Recommended Sanderwich: I’m afraid this week you’re going to need something very comforting. Get out your old Breville, it’s time to make a cheese toastie. I like mine with tomatoes and lots of black pepper. I dip it in mayonnaise for extra fat. But go nuts, ham, beans, whatever you like. Nothing fancy, mind.
My name is Alice, and I’m really bad at dating. I’m a romantic disaster. I’m an amour-on. I’m single and have been for quite a while. Recently, I tried speed-dating. I’m sure this seems like a vaguely reasonable thing to do for somebody who’s looking for love. Or for somebody who’s at least looking for some physical human contact (hold me). Signing up for speed-dating is a bit less reasonable if you’re me, and I’ll tell you for why. I am notorious amongst my friends for making a terrible first impression. People tend to think I’m grumpy, miserable or stand-offish. I have trouty lips that naturally turn down at the corners. I can’t help it, that’s just my face. Also, I am grumpy and miserable, but there’s so much more to me than that.
I think I come across as grumpy or mean because I’m shy. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t even go into a shop and ask for a can of coke. My shyness leads me to behave in inappropriate ways in social situations. For example, I have been known to not take my coat off for an entire party. The other week I went for a coffee with someone I don’t know very well at all. I felt a bit shy about the whole thing, so I over compensated by making a joke about the person being selfish. In retrospect, that is not something you should really say, even as a joke, to somebody you don’t know very well. I used to work in a cinema with one of my current housemates. The first time we met on shift, I thought we got on really well, and that we’d had a great laugh. I thought “I’m doing really well! I’ve made a friend!”. He’s since told me that he went home and cried that evening because I was so scary. What a total numpty I am.
Another reason that speed-dating is a really bad idea for me is because I almost never fancy somebody immediately. It’s like there’s a faulty connection between my bits and my brain. The signals take a really long time to travel up. The first clue that I fancy someone is usually when I’ unwarrantedly mean to them. Then I have a thought process that goes like this:
Me: Why are you being so mean to X, Alice?
Me: Oh, no, I think I have the hots for X.
Like a tiny, stupid child in a playground pulling your hair. That’s me, if I’ve got the hots for you. I’m very awkward about flirting. I like the jokes part, but I’m not good at moving it beyond that. The whole thing makes me feel like a massive creep.
Brazenly ignoring all of these robust reasons not to do it, I signed myself up for speed-dating. This time the voice in my head said “It’ll be fun! You’ll meet new people!”. If only I’d shot my brains out there and then.
The speed-dating event was in a small, hot room. There were at least thirty people there. The way it works is – half of the daters sit in a fixed position, and the other half travel round, like raw tuna on a conveyor belt. I’d just had a kidney infection, so I had to do it completely stone-cold sober. You get around 3 minutes to shout at the person sitting opposite you (it was very noisy), then a whistle is blown, and you traipse off the pitch defeated and broken. Oh no, sorry, then you do it about another 20 times.
When I get nervous, my hands shake, so I had to sit on them to hide this fact. I was sitting right next to the toilet and when every single one of my dates sat down, they would say “ooooh, I really need the loo”. I had to stop myself from telling them to just fucking go, and instead had to sit there knowing they were bracing for the whole three minutes, and not concentrating on my hilarious jokes. I asked some of them to bear in mind the toilet thing when marking me, like a handicap.
I pushed through, and by the end of the evening, though I was relieved it was over, I thought it’d gone pretty well. I thought I’d been fairly charming, and I’d worn a pretty frock too. I was proud of myself. I went home wearing a smile.
The next day when I checked online to see if anyone had ticked me for dating, I found that nobody had. Not. One. Person. As the deep depression set in, I had the following series of thoughts:
1) If I had not washed all week I wouldn’t have got any fewer ticks.
2) If I had had gone dressed in a onesie I wouldn’t have got any fewer ticks.
3) If I had made racist comments all evening I wouldn’t have got any fewer ticks.
4) If I had gone in a Disney princess onesie, filthy and stinking, my hair matted, and declared my allegiance to the BNP, I wouldn’t have got any fewer ticks.
One person ticked that they’d like to be friends with me. They must’ve been desperate.