Plus, she's a doctor, so even if I didn't get a second date, we'd probably end up friends and I'd be able to quiz her on all my little ailments (small nipples, Mildred's depression).
Here's how the text conversation went:
Me - 10:51am: Hey you, just got on train. Had a really nice time last night. Hope we can do it again sometime xx
Marie - 5:56pm: Hey, feel really embarrassed about last night! Like I said, the drink got the better of me! x
Me - 6:02pm: Oh well - I don't think worse of you. Maybe we could do something at the weekend? xx
Marie - 7:45pm: I think worse of myself! x
Me - 8:07pm: Shall I take that as a no about the weekend? xx
Marie - 11:03pm: We'll see. Just need to sort my head out. Sorry x
Two days later
Me - 7:36pm: Will you go on a second date with me if I promise not to share my battered sausage? xx
Marie - 7:46pm: You do make me laugh. Can't do this weekend - am looking after my nephew x
Another four days later
Me - 5:41pm: Hey you, how was your weekend then? xx
Marie - 6:57pm: Weekend good but messy! What's new? x
Me - 7:08pm: Nephew do another painting, did he? xx
Marie - 8:08pm: Nah, my sister changed her plans so didn't end up having him. Went out with the girls instead lol x
Me - 8:16pm: Oh right. Up for hooking up Friday or Saturday then? xx
Another three days later
Me - 9:12am: I take it we're not going on a second date then? xx
One week later
Me - 3:13pm: What's the best way to deal with athlete's foot?
"Everything's a bit bare I'm afraid - I've just moved in."
Marie slings her keys towards a hall table. Misses by a good foot.
A single, vile attempt at modern art decorates the magnolia hallway.
"My nephew did that," she says. "He's got autism."
My date strides upstairs and into the bedroom without looking back.
Linger by the door, unsure whether to follow.
"Come on, what you waiting for?" she finally slurs.
Should have avoided missionary, started with something adventurous - like her on top.
Set myself a target. Just have to last until 1:05am. That'll be acceptable. Got to be up early anyway. Need to phone the council, get them to collect my old fridge. Plus there's Mildred to feed.
Marie keeps licking my face. Reckon she thinks it's sexy. Try to keep my head out of reach, but it's not easy with lactic acid throbbing in my biceps.
"Sorry, I need a break," I wheeze, collapsing into her clammy chest.
We resume with my
Yank her head back with my right hand, slap her bum with my left. I'm a sex cowboy and this - Marie's bedroom - is my ranch.
"Careful," she moans, spoiling the rodeo vibe somewhat.
Stretch for the glass of water on her bedside table. Tiny particles of dust float like jetsam on the surface.
"How long's this been here?" I enquire.
No reply. Mind must be elsewhere.
Can feel myself heading towards an orgasm. It's 12:52am. Need to think of something repulsive. Salmon, perhaps.
No, not salmon. Definitely not salmon.
Oh, fuck it.
Lie there like a lemon for a minute - all the while keeping an eye out for her anti-social tongue. We then coordinate my disembarkation.
Marie blows a puff of cool air across her face as we each stare up at the ceiling.
"Isn't it weird how you can blow hot AND cold air out of your mouth?" I say.
"Never really given it much thought," she replies.
Ten minutes later we're asleep.
Marie's got her back to me, nursery blue sheets tucked up to her neck. The rays give her hair a ginger glow. She really needs to get some curtains.
Been lying here bored almost an hour. Wish she'd get up.
Decide to mess around with my ringtones - that'll rouse her.
"Morning!" I say, when she finally stirs.
Marie places a hand on her forehead to indicate pain.
She sinks her face into the pillow for a few seconds before answering.
"I think the drink got the better of me."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't normally have sex with near strangers."
"Well, just put it down as a night of passion."
"A night of passion?"
"You had fun, didn't you?"
"It was okay, yes, but..."
Marie stands, grabs a white towel from her chest of drawers and heads for the en suite without finishing her sentence. Best get up myself.
She comes back in, towel covering all her important bits. Asks me to turn around while she gets dressed.
"I did see everything last night, you know," I complain.
"That was last night."
Not sure I'll ever understand women. Think I'm just going to get off.
"Gonna go catch the train in a sec - need to feed Mildred."
"You know the way to the station?"
She leads me downstairs, past the painting and to the door, picking up her keys on the way. Go to kiss her lips. She doesn't retreat - but for once keeps her tongue to herself.
Marie pulls away and turns the Yale lock in one slick movement.
"I'll text you," I say.
She smiles but doesn't reply.
Can feel her eyes tracking me as I bound down her path. Then, a little earlier than expected, the door slams shut.
Get to the pub dead on time. No sign of my date.
Ask for a Corona. Barmaid corks it with a hefty chunk of shrivelled lime. Force the little bugger down the bottleneck with my thumb.
Marie shuffles through the door as I take my first bitter swig, a little black dress wrapped around her curves like gravy on mashed potato. Looks well tasty.
Order her a vodka and lemo while she commandeers a sofa, smoothing the back of her dress before sinking into its leather upholstery.
"I've never dated a doctor before," I say, handing over her beverage.
"You're not going to ask me to look at something, are you?" she replies.
Planned to quiz her on my athlete's foot. Might leave it til our second date now.
She chats about a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands. Loves travelling, apparently. Tell her I went to Hull last week.
Examine the jukebox while my date gets another round in. Spot Doctor Doctor by The Thompson Twins. She'll think that's well funny.
Marie rolls her eyes when it comes on. Can tell she's laughing inside, though.
She wants to know how long I've been single.
"About a year," I lie. "You?"
"About six months."
"Long-term, was it?"
"What happened? Just grow apart?"
"No, he shagged my best mate."
Marie tucks her thin brown hair behind each ear, then squints like a little girl as she sips her drink through a lime green straw.
"You don't seem too bitter about it?"
"At first I hated his guts."
"Now I've realised that indifference is the opposite of love - not hate."
A cute little mole hovers like the North Star just above her right dimple. She's beautiful, and intelligent, and I'm about as far away from indifference as I've ever been on a first date. Though I have had three Mexican lagers.
Need to change the subject - something less serious.
"So what's your favourite pizza topping?" I quiz.
"Anything - as long as there's no mushrooms. They're evil."
"I'm like that with salmon."
"How can you not like salmon?"
"It reminds me of vagina."
"And you don't like vagina?"
Her hand brushes my arm as our laughter echoes round the bar.
Head to loo. Come back via the bar. Marie's texting.
"Hope you're saying nice things about me," I quip.
"Actually, I am."
She slides the mobile back into her bag and ushers me close with her chocolaty eyes. An unambiguous smile informs me it's time for us to kiss.
Her hand rests on my ribcage as our mouths collide. Bet she can feel my heart racing even without her stethoscope.
Have to break off for a silent burp. Don't think she twigs.
"Look, it's getting late - do you fancy buying me some chips?" she says.
Find a chippy round the corner. Bit of a queue. Marie reprimands a lairy Scouser for trying to push in. Pull an apologetic face behind her back to let him know it's not me complaining. Turns out he's too pissed to argue anyway - just stumbles out the door.
We stroll with our supper towards a taxi rank. She offers me a bit of fishcake; I allow her a small bite of my battered sausage.
Pass the lairy Scouser pissing against a furniture shop window. He's yelling expletives at an unseen friend. Dying for a wee myself. Might see if there's a quiet spot further down the street.
"What a pig, pissing in public like that," complains Marie.
"I know - makes me sick."
"That's why I joined a dating website - because when I'm out I meet knobheads like him."
"Whereas online you meet sophisticated young men like me."
We stop and kiss for the second time, though I have to pull away after a few seconds - her breath smells of haddock.
Don't have to wait long for a cab to pull up.
"You can come back to mine for a nightcap if you want?" says Marie.
Jump on the back seat before she has time to change her mind.
Fare's already £3 and we've barely moved. Gonna be extortionate by the time we get to Birkenhead.
We start necking as our chauffeur heads towards the tunnel. By £4.10 her hand's on my thigh, at £5.60 I'm copping a feel of her boobs. The final fare comes to £15.80 - but it's money well spent.
Marie rummages through her handbag in search of keys while I take a deep breath and contemplate what's ahead.
To be continued...
Get chatting to this girl on Facebook - Joanna. A common interest in politics, three inches shorter than me - this could be it.
A tad intense, mind. Offers her number, then initiates seven text conversations in one day. Next I get an email with some of her artwork. Bit weird. Turns out she has an unhealthy interest in dead celebrities.
Scan through her photos. Pretty, especially when a pair of glasses disguise her less than dainty nose. Message saying she looks sexy in specs. She'll deffo wear them on our date now.
Joanna lives in St Helens but there's no way I'm traipsing over there. She agrees to get the train to Liverpool. Arrange to meet at Lime Street - that way I can disappear in the crowds if she's a hefter.
It's a little awkward at first. She won't make eye contact and I pick up an unpleasant odour: Dettol. Least she's got her glasses on.
We find a booth in Heebie Jeebies and for a painful moment neither of us can think of anything to say. She stares into her Bacardi and lemonade, teasing the ice with a pink straw.
Ask about her family. Already mentioned I've got a memory like a sieve. Always get that in early, then I don't have to remember the boring bits like what her dad does.
We drink with haste and move on after one. Concert Square's packed. The metallic sound of a bottle smashing to the floor signals trouble ahead.
"The working classes, eh," I quip.
"I'm working class," she replies.
Two minutes later Joanna complains about all the walking.
"It'll do us good," I suggest.
"My feet hurt - I told you I've got arthritis in my toes."
Bloody memory again.
"But you're only 26?"
"I know how old I am."
The mood lightens in The Beehive, where after a few more drinks (all on me) we agree that our second date will be a game of tennis. Claims she whopped two lads single-handedly at school. That was before the arthritis kicked in - I'll batter her.
"Come on, let's go for something to eat before you get me drunk," says my date.
End up in this American diner, where she asks over a starter what I thought of her artwork.
"You've got real talent," I say.
"Aw, thanks hun - you're really sweet. If I didn't have coleslaw in my teeth I'd reach over and kiss you."
Waitress is very chatty. Part-time dance teacher, apparently. Going on about some moves which allegedly cleared a dancefloor in Malia. Tell her she's in my top three restaurant staff of all time.
"Can't believe you're flirting with the waitress," says Joanna, with jovial annoyance.
Bump into our girl again en route to the loo. Three hairs on her chin and a bit of a belly but the banter's good. Exchange another joke before she disappears into the kitchen.
One of her workmates pipes up:
"You two seem to be getting on well?"
"Yeah, she's hilarious. I've just been told off for flirting with her actually - I'm on a first date."
"How's it going?"
"Oh, well… Your waitress is single if you want her number?"
An embarrassed laugh accompanies me to the men's and it seems the chance has gone. But she - the colleague, the matchmaker - is waiting with a piece of paper as I leave the toilet.
"Does she know you've given me this?" I ask.
Head back to the table, where we're just about done. Our waitress is nowhere to be seen so another girl obliges with the bill while others smirk in the shadows. Joanna doesn't offer to go halves.
It's back down town for drinks, and she finally gets a round in while I dart for another piss.
We find a table. The conversation turns to a psychic she saw last year. Reckons it was dead weird.
"Somehow she knew about a condition I suffer from - it really spooked me out."
"What, your arthritis?"
"No, no - something else."
"Okay, well, spit it out."
Joanna takes a sip, staring deep into her drink as if it offers a cure for whatever she's got. A few seconds later she turns and whispers solemnly in my ear.
"Depression? That's a very honest thing to tell someone on a first date," I say.
"Do you think I'm a fruitloop now?"
"No, no - don't be soft. I don't care - as long as you're happy around me!"
Her smile reveals a bit too much gum. Then, out of the blue, she reaches over to meet my lips. At last I'm getting something for my £50.
"That was to say thank-you," she explains, checking her mobile as she talks. "Just got to nip to the loo."
Something occurs in the minutes that follow, for when she returns the awkwardness of Lime Street is back. Her eyes avoid mine once more.
Tell her I'm relieved she looks like her photos - the compliment isn't returned. She seems distracted and the silence is starting to linger.
Ask what's up. Turns out this place reminds her of an ex.
"Bad memories?" I enquire.
"No, not at all. Actually, coming in here has made me realise - I don't think I'm over him."
"I feel like such a bitch."
"It's okay, not a problem. It's a shame but…"
"No but I've really messed you around."
Assure her it's fine and suggest we call it a night.
"I'm really sorry," she persists.
"Look, I'm cool - plenty more fish. I'll walk you to the train station."
"I know but you like me and I've messed you around."
"Why do you think I like you?" I quiz.
"Because you kissed me."
"I kissed YOU? Er, no. You kissed ME."
"I was just saying thanks for being nice about my depression."
"That's a bit weird."
"Well, sorry. I'm sorry I kissed you and I'm sorry I've messed you around."
"Listen, you don't need to worry about me - I got the waitress's number anyway."
Joanna's face is scarlet. She peels off her spectacles, takes a step back and yells:
"I can't believe you told me that."
Her nose is pointing my way like a dagger. People turn their heads anticipating a scene.
"Well, you were acting as if you'd broken my heart," I counter.
"Who the fuck does this waitress think she is, the fat bitch? I can't believe she did that."
"Why you bothered?"
"I'm not. I don't fancy you - I just think it's cheeky is all."
"Why did you come on a date if you didn't fancy me?"
"You don't look how I expected you to look."
I try not to appear bruised.
"Well you should have done your homework and gone through my pictures, shouldn't you?" I say.
"I'm not a stalker like you, clearly."
"I'm not being funny, Joanna, but you're not as pretty as most of your pictures either. There's things I could say."
"Fuck off you knob."
With that she storms off.
An hour later I get a text apologising for the way it ended. Reply in kind before turning off my phone.
Switch it on next morning to find nine messages. A selection:
- U an that waitress wud b good togeva x
- Uve had a lucky escape from me n e hew!
- If it helps I haven't laughed like that in ages, would like to stay friends if u don't mind?
- Just comparing myself to that waitress stupidly. So u gunna go out with her?
- Can't believe how nasty uve bn to me, im insecure about the way I look and uve made me feel worse.
- Uve got issues.
Log on to Facebook - she's blocked me.
Shame. I was looking forward to that game of tennis.
Disclaimer: Names have been changed. Probably for the best. Though I'm sure she'd be pleased I used her doodle of Lennon. Also, ended up going on two dates with the waitress, Michelle, who was lovely. Just no chemistry.
People are dismissive - no one's heard of it. I keep schtum. Need to do a big shop anyway; got no plans Friday. It's on.
Head down about 8pm, a splash of Calvin Klein still soaking into my face, neck and crotch.
It's all a bit quiet. Probably doesn't liven up 'til the pubs chuck out.
An old couple with an empty trolley undertake me at the onions. What are they doing here? I grunt but the geriatrics are in a world of their own.
Potatoes - check; carrots - check; eggs - check.
Remember why you're here, la. Scan the pet food aisle for skirt - nothing.
A little guy in a big suit surveys dried fruits. He's overdone it with the clobber. No competition. Throw him a knowing wink. He looks worried.
Our male bonding is suddenly interrupted by a female presence. A pigtailed girl in a knitted cardie is skipping towards us.
"Hello, young lady," I say, hoping an attractive single mum is around the corner.
The child stops dead, looks me up and down, and scurries off at pace, almost colliding with an unseen trolley that swerves into view.
It's her mother - and she's from the Finest range. Tall, dark and, I note, a fan of prunes.
A white shirt hangs over black leggings; sunglasses sit like a tiara on her chest-length hair. Stylish without being dressy - definitely the right tone for a night like this.
Follow her down cooked meats. I'll strike up a convo about something she picks off the shelves - though our girl doesn't seem to be buying much.
Of course she's not buying much - she's here to find a man.
Stay 10 paces behind along cereals, where finally she brakes to collect some Shreddies. Time to move in.
I'm right on her tail when the child's lips begin to stir.
"Mummy, that man keeps staring at you."
Throw the shitbag an evil but she's already skipping away.
Mum looks over, arms folded across her liberal bust. A pitiful shake of the head accompanies three little words that still echo in my heart.
"Get a life."
With that she's away, and I'm left scarlet-faced with Tony the Tiger. Great.
Grab a packet of Pop Tarts, pretending to read the label while she rolls down frozen foods, up wines and spirits, into home goods and out of my life forever.
A handicapped lady hums as she marches my way, an index finger in each ear. Spot little guy in a big suit two aisles down. Appears to be looking at condoms.
Scan the checkout staff. One hottie but she's got a queue.
"Would you like to come to this one?"
I hear the offer but don't look round - the voice is old and splintered.
Instead join the line for...Helen - that's what her badge says when I finally get to the front.
"Do you need some help with your packing?"
"I'm okay, thanks - as long as you don't go too fast."
The hottie smiles at my trademark quip. I'm in.
"Have you ever heard of it being singles' night here on a Friday?"
"No. Is that why you're here?"
Helen places a delicate hand over her mouth to hide a throaty snigger.
"I needed a big shop anyway."
Type my PIN too fast - trying to show off. Have to re-enter.
She eventually returns my card, a lipgloss smirk still etched beneath her studded nose.
"See you next Friday," she says as I scamper to the exit.
Wait 'til I see Eve.
One of my dating posts will be read out every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at around 8pm for the next month. It's billed as Sex and the City - but without the sex, because this blogger doesn't get any sex. They wrote that bit.
The DJ asked if I could provide 12 real-life stories - and each has now been recorded.
Jump out the shower. Pubes are looking a bit bushy. Attack them with some kitchen scissors.
No time to vacuum up the mess afterwards - need to get going.
Pay my train fare with a crisp £20 note. Ticket man asks if I've got anything smaller. I have, but I don't like his tone, so I grunt in the negative.
Natasha texts - she's arrived early. Bit keen. Don't bother replying. She can sweat for a little while.
Spot her leaning against the wall as I amble off the train. She looks just like her photos. A little tubbier around the thighs, perhaps. Nothing a few circuit classes wouldn't fix.
Notice thick blobs of mascara on her eyelashes as we kiss cheeks.
"What kind of bars do you normally go to?" I quiz.
"Anywhere really - I'm easy."
The Jacaranda it is, then. Bottles of lager are only £1 on weeknights.
Except Natasha wants Bacardi and Coke, so the round comes to more than £3.
We take our seats in the dank basement, where psychedelic paintings of John Lennon decorate each wall.
"The Beatles used to practice down here," I explain. "Though they were known as The Quarrymen back then."
Natasha looks on in awe as I continue my lecture with more Fab Four facts.
She eventually changes the subject by probing me on my worst habits. Can't say sniffing the toilet paper after each wipe.
In the end I go with ringing friends while on the bog. My date says she does that too. Suddenly the fat thighs don't matter so much.
My crotch starts itching. Happens every time I trim. Manage to have a good scratch while Natasha checks her phone.
She peels the label off my bottle as we resume our chat.
"That's a sign of sexual frustration," I point out.
"Why do you think I signed up for Plenty of Fish?" she quips. This girl's gagging for it.
With each Bacardi and Coke she becomes chattier, with each £1 bottle of Stella a little prettier.
Tell Natasha about some of my online dating disasters.
"How about you?" I query. "Met any freaks?"
"For some reason I seem to attract a lot of..."
Natasha looks round before silently mouthing her next word.
Can't work out if she's being serious, so I nod politely.
"Every week another one messages me. I never reply. You'd think they'd take the hint, but no."
Not sure what to say. The silence is getting a bit awkward.
I pretend to need a wee, darting upstairs to the bog to assess my options while staring into a ceramic urinal.
Maybe I should confront her - that'd probably be the right thing to do. Or I could forget she's a racist in the hope of getting a shag.
End up doing neither. Instead I creep out of the toilets, smiling gingerly at the barmaid while scurrying to the exit.
The air's mild outside even though it's well past 9pm. A slate grey sky has replaced the earlier sunshine. Don't have to wait long for a train.
Five minutes after taking a seat my phone beeps.
"Where are you?" she's written.
I consider my reponse for a few seconds, then start typing.
"I'm on the train. You're fit and that but the coloureds comment put me off. And the mascara too - sorry."
Don't get a reply. End up having an early night. Except I can't fall asleep because of my itchy pubes.
Doorbell rings twice in quick succession. She's 15 minutes early. Obviously desperate to see me.
Emma looks cute in layers. Think she's wearing two pairs of jeans. Imagine myself ripping them off. It's been a while since I undressed a woman - today I might do it twice. Just hope she hasn't doubled up on bras.
Our wellies crunch into the fresh snow as we stride carefully down the street. My date crouches to prepare a snowball but her aim is well off.
"You throw like a girl," I yell.
"It's not my fault - you're too small a target," she responds.
"I'll have you know I'm average height for a man."
"You're only 5'8 - that's not average, Fishy."
"Worldwide it is. I'd be tall in Japan."
She humours me with a chuckle before scampering on to the beach. Her footprints expose brown sand beneath the snow like coffee in a cappuccino.
A lonely snowman stares out to sea. Emma attempts to down him with a dropkick but this fella has been built to last.
Snot drips from my nostrils as we slide down a dune. Flick away the remaining slime with an index finger while my girl isn't looking.
"Last time it snowed like this I'd just started going out with Chris's dad," she reveals.
"How long ago was that?" I enquire.
"You started seeing him when you were 13?"
"And how long were you together?"
"Well, actually, almost 14 years. We only split up two months ago."
I step back but remain silent. It's Emma who speaks next, telling me she's going to stay with her auntie in the Isle of Wight for a week or two. Clear her head.
"And when you get back - will I see you?" I ask.
"The thing is, I'm not really…"
"Ready for a relationship?"
"I think I need to be single for a while."
"So why did you go on a date with me?"
"Because you asked and because we got on - we get on."
An ageing Rottweiler limps past, ignoring calls from his teenage owner in the distance.
"Guess I'm not going to get those free haircuts, then?" I joke.
"Is that the only reason you asked me out?"
"Worked out I'd save £96 a year."
Emma's smile is bracketed by blonde strands of hair protruding from her bobble hat.
Take in her perfume through my runny nostrils as we embrace for the final time.
"I'll see you for your next cut, then?" she says.
With that, after three dates and one bathroom indiscretion, Emma is gone.
Restaurant looks packed. Emma holds the door open for me. Waiter asks if we've booked.
"No, is that a problem?" I enquire.
The man steps back, strokes his goatee and invites me to survey the dining room. Not one spare table.
"Well, how long is the wait?"
We order some drinks and make ourselves comfortable on an old leather sofa in the lobby. An arctic draught tickles our ankles every time the door opens. Emma looks freezing.
"New trainers?" she asks.
"No, not these," I lie. "Look at all the scuffs."
Half an hour later we're hurried to a table beside a man wearing a cravat and his expensively decorated wife.
Emma challenges me to stick a whole onion bhaji in my mouth. Easy. Cravat Man adjusts his napkin and glances over with a scowl.
Try to look interested as she chats about her day. Girl talk. Thankfully the waiter interrupts with our mains. Two jalfrezis. She wants to taste some of my garlic naan.
"Should have ordered some yourself," I say.
She laughs - thinks I'm joking.
My girl heads to the bog. Got a bit of bellyache myself. Scrape some chicken on to her plate - don't want to appear lightweight.
We're both too stuffed for dessert. Pay the bill without checking the damage. Emma's clearly impressed. Machine asks if I'd like to leave a gratuity. Press 'no'.
"Fancy going for a drink somewhere?" I say.
"Why don't we get a six pack and walk along the beach instead?"
It's the middle of winter. This girl has a screw loose. Guess that's why I like her.
The Irish Sea looks angry as we step on to the firm sand with a carrier bag full of cheap lager. Emma's talking but the wind steals her words.
We find shelter in a dune and chat about books, aliens and how I used to get warts as a boy.
"Isn't this romantic," she whispers, but I'm distracted by a rumble in my tummy.
"That was my stomach, by the way - not my bum," I say.
"Thanks for the clarification."
Time to put the feelers out.
"So, you got to get back for the babysitter, then?" I enquire.
"No, Chris is at his dad's again."
"Cool. Tell me more about his dad - how long have you been separated?"
"I told you last time, I don't really want to talk about it."
"It's okay. Look, it's getting late. Do you want to walk me home?"
We bury our empty cans in the sand and set off towards her flat.
Emma sketches a penis on the frozen windscreen of a Ford Fiesta. Her testicles are massive.
"You're going to be disappointed if you think mine are that big," I quip.
"Well I've got no intention of finding out just yet," she says, as we step on to her porch. "Though you can stay over if you want?"
Patience, Fishy - patience.
Need a wee. Toilet seat isn't fitted properly. Have to hold it upright as I piss. She'll have to get that fixed. Brush my teeth with an index finger while weighing myself on her bathroom scales.
Emma's folding some washing as I venture into the bedroom. Grab her round the waist and start nibbling her ear cartilage. We collapse on to the bed - so much for not doing anything.
She asks me to turn away. Probably going to surprise me with some sexy lingerie.
"You can look now."
A laboured smile decorates my face as I swivel to see her wearing pink Betty Boop pyjamas.
We cuddle under the sheets. Arch my bum back a few inches so she doesn't notice the little stiffy poking through my boxers.
Emma dozes off. Erection isn't waning. Whisper her name. No response. I rise slowly and creep towards the door - going to sort myself out in the bathroom.
Only takes a few minutes. Goes everywhere. Good job she's got laminate.
Skulk back into bed. Soon drop off. Next thing I know it's morning and I'm being ordered out.
"Chris is getting dropped off soon," she explains.
"Can't I meet him?"
"I think it's a bit soon for that."
"Fair enough - you don't want to introduce him to any old bloke, I suppose."
"Well, sort of. Anyway, enjoy the walk of shame."
"You mean the stride of pride?"
She giggles while leading me to the door. Pull away from our goodbye kiss - her breath stinks.
Can sense my girl waving from the window but I don't look up - got to keep her guessing.
Going to suggest a day trip for our third date. A stroll in the countryside or something. Then she'll come back to mine. No Betty Boop pyjamas there. Or laminate.
Check bedside cabinet for condoms. The packet's full. Spot some old fungal cream - best hide that.
Sling my sheets in the washer. Hopefully she'll be doing this for me soon.
My trainers look a bit scruffy. Think I'll head to town for some new ones - if I
Try them on with my date outfit back home. Bit shiny. Do a few laps of the back garden, scuffing them on the lawn.
Sheets are just about dry. Make the bed in record time - one minute and 32 seconds. Will have to teach Emma my trick of climbing inside the cover and pulling the duvet up.
Do 10 press-ups to firm my pecs before admiring myself in a full-length mirror. If I was a girl, I'd definitely bang me.
Read through all our texts. She messages every day now. Even called me 'hun' yesterday.
Phone vibrates in my hand. It's her. Probably saying how excited she is. Open the message.
Fall back onto the sofa and gaze at the crack in my ceiling. Seems to be getting bigger. Mildred jumps on my lap. Wants feeding. Got to soldier on for her sake.
Analyse Emma's words. The ellipsis is so noncommittal. A question mark would have given me hope - but those three little dots stink of indifference.
Finally send a casual message back.
Debate whether to return the new trainers. Shop probably won't accept them with all the scuffs.
Have an early night - all that cleaning's worn me out.
Weatherman reckons it's going to rain. Text Emma asking her to bring a brolly - don't want my hair getting wet.
We're meeting at the train station in town. I arrive first. iPod's out of battery. Leave one earphone in anyway - make me look hip.
The huge glass ceiling is covered in bird droppings. Constellations start to emerge - it's like staring at the stars.
Hairdresser catwalks into view. Tight jeans hug her motherly thighs and I can just about spy a lacy bra beneath her white blouse. This is going to be some night.
"Just been looking at the pigeon poo," I say, to break the ice.
We both gaze up, pausing silently to absorb the faecal universe. Then Emma starts rustling in her bag. Pulls out two shower caps.
"Couldn't find a brolly so I brought these - thought we could start a new trend!" she explains, giggling at her own silliness.
I promise to wear one after a few drinks - she'll have forgotten by then.
Find a cheap bar. It's quite dark and some of the seats are ripped, but my Corona and her vodka and coke only costs £4.70.
The convo flows immediately. Emma seems happy to answer all my hairdressing questions - stuff like tipping etiquette (they bitch if you don't leave one) and whether she's ever deliberately ruined anyone's hair (once).
My date laughs when I ask if she's going on holiday this year. I'm on fire.
A Chinese guy is selling roses from a bucket. Wave him away. Offer to buy her some nuts instead.
We talk at length about my cat. Emma is genuinely interested in Mildred's depression. Even suggests a few things to cure her dodgy stomach.
In return I enquire about her little boy, Chris. He's staying at his dad's tonight.
"How long have you two been split up?" I quiz.
"Let's not talk about things like that, eh."
"Well, you seem to be making a go of things on your own anyway."
"Yes, I am."
"And I'm coping alright with Mildred."
Two single parents doing the best we can.
After three drinks and a terrible run on the quiz machine (my date didn't know who the Prime Minister was from 1957-63 - idiot) we agree to move on. It's chucking it down outside.
"You got them shower caps, then?" I say.
"Yippee," she yells, reaching into her handbag.
We leg it hand in hand down the road. A bar full of old men stare as we enter their haunt in plastic headwear.
Need the loo. Too pissed to care about washing my hands. Emma looks surprised at my hasty return. Rub each palm against my thighs - a fake hand dry to avert suspicion.
She's just finishing a text.
"Who's that?" I enquire.
"My twin sister," she replies.
Two for the price of one - get in.
We lose track of time chatting about childhood memories, baked beans, toothpaste and how the greenhouse effect is a myth.
Place a nervous hand on her right thigh as we sit in comfortable silence. She reciprocates by resting her head on my left shoulder.
"Bloody hell, it's 12am," she says, suddenly. "I've got to be up for work in the morning."
Pass a homeless busker on our way to the taxi rank. He's trying to play Wonderwall.
"Nah mate - you're doing it all wrong," I interrupt.
With that he hands me the guitar and I illustrate how to go from Dsus4 to A7sus4. Emma is awestruck.
We ask the tramp if he takes requests.
"Like what?" he grumbles.
"Do you know anything by U2?" I reply.
His mucky fingers begin strumming I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. Emma starts singing, so I join in.
"That can be OUR song," I tell her as we finally leave the man in peace.
"How apt," she replies, laughing sweetly.
The two of us wait for a taxi outside an old city centre church which was bombed out during the war. It's here we kiss for the first time as raindrops bounce off our shower caps. I sandwich her face between my hands while we snog - girls can't resist that.
"We might as well share a cab, seeing as we live in the same neck of the woods," she says.
"You're just trying to get me back to yours, aren't you?" I tease.
"I couldn't do anything right now even if I was."
Must mean her period.
"Why, you on your blob?" I enquire.
A black cab rolls up before she can answer.
Twenty minutes later the taxi parks outside her flat. She looks perturbed as I follow her into the street.
"The fare's already extortionate," I explain. "My house is only a 10-minute walk from here."
We exchange a final kiss goodnight against a damp lamppost. Slot my hands in her back pockets.
"See you soon," I say, already a couple of strides away.
Emma smiles but doesn't reply as she watches me disappear into the night.
I'm sat enjoying the sun in the front garden when suddenly my eyes are drawn to a tall, middle-aged man walking down the street. He's staring right at me.
"Alright," I mutter with a nod, hoping to placate any aggressive intent.
But it's okay - his motive seems purely neighbourly.
"Hello," replies the stranger, not breaking his step. After a minute or two he's out of sight.
Ten minutes later
This time I'm taken unawares.
"Hello again, friend."
He's carrying a Somerfield bag.
"Hey," I reply, anticipating an immediate return to my book.
No such luck.
"This is the life, eh? Sun, a good page turner - all you need now is a glass of wine."
Inform him it's a bit early for me and with that he's gone. And forgotten. Until…
I've been out there 10 minutes when I spot him striding down the road.
"You haven't moved for two weeks, have you?"
He seems pleased with this witticism, so I feign a laugh to be polite.
"What you reading?" he enquires.
Tell him I've just started The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro but his expression indicates he's never heard of it.
"I'm on The Time Traveller's Wife," he says. "My friend thrust it into my hand at a fair and said, 'You'll LOVE this.' And I am loving it, so…"
An uncomfortable silence ensues. Three, four, maybe even five seconds until he continues:
"So, are you new here?"
"Moved in about six months ago."
The stranger points to the sea-view houses and says: "I live over there - have done 20-odd years now."
"That's where everyone on this street wants to live," I reply, but my banter is ignored.
"What's your name?"
"Nice to meet you, Fishy. I'm Brian."
And after an awkward goodbye he's away once more.
Five minutes ago
Me and my mate Elizabeth walk in from the pub to find an envelope marked 'Fishy' on the floor.
Rip it open excitedly and begin reading…
Thought you might like to text/phone me?
If so, my number is:
Be good to hear from you.
Elizabeth is bent over laughing. She reckons I've gone bright red.
"Shut up," I tell her.
"When you going to text him?"
"You do look gay."
Think I'm going to give the front garden a miss for a while.
Meet this girl at a party. Arrange to go to the pictures:
Get a text 20 minutes before. Reckons she's wet and bedraggled because of the rain. Should have brought a brolly, like me.
Kiss her damp cheek as she removes her hat and runs five stumpy fingers through her hair. Doesn't look bedraggled – looks lovely.
Tell her I've already got the tickets, so she insists on buying the popcorn. Picks salted – ug. Give her a chance Fishy, give her a chance.
The film's called You, The Living. The review never said anything about Swedish subtitles.
She throws popcorn at me with a smile that reveals dimples. Think she's the one. Offer her some Orbit.
Five minutes later her head is resting on my shoulder. Sniff her hair - nothing. Tell her it smells nice anyway - brownie points.
Avoid talking about the film after - don't want to sound thick.
Find a bar. She picks a table with a candle. Blow it out on the way to the loo, challenging her to light it before I return. She succeeds. Is this what love feels like?
Tells me about her scrapbook – it's like a diary but with pictures and ticket stubs to boot. Feel myself going boss-eyed.
It's chucking it down outside. Think I'll kiss her in the rain - she'll love that.
Go in for the kill as we walk to the car but she retreats. She's not kissing me in the rain – says it's cheesy.
Oh well, five minutes later, outside her student house, our lips collide under the gaze of my rear view mirror. Catch a glimpse of myself and like what I see: I'm irresistible.
Her room is a pigsty: dirty bras hang from open drawers and there's plates on the floor.
She hands me the scrapbook on her way to the bathroom but as soon as the toilet door tells me it's safe, I'm off to investigate those open drawers.
As I do, a sharp whiff of body odour rises up my nostrils – I stink. Find some Dove deodorant and give myself a spray. Hope she doesn't notice I smell like her.
Scurry back to the scrapbook as her heavy feet lead her back from the bathroom. Turn to the penultimate page.
This is amazing, I say.
Sorry about the mess, she replies, then asks why my socks say Tuesday when it's Saturday.
I'm a rebel, I answer. Surely that deserves a laugh?
The theme to Match of the Day vibrates through paper-thin walls, and the disbelieving voice of John Motson soundtracks our descent under the sheets.
The game is Arsenal versus Bolton and Motty is explaining that Gretar Steinsson has gone down after a challenge from Abou Diaby. I can hear the crowd scream – as they often do in such circumstances – but it seems excessive. Doubt there was much contact.
Bolton go 2-0 up – the three points seem certain.
Or that's what I think. Before I know it Motson is describing a third goal for those in red and it's clear a remarkable turnaround has taken place. As the net ripples, my date - out of nowhere - pushes me away and asks me to leave. It just doesn't feel right, apparently.
But you're my one, I think to myself before looking down at those Tuesday socks covering my good foot and my bad.
A few days later she texts to apologise. Says we should have just gone out as friends – that she felt pressured into being a 'mega whore' because it was a date.
Reply telling her it's okay and asking if we're going to do it again.
Still waiting to hear back.
Both arrive early. Kiss her cheek. She turns away sharply - thinks I'm trying for the lips.
The beach is deserted. Ask if she wants an ice cream. Says no. A cheap date - I like it.
A jogger whooshes past, iPod blaring out. The song is a classic from my childhood.
Hannah hasn't heard of Feargal Sharkey and doesn't seem amused by my little jig.
The conversation picks up as we wander among the dunes. Her wavy hair bounces elegantly through the sea breeze. I'd definitely shag her.
She looks freezing. Should have worn a big coat, like me. After an hour or so I suggest drinks in town.
Have to run to catch our train. My date seems flustered. She stares into the distance as we speed past a housing estate. A playful kick isn't returned.
Her housemates have told her off for sending short messages, apparently.
"Hadn't noticed," I lie.
"They reckon I come across a bit cold."
"Your messages are fine, don't worry. You might want to brush up on your apostrophes, but apart from that..."
Not sure it's the right thing to say.
Let her pick the bar - that way there's no moaning.
"Aren't you supposed to choose?" Hannah queries.
"I find it's easier to let the girl decide."
With that she leads me to a student haunt where drinks come in plastic glasses. Not what I had in mind.
We talk about family, cats, favourite vegetables, museums in Liverpool (she does most of the talking here), her lack of cooking skills, my leek and potato soup and spiders.
My date knows a nice Chinese place we could eat. Means I'll have to pretend to like Oriental food.
A candle illuminates her sweet face and our legs mingle affectionately as dinner is served.
I like the way she refuses to be rushed even when the waitress brings our bill. Get my phone calculator out for a joke but she's not paying attention.
"Just kidding," I say. "This is on me."
"No, no - we'll split it," she replies.
"Seriously, I've got it covered."
Expected a bigger protest. Never mind - I'll skip the tip. Didn't finish half of mine anyway.
Head for more drinks. Hannah chats about her summer in Romania helping disabled children using 'intense interaction'. Staring in their eyes and shit.
Try to give her a high five en route to the bar but she's not having it – thinks it's naff. All her good work with Romanian children is being undone.
It's getting late. Walk her to the station where I go in for a snog under the shadow of an unlit bus shelter. She doesn't retreat.
Twist strands of her hair round my fingers. Girls like that.
"I've had a nice night," she says. "Have you?"
"Er, yes. It's been ace. I really like you, Hannah."
With that she boards her bus. I wave goodbye as it pulls away but she doesn't see. Busy texting someone.
Spend the entire taxi ride home thinking through our six hours together. Not the best date I've ever been on - but a long way from the worst. Come up with some pros and cons.
Pro: She helps mental kids in Romania. Con: She doesn't like cats. Pro: She's got a lovely smile. Con: She's never seen The Office and doesn't know who Feargal Sharkey is. Pro: She made me laugh - though I'd had three Coronas at the time. Con: She wouldn't give me a high five. Pro: She's young and I can mould her.
Ah, who am I kidding? Leave it 'til morning then text asking if she wants to do something at the weekend.
Approximately two hours and 13 minutes later my phone beeps. Her reply reads:
Look, thanks for a nice night. Thing is, I was kind of seeing someone a few weeks back and I think it might be back on. Sorry for messing you around x
Well that's a blow to my ego. Don't bother responding - might say something I regret.
Can't get the Feargal Sharkey song out of my head. Lyrics seem quite apt now.
She's late. No call, no text. It's ten past now - she's got five more minutes.
Her legs finally swivel out of a black cab at twenty past. No apology. At least she looks like her picture.
Pool table's free. Pot a yellow from the break. Sink two more before snookering myself.
Thankfully she wastes her two shots.
Soon I'm down to one ball. This is easy. Alice takes off her scarf and approaches the table once more.
"Ooh, now she means business," I quip.
"You're quite the comedian, aren't you?" she responds. Not sure it's a compliment.
Tell her not to get cheeky - I'm a white belt at judo. Now she's pissing herself. Bit strange.
She has a nice laugh, mind. One of those silent ones. Hands on belly, back arched forward, mouth ajar - looks slightly handicapped.
I'm 3-0 up when my date suggests moving on. Bad loser.
Find a place on Hardman Street. There's not many seats so we ask a couple if we can invade their booth.
The bloke keeps chatting. Reckons he's a documentary maker. Full of showbiz anecdotes. Twat. I'm supposed to be the one with the brilliant job.
Head for the bog. The cubicle's locked so I reluctantly approach the urinals. If someone comes in before I get going, I'll have to pretend I've finished and come back later. Can't wee with an audience.
Use my piss to direct a Hubba Bubba along the stainless steal trough towards the drain. The little orange blob didn't bank on me having three Coronas in my armory. See you later, punk.
Thankfully the documentary maker and his missus have done one when I return.
Alice goes to text her mate to say she's okay.
"Tell her not to worry," I interrupt jokingly, "there's no such thing as rape, just surprise sex."
A risk, perhaps. She places the phone in her bag, stands and excuses herself. Luckily her destination is the toilet - not the exit. I say luckily, though I can't decide whether I'm relieved or not.
Alice doesn't look comfortable in heels. Her stride is careful and conceived - think she's drunk.
She returns with two Coronas and some cheese and onion. We're friends again. She tells me about her disabled brother; I do my horse impression. Still, the conversation always comes back to medicine.
Go outside so she can have a fag. Alice smokes as if she's had a hard life: exhaling sideways through thin lips; eyes vulnerable as they stare into the distance.
Our booth is empty when we return. Fate wants us to kiss - who am I to argue? Our mouths soon collide and it's only then that I make an alarming discovery: flaky bits of make-up on her nose and between her eyebrows. It's like kissing a pasty.
I retreat and ask if she wants another drink. Says no - thinks we should end the night on a high.
Walk her to the taxi rank but first she wants a photo of me and her outside the China Gates. Suddenly imagine Alice legs crossed on her bedroom floor, Pritt Stick and scissors in hand, making a collage of us on our first date. This girl's a loon.
Explain that I'm rubbish at goodbyes, keeping her dusty face at arm's length. She says we'll have to go for a meal next time. I nod, then point to an approaching taxi.
THE NEXT MORNING
Phone beeps. A picture message. It's me and her outside the China Gates. Now I'm scared. Feel like Jill Dando.
Text back saying it's a bit too soon for coupley photos. She asks why. I don't reply.
After a long
The frustrating thing is, we do get along great. I'll probably never be able to listen to Three Times a Lady without thinking of her silly knife and fork earrings. And she'll no doubt always wonder how small my tiny nipples really are.
Obviously we're going to stay friends
"I can't believe you've never used Skype," says Rapunzel.
"I can't believe I'm talking to my computer. The cat's giving me funny looks."
"Well I'll put my webcam on - she'll be able to see me then."
My date suddenly appears, fretting over her lack of make-up. I hadn't noticed. Mildred is less forgiving, bounding off the sofa with a scowl.
"Go on then - switch yours on," orders Rapunzel.
"Haven't got one," I lie.
Feel a bit guilty - but I just want to sit and scratch my balls. Like I would with a real girlfriend.
"What would you normally be doing on a Thursday night?" she enquires.
Shit. Can't tell her the truth. She probably doesn't even know what the 10-minute freeview is. Spin a line about usually having friends round for food. She buys it.
I'm treated to a tour of her apartment, which overlooks Manchester city centre. At one point Rapunzel stumbles and I get an eyeful of cleavage.
"What do you think of the view?" she asks.
"Stunning," I reply.
We relocate to the kitchen to cook dinner. She's doing a Thai red curry. Makes a right mess. Not sure I could marry someone who doesn't wash up as they go along.
Encourage her to add more coconut milk - she pretends not to hear.
Rapunzel cracks open a bottle of white wine as we tuck into our grub. I'm having red with my bangers and mash - or at least that's what I tell her. Sounds more sophisticated than orange and pineapple cordial.
A door slams in the background. Her flatmate's home. The Aussie fella.
"Why have you gone all quiet?" she queries.
"I can't talk while he's listening," I explain. "Too much pressure - it's like weeing at the urinals."
She agrees to call me back when Crocodile Dundee retires to his room. Need a wee anyway. Take my laptop along in case she rings mid-flow.
I'm just finishing up when the call comes.
"What's that noise," she enquires as I flush.
"Nothing - I'm just getting a glass of water."
Challenge my date to a game of online Scrabble. She bursts into the lead with BLADDER. I strike back with TENACITY. An epic 53 minutes later victory is finally secure - she's got no response to my VULVA.
Rapunzel insists on watching Grey's Anatomy but agrees to switch over for Question Time at 10.35pm.
"Can you be quiet please?" I complain. "You can't talk over David Dimbleby."
"Are you being serious?"
"Yes - it's my favourite show."
We spend the next hour in near silence.
"Can I speak now?" she asks when the credits eventually roll.
Reckon I'm in the bad books so I offer to play her a song on guitar. Her smile beams through cyberspace as I strum the opening chords to Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits. She's speechless.
It's almost bed time. We head to the bathroom to brush our teeth. Rapunzel is very methodical. Takes almost three minutes. Mental.
Next she starts moisturising. Bugger this - I'm off to warm the bed.
At last my girl slopes in. I've dreamt about this for weeks - me and her under the sheets. A virtual boner rages beneath my laptop.
Then, out of the blue, Rapunzel presses escape…
"Do you mind if we call it a night?" she says. "I'm knackered."
Bloody hell - it's like we're in a relationship already.
"Ach, I suppose not."
She blows me a kiss. I reply in kind.
"You're not going to describe THAT as awkward in your blog, are you?" I enquire.
"You'll have to wait and see."
A comfortable silence lingers for 10 or 15 seconds.
"Go on then, hang up," teases Rapunzel.
"No, you hang up," I reply.
And she does. Bit rude.
It's almost 1am as I place my laptop on the floor and drift slowly into a dream about...
...well I can't really go into detail - she might be reading.
* Rapunzel and I will be going on a proper second date when we're both a little less busy with work and stuff. In the meantime, read her version of our virtual date here.
Strut into the terminal. Spot my girl waiting by the escalators. I slow down and take her in. Not bad for 33.
Something tickles my top lip. It's blood. Shaving cut.
"Hello you," says Rapunzel.
"Hey, I'm bleeding," I reply.
"What have you done?"
"Cut my lip shaving. I planned to kiss you on the cheek but…"
She rummages through her ridiculously large handbag and produces some Vaseline. The tin looks older than her. Bet it's got a few stories to tell. Reluctantly lubricate my lips, then pout in her direction for comic effect. She laughs.
Rapunzel seems distracted as we navigate passport control. Soon cheers up when the guard compliments her knife and fork earrings.
"I made them myself - only cost £1.20," she tells him.
Cheap and good with her hands - my heart skips a beat.
Then it dawns on me - she's flirting with another man. Tell myself off for getting jealous. This is meant to be about the blog - I'm not supposed to fancy her.
Explain that I get claustrophobic and need an aisle seat.
"That's fine," she says. "I prefer the window anyway."
Perfect. Until an overweight businessman nudges into the seat between us. Probably one of our followers hoping for an inside scoop.
Notice a wet patch on Rapunzel's top - right by her left titty.
"Thanks for pointing that out," she says, attempting to remove the stain with her sleeve.
"Just so you know, I'm not lactating."
The businessman turns and leers at her boobs.
"It must be coffee," explains Rapunzel.
"Whatever. This is blog gold."
The sky is menacingly grey as our plane swoops into Belfast, touching down with a bump. We hop into a taxi and 10 minutes later arrive at a bistro that looked a lot classier on the internet. At least I remembered to print off some vouchers.
My date orders a chicken tikka baguette; I plump for Irish stew - which, when it arrives, resembles cat vomit.
She's wearing a jumper that exposes one shoulder. An elegant clavicle curves beneath her bare skin.
"You've got a really sexy shoulder," I say.
Our eyes lock - her green to my blue.
After dinner we head to Castle Place, where an open-top bus tour is due to leave in 10 minutes. My legs tremble in the cold as the driver slips into gear. Rapunzel places her cardigan on my knee for warmth.
"Did you knit that yourself," I joke.
"I'm 33 - not 73."
Obviously a touchy subject.
Our guide pipes up.
"We're about to pass the oldest English language newspaper in the world - The Belfast News Letter," he explains.
"Is it still publishing?" I query.
The other passengers turn my way, awestruck that I've been brave enough to ask a question.
"Yeah, that's why it's the oldest - obviously," retorts the guide.
A Japanese tourist smirks. Sarcasm is a universal language. Rapunzel flashes a sympathetic smile.
We drive past a succession of Peace Walls which divide Unionist and Republican families. Suddenly I'm back in politics class with my teenage crush Becky V - the first girl to hear me say 'I love you'. I told her in a text. Wonder how long it'll be before I type those three little words to Rapunzel…
Next stop is a shipyard where the Titanic was built in 1911. We pass an Ann Summers on the way. The guide glares at me.
"I don't need to explain to you what they sell in there, do I young man?" he says.
"Blog gold!" snorts my date.
After the tour we stroll to a pub for a pint of Guinness. The conversation is so easy. Nothing seems off limits - even stuff you should never talk about on a date. Like anal itches.
Her earrings are making me hungry.
"Come on, let's go for tea before I eat your face," I say.
We head to the Europa Hotel, which was bombed 33 times by the IRA between 1972 and 1994. Nearly as troubled as my love life.
We're led to a table barely six inches from another couple. Rapunzel feels uncomfortable, so asks the waiter if we can move. He smiles politely but is clearly irritated. Hope he doesn't spit in our food. Need to lighten the mood.
"Sorry about her," I joke. "She's on day release."
He chuckles. Rapunzel doesn't.
Always like to try the local cuisine, so I order the chef's special - Thai green curry.
Rapunzel suggests splitting the bill.
"Don't be silly," I reply. "Just make sure you say how generous I am in your blog."
Flight leaves in 90 minutes so we book a taxi.
The departure lounge is dead. Rapunzel won't show me her passport photo. Snatch it from her hands.
"You look like a convict," I declare, laughing hysterically. Reckon I might have gone too far.
Challenge her to a thumb war as we take our seats on the plane. My opponent's thumb is limp and timid. Her heart isn't in it. Still, my trick worked - we're holding hands.
The flight back takes less than half an hour. It's late so, as planned, I'm driving her home to neighbouring Manchester.
Lionel Richie provides the soundtrack as I accelerate out of the car park. Strategically left him in the CD player this morning. More romantic than The Smiths.
She asks about my hobbies but her timing is awful. There are some choruses you just don't talk through. I turn to my date and sing in time with the music.
"You're once, twice, three times a lady."
Rapunzel looks disturbed - but she's only pretending.
Pull up outside her tower. She takes ages putting her scarf on.
"I've had a really nice time," reveals my girl.
We both smile, unsure what to do next. Fuck it...
"Gizza kiss," I say.
She leans across without hesitation but I intervene before our mouths collide.
"Sorry, that was a bit pushy. You don't have to. I mean, you can go for the cheek if you want?"
Seconds later her lips gently find mine. We linger for 10 or 15 seconds, neither of us daring to stick a tongue in. Then I pull away. Always leave them wanting more.
For the first time I notice a lone dimple shaped like a half moon just below her right cheek.
"I'll call you tomorrow," says Rapunzel. "We need to talk about our blogs."
"I'd almost forgotten about those," I reply.
Make a list of things to talk about in case there's an uncomfortable silence. All the standard stuff: What are her dreams? What's her speciality in the kitchen? And why can't she get a boyfriend?
Try to imagine how she'll sound. I've only seen one picture - but she looks like a right little minx. Bet she's got one of those husky voices - dead sexy.
Send a text asking if I'm alright to call now. Two minutes later my mobile starts vibrating. An incoming call. It's her.
Check my breath - it stinks. Scramble around for a chewing gum, then remember phones don't transmit halitosis.
Chuckle at my own stupidity as I pick up.
"What's funny?" she asks.
"Ah, nothing," I reply.
An awkward hush resonates for a few seconds. Didn't think I'd need my list this soon.
Thankfully she starts yapping away. Can't get a word in edgeways. Pick up a Scottish accent. It's like talking to Mrs Doubtfire.
"What do you mean my voice doesn't match my face?" she queries.
Attempt to lighten the mood with an impression of her. Reckon it goes down well.
We chat about nothing for a while. Turns out we've got quite a bit in common. We both sleepwalk. And hate rollercoasters. And our parents have the same names - Jane and Steve.
She asks about my worst habit.
"Masturbating while on the phone," I quip.
Offer to ring her back so the cost is split. She isn't bothered. I like this girl.
Rapunzel tells me about her Australian housemate. Not happy about her sharing with a fella. Probably snoops around her room while she's out, looking for random rabbits or whatever they're called. No, Crocodile Dundee will have to go once we're courting.
Finally get round to discussing the date. She suggests doing something wacky so we'll have plenty to write about. I've got to choose what we do because it's the man's job, apparently. No pressure.
Eventually say our goodbyes. Realise I haven't looked at my list once.
Begin to wonder why I was so worried about the pre-date call. It's really not like foreplay after all. For a start it lasted well over half an hour.
Now I've just got to come up with a 'wacky' date idea. Need to think sharpish - we're going out next week.
Suggestions on a postcard please…
We've exchanged quite a few emails now and agreed there'll be no holds barred when it comes to writing about our adventure.
Today she's posted explaining why I'm not really her type, so I thought I'd do a bit of rummaging myself.
Here's what I discovered:
- We both work in TV - although Rapunzel is freelance. Which means she has no job security. Or pension. So Muggins here will be the only one contributing to our retirement fund.
- She got asked for ID a few months ago, so obviously looks younger than 33. Bit of a relief.
- One of my most alarming discoveries was that Rapunzel is a fan of the pre-date phone call. Why do girls love this awkward custom? It's the same with foreplay. Suppose I'll just have to get my head down and hope it's over quickly.
Doesn't sound very promising, does it? Thankfully I did manage to find a few saving graces.
- She's double jointed. Could come in handy.
- There's a post about her housemate leaving toenail clippings on the coffee table. Doesn't have to worry about that with me - I spit mine straight in the bin.
- She spent £40 joining an online dating site, so is rich AND desperate. A winning combination.
- Like me, Rapunzel's had a hard time with a hairdresser - though it was her fringe, not her heart, that was left in tatters.
- The last date she went on was a complete disaster, so her expectations will be low.
So what do you guys think? Are you hopeful I'll find love with Rapunzel? Or do you expect to be reading about ANOTHER car crash date?
Am actually quite excited. Read through her blog last night - she's pretty funny. There's one post about her choking on a sausage - blatantly a euphemism.
Only problem is, I don't know what she looks like.
We told each other our real names and I tracked her down on Facebook - but she's refusing to add me.
All I can go on is a tiny profile picture. Looks quite fit for a 33-year-old - though she's wearing a ridiculous straw hat so it's hard to tell.
Why won't she add me if we're hooking up? What is she hiding? All sorts of things are running through my mind:
1) She's disabled. Imagine her rolling up for our date in a wheelchair. I bend down to kiss her cheek, trying to appear blasé about the whole thing. At least she can't do a runner, I tell myself. Spend all night pushing her round trendy bars. We actually get on okay - apart from a wheelie incident. She even invites me back for coffee. Have to carry her upstairs before getting down to a bit of missionary - the only position her lame legs will allow. Sorry Rapunzel, I just haven't got the stamina.
2) She's older than she is making out. My favourite scenario. Used to have a major crush on my ex's 59-year-old mum. Still think about her ample bosom late at night sometimes. Even though she'll be 65 now.
3) She's got kids. Wouldn't be bothered about this either - as long as they were well disciplined and didn't ask me for pocket money.
4) She's married. This whole thing could just be a ploy to get readers. Or she might be after some rumpy pumpy on the side. Or I could be part of an elaborate plan to spice things up in the bedroom. Would probably consider it if so - as long as hubby wasn't better looking than me.
5) She's unemployed. I'd have to pay for everything. This is the worst case scenario.
Her theory is that we're both single, writers and living in the north-west of England - a perfect match. And if love doesn't blossom, at least we'll get a good post out of it. What's the worst that can happen, says Bamberio.
Well for starters, this Rapunzel woman could take a photo of my small nipples and post it on her blog. Or sue for libel if I write something she doesn't like. Or she might have a massive birthmark on her face.
Anyway, turns out Bamberio has also emailed Rapunzel, who apparently isn't totally opposed to the idea.
So I'm putting it out there and seeing what you guys think. Should I try and arrange a date with Rapunzel? Or is this one fairytale that should remain untold?
From what I can decipher she's 33, lives in Manchester and just as hopeless at dating as me. Click here to visit her blog and investigate further.