He looked like Roy Cropper it was never going to work out.
I’ve had a flashback to a date I went on when I was just a young whippersnapper of a 19-year-old.
Christ, that means I’ve been undateable for a total of 14 years. Yes, I hear the sound of shocked voices. That man can’t be 32! But yes readers, I am. It’s amazing what a bit of exfoliation can do for your skin. Oh, and not forgetting the needle full of Botox I regularly get pricked with. Well, I have to get a prick from somewhere. (Clears throat)
Back to my flashback which takes us back to the wonderful year of 2002. The year that bought us the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and Girls Aloud! The latter being my most memorable and personal favourite. But back to something else that wasn’t my particularly most favourite memory of that year, the date that was organised by my friend’s 50-year-old mum.
So, there I am this one morning, having coffee with Gwen. I mean, she isn’t the most sane of people you’ll ever meet, but I’ve had my fair share of mental institute moments over the years myself. So who am I to judge? As I take a sip on my mocha. I’m sure I would have been drinking a mocha. It’s only since I’ve hit my 30s have I become partial to an espresso. So as I sip the mocha, she announces she’s set me up on a date with this lovely man she works with on check in.
An airport worker.
Now, my dear Nan, God rest her soul, taught me I should never sit in judgement of others. But sometimes I find that piece of advice very hard to swallow. For some reason, in my sinful judgemental mind, I associate anyone working at the airport as a slag and having a man in every country. I know my face needs a slap as obviously he only works on check in, so unless he has a very long lunch break, I rationalise that he can’t make it to other countries.
After I’ve given my chops a quick swift slap, I take in the details of the date. It’s this Saturday, at 7pm and I’m to meet him at the Birdcage. Cor, the Birdcage in Chiswick, now that is showing my age. As I take the final chocolatey sip of my mocha, she throws the final, and possibly most vital, piece of information at me.
My new date is 50-years-old. My jaw slaps the ground, like a concrete slab thrown from the top of Big Ben.
As I look in the mirror at my fresh, youthful, wrinkle free face, I tell myself age is but a number. I mean, what does it matter that he’s 31 years older than me? Not a problem. He could be the man of my dreams, I shouldn’t be ageist, I tell myself. As the stark realisation dawns on me that he’s the same age as my dad, I begin to gag but a shot of vodka and a Marlboro Light soon slaps that image out of me.
I walk up to the bar of the Birdcage. I’m unfashionably early, purely because my best friend booted me out the car as she wanted to get back to see the Pop Idol final. I order a pint of Fosters. I decide beer is the best drink for me to consume this evening, it gets me less pissed and if I’m dealing with a senior citizen, I must keep my wits about me. I grab my pint and take myself to a small round table and perch myself on a bar stool.
As I finish off my first pint of Fosters, a man with a shopping bag approaches me. He asks me a question but my eyes are firmly placed on his shopping bag. Had Roy Cropper just walked in? (For those of you who have never seen Coronation Street, Google this man and you will have the image of my date).
Let’s call my date Roy from now on, as his actual name escapes me. Call it the early onset of Alzheimer’s or even just my own mind’s ability to block it out. As this is a date I have tried to forget all through my twenties. And it’s also the date that set the precedent: never let your friend’s mum set you up on date.
Now I wouldn’t have minded being on a date with a 50-year-old, had Roy not acted and looked like he was 75! I know I’m partial to being a little dramatic, but on this occasion I really don’t think I am being. I mean, the shopping bag said it all! He bought me a pint of Fosters, so that’s a point in his favour but I needed another one to block out the dull tone of his voice as he discussed trains and planes that he liked to spot. Wonderful, I’m sat with a train spotter. I really should have remembered to cross dear old Gwen off my Christmas card list. But I don’t like to think of myself as a bitter old queen.
Five pints of fosters later (all bought by Roy, may I add), and I am somewhat tipsy. I notice his body language. He starts to touch my hand, then my arm. He must have thought all his Christmases had come at once. This young pretty boy sat in front of him, pissed on Fosters, who needed looking after. After the sixth pint (also bought by Roy) I started to feel myself returning his body language gestures. A metaphoric slap later and I was in the toilet, on the phone to my best friend.
“You must pick me up!” I pleaded with her.
“But the winner of Pop Idol hadn’t been announced yet.” Came her reply.
“Oh, don’t worry about your best friend, sat here, about to be taken advantage of by Roy Cropper”, I barked back.
Luckily for me, I heard Girls Aloud be announced the winners, so she left her house to rescue me. Whoever thought I’d owe Cheryl Cole for saving me from Roy Cropper?
As I returned to the table, I saw my seventh pint of fosters slammed down on the table by Roy.
Phew! I’ve made the right call by phoning my best friend, pardon the pun. I see the intentions in Roy’s eyes. They’re glistening like a magpies whose just seen a diamond ring. Just as I pick up the fosters, my best friend runs in, like the hero of the hour.
“You must come quickly! My mum’s been taken ill and I need you!” She screams.
Oh the lies and drama of the youth.
I look at Roy, feigning upset.
“I’m so sorry, but I must go!”
“Will I see you again?” Roy is like a lost puppy dog.
The lies of the youth came rolling out of my mouth like a red carpet at the Oscars.
“Of course, give me call. I’ve had a really lovely evening!”
I’m going straight to hell, I tell myself.
My best friend drags me from the Birdcage, and I notice Donna Summers has started playing. I join in on the chorus, rather loudly and as we leave, Roy is following us. I turn round and in my Fosters induced state, I sing at him,
“Enough is enough is enough, I can’t go on, I can’t go on no more, no!”
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you’d like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.
Mark David Woollard graduated from Brunel University, West London in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and Journalism. Since then, he has written for many publications as a freelance writer. He has been ‘The Undateable Gay’ for The Gay UK magazine since 2015 where he documents his unsuccessful dating life. He wrote an opinion column for the national Student Times, discussing LGBT issues.
He also writes educational pieces for ‘Massage World’ magazine, giving advice to Reflexologists about treating certain ailments. He authored a novella in 2013 entitled ‘The Fun and Frolics of FIFI a L’Orange’, the crazy adventures of a drag queen.
And is currently working on a series of LGBT books for children and a collection of flash fiction.
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.