Our dating columnist, High50‘s Louisa Whitehead-Payne, is down to the last of four dates from her current batch of Internet encounters. Will he prove to be the one at last?
I am meeting Home Boy, a delightful-sounding man from my home town, in a country pub on a Sunday. Hope springs eternal as I wake up in sunny Somerset. (Well, actually, it is soggy Somerset as it is chucking it down.)
As lunch doesn’t require sunshine, I set off in good time and with a sunny mood at least. This evaporates pretty quickly as I realize that the world and his wife are for some reason all taking a Sunday drive. What should be a 10-minute drive has already taken a jam-laden 30 and I get a text saying Home Boy might be late. I text him to say relax as I have hit similar problems.
Then my sat nav, for reasons best known to itself, lands me at The North Somerset Butterfly House, heaving with visitors and where the traffic is at a standstill. After slogging through sodden Somerset I finally arrive at the pub an hour late, and scan the dining room eagerly for my date.
Have I Been Stood Up?
No sign of him, and I ask behind the bar for our booking. Our garden table for the weekend’s barbecue has been moved to a weeny toilet-side table indoors. I nurse a half pint of cider for a further half an hour, my spirits sinking with every minute.
Just as I think I have been stood up, a lone chap arrives, clad in a lime-green anorak, looking anxious and slighter in stature than I was expecting.
The barman points me out, and Home Boy steps up and greets me confidently with a kiss on the cheek. Anorak removed, he is stylishly dressed, nice-looking with a very attractive smile. He’s a bit on the skinny side, but not bad at all.
We give each other therapy about the wet weather, traffic, stressing about lateness. Then we attend to the matter of the barbecue, which is being served in a small marquee on the side of the pub.
Narrowly Avoiding Hospital
I am allergic to milk. In a big way; not an it-gives-me-wind way, or an I-break-out-in-hives way, but an off-to-the-hospital, peanut-style, I-could-die allergy way. I explain this to the chap grilling sausages, and he assures me there is not a drop of dairy in these porkers. So we gather a fine collection and settle down to eat.
Just as my first forkful almost reaches my mouth, the manager comes over shouting and snatches the fork away from my hand and explains that they contain butter.
At first, hovering between gratitude and rage, embarrassment takes over as the whole pub has fallen silent and everyone is staring at us. The nice man clutching my fork suggests the chicken instead, and Home Boy gallantly offers to fetch it for me.
He takes ages and I wonder if he has legged it after I have proved such a challenge to feed. He returns after about 10 minutes clutching a sad plate of one chicken breast, a tomato and a small amount of lettuce. He looks even sadder than the food as his designer shirt is soaked to the skin. I can clearly see his nipples.
Apparently, the marquee roof was collecting water and when the chef pushed the roof to clear it, a bucket-sized volume or water ran down through a seam all over my date.
A Total Washout … Or Is It?
So far it’s been more than a washout. But only literally. Once we settle down and start to chat, we have a good conversation, and I discover I rather like him. And he has a very sexy smile.
Then, symbolically, the rain stops and the sun comes out as Home Boy sees me to my car. As I get in to go, he says, “I’d quite like a rematch if you are interested.”
Actually I am. So I agree, and we decide to have lunch the following Sunday, this time at a spot of my choosing, halfway between Somerset and Oxford.
So, a lot of searching, favorite-ing, phone calls and four actual dates have served up one man who I like and find attractive. I reckon it has taken about two working weeks to get this far. Asshole quotient is only one. I deal with return on Investment at work, so 72 hours work per good man is the current return. Hard work, but will it be worth it?
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