Harriet dearest just brace yourself for this one
We met up in New Cross because we thought we would both know it and it would be easier, in a bar called the Amersham Arms (I used to frequent it with my pals as a teenager (under normal circumstances I would never be seen dead in there now!). New Cross can be a bit dodgy but in general I’ve never had any trouble So, for sake of ease, I agree to meet him there, we can always go on to somewhere else nice later.
When I first see him, I already know that it’s not going to work out. He’s relatively good-looking I suppose, but the way he was dressed – it’s not that it was bad, it’s just that he was still dressed the way boys in their teens dress, and bear in mind this guy is six years older than me which make him what – thirty-two?
But I didn’t want to run away screaming, I thought let’s just have a nice time and not worry about something like that. However, once we’d got a drink (Dutch) he’d then bought me a present, which…it’s not that it wasn’t nice of him to buy me a present, it’s more that it was a bit much for a first date – I obviously hadn’t got him anything. The present was a snow globe. A snow globe of London, because that is ‘where we met’. Ermmmmmmm… Oh-KAY…
So, we have a drink, get chatting, he tells me that he’s been working in New Zealand doing snowboarding – training people in snowboarding or something like that. Which again, is fine but not really what I’m looking for in a man. He’s got long hair. He’s still got a long keychain on his trousers and I swear to god, genuinely said the word ‘gnarly’ sans irony at one point. Gnarly.
But little me, I decide this isn’t enough to get out of there, I agree to go on to somewhere else as it wasn’t that busy at the Amersham Arms. We go to the New Cross Inn. We get a drink. He decides to get out pictures of himself in New Zealand (does he not realise that I can look at his profile on FB anytime and see these pictures??) Anyway, I guess he was quite proud of himself. He also told me that he’d gotten out of a relationship that had been going on for nine years a MONTH ago. At this point, I went to the bathroom and contemplated how I might make an early exit.
When I came back Brian was still looking at his own photos and my handbag was gone. Actually gone. I knew it was gone as soon as I returned because I deliberately left it under the table by his feet and it still had managed to get pinched. I didn’t have my phone, my purse, my oyster card, nothing. I had nothing. What’s more, I was miles away from home and with a guy I did not want to be on a date with. We asked at the bar – I asked at the bar – if my bag had been handed in and then left. I started walking to New Cross Gate station and Brian came with me. As we were walking along he was approached by a very dubious-looking chap who told Brian that he hadn’t stolen the bag but he knew the guy who had, and he could get it back to him if we gave them some money. Brian looked panicked. I said NO very firmly and started semi-running towards the station. At the station, Brian kindly offered to buy my train ticket home. Like – a taxi would have been nice under the circumstances dude, especially if you are trying to romance me.
However, what made this situation so so so much worse than it needed to be was Brian. He decided to come back with me – Ok, you can see how I might have felt scared and not wanted to be alone, but he didn’t just come back with me to my door, he invited himself in. And my flatmates were in anyway. I was distracted and just keen to get in the house and start calling up my bank companies and getting my phone cancelled etc. So he came in, and then decides to stay the night. I am exhausted and agree, but make it clear that he is not staying in my bedroom, and get him some blankets and pillows for the front room. By the time everything is sorted it is 12 midnight. I’ve been up since 6am for work. Why is he still here??? Can he not take the hint??? Anyway, I went to sleep, basically just grateful that I had gotten home and nothing worse had happened. I was at home with my flatmates, all fine, hopefully Brian would be gone in the morning.
BUT NO. At 5.30am Brian knocks on my bedroom door, says he can’t sleep, and wants to know what I’m doing. WTF??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
I said, Brian – I’m asleep!
But then he kept rattling around the kitchen basically to intentionally wake me up so I just thought fuck it I have to deal with it, he’s obviously not leaving.
So I got up, got dressed and he wanted breakfast. Obviously I wasn’t planning to have him to stay so I had nothing for him – I usually eat at work. So, I had to take him to this all-night cafe that I know of (thank god). As if things could get any worse, he then started interrogating me on my love life. (at 6am!!! Give me strength) Did I have a boyfriend? Did I want one? What happened in my last relationship???… I just couldn’t even respond, just sighed and gave him monosyllabic answers hoping he would get the message. He paid for breakfast (I’d only had a coffee and a slice of toast, guess I’ve seen the last of the big spenders) and gave me a tenner to get to work. Then asked me if I would be up for seeing him on Saturday as he was having a BBQ and his parents would be there. His PARENTS. At this stage, all I managed was a weak ‘Let me check, I think I have a friends birthday but I’ll let you know if not.’
I got to work nearly two hours early. Work won’t let me leave early this afternoon. The only thing keeping me alive right now is that Andy is being my little servant today and helping me with my customers and drip-feeding me coffee. He also bought me a Twix, which was nice.
In summation, I’m never going online dating again. But how are you?x
T.S.J. Harling has a first class BA in English Literature from the University of Liverpool and an MA in Critical and Creative Writing from the University of Sussex. Literary influences include Mary Shelley, the Brontë sisters, Shirley Jackson and Elizabeth Wurtzel. Publications include The Ham Free Press, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Dear Damsels, Talking Soup and Storgy. T.S.J. Harling is currently studying a Creative Writing PhD at the Royal Holloway, University of London.