Tuesday 19 September 2017

Seeking Mr Right: drunks, bores, and even Mr Shortie

After some time abroad, Sarah Blake Knox returned home to Ireland. One item on her wish list was to meet a nice man

DREAMING: Sarah Blake Knox has not met her dream man yet, but she feels she may be getting closer
DREAMING: Sarah Blake Knox has not met her dream man yet, but she feels she may be getting closer

Sarah Blake Knox

This time last year, I was living abroad, in what seemed like a blissful relationship with someone I met on my first ever internet dating venture. We made contact through the dating app Tinder, and much to my surprise, ended up together for almost a year. But I am now back in the old country, living in the family home and single once again.

This may seem a bit depressing, but,in fact, I'm quite enjoying it. For a start, I no longer have to pretend to appreciate modern jazz, or feign an interest in antique typewriters.

Returning to Ireland after time abroad was a weird and emotional experience. Some of my friends have moved on. Some of them no longer want to tell me who they hooked up with at Coppers the night before, but would rather discuss marriage, babies and mortgages. My mind is on more important matters - such as whether or not to invest in a pug tattoo - but all they want to do is talk about my broken engagement. (Yes, that's right - I was briefly engaged to the jazz fan. The engagement was intended to secure me a visa, and lasted about a week.)

When I came home, I set myself a number of goals: get a job, get my own gaff - and meet someone nice. So far, I have only achieved the first of these, but I am doing my darnedest to complete the list - especially the last one. Since Tinder had worked the first time around, I figured that I would try that option first. One of the first things I noticed about the Irish - as opposed to the Canadian version - was how many people I recognised by their pictures. People I had met at parties, former school classmates, and even - I shudder to relate - one of my old teachers. The first match I made seemed vaguely familiar to me. I found that slightly re-assuring and our profiles showed that we had similar tastes in music (eighties' punk). Sadly, we both realised about the same time where we had met before: he used to work for my Dad. Funny, but that seemed to cool things off pretty damn quickly.

My next match led to my first date, and I must admit it didn't begin well. He showed up half an hour late, and, as he stumbled into my arms for a hug, I realised that he was extremely drunk. After fifteen minutes of slurred and confusing chat, I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom to regain some composure. When I got back to the table, I saw that he was gone. I went to see if he had stepped out for a smoke. There he was - down on his knees, fumbling as he tried unsuccessfully to unlock his bike from a tree. Once upon a time, I would meekly have gone home to eat my weight in chocolate. Nowadays, I'm more confrontational - so I told him exactly what I thought of his rudeness. His response? "I'm not being rude," he mumbled, "I'm only wasted!" We have not kept in touch.

My second outing did not fare much better. This time, I arrived ten minutes late. As it turned out, my date was a full five inches shorter than me - and I was in flats. As a taller than average woman, I have never had an issue with this predicament, yet clearly this man did. "Oh, so you're taller than me?" was his means of introduction. At any rate, he tried to conceal his disappointment, but seemed unable to talk about anything but the difference in our heights.

To be fair, he was actually quite sweet, and by the end of the night we had moved on from his, ahem, shortcomings. So much so, that as he walked me to the taxi rank, he moved in for the kiss. In a bizarre move, he pushed me off the path onto the main road, while he stayed on the footpath. As he went in for the kill, I drew back and asked him, "Is there a reason why you have pushed me o nto the road - is it the thrill of me being close to death?" His response? "Well, this way I seem taller and that makes you a lot more attractive." I turned on my heel, and never texted him again.

On another date, I was invited by a very handsome man to Dublin Zoo. I was immediately impressed by his choice of location - it was a little out there and unpredictable, both positive signs in my book. Everything about the date was just about perfect - except my extremely boring date. As soon as we entered the zoo, he declared his hatred for all animals, including dogs; a major no-no for a self-proclaimed animal lover who runs her own dog blog.

When I asked why he had chosen this location,he told me that it had been one of his exes' favorite spots. I felt I could empathise with the animals: trapped in a situation which made me feel claustrophobic and sad. Just as we reached the exit and my freedom, he received a text from a friend, suggesting that they go to a 'gay house party' that weekend. I thought that maybe things were turning around, and there might yet be a fun side to my date. Apparently not. It seemed that he was anxious that a gay man might "try it on" with him at the party because 'they can be very pushy that way.' At least these comments provided me with an excuse to suggest that we might not be compatible.

My experience through Tinder the second time round has so far proven one thing; lightening does not necessarily strike twice, or even thrice. While I may not have met my dream man yet, I feel I may be getting closer.

A week after my last date, the zoo bore texted me with the exciting news that Stephen Fry is a homosexual. Perhaps it was a half-hearted attempt to apologise for his previous comments about gay men - or maybe he's just beginning to explore his own more sensitive side. I have yet to reply, but I guess it is nice to know that there are always options out there.

Sunday Independent

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