It was a hot summer Sunday in Camden, and I felt a little bit nervous walking up the stairs to the beach at the Roundhouse, which is silly when I meet new people all the time. Ted (32) hadn’t given me much to go on in the way of what he was wearing ‘shorts and a t-shirt’. Um, yep, pretty much like every other guy would be dressed to sit out in 80 degrees on a makeshift beach in the car park at the Roundhouse. I joked it would be similar to searching for ‘Where’s Wally?’. When you meet someone you’ve connected with on a dating app, there’s an imprint on your mind that the person you meet will be wearing the same clothes that they have on in their picture. So if Ted wasn’t in a burgundy polo shirt holding a glass of red, how would I spot him?
Ah, there he was leaning against the bar (I think),
“Hey, Wally” He looked at me, laughed, kissed me on both cheeks and asked what I’d like to drink. Phew, I’d done it. First date correctly spotted. I always say you only do something once for the first time and identifying my first date had been a success.
Now to the internal box ticking as we sat in the sand and chatted. Shorter than I thought, not as great a smile as in the polo shirt picture, oh, and he smoked.
“I probably should say that on my profile shouldn’t I?” Yes, I thought to myself. But, just because he’s a smoker maybe don’t write him off yet. We had lots in common work wise with surprisingly many paths crossed. And sitting out in the sun, listening to live music, getting nicely mellow on the cheap cocktails was actually not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The afternoon went into early evening and we relocated to a local pub. I asked Ted about his previous dating stories then he asked for mine.
“Um, you’re actually my first”
“Wow, I feel honoured”.
He suggested that as we didn’t live far from each other that we walk home together. I was talking and pointed out my local pub as we walked past.
“Ooh, night cap?” he said.
After more 'sex on the beach’ cocktails and gin and tonics than I’d usually have on a Sunday, I said I didn’t think so but as he’d mentioned before that he needed to be up early, how about a coffee at mine?
OH SHIT, HAD I JUST MADE THE INTERNATIONAL ‘HEY, WOULD YOU LIKE TO COME IN AND HAVE COFFEE/SEX AT MINE’ SUGGESTION?
Jeez, how naïve was I? I tried to keep the conversation light and silly as we strolled, whilst inside thinking how the fuck do I get out of this? Is he seriously expecting me to put out? Do I actually want to put out? Is this what is now expected on a first date considering today is the only one I’ve been on this side of the millennium and, of course, back then I wasn’t exactly picked up from my home and greeted with a corsage but now, WHAT?? This really was unknown territory.
So, we went back to mine, and genuinely drank a cup of coffee (plus notable admiration for my Nespresso machine. I am a grown up after all and it seems these things impress a 32 year old guy).
It got to about 9 pm (we met at 2pm) when he got up to leave but would ask if I would like to do this again next week, perhaps go for some dinner? Yes please I replied. Second date, score! He kissed me on the lips at my front door before leaving, whilst I skipped back into my living room like a teenager. What a ridiculous feeling I had inside, elation perhaps. I’d bagged a 32 year old guy, spent the day with him and he wants to see me again, I was literally grinning like a Cheshire cat.
I really had no idea that a younger man might find me at all attractive, and want to spend a whole day with an older woman. Silly I know, but as I’d felt starved from affection for so long (apart from the love my daughter gave me in buckets) it was hard to imagine being with someone of the opposite sex again. Whether it went any further was irrelevant at this point, the boost i’d had in confidence was definitely more than worth the price of all the gin i’d drank. So, what happens now?
Cat is a forty something, single mum who lives in North London with her ten year old daughter. She is writing her first book about the roller-coaster ride that is online dating, post millennium and post her own break-up. Life’s curve balls can really throw you, and starting over has certainly been a journey of self discovery. It wasn’t until her girlfriend’s - who enjoyed her stories so much and encouraged her to write them down, that she decided to share them. The dating research continues...
Also by Cat Cooper: Dating This Side Of The Millenium, Do I Dare?