the buts, or maybes and simply be a dear and get on with things because anything else is wasting valuable time. There is no point farting around and having doubts, you’ve got to go out and enjoy the ride.
When it comes to dating I’ve adopted a scattershot approach, despite playing the game on only one field because of my busy schedule. I decided to use OK Cupid, a site where I’ve had some success in the past before (i.e. women have endured the pitter patter of my typed wit during a long winded exchange of electronic messages enough to agree to meet me in ‘real life’), there was recently a rare occasion when I thought at last I’ve met someone with potential. It turned out not to be the case.
If this is to be an accurate representation of what happened then I fear that I must be a bastard and share a few choice cuts from the back and forth exchange on OK Cupid which led to us meeting up for the first time. Certain details are protected because although I may be a bastard, I’m not a naughty c word.
Me: Hello ****, it really surprises me that you’re a fan of Menswear. They were one of those bands that kinda existed in that tier below Dodgy, Ocean Colour Scene and Mansun back in the halcyon days of Britpop. I’ve got to ask why you like them so much?
Her: Oh don’t start a conversation by saying my favourite band are a lower tier than Dodgy!!! How rude. They will always be credited with getting me into rock music away from pop and dance. I saw a picture of their guitarist Chris Gentry in smash hits, fell instantly in love with him, bought their album and discovered I’d been wasting my life without indie rock. Can you think of a better reason to love a band than them changing your life?!
That was the first message, a textbook example of picking something interesting from her profile and asking an innocent question, in this case about the shitty Britpop band Menswear. After getting a reply, and seeing, if we are to talk in angling terms that the fish had bit the lure, I shared my own music tastes and asked her what tunes she liked at the moment. I gave her my name quite early on the piece, made an empty boast about how I’d done a little Music writing, I then asked “What can I call you?”
She waffled on a bit more about music and gave me her name. This followed…
Me: I’m currently doing a ***Mental Health related qualification***, which will hopefully lead to a ***another*** course that begins ***soon***, after that I will be accredited and can begin a new career helping people fix themselves.
Initially I did want to become a Music Journalist, inspired by the likes of Lester Bangs and Paul Morley. Got a Media degree, spent six months trying to break into the biz. Money was scarce, so I had to retreat and get a real job. This sidetracked me a bit until I discovered I had a good knack for helping people who had Mental Health Problems (the story behind this is one that needs to be told over a couple of pints or coffee’s).
Your turn. Why do you consider yourself a workaholic?
Her: Table Turner?! Fine. …when I wrote that I worked in hospitality which was all absorbing! I now work in ***doing something*** for a charity which is lovely and gives me much more free time. Although we are currently in silly season so I spend all the time I can getting out to the ***things*** I arrange to see how things are going which is fun.
It takes a lot to look after people with mental health issues. My *** a relative*** has one so first hand experience tells me that! You’re brave to make a career out of it.
A few more messages followed about work and future aspirations. I think it is important to demonstrate that you have some ambition, women tend to like that. It would have been terrible to admit that for a large chunk of my life I have been largely banging my head against the wall in frustration, trying to figure out if there is a point to anything. I’d like to call that my adolescent existential crisis period, which extended up until I turned twenty five.
In return she shared something personal about her relative, I did the same. We had a personal connection of sorts. I then injected a little humour, and made a cheeky comment about how she could get her employees, or underlings to pull their weight in the workplace through bribing them.
Me: People tend to respond well to biscuit bribes, this probably extends to chocolate and sweets as well. Everyone has their price!
Right, I need to hit the hay. Wild day tomorrow.
You know what, here’s my number – ***my mobile number***. If you want to meet up for a drink or something then we can discuss Britpop and other things some time.
Her: With me I find doritos are amazing bribes. I love the chilli ones! Not a fan of sweet food.
How was your wild day? I had the day off and treated myself to a trip to beauticians to treat myself plus a little shopping.
Was the number thing an invitation to text? If so then why not… my number is ***her number***
The communication moved over to mobile, since I delete my text messages on a weekly basis I can’t recall exactly how things progressed via text, only that after several messages we agreed to meet a couple of days later at a local pub called the York Tavern.
I arrived there first, ordered a rum and coke, and since it was a warm evening I sat in the beer garden. Two lads were sat on the table behind, talking about stuff that real men do. I twiddled my thumbs and flicked around on the Guardian website checking the latest cricket scores.
She strolled in fashionably late, and didn’t look much like her pictures. By that I mean she looked gawkier. I took it to be that the pictures on her profile weren’t very recent. She was drinking ale that night, and boy could she drink, in the course of the nearly three hours we spent together that night she must have knocked back five pints. Whenever someone out drinks me on a date… actually no, this has never happened. It was a strange sight to behold.
We talked in greater deal about interests, a bit of pop culture chinwag, and surprisingly a shared love of the work of the satirist Chris Morris. First impressions, she was nice, and we clicked, but did we click in a matey way, or was there attraction? I had some reservations, but as we parted after a polite hug, and a kiss on the cheek there seemed to be something there, growling deep in my loins… no, scratch that. I had a gut feeling, that’s all.
So, I sent the “had fun last night, let’s do it again sometime” text and she was receptive. We texted back and forth over the next few days, and she invited me out again, starting at the same pub. We met a week or so later.
On the second date she apologized about not looking her best, something about not having time to straighten her hair, but I thought if anything she looked better. She was wearing a low cut top that diverted… erm… I’m not sure if including this information is relevant. I’ve been involved in a few arguments with women about low cut tops, and the reasons as to why women wear them? My humble opinion was that women wore them to attract men. This has been disputed by several of my female friends, some of whom took great offence to my innocent Louis Theroux like line of questioning. Call me naïve but that’s what I thought. I don’t know maybe what she wearing didn’t matter and I was reading too much into it. I was wearing a tight pair of jeans (why do men wear tight trousers?) and a stripy jumper, over which I wore a long grey winter coat as it was chilly outside.
Whilst we were in the York Tavern she suggested we go over to see a gig across town at another pub called The Blueberry. Her housemate / ‘best friend’ was there, along with his girlfriend. Since I was attempting to follow the #YOLO path of the Red Pill lifestyle, it made sense to try something different, to throw myself into this new situation and embrace whatever was to happen wholeheartedly.
Eventually after a pleasant long walk we made it to The Blueberry, and immediately I knew I was overdressed (wearing my smart casual attire, and especially my tight trousers) and unprepared for a night of gutter punk and Ska, with a bill that included Tyrannosaurus Alan and the Nelson County Steppers. Everywhere I looked I could see people that looked like they were OCCUPY squatters. I was introduced to her housemate, a smiling guy with a Morrissey quiff and also his much younger girlfriend. They chatted together, and I kind of stood there, not knowing how to play this.
Deep in thought, drinking a JD and coke, it suddenly dawned on me, and I’m not the brightest spark when it comes to things like this, that perhaps this was a test. I felt uneasy. I believed that my date wanted a second opinion of me. I was on a trial, I was the potential boyfriend. Therefore I must make a good impression on the housemate, show that I’m alright and not the kind of person who would write about the date on the internet.
To the punks around us, it must have looked like we were two couples having fun, but I was ruminating about my next move. As the housemate and his girlfriend moved closer to the stage, the music got louder. I struggled to talk to my date; my voice was lost amongst the riffs and horn section. She was saying stuff to me, and I caught every third word.
No opportunities arose for me to impress the man I needed to impress most, the housemate. He was elusive. When I went off for a tinkle in the Gents, he turned up, I could smell his Lynx Africa scent, but he took one look at me and went into the single vacant cubicle. I couldn’t make small talk with him through the door. That would have been weird. I couldn’t wait by the sink, because other blokes might have wondered why I was lurking around in a toilet. Ok, maybe chat by the bar.
He went to the bar, squeezing into a space between two mohawked giants. I couldn’t get close, as these giants were joined by their petite and surprisingly attractive multi-pierced girlfriends. Every opportunity was foiled. How could I demonstrate to him that I was a suitable man?
The chance never came, and therefore what came next shouldn’t have been two surprising. I attempted to make up for last ground, by being the keen conversationalist as I walked my date home. But in truth, my ears were ringing, my voice coarse and I was tired. I tried to muster up something, but it just wasn’t happening. When I said goodbye I noticed the distance between us.
Two days after the second date I received a text message telling me that I was a “sweet guy”. She told me that there was no spark there and wished me luck with the rest of my life. It was a patronising text that got me thinking about everything I did wrong, and what I could have done in hindsight.
Something bothered me about this. Yes, this was an unsuccessful date, and there have been many like this before and probably a few more in the future, but I felt completely unself-aware this time around. It felt like a true defeat, that somehow this was the point in my dating life where I must truly evaluate my approach, or lack of, and consider how on earth I can make myself more appealing.
I moaned unreservedly to friends and colleagues about the date and then I turned it into this hack piece for HST.