Shit Date Number 4: Wildly Inappropriate & Mr Mummy Issues

Some people have manners. Others do not. Some people can read social cues. Others are wildly oblivious. I think of this when I remember that one time I tried speed dating. The night promised a group of tall men (180cm and taller to be precise) aged between 25 and 35. This suited me as I was a) in my twenties and b) a tall girl myself.

 

It was at a pub on Sydney’s fringe. The girls were all huddled together on one side of the room, the men on the other. Were we back at a primary school dance? Would a brave soul venture across the threshold? Or were we just waiting some Dutch courage and instructions?

 

Various participants could have used some instructions. Or some kind of manual. That would have avoided the disaster that befell some of my dates. They only lasted ten minutes apiece, but a couple left a lasting impression to say the very least!

 

We women took our spots at various seats. This was like an adult version of musical chairs except the men were going to be on the move and it was a bell – not the absence of music – that signalled it was time to move on. In hindsight, music would have been preferable, say Blur’s Song 2 if things weren’t going well or an extended version of Stairway to Heaven if you wanted to keep the chatter going.

 

The night started off without a hitch. I met a pleasant-enough electrician. A nice-but-rather-boring Merchant Banker. The talk was quite friendly and jovial. Until along came Mr Cocky (I now know why Mr Cocky isn’t a character in those Mr Men books… this guy was quite unremarkable!) So rather than keep a respectable, gentlemanly distance across the table as every other bloke had, this charmer decided to sidle up right next to me. I thought, “Oh goody, a space hog,” as he sat virtually on top of me. He was a letch in no uncertain terms.

 

When he found out I lived with my parents he pushed me to tell him what religion I was. With a cagey, “Raised Catholic” he replied, “You’re a good Catholic school girl, alright!” Oh dear. There isn’t enough holy water in the world to wash this stain out!

 

The date ended soon enough and then I met Mr Croat. He was a proud Croatian boy with jet black hair, brown eyes and a kind face. We exchanged names and he replied excitedly, “Oh, that’s my mother’s name!” Why on earth he’d think I’d want to be compared to his Mum is beyond me.

 

He proceeded to tell me he was a “Good Mummy’s boy.” He too lived at home. All this talk of his Mum made me feel like she was there, chaperoning our date. I couldn’t kick the idea that I’d need a permission slip from Mamma Croat for whenever I needed to see Baby Croat. So I left it here.

 

Speed dating had proven an interesting, if fruitless experience. It did serve as a lesson though, that when you’re dating you really should leave your parents at home. We’re not nine years old (although mentally, it’s questionable) and really, it’s a rather odd look…

 

Mr Croat's Mum?
Mr Croat’s Mum?

Shit Date Number 3: Iron Man & The Investigators

At some point you need to make things official and tell your colleagues you’re seeing someone. I didn’t need to do that when it came to one of mine. He was my mentor, a tall, large gentleman who looked just like Santa Claus. He had an amazing sense of humour and a laugh that filled the room. He’d also been working as an investigator for the better part of three decades. One Monday I mentioned I’d just seen the latest Iron Man film. Without batting an eyelid he replied, “Right, so what’s his name?”

This chat of course meant that thereafter Mr Shit Date was referred to as Iron Man…even when he failed to live up to this nickname. Other colleagues of mine didn’t need to be told about Mr Shit Date because they had gathered their own evidence like one who had seen us walking through Martin Place or another who ran into us as we left a pub one evening.

Perhaps the funniest was when a relatively new acquaintance and friend of my workmates first laid eyes on Mr Shit Date. We’d just come back from lunch and were kissing each other goodbye while standing outside my workplace. I clocked the acquaintance out of the corner of my eye but tried to be invisible and blend into the building. I ran into the acquaintance the following day and he said absolutely nothing about my tonsil hockey so I figured that Mr Shit Date and I were in the clear. I was wrong.

Weeks passed as if nothing had happened. Then the acquaintance and I were at lunch with ten of our mutual friends. It was on this occasion that he decided to mention the pash. It was pretty funny and I guess I was lucky I was just kissing Mr Shit Date and not some random person. That would’ve been really awkward!

Colleagues, friends and acquaintances can be supportive of you and your personal relationships. My mentor was there for me when Mr Shit Date and I split. My mentor and I had been through lots over the years. We were close and we’d only ever had one argument over the most trivial thing. He had also apologised the following day and bought me chocolates. My mentor is such a beautiful man.

One painful experience the mentor and I had been through involved getting a security clearance at work. This process involved gathering together a decade’s worth of information about our respective overseas travel and addresses and getting our friends to vouch for our characters, among other things. This information was sent off to a special team for vetting. It was terribly annoying but not as bad as the poor cleaner who submitted his information only to have the team lose it.

I had to laugh when my mentor offered to vet my potential beaus/boyfriends. “You can’t be too careful!” he’d said. Then again, he was also the same guy who once cheekily told some hold music, “I wish they’d put down the bloody saxophone and take my phone call!”

With my mentor’s offer I couldn’t help but have an image of him and my Dad interviewing some poor, unsuspecting bloke I’d just met. I could just see the two trading roles as good cop and bad cop. What can I say? It pays to have friends in high places…

 

My mentor or my Dad?
My mentor or my Dad?

Shit Date Number 2: Meeting The Parents

Meeting the parents of your beloved can make for some interesting times. Heck, Hollywood even turned this into a movie! For myself personally, the bad things weren’t so much meeting Mr Shit Date’s parents, rather it was meeting their pets. And one cat in particular.

 

Mr Shit Date’s family had housed a menagerie of animals over the years. At one point their house seemed less like a suburban Australian one and more like an animal shelter with several fish, birds, cats, some dogs and a pet rooster in residence. Mr Shit Date had found the rooster one day by the side of the road and decided he’d rescue it. This bird didn’t last long though, because it woke everyone up in the early hours with its cock-a-doodle-doing. Mr Shit Date would laugh that this kind of calling doesn’t just happen in the early hours of a morning. Anyone for KFC?

 

Now that Mr Shit Date was an adult his parents had just three cats. There was a fat and affectionate boy stripy and an elusive girl stripy who used to while away hours in the backyard. On one unfortunate day just prior to a storm she had been howling to go outside so incessantly that she was eventually let out. When the storm finally hit she had to seek refuge from the elements underneath some garden furniture. And boy, did she look apologetic then!

 

There was also a black calico cat named Betty. Mr Shit Date called her Betty because he thought she was ugly with her black fur with little orange flecks. She was small and feisty and used to chase the sun around the house, particularly in winter. But it was our first meeting I will never forget.

 

Mr Shit Date’s parents and I were sitting in the backroom that overlooks the yard. We were about to eat a delicious morning tea, a chocolate mud cake that had been made by Mr Shit Date’s father who was an expert at preparing sweet treats. His signature dish was a lemon meringue pie that the extended family spoke about in hushed tones. Today’s menu however, was chosen on account of my love of chocolate.

 

We’d just sat down to drink our coffees when Betty appeared in the room. Quick as a flash, she made a beeline for the cat litter trays that were sitting on the other side in front of the window. We all waited with bated breaths and hoped it was a number one. But she proceeded to do one smelly poo. It was so eye-watering it almost put me off the chocolate cake. I thought, “Lovely to meet you too, Betty!”

 

The rest of the day went off without a hitch. We sat around talking and there was motor racing involved because Mr Shit Date and his Dad were big revheads.

 

In the afternoon Mr Shit Date and I decided to go for a walk around the beautifully-landscaped backyard. We stood there all love dovey and shared a kiss. It was so romantic… until I felt a presence. From the house all I could see was a black cat staring at me. From a distance you couldn’t see her other markings but you could make out that she was really unamused. This made me realise why so many people are superstitious and believe they’ll have seven years bad luck after seeing a black cat. I wonder what’s instore when you see a black one shit and then give you a piercing look. That can’t be good. Spooky.

 

Not Ugly Betty

Shit Email 1: Ball-tampering

You don’t need me to tell you that internet dating is shit. Absolute crap. Case in point- a recent message exchange I had. The gentleman in question was no Adonis but he had a username that sounded inviting, if a little desperate, encouraging people to “ChooseMe.” With his short, shaved hair I couldn’t help but think of Ralph Wiggum and his choo, choo choose Valentine’s card. Okay fine, I’ll play along…

 

Mr ChooseMe had written that he was friendly and down-to-earth. Sounds ok. He also said he enjoyed to cook and travel as well as watch films, sports and TV. Suffice to say, he didn’t seem like a serial killer and ticked some boxes… That was, until some bright red flags appeared on the horizon.

 

Mr ChooseMe kicked off the email exchange with some random facts about himself. It was rather cute if a little narcissistic given that I had a whole profile of his at my disposal to read. He talked about his favourite colour (blue), favourite season (winter) and that The Swedish Chef was his favourite Muppet.

 

But then things got weird. He revealed that he had a phobia of birds. Hmmmmmm. And that one of his testicles hung lower than the other. Really? This is apparently what constitutes a good conversation starter? How come I’ve never seen that as an ice-breaker activity in the training books?

 

I decided to play-along, though in hindsight I seriously question why. I wrote that I’d had a good giggle reading what he’d written (surely he didn’t expect me to take any of it seriously?) I too wrote about my own penchants- for spring weather and dark and/or milk chocolate (no white for me, that stuff is vile!) I also mentioned that my hobby is writing reviews in my spare time.

 

I decided to gloss over any reference to his testicles. I figured that if things went well then down the line I could discover this all for myself in my own good time. I needn’t have worried.

 

He responded with an incredulity of sorts. He was concerned I was laughing at his uneven balls (errrrrr no and why do you keep bringing this up?) He said he never liked Miss Piggy because she sounded like she was having 30-minute orgasms despite not getting any from Kermit the Frog. All I’d said was that I too liked the Swedish Chef and those old guys from the Muppets. Was someone implying that he was rubbish in the sack? Hmmmmmm.

 

In reference to my hobby as a reviewer Mr ChooseMe decided that he wanted me to rate his emails. How does one respond to this graciously given the circumstances? I decide to give him a generous seven in my reply and figure that Yazz were right and that the only way is up.

 

I also acknowledge his second reference to his uneven manhood by mentioning the Ignoble Awards and the useless analysis of scrotal asymmetry in ancient sculpture. Thank you Dr Karl! I figured I was quite clever to mention this and that it was proof that I can keep a conversation going with anyone, no matter how stupid the material was that I had to work with.

 

But guess what? I got ghosted! No response. Or reply. Nothing.

 

And in case you’re wondering, one month on and this guys is still available… I wonder how that could be!

 

If I can give any advice it would be to not bring a ruler on your first date if you get one. Mr ChooseMe might get tetchy and start banging on about his uneven balls. He might even accuse you of ball tampering. And that will no doubt implicate you in the recent activities of the Australian men’s cricket team.

 

It also gives a whole new meaning to the term blue balls!

 

I went to a workshop on “How to Make Love Last” three weeks after a break-up

I went to a workshop on “How to Make Love Last” three weeks after a break-up. But this was certainly not how I had planned it. When I expressed my interest in writing about a course at The School of Life (TSOL) in Sydney – an institution that was set up by a group of philosophers including Alain de Botton – I was in the throes of a long-term relationship. But suddenly, after some important realisations, soul-searching and reasons of my own choosing, I wasn’t. Which left me thinking, what on earth was I going to do about this class?

 

On Sunday afternoon I received an email from the classroom manager at TSOL. It was a pre-class task. Gulp. A single PDF that included a series of questions designed to get us thinking about a couple who had made love last. Double gulp. And it wanted us to reflect on how this couple had managed to achieve this. Arrrrggggghhhhhhh! I stare at the screen and my mind draws a complete blank. Nothing. Nada. I know plenty of couples in long-term relationships and marriages but I cannot think of a single one I can put up on a pedestal because they’ve “made their love last.” I feel disheartened. I have failed my homework assignment, just as I have failed at my own relationship.

 

The next day it’s Valentine’s Day Eve. I know this because Coles have erected a large, temporary marquee selling beautiful flowers. I hate Valentine’s Day and I know I’m not the only one. I really don’t want to go to this class. I have visions of being Sydney’s answer to Bridget Jones, sitting among the smug married couples or at least a group of loved-up hippies who are going to preach peace, love and brown rice while looking down their noses at me and my recently acquired single status.

 

I am pleasantly surprised. The class is run by Dr Elisabeth Shaw, a clinical psychologist who has specialised in family and relationships for several decades. There was no judgement, just some thought-provoking talk and exercises, which made you consider different things and increase your self-awareness. I am immediately put at ease in the class warm-up when a fellow student (married) also confesses at struggling to find an appropriate couple to psychoanalyse, sorry consider as part of the homework. I could kiss this woman and then I remember, she’s married.

 

Over the course of the next three hours Dr Shaw poses a lot of questions about relationships and their many facets. We do a group exercise where a Venn diagram is presented. In one circle there’s the word “love,” in another “sex” and in the final one “friendship.” Dr Shaw asks us to think about how much emphasis we put on these things in our relationships. I ignore the gnawing feeling in my head that my relationship has just been reduced to a fate worse than a broken Venn diagram but actually a cul-de-sac.

 

The general consensus is that love, sex and friendship are all important and that over time these things may grow and diminish due to outside pressures that exist. There is also an understanding that while some individuals can accept the absence of one or more of these things, it is really down to whether there is a major disconnect in the expectations of the two people in the couple, as this will determine whether the relationship succeeds or fails.

 

Another task we are set is to draw a large house. In the rooms we are to list our loveable qualities (and practically perfect in every way will not suffice.) In the attic and basement we are to place symbols or words that represent our negative traits. These can be selfish qualities, relationship scars or even disturbing secrets. Sounds fun. As we do this, we need to consider whether this is all ultimately in balance and to imagine walking our partner (current or future) through this scary gingerbread house and to decide how comfortable we are about revealing these hidden, negative things in the attic and basement. The question is posed, “Does everything have to be known in a relationship?” The answer was not a simple one but many shades of grey (and no, not 50!)

 

“How To Make Love Last” proved to be a well-timed class in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. It was not at all that dissimilar to Alain de Botton’s previous talk on the “Course of Love” at the Opera House. It was also wonderful to be able to check-in with yourself and learn some things that you can hopefully take into your relationships. So I’m really glad I put myself out there and attended. I can highly recommend it and the others in their schedule because it can be freeing to learn more about yourself. And really, who doesn’t like talking about themselves? Where is my soap box? Just kidding, I have this website after all!

 

Shit Date Number 1: A Roman Holiday

Travel can be interesting when you’re dating. At the time, Mr Shit Date and I had been going out for a year and we went and booked ourselves a six-week European vacation. If I’m fair, the planning itself was probably the equivalent of around ten shit dates. Our travel agent was a large, young guy named Blair. He was the sort of dude who was really helpful when you wanted to know the best restaurants in a town but he was not so great with organisation, follow-through and other tasks one would normally assume a travel agent was actually good at.

In the lead-up to the trip I (Miss Shit Date) decided it would be a good idea to get organised and make a list with all of our accommodation to give to our families at home. Mr Shit Date laughed his arse off at his girlfriend’s organisation… until she picked up that there were two nights missing smack bang in the middle of the holiday. Without action this meant we’d have rough it with the birds. Did Mr Shit Date apologise? No, he went about creating his own list in Excel that was impossible to read and colour-coded. Yes, colour-coded!

Rome is the only place I have ever been told that my pre-paid hotel was overbooked. “How can they over-book a hotel?” I asked Mr Shit Date and the useless concierge. I assumed the hotel charges you for the night’s accommodation even if you cancel within 24 hours of your arrival date. We hadn’t cancelled. This wasn’t some comedy film à la Steve Martin and John Candy’s Planes, Trains & Automobiles? Where was our room?

It turns out our room for the night wasn’t at the hotel near the Trevi Fountain but in one across town in their sister hotel (AKA the one that nobody likes) near the Colosseum. But weren’t we planning to go the Vatican tomorrow? *Arrggghhh rolls eyes* The useless concierge gave us some meal vouchers to compensate us and said that our booking at the Trevi hotel would be fine from tomorrow night. We would later have trouble redeeming those meal vouchers but that’s a story for another day.

When our Roman holiday was due to finish we prepared ourselves to fly to Istanbul the following day. We wanted the concierge – a different guy this time who was an older, amiable Italian gent in an expensive Armani suit and a laugh that filled the room – to confirm our transfer to the airport. His name was Guido and he asked us for the transfer slip but I said “No! Couldn’t you just take a copy of the information?”
Guido looked unimpressed but remained jovial. He gave out a huge throaty laugh and then said with his hands, “How about-a I send you to Rio?”
Mr Shit Date got in on the action and laughed too. The joke became an ongoing one for us… Mr Shit Date would often jokingly threaten to send me to Rio if I got on his nerves. It was funny… sometimes.

But I got my own back. One day I was surfing ASOS and there was a woman’s white t-shirt available for sale in my size. And on it was emblazoned in big, capital letters: “I’D RATHER BE IN RIO!”

Indeed.