Dating War Stories #2

From my journals 2012.  At this stage Dad has been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

Ironically, as dad starts looking worse, I begin to glow. Freed of the shackles of my divorce related grief, I enjoy life again. I am settling into living in my old hometown.

It is time to invest financially in myself and get myself ready to ‘re-enter’ the world, when my youngest son starts prep next year. My time as a stay at home mum will be over. I will have had seven years at home.

I decide to face a few of the fears that I have about myself. I hire a personal stylist. I want to have someone show me how to dress myself, to organise my wardrobe so I don’t hate getting dressed each day, to turn my hatred of fashion into an interest again.

I take my entire wardrobe, including shoes and accessories over to Alison’s house. We chat over sushi and wine as she reads the results of the questionnaire that she had asked me to complete. Then sift through my wardrobe. We have two piles, keep and throw. By the end of the day, the biggest pile is for the charity bin.

Al knows my budget, or lack thereof, and gives me a list of the items to purchase over time. I am to strictly keep to the shopping list, and under no circumstances venture to the shops without a specific item to purchase in mind. She wants to transform my wardrobe from something that was suited to a conservative fifty year old who was hiding her body, to someone that would knock the socks off a potential date. And I have to throw out my baggy jeans in favour of skinny jeans. ‘You’re not as big as you think you are’, she says.

When I am confronted by life I sneeze. There is not enough toilet paper or tissues in the house that day as Al and I talked about body image, colours and what actually make me look younger and suit me. What Fox in Flats had started, Al turns into reality and I am ready to re-enter the dating scene again.

I give RSVP one last chance because I can’t face filling out the eHarmony questionnaire again. A nice guy sends me a kiss and I decide to do my ‘pre-screening’ homework (aka social media stalking) this time. We send messages back and forth, exchanged email addresses and eventually chat via the phone and become friends on Facebook.

There seems to be enough in common, and by this time he is calling me several times a week in the evenings while he goes for his walk. My mind is blown when I find out he used to live in Witta. Once we’ve connected on Linked In, I stalk his contacts, and bam, there he is- Mr Stand Me Up because of the Cows. They know each other.

On closer inspection I realise that they work for the same company.

Naturally I choose not to divulge this information, and pray that my name does not come up in their lunch hour.

So we organise to meet, and feeling confident I purchase a new dress. It is swelteringly hot, so we end up meeting an hour after our original time at a bar in West End.

The kids stay overnight with mum and dad, so that I don’t have to worry about transferring them into the car in the middle of the night.

I pull up in my parents little black Audi; he arrives in his family wagon, complete with sliding door. We walk towards the bar and he stops whilst I am walking to perve on my arse.

‘You look even better in real life than on your profile’.

The bar is a dive. By day it looks tired and run down. Perhaps darkness creates atmosphere and the illusion of funkiness. We have a drink and listen to some live band I’ve never heard of and then the sun is down. Pizza is ordered and we have the choice of plastic chairs, beer crates or a dingy dirty couch. I’m ready to go home, but when the lady comes around asking for five bucks per person to stay to see the next bag, the cat gets my tongue.

We move to the lounge area and I have another glass of wine. It’s the last I can have for the night as I have to drive. I’m not sure if I’m relieved that I can use that as an excuse or annoyed that I can’t get drunk to soothe the ridiculousness of this situation.

He goes to put his arm around me and I inwardly cringe. It must have been an outward cringe because he comments. It’s not that he’s not a nice guy, but five kids. There’s just something not right about him. I watch the people start dancing and then I realise he’s brought me to a gay bar. Everyone on the floor is dancing in couples but they’re not the boy and girl kind.

I have no problem with being in a gay bar, except that this was supposed to be a first date. It’s not even a swanky bar with nice cocktails. It’s a festy bar. I had expected more.

He leaves the date feeling confident. In contrast, I wake in the middle of the night, and vomit the nervous energy out of my system. I send a message on Facebook at 2:00am thanking him for the date, but letting him know that unfortunately I’d just like to be friends.

Later, he’ll tell me that he chose that bar because he didn’t want to go all out. He’d met a few people that were nothing like their online profiles and had to cough up cash for expensive dates. This was close to home for him and dirt-cheap in case he wanted an early exit. Charming.

Over breakfast the next morning, I admit to dad that I had been out on a date the night before and tell him about my middle of the night vomit.

I just don’t think I can do it. Maybe I should be single. It’s too hard.

Dad looks at me,

‘You’re too young and beautiful to spend the rest of your life alone’.

I hide my profile again. My ego bruised, I hide beneath my fragility.