When: August 2010
Where: My bathroom
Pre-date rating: 7/10
When you think of a first date, you think of awkward conversation in a bar or gentle flirting over an American Hot – hopefully with a hot American – in Pizza Express. I’ve been wooed in pubs, parks, terraces, diners and more, but no date location has ever been quite so odd, and yet so humdrum and familiar to me, as this one. In my flat – my bathroom, to be precise.
Rewind a few weeks and I am sitting at home bored and restless, aimlessly flicking through another set of profiles on the dating site. There has been no ‘new meat’ for a while, so everybody feels depressingly recognisable, our mutual desperation seeping out of our profile pictures. Just like at school, we’re among the last to be picked for the team, though this time the team is that of being wined and dined and adored rather than a muddy game of football on the school soccer pitch. I glance at my iPhone and wonder if I should give Grindr another try. Grindr, for the uninitiated, is an app which uses GPS to allow you to find “like-minded” people in your area. “Like-minded” is quite a fluid description; it can either refer to other bored people just wanting to chat about nothing in particular (usually their job, unfortunately) or, at the other end of the scale, men whose idea of romance is to not throttle you to death during a particularly angry sex session in a park toilet at 3 in the afternoon. Happily, somewhere in the middle, there are lots of men who just want to meet people and go on dates. My last experience with a Grindr date was the absolutely woeful encounter with the drunk Mexican, so I am loath to get my fingers burned by another insane alcoholic. Nevertheless, I log in to the app and see who’s in the vicinity.
Within a few seconds, I receive a message from somebody. I look at his photo. he looks like he’s from South America and is quite handsome. I click through to read his message.
“Hello you are cute”
OK. How to respond? Should I blast back with an acidic “Cute is for puppies, you dribbling cunt” or something milder? After a whole 120 seconds of deliberation, I zing back with an insightful “Hello. Thanks.” Groundbreaking stuff, I’m sure you agree.
We exchange a few pleasantries. He tells me his name, where he’s from (Colombia) and says he lives round the corner. He’s a design student and also works part-time for a high-end fashion brand. Then comes the question I always dread.
“What are you looking for?”
Well, I am looking for many things. That purple sock which inexplicably disappeared the other day, a green train driver’s cap that I lost in 2004, inner peace, a more fulfilling job – you name it. In this context, of course, he is asking me whether I want to meet up with him and fuck him blind or do something else entirely less amorous.
“I’m not interested in random sex with strangers” is my reply.
“Wow that’s really rare on Grindr!”
“Yes. I’m an endangered species. It’s just not for me.”
We then carry on the conversation for a while, until I say it’s time to go.
“Why? What are you doing?”
“Well, I’m going to take a bath, so I can’t take you with me, I’m afraid. Well, not at the moment, anyway.”
“Maybe some other time? ;-)”
I decide to disregard the fact that he has done a winking smiley (this would be punishable by death if a Guyliner empire ever came to exist) and play along.
“Yes, of course. Name the day. Must go. Bye.”
And then I log off, laugh hard and loud for a full three minutes, and then start running my bath.
Over the course of the next few weeks, whenever I log on and he’s there, we chat about this and that. No mention of meeting ever comes up, but I’m not overly concerned as I have started going on a few more dates so don’t really have the time. One day, however, I am brutally hungover, sitting in my lounge on a blazing Monday afternoon with a pile of washing up to do and a mood of thunder. In need of distraction, I fire up Grindr. Sure enough, my Colombian friend pops up and asks what I’m up to.
“Nothing. Hungover. You?”
“Not a lot. I have the afternoon off so was going to go to the park.”
“That sounds nice.”
“Maybe we could meet for a coffee.”
I’m hungover, as I said. I behave a little differently when I’m hungover. I say things I wouldn’t usually say and do things I wouldn’t normally do. Which explains what I’m about to reply.
“We could meet for coffee, yes. Or I could run us that bath.”
Silence. I chuckle as I imagine him confused, re-reading the message to make sure that he hasn’t grasped the wrong end of the stick. Finally, a reply.
“Are you serious?!”
“Deadly. I almost never joke about anything. The hot tap is on. Here’s my address.”
“Um. OK. Um. See you in half an hour?”
“Indeed you will.”
I stand up and look around the flat. God, it’s a mess. The floor is sticky from the mini-party I had at the flat the previous Saturday and the stack of dishes is groaning. Tough shit. I head to the bathroom and clean the bath and throw some bleach down the loo. Everything else in there is shipshape. I look in the mirror. Hmmm. I haven’t shaved and my eyes are like a rat’s sphincter. Well, we’re really going to put that raw sex appeal to the test today, aren’t we? I start to run that bath.
Half an hour later, the bath is almost full and I am sitting on my sofa staring straight ahead with my hands folded in my lap, feeling massively unsexy and borderline insane. There is every chance I am about to be murdered in my own flat. The buzzer goes. Too late now. I suppress a laugh as I answer it and hear his thick latino accent. I let him in and listen to him plod up the stairs to my top-floor flat. It seems to take for ever and for the first time I realise that he might actually be disgustingly ugly – his photo wasn’t very clear. I hold open the door and see him approach. He is beautiful. Phew. I smile, shake his hand and nod for him to come in. He makes his way through to the lounge and stands there awkwardly, his eyes fixed on the stack of plates and dishes. “It’s my cleaner’s year off,” I say, and ask him if he wants a drink. He plumps for water, as do I, and we sit on the sofa and talk.
He’s friendly and kind of funny. His English is pretty good but I think he has a hard time understanding me, especially certain nuances of what I’m saying. He wears a puzzled expression for most of the conversation. When he laughs, I notice his teeth are absolutely perfect. He has a slim, toned build and a stubbly chin. His large, round brown eyes dominate his otherwise pretty angular face. He tells me his most recent boyfriend was from Yorkshire, as am I, and that they broke up a year ago. He doesn’t say why, and I don’t ask. I give him as much detail about myself as I can be bothered. And then, a good 20 minutes after his arrival, I ask the question. “So, are we getting in this bath, then?”
He laughs nervously. “Sure.”
“Excellent, I’ll just top up the hot water.” I breeze through to the bathroom and do so, masking my mild panic with a beatific smile which makes me look like I’m smacked out on tranquillisers. When the bath is a suitable temperature (for me, anyway), I call him through. “Ready!”
He sheepishly makes his way into the bathroom. We stand in the confined space. “Do you know what ‘surreal’ means?” I ask him. He looks puzzled and then nods. I laugh and start to take my clothes off. Usually, I’m very self-conscious when exposing my rack to the world, but today my shyness has been banished by the boldness of a mighty hangover and the comfort of being in my very own bathroom. He also starts to undress. I watch. Once I am naked, I ask him which end of the bath he wants. He very gallantly picks the tap end. We both put one foot in the water. He instantly retracts his, complaining it is too hot. “I thought all South Americans were supposed to be hot-blooded?” I remark, to which he replies with just a withering stare, so I turn on the cold tap and watch the icy water gush out, flattening some of the Radox bubbles. An awkward few seconds pass before he is ready to try again. In goes the foot. This time, no shrieks. We both stand up in the bath and lower ourselves into the water at opposing ends, our eyes fixed on each other. There is a bit of shuffling and bafflement at where to put feet, but soon enough we’re settled in the warm suds.
He absent-mindedly strokes my leg and I do the same to his as we continue our conversation, as if we had never got up from the sofa. After a while, he tries to sit up so he can approach me to kiss me, but his attempt is so graceless that I start laughing. Finally, we do lock lips and it’s quite nice. As we shift about in the water, huge splashes are heard on the floor tiles as it overflows, but we don’t stop. We kneel so we can get closer and spend a few minutes exploring each other. And then we lean back, each at our respective ends of the bath, still touching and stroking each other’s legs. I notice the ends of my fingers are starting to wrinkle. My enthusiasm subsides. “I’m getting out,” I say, and reach for the nearest towel. He follows suit, and we spend a short while in the hallway, kissing. He’s a good kisser. I decide it’s time to cover up so I dress while he sits on the edge of the bath and watches me in quiet curiosity. “Do you want to come to the park with me?” he asks.
“Now? Yes, OK.”
“We could stop at the supermarket and get some picnic stuff.”
Once I’m dressed and primped, we leave the flat, neither of us remotely fazed by our bathtime adventure. We wander round the supermarket, picking up nice breads and hams and cheese, like an old married couple, before heading to a nearby park where I’ve never been before. It’s a glorious day, so we sit on a bench and start eating our food.
He is first to speak. “I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody like you before.”
I laugh. “You mean no strange men have ever invited you to take a bath with them? Never? Nonsense.”
“Ha. Seriously. It was very strange.”
I consider my reply. “Well, you should take it as a compliment. It’s not every day I extend such an invitation.”
After around an hour, the conversation starts to wilt slightly – well, we have been through rather a lot today – and I make noises about heading home. He says he has some work to do so we tidy up our picnic things and make for the exit.
When we come to the road where we have to go in opposite directions, we stand and face each other and prepare to say goodbye.
“Thank you for the bath,” he chuckles.
“You’re very welcome. Let’s try a shower next time.”
And with that, I turn away from him and walk home. It’s only after I’ve climbed all my steps, closed my front door and sat back on my sofa that I start to laugh. What a day, I think to myself; I really must write this down. So I do.
Post-date rating: 9/10
Date in one sentence: A first date in reverse, with the romancing coming way after the “let’s go back to mine”.
Want to know what happened next? No problem! Read The Colombian Gets Out of the Bath.