A little dispirited by my long weekend with the dyspeptic oaf, it is clear that I’m going to have to cast my net back into the dating pool and see if I can land a less flatulent beau. I have decided to go down the online route in my search for love and companionship.
The first obstacle to overcome is actually creating a dating profile and it’s surprisingly difficult. I have up to 2000 words to talk about me and state the qualities I’m looking for in a partner - that’s a huge amount of writing in which to incriminate myself. Like applying for a job, I need to describe the aspirational me, not the permanently knackered, Weetabix encrusted working mother who will cut your steak up during a romantic meal and check you’ve been to the toilet before we leave the restaurant. I take a look at what other women in my age bracket are writing.
Some are terrifyingly honest and prescriptive in their approach and go as far as listing all the traits in a man which they would find undesirable such as "I’m sick of liars, cheats and men who mess me around". "I’m told I can be quite abrasive when you first meet me" and "I’m a very guarded person who doesn’t suffer fools gladly". The other end of the scale seems to be a whole genre of free-spirited, feathery sounding women with a penchant for dancing in the rain and careering through the countryside in Cath Kidston campervans. I’m not sure where I feature on this scale – I’m fairly uncompromising with idiots but I’m also quite partial to a spot of bunting should the occasion require it. And whether in a back garden in Salford or a tropical downpour on a beach in Phuket, dancing in the rain is a sure-fire recipe for hypothermia. Travelling seems to be another big theme – so many people out there have an unquenchable thirst for discovery and describe, in detail worthy of The Lonely Planet, the far flung parts of the world they’ve journeyed to. I consider myself fairly well travelled but the reality is that I have two small children, limited funds and a full time job – trekking through the Pays Dogon in Mali is not really an option at the moment.
I opt for summing myself up in about 300 words and posting a smiley snap taken on a summer’s day. I appear to have no eyebrows and my face is a bit scrunched up from the sun but I figure that it is better to under promise. Imagine how pleased my date will be when I turn up with finely arched eyebrows and an unpuckered face. Posting a heavily photo-shopped picture in a sex kitten pose seems to be inviting disappointment. On the characteristics I’m looking for in a partner, I’m not too demanding. I mention something about someone needing to enjoy family life – the truth of the situation is that my children are the priority in my life now and they will continue to be so. Joyfully, within hours of posting my profile I start to receive some "likes". I have to double check the site to make sure I haven’t signed up to some sort of serial killer ‘tips swapping’ forum. To a T, my suitors look like murderers. Some have severe mug shots, others have artfully posed pictures, but whether stony faced or smiling maniacally, I don’t like what I’m looking at. The descriptions are baffling and I wonder whether many of the features they’ve listed are just code for something else.
HemisphereDancer says he has an irreverent sense of humour and a gleam in his eye. Does that indicate a keenness for the Vicar of Dibley, or is ‘irreverent’ more your Roy Chubby Brown end of comedy? Norman Bates had a gleam in his eye and look where flirting with him ended up. CaringKing states that he is uninhibited, open and open-minded. I take it that means we’d be cruising round Southend of a weekend, looking for dogging sites. DeeDog is 12 years younger than I am and describes himself as a professional philosopher and comedian. I’ve been acquainted with several comedians in the past and they were mostly self-absorbed and oddly bitter, particularly about other comedians. Dating a comic isn’t the laugh a minute fun-fest you might imagine. There are more suitors who, whilst not indicating signs of psychopathy, poor taste or dubious sexual practice, just seem dull.
One such chap who I’ve cast aside as lacklustre, is flagged up by my colleague Paul as a potential hot date. Apparently I’ve been looking at this all wrong. This is partially because when confronted by staid and sedate men, I can come over as a bit Rizzo from Grease. It’s desperately immature of me but I’ve never accepted that it’s hip to be square and still require a man to have a modicum of cool. Geeky is fine. In fact, geeky is hugely sexy. But a boffin in slacks with a fondness for botany probably wouldn’t tempt me. I’d be seeking out kicks like a disaffected teenager, belting out ‘There are worse things I could do’ in a heartbeat.
Paul persuades me that I should give Dave65 a second look. He is a scientist and lecturer but I concede that I could help him pick out a more modish trouser. Through a gentle correspondence, it turns out we have a place in common as he used to be a coastguard where my grandmother lives. A coast guard! I thought they were all 80 with faces like walnuts, monitoring the seas through binoculars. It seems I am mistaken. He enquires of my passions, hopes and dreams and it takes a lot of self-control not to give silly or glib answers. I do however, detect some humour and warmth in his writing and the idea of a relationship with a cerebral but earthy lover becomes rather thrilling.
This blog first appeared as a column in a selection of North London magazines, including Crouch End Connection with illustrations by renowned cartoonist Neil Kerber.