Jimmy had about an hours drive home from Angie’s house and this gave him a lot of time to think about how the date had gone. Time, this was a big problem for him as he had far too much of it. Sat at home on his own, lying in bed on his own and even at work walking around on his delivery, on his own. He had too much time to mull over things that had happened or try to imagine how different scenarios would pan out.
He started to pick the day apart thinking about what he could have done or said differently. He knew he wasn’t a people person and really wasn’t good with people he didn’t know well. Even with some, no a lot, he told himself, that he knew very well he would avoid talking to or just grunt in their general direction. Jimmy couldn’t understand the point of small talk, if you didn’t have anything to say don’t bother, who gave a fuck what the weather was doing? He knew though that if you were out on a date, especially a first date you would have to make some sort of an effort. Even though he had still found himself mouthing words and nothing coming out making himself look like a fucking goldfish and in an attempt to get at least something out mixing his words and looking like a complete arse!
There was a total transformation in him when he was able to write down what he wanted to say, so communicating by email worked very well for him. When he had a whole day to think of an answer to a question or a question he wanted to ask then write it down and be able to change it until it was how he wanted it that worked for him. He could be witty, clever and charming then but in a one on one situation with someone he barely knew he thought he came across like a moron.
He had worked this out a long time ago when he was looking for a new job. His CV wasn’t much to write home about but he could write a great covering letter. Jimmy had loads of interviews but when he got there, no matter how hard he tried, he froze. Perhaps that was his problem, he was trying too hard. There was no way he was going to be able to change now, he was forty one years old, and he guessed by now he was who he was.
He tried to put Tuesdays date out of his mind because if he thought about it too much it worried him. He had been out on two dates now and both of them had been a disaster. That in itself wouldn’t have been too bad but he had got on with them so well before they met and as soon as he opened his mouth it turned to crap.
He checked with Karen to see if she was still ok for Tuesday night, secretly hoping she’d changed her mind, she hadn’t. So he attempted to put all the negative thoughts out of his mind and tried to look forward to a nice evening. They got on extremely well; they would have a great time, famous last words?
They met at a pub on the waterfront; Jimmy had got there early and was waiting for her. He recognised her from her photo and walked towards the door to meet her.
“Hi Karen” he said in his best booming confident voice “You look nice” he continued, thinking he should start the date with a compliment, though he was thinking, you look like shit.
She looked like she had just got out of bed, her clothes were all creased and her hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed for a week. He leant forward to kiss her on the cheek and she stood there grasping her handbag to her bosom as if he was about to rip it from her grip and run off down the boardwalk and offered up a timid little “hi” in reply.
They were the only people in the place Jimmy noticed as they walked up to the bar. “What would you like to drink?” he asked her, then waited for an age for her to reply. Shit she was only choosing a drink not a hat for a fucking wedding! The barman came over and they both waited while she decided.
“Orange juice please” she half whispered “on account of the driving” she added as some sort of apology.
“Pint of lager and an orange juice” he said to the barman but really wanting a double scotch.
Jimmy paid for the drinks took a large swig out of his glass and they went and found a table. Before he sat down he took off his coat and hung it on a coat hook near the table.
“Would you like me to take your coat?” he asked Karen with a smile.
“No” she snapped far too quickly, and then added “thank you.”
She sat opposite him with her coat wrapped around her very tightly and with her handbag still grasped close to her but now it was on her lap.
“You found it ok then?” he asked for his opening gambit.
“Yes” she replied.
“How was your day?” he tried again.
“Ok” she said looking at him pretty vacantly.
“The kids?” he said hopefully.
“Fine” she said.
Now Jimmy knew he could be hard work when meeting new people and coaxing conversation out of him can be tedious, so he empathised with her but this was torture for him.
“How’s your drink?” he tried again
“Nice” was all he could get out of her. You need to use open ended questions he reminded himself if you want more than single word answers.
He tried again “what do you usually like to drink?”
“Oh, orange juice” she answered
If he had any hair he would have started pulling it out! What had happened to the chatty articulate lady he had been talking to over the last few weeks? Then he realised this is what the other dates had been thinking about him. So he took another large mouthful of beer and tried to think of something to ask her. This was difficult as the question he wanted to ask was “what the fuck am I doing here?”
“Where shall we eat?” he asked “you still want to eat don’t you?” he added with his fingers crossed under the table hoping for the negative.
She nodded at the same time saying “you choose.”
Instead of choosing the kebab house on his way home Jimmy finished his beer and said “let’s have a wander along the boardwalk and see if there’s something we fancy.” She hadn’t finished her drink but he was up pulling his coat on before she had a chance to reply.
The restaurant next door to the pub was Italian, this will do he thought. “It looks nice in here” he said with a cheeriness he wasn’t feeling “how do you fancy Italian?”
“Ok” she agreed.
“Thank fuck for that!” he mumbled under his breath, then went bright red when he realised he had said it out loud.
“Sorry?” she said looking up at him quizzically.
“Good, me too” He said hoping to get away with it.
This place was also empty; obviously Tuesdays were a slack night. The restaurant owner knew this because he hadn’t even bothered to put the heating on.
“A table for two?” the waitress perched on the counter by the door asked them as they entered the restaurant.
He was tempted to say something smart about the bus load of people with them but smiled and said “yes please.”
The waitress took them to a table and offered to take their coats, there was no way Karen was giving hers up for anyone and it was damn chilly in there so Jimmy decided to leave his on too. She gave them both a menu and asked them “would you like something to drink?”
Jimmy grimaced thinking “not again” but was pleasantly surprised when Karen said “a glass of mineral water please” and was even more surprised when she managed to choose still over sparkling!
“And a pint of lager for me please”
He wouldn’t have usually have had two pints while driving but didn’t think he could last out the evening drinking juice. But hey, maybe things were looking up or was he being lulled into a false sense of security, definitely the later. They sat there in silence looking at the menu until he asked “are you having a starter?”
“Please say no, please say no” he was thinking.
“No I don’t think so” she replied “you?”
“Yes!” he screamed triumphantly in his mind, but replied “no I don’t think I’ll bother.”
The waitress came back and asked “are you ready to order?”
“I’ll have the lasagne” Jimmy said as he handed her back the menu.
“And I’ll have the same” added Karen
“Result!” thought Jimmy, wolf it down and he could be home in an hour!
The waitress walked away and the silence enveloped them again. Karen was sat on the very front of her chair, her handbag still clutched to her lap and her mineral water held tightly with her other hand. She looked like a frightened rabbit caught in approaching headlights, she leant forwards and spoke. “I wonder where the toilets are.”
“They were by the door as we came in” Jimmy told her and watched her shuffle off.
Now was his big chance, he could make a bolt for the door now and the nightmare would be over, but he couldn’t do it. He just sat where he was, picked up his glass only to realise it was empty, “Shit!” he cursed under his breath, he couldn’t risk another. That would round the evening of nicely, arrested for drink driving!
As Karen came back from the ladies so the waitress came back with the food, Jimmy wasn’t surprised about how quickly their food arrived as he was sure he had heard the microwave “Ping!”
They sat and ate their meal in silence and the food really wasn’t very good, his was still frozen in the middle and there was no way he was sending it back! He told Karen when he had eaten enough “It’s cold in here and the foods awful so I don’t think we should bother with dessert or coffee.” She nodded in agreement and when the waitress came over and took their plates he asked for the bill.
She didn’t bring it straight over so Jimmy went to the till to pay, he had had about as much as he could possibly take. After paying Jimmy walked Karen to her car and he couldn’t believe it when she said “Thanks I had a wonderful time.”
He just smiled to hide a grimace, kissed her cheek then headed off to find his car not daring to look round in case she was still there watching him.
When he got home he went straight to bed but he couldn’t sleep. He was gutted, that was the third date and it was supposed to be third time lucky, it was far from that. He wasn’t cut out for this sort of stuff. He would much rather be on his own than feel uncomfortable, anyway he had been ignoring his boys. They had complained to their mum that he was spending more and more time on the computer and less time with them. Sammie had great pleasure in phoning him and telling him this!
Jimmy got up and switched on the computer logging on to the dating website he deleted his profile and with a feeling of satisfaction went back to bed falling asleep as his head touched the pillow.
For the next couple of days Jimmy didn’t even turn the computer on, he just glared at it as it mocked him from the corner of the room. He told himself he didn’t miss it but he did. Not the dates, he didn’t miss them at all, but the emails. He missed that little extra beat in his heart when he saw there was something in his inbox. He missed how he felt when someone had actually taken the trouble to write to him. He missed thinking about what he wanted to say and then writing back. How could he have all that and not have too meet up?
It came to him a couple of days later while he was on his delivery. He was waiting while a man signed for a parcel from Canada and thought “that’s it!” talk to a woman from abroad. Genius! If he could chat to a lady from a different country when it came time to meet it wouldn’t be possible. He could hardly pop over to Madrid, say, for Sunday lunch. That would be his project for this weekend, find a foreign girlfriend.
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