I have mentioned before my annoyance with the sameyness of online dating profiles. Every girl out there seems to be the same skiing, mountain-climbing, horse-riding booklover who likes travelling and spending time with her friends. I was looking for someone different. Preferably actually someone with no friends, who’d probably be the type I’d have a chance with.
This Japanese girl, I’ll call her Yōko, stood out to me as she didn’t have the same copy/pasted list of interests as the others. She openly, and repeatedly mentioned her love of cemeteries and gravestones. Walking around graveyards, taking photos of them, reading books about them. This girl was … quirky. But she seemed nice. We got chatting over e-mail on the site and eventually by text after she got my number using a ruse that her site membership was about to expire. We arranged a date. My colleagues were quite clear that the best place for this date was the work bar. I disagreed for many reasons. Much as I love, respect and adore my colleagues who read this blog, throwing a poor young Japanese necrophile into a work banter environment on the first date wasn’t right.
Eventually someone suggested a French place we could go for coffee and other stuff if we wanted, a nice classy place off Regent Street. It was a Friday so I booked a table just in case it was busy. As the time approached I checked the menu of the place; there seemed to be nothing on there about coffee, or indeed anything that wasn’t full-on dinner. I’d been misled. So I texted her and asked her if dinner was OK – she was delighted at the idea. I suggested we meet at Hamley’s, as it was on the way, recognizable and not as busy as the Tube station would be.
In hindsight, suggesting to a potential date to meet me outside a toy shop – a toy shop that would have a load of Japanese tourists outside it – was probably not the best idea.
I fucking hate this bit because I know that no matter if she looks exactly like she does in the photos I will not recognise her and there will be an awkward moment when we are standing feet away from each other looking around then we’ll both get our phones out and call each other and it will be just lame. So I had a good few minutes as I walked down Regent’s Street (late, deliberately for this reason) to spot her. She had told me she had a pink handbag. So I’m looking for a small, cute Japanese girl with a pink handbag. How could I go wrong?
She’d even texted me to say she was there. But I couldn’t see a pink bag. It wasn’t even that busy – I looked at everyone, couldn’t see her. So I walked straight past and found a pillar to hide behind while I called her. I called her and looked around – she said she was there. There is only one Hamley’s, I chose it to avoid ambiguity. Eventually I found her, she was right next to me. She was TINY; about 5 foot, and appeared to be in heels. I had literally missed her because she was so small. We said our hellos; she’d told me she was very shy, and that came across. I gave her a kiss on the cheek, almost breaking my back, and pointed out where we were going for dinner. And then something struck me…
“Hang on, hang on, what about the pink bag?”
“Oh here it is,” she said, brandishing her oversized handbag.
“No it’s not it’s my pink bag.”
“Listen honey, I don’t know if colours are different in Japanese, but that bag is dull grey, not pink.”
There we were, having our first argument. What was she playing at, giving completely misleading information to me, adding in an extra layer of awkwardness to the bit of meeting someone I already hate! But she was even cuter than her photos … very cute … and I don’t mind the small thing at all, just would have appreciated a bit of warning so that I could have lowered my eyeline when I was approaching looking for her. “OK, bring your grey bag and let’s go.”
We walked for about 5 minutes, making smalltalk, as I helped her cross roads and avoid pedestrians like I was looking after a small colour-blind child. We arrived at the place, it seemed very posh. I don’t know what the fuck my colleague was talking about when he said we could just chill out and have a coffee.
The place was also empty.
About an hour before the date, I had panicked whilst reminding a colleague of the stress I was under to hide my full name from this potential sweetheart; on account of her then Googling my name and finding this site – the drinking stories, the vomit, the random nudity, the kiss ‘n’ tells, everything. I had realised that she’d learn my surname when we arrived at the restaurant, and just as I entertained her with my Polish sick & piss story over dinner, she’d be sat there on her phone, reading it on this site.
Luckily, the restaurant was so empty I didn’t even have to bother mentioning my reservation. Which was good because as the date progressed I was to have many more reservations on my mind.
I got my orange juice and she got her pint of white wine, and her shyness became even more severe. Now, in most dates I am never short of something to say, and I probably do talk so much, but I was getting so little out of her, so little reaction or input, I actually found it hard even to talk at her. This was not helped by the fact the restaurant was small, empty, and we had 7 French waiters just standing around us the whole time. It was horribly awkward, I felt like saying to them they might as well just fucking sit down and join us.
Our waiter – that is, the one of the 7 who actually spoke to us rather than standing staring at us, came over and asked us what we wanted to order. Yōko said she wasn’t really very hungry. Oh fucking fantastic. Neither was I. Wonder how this little fact didn’t come up earlier when I texted her and said “Do you want to have dinner?” I asked the waiter if they had anything we could share, he said no, only what was on the menu. And the menu was smaller than Yōko was. Just a handful of full main courses, and some side orders like a bowl of peas.
I pressed him, “Do you really have absolutely nothing at all that we can share?” His inexplicably smug face contorted for a few moments while he thought about this, most insane restaurant query.
“Well you could have a cheese board…” I checked with Yōko, she seemed happy with that (for now). I don’t eat cheese on its own, but at least it would give her something to do while I tried to handle the conversation part of the evening.
“OK, great thank you, merci etc, we’ll have the cheese board. Oh, and one more thing … what colour would you say this handbag is?”
“Uh, a dark grey?”
“THANK YOU!” I turned to Yōko, “I fucking told you it wasn’t pink! Grey. Grey like a gravestone.”
The cheese arrived and the next hour flew by like a coach trip to Aberdeen. Halfway through there had been a promising moment when she appeared to have lightened up a bit from the wine, and she started to talk a bit more, but that was short-lived as after one more sip of wine she’d tipped over to being drunk, and started swaying her wine glass around like it was about to be imminently smashed all over the place, with 7 attentive witnesses. I made smalltalk as she slowly progressed through the entire cheese board, even cramming in a classic McCannecdote (The Checkout Girl, because I literally had fuck all to lose). When she was done, I hastily ordered the bill so I could leave and continue with my life.
Nearly 40 pounds, for a glass of wine, an orange juice, and a plate of cheese. I was tempted to leave one of my testicles as an indignant tip. We left and she actually became a lot more talkative as we walked to the station; it was good to be out of that weird French social experiment. I kissed her goodbye but rather than going in the Tube myself, I rushed back to work nearby because I desperately needed a piss. I could have gone in the restaurant but the way things were in there with the waiters I’d have expected one of them to come with me to hold my knob.
Surprisingly, she texted me to say she’d had a lovely time and wanted to see me again. I’m not sure if maybe that whole time she had been quiet she was just daydreaming she was having fun, but I figured with literally nothing else in the pipeline and the prospect of dying alone I might give her another chance. She was nice, and she did warn me she was shy, so I imagined next time maybe something more relaxed. Maybe a trip to a cemetery… And she had perked up a bit on the way to the Tube, is she could be more like that I wouldn’t mind seeing her again. I texted her “Any plans over Easter?”…
She replied: “I’m working then… I need to keep myself busy. Have I told you that I had a horrible nervous breakdown end of last year? Have a good day.”
What the fuck? Who drops that randomly in a text? I replied with something nice, saying I’d had a pretty bad time last year too but it’s a new year, we should make the most of it, etc. I told her to get in touch when she was free if she fancied meeting up again. She didn’t. And sure enough a week or so later she’s got new photos on the online dating profile that apparently expired…
They say romance is dead… well if it is she’s bound to have a photo of its headstone.