Mal-entines Day

When Mr E Man and I got married, he assumed that now we had an official wedding anniversary, we’d no longer be celebrating the anniversary of when we met. However, when the next January 18th approached, I burst his bubble when I asked where we were going for our celebratory dinner. He’d always had a hard time remembering the date (not me – it’s the same anniversary as being awarded my PhD) and had hoped that he wouldn’t have to any more. I wanted to keep the tradition going, though, and offered him a deal – to celebrate both anniversaries, but skip Valentines Day. He accepted, so our only date tonight is with the sofa, TV, and the Canucks game.

Whatever your plans for tonight – whether you’re out on a date, home on the sofa, or – like my cousin in Ohio – out on a pub crawl with all your single friends, wearing the most hideous bridesmaid dresses your married friends have ever inflicted on you – I hope you’ll enjoy the following tales of Horrible Dates I Have Been On, and add your own to the comments!


1998 – The Monologue

Shortly after moving to Glasgow for my PhD, I joined the grad students’ Research Club – mostly for the cheap food at their bar, but also to meet students from other departments. One such person was a tall, dark, handsome and very confident law student with a sexy Israeli accent. He asked me out, and a couple of days later I found myself walking at his side into a bar where a large group of his law student friends “just happened” to be assembled. After talking to the group for over an hour, we moved to a table for two – and he proceeded to talk non-stop about himself and how great he was. He barely stopped for food and drink, and on the extremely rare occasions when I managed to get a word in edgeways, he turned whatever I said back around to himself. It was painful, but he talked so incessantly that I couldn’t even get the words “well, it’s late, I should be getting home” out between brags.

He called me a couple of days later and asked me out on a second date. I politely said “thanks but no thanks”, but he just wouldn’t let it drop – he just kept saying “how about Tuesday? No? Wednesday? No? Thursday?” I kept getting blunter and ruder, saying “No, I just do not want to go out with you again. Not on Thursday, not on Friday, not ever. I did not enjoy our date”, but he just kept talking and talking and eventually I had to hang up. He called back and left messages several times over the next few days – I was screening my calls at this point, obviously, and had instructed my flatmates to do the same – before he FINALLY got the hint.


1999 – The Asexual*

After the disastrous date with the supremely confident guy, I went the other way for my next date. He was a really nice guy, a total sweetheart (and really cute, too), but very quiet and shy. He was also two or three inches shorter than me, which I admit put me off at first, but I finally got over myself and asked him out.

Our first date seemed to be going well; he’d really come out of his shell and we were chatting away and finding lots of points of common interest. However, literally just after we’d ordered our food, he told me “you know, I’ve never had a girlfriend. And to be honest I’m not really sure that I’d like one. If I did want a girlfriend, I’d definitely want it to be you. But I don’t think I do want a girlfriend”.

The rest of the date was rather awkward. We stayed on good terms, though, and he still came to all our parties.

I don’t think he went on any more dates during his PhD.

(*or something. I don’t know what his deal was. I doubt he did either, at the time. I do hope he figured it out because he was a really nice guy).


2002 – The Old Guy

It’s hard to meet people in Vancouver. At first I thought it was just because it was the first time I’d moved to a new place for a job and found a flat on my own, rather than arriving as a student and being assigned to shared university accommodation. However, lots of newcomers to Vancouver – even students – say the same thing. People are great once you get to know them, but it can be incredibly hard to break into an existing clique. Until I met Mr E Man and got to know his friends, almost all my friends were from work.

Anyway, I’d decided to try telephone dating (internet dating was just getting big, but I didn’t have a computer at home and certainly wasn’t going to do it from work. Not after an unpopular person in the adjacent lab left their profile up on a shared computer and their labmates edited it to say such things as “my main role at work is to be rude and unreasonable and piss off my colleagues”, and then changed the password). I was 25 at the time, so on my recorded profile I said I was looking for a guy in his early 20s up to early 30s.

One of the three or four guys who left messages on my account actually seemed normal, so I called him back and we chatted a few times. He said he was in his early 30s. However, when we finally met (Sunday lunch, at a chain restaurant – his choice. BLAH), he was blatantly AT LEAST ten years older than that. He was pretty good looking, actually, but I had no interest in dating someone almost twice my age, and I think my disappointment must have shown on my face. We had an only semi-awkward conversation at first, but then when I asked him what kind of music he was into he started telling me how he hated all “the typical young person stuff” like live music and going to bars.

Seriously? You lie about your age to score a date with much younger women, and then tell them you don’t like “young person stuff?” Whatever, creepy old guy!

That was the end of my telephone dating experiment.


2002 – The Job Interview

Finally, I met a fun and interesting guy in a “normal” way – at a friend’s Hallowe’en party! I was dressed as Robin Hood (complete with a toy bow and arrow and Smarties** to give away to “the poor”, i.e. cute guys), and he was dressed as a cowboy, but as the evening progressed he ended up with balloons under his shirt like boobs, and put lipstick and eye shadow on too. We had a really fun time – he burst his boobs with a pin after I complained that they were bigger than mine, and everyone laughed, that kind of fun – and I was delighted when he gave me his business card at the end of the night and asked me to call him.

I should have known something was up when he suggested we meet for coffee at 11 am on a Sunday. WTF is up with Vancouver men and Sunday lunchtime dates?! I arrived a minute or two after 11, to find that he’d already bought his own coffee and muffin without waiting for me. (I bought my own, too, and even though I don’t think women should expect the guy to pay, I’m old-fashioned enough to think that men should at least offer). We sat down on the sofa, and I expected that we’d resume our fun conversation full of jokes and talk of movies and music. However, he proceeded to basically interview me for the vacant position of Girlfriend. Seriously – he asked me questions like “where do you see yourself in five and in ten years?”, “how many evenings a week do you anticipate you will be spending on work activities?”, and even, at the end, “is there anything you’d like to ask me?” I was totally flabbergasted – I thought he was joking at first – but no, he really was that boring and pompous! It was a total turnaround from his party persona, which is never a good sign, and the date managed to combine boring and weird in totally new and unwelcome ways. At the end of the date he shook my hand (I’m not making ANY of this stuff up) and said he’d be in touch (SERIOUSLY).

A friend who’d been with me at the Hallowe’en party had been very excited for me for scoring such a fun and interesting date, and she’d asked me to call her as soon as I could to give her all the juicy details. After she’d expressed surprise that I was done already, after only an hour, she asked how it went. I told her that I’d just been interviewed for the job of Girlfriend, and (when she’d stopped laughing) she asked if I thought I’d made the shortlist. I replied that I’d decided, upon reflection, that I really didn’t want the job.

He never called back. To be honest I think I blew the interview five minutes in, first when I laughed at his oh-so-serious questions, and then when I corrected a statement in the preamble to his next question with “actually, I’m not Jewish.” (He’d thought I was, because my friend was. Because that makes sense).

**I’d wanted to give away chocolate coins instead,  but I couldn’t find any because it wasn’t Christmas


At this point, I basically gave up. However, a guy I’d met and talked to very briefly at that same Hallowe’en party was present at a pre-dinner gathering at the same friends’ house a few months later. I hadn’t really felt like going out that night, but then I realised it was the first anniversary of getting my PhD, and decided this was an anniversary worth celebrating. I chatted to this guy at the house, and then he offered to give my friends and me a ride to the restaurant. This meant we all ended up sitting together at one end of our group’s cozy table for 15, and we just really hit it off. He pretended to hit on my (straight) male friend, as a joke – but only on the condition that he got my number after asking for my friend’s***. When we talked a couple of days later to arrange a date, I was bracing myself for the dreaded Sunday lunchtime suggestion… but instead he said “Are you free on Thursday night? What’s your favourite pub?” He showed up with flowers, let me win at pool (for the first and only time), walked me home, and kissed me at my door before telling me he’d call the next day. The rest, as they say, is history!


Happy Valentines Day!

***He also gave me his number – belt and braces approach – at the end of the night. When I turned the card over, I realised it was another woman’s business card. Turned out he hadn’t had any paper on him, so he did the logical thing – he asked another woman at the bar for her number, got her card, then wrote his own number on the back and gave it to me. I still have it, tucked away in my most-precious-keepsakes box!

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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43 Responses to Mal-entines Day

  1. rpg says:

    I love the ‘other woman’s card’ tale!

    • Lisbeth says:

      Me too. I do feel a bit bad for her since this great date never called her 🙂

      • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

        I felt a wee bit bad at first too! I once considered calling her myself to explain that it was nothing personal, it was just Fate, but I decided against it 😀

  2. Mike says:

    Heh – a great sequence of stories, Cath. That lawyer never hit on me at the Postgrad club though, and I’m not a lawyer, so I’m glad to say it wisnae me trying to bore you into a 2nd date.

    Mrs F. and I shall mostly be caring for a very unhappy, snotty, feverish infant tonight. Beware: this is the sort of trouble that Valentine’s day can get you into. Always include protection with that heart-shaped box of chocolates.

    Finally, WTF?

    even though I don’t think women should expect the guy to pay, I’m old-fashioned enough to think that men should at least offer

    you don’t get to have your muffin and eat it.

  3. Jenny says:

    It is amazing to me how many people don’t realize that the key to anyone’s heart is listening and responding to what a person say, not just turning every opener back upon themselves. I thought I was a good listener until the biotech company where I ran a group offered me leadership courses, which included modules on how to be a good listener. I later got a refresher course on listening when I worked in publishing and took a course on sales – “selling” is not just about products, and the persuasive and listening skills I learned on those two occasions I still use to this day.

  4. Alyssa says:

    LOL!! I absolutely loved the job interview guy! That is just plain awesome. I wonder if he ever found someone to fill the position?

    I’ve had some doosies – including a guy wanting to introduce me to his 6 year-old child on the second date, one telling me he loved me after a week, and one guy realizing he “forgot” his wallet after we already ate dinner 😛

  5. ricardipus says:

    Hah! Thanks for that Monday morning set of giggles, Cath. 🙂

    Mrs. Ricardipus and I avoid the whole meeting-anniversary-real-anniversary thing since those two dates are only two days apart. Valentine’s Day, on the other hand, is largely ignored at Chateau Ricardipus, although I suspect the kids will bring some endearing and handcrafted items home from school. For her, not for me, of course.

  6. ricardipus says:

    Damn – there I am talking about myself again. Sorry, what was that you said?

  7. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Mike, oh dear. I hope your little’un feels better soon!

    For the record: on my first dinner date with Mr E Man, he insisted on paying for the meal (I did offer to share), but I only let him pay on the condition that he let me pay the cover charge and buy the drinks at the music venue we went to afterwards! I was very aware that he made a lot more money than me (he still does, but the gap was even bigger when I was a postdoc) and didn’t want him to think I was taking advantage. He still teases me about how adamant I was about this!

    But I totally think that a guy with a successful business should at least offer to buy a coffee and muffin for an impoverished postdoc on their first date 🙂

    Jenny, that sounds like some very valuable training! It should be compulsory, preferably taught at elementary school to everyone and repeated every year thereafter!

    Alyssa, I’m sure there were some more suitable, more ambitious candidates out there, and I hope he found someone!

    I have another example of exactly how weird a person he was, but I can’t share the details without identifying him. Let’s just say that the same friend I mentioned in the story saw a poster advertising his business, and it was… odd. It fit his party persona much better than his date persona, but looked very unprofessional! How weird to be boring and pompous on dates, but “fun” (actually a very clearly forced, cheesy kind of “fun”) to the point of unprofessional in your business advertising!

    Thanks for sharing your stories! Kids on the second date, wow! And the lost wallet… oh dear. Were you impoverished students at the time? 🙂

    Ricardipus, I’m glad you enjoyed them!

    Valentines Day is 2 days away from my birthday, which is an extra reason for not caring that we don’t celebrate it 🙂

    I was just talking to some friends last night about how there’s a definite difference in how Valentine’s Day is celebrated here and in the UK . In the UK, no-one would ever give a Valentines Day card or gift to anyone other than their romantic partner, but here people exchange gifts (and especially cookies) with friends, co-workers, and within families. I found it weird at first, but now I think it’s quite cute! (I still don’t think I’d be able to bring myself to bake pink cookies for my colleagues, but hey, if someone brings ’em in, I’ll eat ’em quite happily! Ooh, that reminds me, bake sale at work today. Mmmmmm.)

  8. cromercrox says:

    Cath – I expect the ‘asexual’ person is now an internet billionaire.

  9. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Ha! He was definitely smart enough. And without all those distractions… you never know!

    I’d look him up if I could remember his surname!

  10. the guy interviewing you for his vacant position of Girlfriend sounds like he was a new yorker. did he have a NYC accent?

  11. Mermaid says:

    Love it. What a great Valentine’s posting. “Whatever, creepy old guy” made me choke on my coffee.

    Many of these dates sound really familiar. I would say we must have dated the same people (once only) except our ages are too different. I would say that I was too old for creepy old guy but that just sounds wrong to me :). Perhaps there are just specific first date styles that ‘unusual’ guys have, and many of us have just had the unfortunate experience of meeting unusual guys?

    Awesome ending to your story though. Definitely worth going through some frog dates to finally have met the right Mr.

  12. Grrl, no, he was Vancouver born and bred. But it sounds like you might have been on some similar dates!

    Mermaid, I think there must just be a finite number of dating styles!

    And yes, it was definitely worth kissing (metaphorically) all those frogs!

  13. p.s. I’ve just remembered the story of my sister being offered cocaine on a first date with a City type in London… needless to say, there was no second date!

  14. Eva says:

    I’ve dated someone who showed me a powerpoint presentation about his work on the first date. That should have been a sign, but the topic was actually interesting, so it didn’t put me off right there and then. Unfortunately, his job was the only interesting thing about the guy.

  15. chall says:

    haha Cath. Lovely stories!

    I agree with you on the oddness of celebrating the Valentine’s day at work etc. I look at the four cards in front of me, I’ve gotten from co-workers today and feel oddly bad that I didn’t give them anything. Although, I never have celebrated V’s day. I’d much rather get flowers/cute card or what not, another day of the year. That way it feels more personal ^^ yeah well… I need some explanation since the TV commercials have been buzzing with “give girl diamonds to show her you love her”*

    “Listening skills….” I think one of the oddest ones I’ve been on was the telephone date (like you mentioned, prior to internet) and I show up – he’s not only older but is nothing like he said (surprise…) and after some beers he decides to ask me to drive me home. ehh… in Sweden one beer gets you over the limit… apart from the fact that I didn’t want him to know where I lived. needless to say, never saw him again.
    *my old fave pet peeve. I am romantic. Just not like “diamond = true love”.

  16. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Eva, that’s hilarious and weird! How many dates did it take you to find out that the PowerPoint presentation was actually the peak of your dating experience?

    Chall, yes, it’s awkward, isn’t it? You can’t really explain to someone who’s just given you a card that you didn’t reciprocate because in your own country, you only give cards to romantic partners (and romantic interests) – it might sound like a come-on!

    I agree that it’s generally an excellent idea not to let strangers know where you live. An old room-mate of mine once invited a guy she’d met online over for dinner as her first date. Even though our other (big male) room-mate was home that night, she said she didn’t feel comfortable at all when he turned out to be a bit strange. So, yeah, meet at (and stay at) a public place, for sure!

    Mr E Man came with references – I called the friend who’d hosted the party as soon as we’d set up our first proper date to make sure he was OK! So I was happy to let him see where I lived, although I didn’t invite him in!

  17. Bob O'H says:

    Grrl has been celebrating by watching a YouTuber post about whipping horses, so I’ve been reading blogs. Which is a considerable improvement on The Plan: she was meant to lay in bed reading whilst I hoovered and mopped the living room floor.

  18. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Horse whipping? Well, whatever turns you on…

    There will be laundry, dishes, and other chores tonight, as well as watching the hockey! Very romantic.

  19. Mike says:

    Taking a course in “listening skills” to aid your dating ability sounds a bit like cheating to me. Sort of like those odd pumps that are advertised in my straight to spam folder. If you have to be taught how to interact with someone so you appear to be human, well, it doesn’t bode too well for the future. A deflating experience lies ahead for someone.

    Sadly, Mrs F and I spent the day in the hospital, as Junior F has pneumonia. Happy Malentine’s indeed.

    Gladly, the good docs and nurses at the local shiny new hospital have taken good care of him and showered us with enough drugs to take over the island’s cartels, and the wee man’s off to bed breathing a bit more easily.

    Now, I’m off to check out them horsewhupping vidjos before I collapse too.

    • Sorry to hear that Mike. As doubtless all the parents here will attest, kids having to be rushed to Paeds A&E is super-stressful. Anyway, hopefully fluids and i/v antibiotics will sort it out and he’ll be back home in no time.

      Cath – great stories. Reminded me of some of my own stumbling steps in the dating department. For instance, I recently discovered one of my early girlfriends featuring in a magazine story about “lesbian couples who have become parents”.

  20. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    I LOLed at your first paragraph, but most definitely not at your second. I hope Junior makes a rapid and full recovery – and hooray for doctors, nurses and hospitals.

  21. Mike says:

    Thanks, Cath. He slept pretty well last night, best night for a while. And he was more cheerful this morning as well. Drugs are good, m’kay?

  22. cromercrox says:

    Mrs Crox sent me a Valentine card.

    He says to her: ‘I’ll do anything for you, no matter how dirty’.
    She says to him ‘well, the downstairs loo needs cleaning’

  23. ricardipus says:

    Update: Mrs. Ricardipus and I watched about one-third of a movie, then gave up due to extreme drowsiness. This rock ‘n roll lifestyle, I tells ya, it’s killin’ me.

  24. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Mike: yay, drugs!

    Cromercrox: good one! I might try that on hubby!

    Ricardipus, we watched the opening salvo in the looming AI versus human war Jeopardy, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Daily Planet, South Park, and then I watched The Big Bang Theory while Mr E Man snored on the sofa. So there.

    • Mike says:

      I can only sob in jealousy. Jr F. continues to improve, but still needs constant reassuring cuddles, which leaves precious little time for my arse to mould the sofa appropriately.

  25. Stephen says:

    Cath I’m sorry I only got around to this now – fabulous stories and story-telling. Laugh-out-loud!

  26. ecogeofemme says:

    Yay for such a happy ending!

  27. Thanks Stephen! And no need to apologise – I’m soooooo behind on blog reading, it’s crazy! I might need a rainy Sunday on the sofa trying to catch up!

  28. Amelie says:

    I love the job interview date! I think I’d have “failed” that after the first question, too.

  29. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    It’s a fail that’s really a win, though 🙂

  30. Nina says:

    Ha, ha, ha! Very funny!

    I have no fun dating stories to add, I’ve never really dated like that. I always gradually fall in love with a close friend …

    And Valentine’s day used to be completely ignored in the NL, and still I don’t bother about it (ehm, WE don’t bother, obviously). I hate it for its ridiculous commercialism (“tell her you really love her with diamonds”). This V-day I spend with two men who were not Thomas, how about that, hahaha!

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