It was a just a joke with friends. I never meant it to get this far but I’m here now so may as well wait. The ad promised compatibility, real love not a casual date.
‘We will match you to your soul mate,’ was the slogan begging to be sneered at, and believe me we sneered. Jennifer, Sue, Mandy and me, swigging white wine and tucking into yet another take-away pizza, Friday nights are the highlight of our week. A girly night in, sometimes we ‘pamper’, sometimes we just drink wine but we nearly always watch T.V.
The late night adverts tempted us with holidays, lured us to join a weight loss class and more often than not they enticed us with promises of love and ‘happy ever after.’ Cynics all, and me more than the others, we’d jeer at the softly lit couples purporting to have found ‘love at the deepest level,’ with someone matched on interests and background.
‘No-one tells the truth on these sites,’ said Jen, ‘who would? I mean you always want to sound as interesting as possible and how interesting is hairdressing?’
We all nodded in agreement.
‘I bet most people add exciting hobbies, you know like snowboarding or white water rafting, I‘m sure no-one puts cross-stitching or bingo.’
We’re all single, sadly we have all loved and lost, I’ve lost more than most and to be honest I’m not sure I’ve ever really loved. I’ve lusted. Often. The others tease me for being distant and never letting boyfriends in, but I don’t agree. I’ve just never found the one. Actually I’ve never really looked. Men are for fun not for life. I can’t ever see me getting married, actually the thought makes me shudder. Of course I played this down a bit when the girls started their teasing and I joined in with the banter.
‘I’m waiting for my Prince Charming,’ was my usual response, although after several bottles of good Chardonnay the conversation usually deteriorated into smut.
But one Friday about a month ago we entered into a drunken pact to sign up to a dating web-site and see who would ‘find love’ first. There were so many sites we decided to choose a different one each and found that as most of them were free to join there was no stake to lose either. Just signing up was hilarious and we had one of the best evenings building our profiles and dolling ourselves up to have a profile photo taken.
The next Friday we all reported back with the initial responses. Ranging from a 65 year old doctor to a 25 year old graduate, Sue’s list was endless. I forgot to add none of us are exactly girls, we’re all rather more on the mature side, I’m 43 and Jen is the oldest at 51 so you can see we’re not going to be easily impressed. The doctor’s profile was interesting and he appeared pretty well heeled but Sue dismissed him as being a bit old. We agreed, after all we might find a toy-boy we decided amid gales of raucous laughter and innuendo. She settled on Martin, 43, own business, own hair, own teeth, that sort of thing, his photo was a bit blurred but we decided he’d be better in the flesh, as it were.
Mandy dismissed all of hers, we didn’t think her heart was in it, she has a crush on her boss, a married control freak with hairy ears, we have no idea what she sees in him but we’ve issued the usual matey warnings about business and pleasure and the fact he’s taken. Nothing seems to make much difference, so the online dating is just a bit of fun from a distance for her. Jennifer had already been emailing her chosen one, a tall 35 year old lawyer originally from the States who was now based in the UK who hoped to find a ‘princess’, fat chance that Jen would be it we all thought, but we went along with her fantasy and helped with some emails, we thought her attempts were a bit tame and needed spicing up.
To be honest I’d been a bit shocked at the level of response to my profile, I’d played up the fact I was curvy, well more round really, and had flowing brunette hair, I didn’t mention this was thanks to an application of ‘Chestnut Berry’ though. I had been honest in my list of interests, skiing, scuba-diving, sky-diving although I omitted that I just liked to watch rather than do. Jeff was a high-flying lawyer looking for ‘a mature play-mate’, while Sebastian wanted an older wiser woman who would teach him ‘the art of love’. All a bit full on so I plumped for Gerry, 49, who owned his own transport company and loved to travel. His photograph was a holiday shot in shorts and sunglasses but he had an edgy look.
We emailed and sent a few texts and now I’m here outside a pub near Stockport waiting for Gerry to appear in a cloud of musky aftershave carrying an armful of red roses. I’m fantasising of course, he’ll be wearing the ubiquitous carnation and I have a red scarf on so there will be no confusion.
The appointed hour arrives and although the pub is busy and the outside tables are rammed I have a clear view of the door, Jen and Sue have both sent good luck texts but Mandy appears to have forgotten tonight’s the big night. Suddenly Gerry is standing by my table, he’s nothing like his photograph, he’s taller than I imagined and looks more like 39 than 49. Before I can close my mouth he’s sitting next to me.
‘Hi I’m Gerry,’ his voice like treacle, his eyes like blue lagoons.
I eat my words.
© Nita Lewsey 2020