By Steph Powell
I went on an Internet date with a guy called D
I won’t tell you what his name is because he doesn’t know
I’m writing this.
We went to a pub
Where he argued with the bartender
Over how his pint of Lager was poured.
It’s what sometimes happens when you go on Internet dates
You never quite know what you’re going to get
He told me he’d just gotten out of an 11-year relationship
He told me he’d lied to an ex-girlfriend about quitting drinking for a year
He told me he was unemployed and had recently gone to Ibiza and missed his plane home
‘Who makes a 10am flight anyway?’ He said.
He said a crack head had kicked out the teeth on the right side of his mouth
He added the crack head was his brother
They were all the things you shouldn’t say on a first date
He looked tired and worn and well passed his 30 years
His belly stuck out over his trousers
Edges of white shirt poking out over his belt
A suit jacket frowned down over his shoulders
We ended up getting drunk anyway in Soho on a Tuesday night
We kissed on a street corner in front of a pizza shop
Then I got the night bus home to Stoke Newington.
I suppose he was disappointed I didn’t invite him back
As he had that look in his eye when he told me he had to catch 3 buses back to West London.
I kissed him one final time at the bus stop on Oxford St
‘Are you trying to kill me?’ He said drunkenly
I’m not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing to say.
BIG WINE GLASSES THAT MIGHT FIT A WHOLE BOTTLE
I let R take certain sexual liberties with me
That no one else ever had
I think at the time
It was because I thought he was sent to free me
But looking back
He was really a balding guy in his mid thirties
With a house full of books and records
Who drank expensive French wine from glasses
Almost big enough to fit an entire bottle
And said things like,
‘Yes, but what are you doing with your life creatively? You must ALWAYS, ALWAYS be creating’
…and so on
At the heart of it
I think he was actually a bit of a wanker
But I was 25 and thought dating an older guy with his own semi-detached house
In the far, outer suburbs of North London
But to be honest
I was just a little lonely.
On Sunday I gave away the last of the books S gave me
To the charity shop on the high street
A hard copy, large-print version of ‘The Chrysalids’
And another book about a woman whose uncle was a famous explorer
He froze to death on a desolate island in the middle of the Arctic
I’d mourned over these books for a year
They’d sat high on my bookshelf
As silent and unreachable as S now was to me
Until last Sunday
When I thrust them at the charity shop worker
A North London metal head with a penchant for playing Fleetwood Mac
And I ran from the shop
In my flight I heard him say to the other volunteer
‘This is one of my favourite books’
But I’m not sure which one he meant
As I was back on the pavement, walking down Kingsland Rd
I felt strange, and heavy hearted
But my backpack felt lighter.