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THE WINNING LINES: Tales from my dating days #3

Another internet date. He emailed me several times beforehand to say how nervous he was. (Fair enough, we've all been there.) And then the date rolled around:

Me: “Hi, nice to meet you finally. How are you?”...
Him: “Still really nervous. This is the first date I’ve been on in twenty years”.
Me: “Well, no worries, we’ve all got to get back in the dating game at some point. When did you and your wife split up?”
Him: “Last month.”
Me: “Oh. Really? Er, OK, but isn’t that a bit soon to be dating, maybe?”
Him: “Well, why not? You never know when you might meet the love of your life! It could be you!”

IT WASN’T ME.

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I was nearly home when the woman stopped me. She was younger than me, slight, wrapped in a long beige coat, clutching a battered red suitcase.

“Can I ask you something? Where’s Tesco? Is it near?”.

I was pregnant, tired and desperate to get home. But something in her voice gave me pause. “Are you OK?”, I asked, knowing full well that she wasn’t.

...

She swallowed, hard. The words fell out, piecemeal, between sobs: “My boyfriend. He hits me. I’ve got to go. I’ve got to get to Tesco.”

“It’s this way. I’ll walk with you.”. I started back the way I’d come, she dragged her suitcase beside me.

As we walked, she told me a little of her situation. She’d come to our country expecting a better life. Her boyfriend seemed kind when she met him. He wasn’t kind when he drank. She was scared of him, of what he’d done, of what he was going to do. She always wore long sleeves. He was at work, so she’d packed her case. She’d called a friend; he was coming to get her, but wouldn’t drive to her house. He didn’t want to risk running into her boyfriend. He, too, was scared of him. He said he’d pick her up from Tesco’s, that it was safer there.

Along the pavements, across the busy road, we walked, in silence now. At the Tesco car park, I asked her if she needed money, if she wanted me to wait until her friend arrived. But she said I should go.

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OK, shop window, I'm in. So, I just snogged a shark and later I'm going to fly a helicopter while blindfolded. Tomorrow, who knows? Disguising myself as a seal and climbing into the polar bear enclosure at London Zoo?

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THE WINNING LINES: tales from my dating days #2

We’d been seeing each other for a while, but he kept telling me that he wasn’t ready for a proper relationship. Then, he sent me an email explaining that he really liked me but had some concerns.

Helpfully, he included them as a list.

...

Concern number 7 was “You’re allergic to cats, and I hope to own a cat someday”.

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It was the first day of a new job, writing training manuals for my new boss and her beauty business.

I tried to plug in my laptop. "Let me do it!" she shouted, diving beneath the desk: "Health and safety! It's not safe for you to do it".

She waved a sheath of typed pages under my nose. "This is what I want you to type up. I wrote it on my computer, I just want you to put it into a nice format."

...

"If you've already done it on your computer", I asked, "could you email me the file? I could just reformat it then. It makes more sense than me typing it from scratch."
"No. I don't want to get a virus from your computer."
"You won't get a virus from emailing me a file."
"No. I don't want to do that. Just type it up."
"That doesn't seem to be the best use of time."
"Just type it up."

So, I started typing up the notes while she stood behind my shoulder, watching me type. After ten minutes of this, she finally spoke:
"I don't think you want this job, do you?"
"Excuse me?"
"Your body language is telling me that you don't want the job."
"Excuse me?"
"Look at you, with your shoulders all hunched up. You think this job's beneath you, don't you."
"What? I do want this job. But you don't seem to want me here."
"That's right, I don't want you here because your body language tells me that you don't want this job. You should go now."

Baffled, I closed my laptop and went to unplug it.

"No!" she shouted, diving under the desk again. "Health and safety! I must unplug it for you."

I grabbed my laptop and left. It was less than forty minutes from arrival to sacking. It remains one of the strangest - and definitely the shortest - jobs I've ever done.

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I used to harm myself in many different and subtle ways; one of them was with clothing. When I felt bad about myself, I’d dig out my worst clothes and wear them to punish myself. Jeans that bit into my stomach and made me ache all day. Sloppy tops that made me look ultra frumpy. I wouldn’t bother styling my hair; I didn’t deserve it.

That was a lifetime ago. As part of my recovery, I cleared out all the sad pieces and—over time—built a new wardrobe of clothes that I love to ...wear, that flatter me, that make me feel good.

However, there were still some things that I longed to wear, but convinced myself were beyond my fashion grasp.

Among them, scarves.

I’d look at stylish people, floating around with a jaunty scarf, and think how wonderful they looked. And then, in the same moment think “Not for me”. Surely I’d look too messy, too pretentious… just wrong. I’d look like an idiot, trying too hard.

But I was at a party. And there, on the opposite side of the room, was a charming man wearing the most beautiful scarf. Festooned in bright, graphical print. He looked amazing and I practically vaulted over a sofa to reach him and tell him.

“You look terrific. I wish I could carry off a scarf like that”, I burbled.

He grinned. “It’s just a scarf! Of course you can!”

I must have looked sceptical, because he unwound the scarf of wonder from his neck and handed it to me. “Go on.”

Feeling somewhat self-conscious yet oddly happy, I made a hamfisted attempt to tie it on.

“There you go! It looks good”, he reassured.

I peeked in the mirror. Damnit, he was right. I looked… stylish. Confident. Full of scarf. I looked like a scarf-wearer.

The next day, I bought my own jaunty scarf. Like an 80s explosion of a scarf; pink, blue, orange and green, all in ragged blocks.

I wore it. And I liked it.

And perhaps I do look like an idiot. But I’m a warm idiot, so who cares?

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I am occasionally a little evil. It was 2am, and I was walking home after a night out. Rather surprised to see a car parked over my drive; as I got closer, I realised that there was a couple in it. And then it registered that they were... *ahem*.... rather busy.

Overcome with mischief, I banged on the passenger's window.

"Hi!", I bellowed, "Is everything OK?"

...

They looked horrified. I've never seen two people move so quickly. There was a flurry of zipping up, rearranging clothing, and the car sped off.

I chortled all the way to the front door. Whoever you are, sorry...

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THE WINNING LINES: tales from my dating days
#1

We found each other on some dating site. Turned out we both loved music, so we batted some emails back and forth before he suggested a drink.

...

Saturday night found me in a bar, staring at my watch. I was on time. I’m always on time. He was late. Really late.

He finally arrived, sweaty and unapologetic. As he slid into the seat opposite me, he said he had to tell me something:

“You know, I’ve never been on a date with someone with kids before. I always knock back the single mothers straight away. I’ve no interest in kids, I don’t even like kids. But your picture was really nice so I thought I’d make an exception for you.”

Ah! Sound the Date-Killer Klaxon; turns out I’m on a date with King Herod.

It was never going to work. I'm a package deal; I come with two kids who are the centre of my universe. I'm never going to date someone who hates the idea of children and being a step-dad. (I made that mistake with another ex, that's a story for another time.)

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Me: "So kids, you can choose three foods that no-one can ever make you eat again. What do you go for?"

Middle Daughter: "Mushrooms, courgettes, and the crunchy bits on macaroni cheese."

Smallest Daughter: "Courgettes, mice and Wuffles the hamster".

...

Me: "No-one is ever going to cook you mice or the hamster".

SD: "Just in case, leave them on the list".

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ADVENTURES IN SHORT-SIGHTEDNESS #1: That time I went swimming.

In the changing rooms, I hung my white towel on a peg, changed into my costume, and left my glasses in my locker.

I'm extremely short-sighted; I can't swim in my glasses, obviously, but I can't see anything without them.

...

So, I went for a swim—all very pleasant—then back to the changing room for a shower. I grabbed my towel off the peg and started drying with it, instantly realising that something was very wrong. My towel wasn't the right texture. My towel was, it transpired, actually some lady's white coat, and she wasn't very impressed with me.

These days, I wear contact lenses and a pair of goggles while swimming.

(Enjoy this sort of thing? Come and join me at https://www.facebook.com/AllTheBiscuits/ for more stories)

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Smallest Daughter handed me this note with a big smile.

Me: "Oh! You hate me?"

SD: "Is that not how you spell "heart"?"

...

Me: "Not quite."

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What did you have for supper last night?

Apparently, we had Gay Power. It was fabulous!

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Shopping for kids' school shoes annoys me.

Boys' shoes: ROUGH! TOUGH! JUST RIGHT FOR PLAYING FOOTBALL AND CLIMBING TREES!

Girls' shoes: PRETTY! GREAT FOR SITTING AROUND LOOKING PRETTY! WILL DISSOLVE ON CONTACT WITH FOOTBALLS OR TREES!

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Speed dialling means I don't know anyone's numbers anymore.

If I break my mobile while fleeing the zombie hoards, but manage to get to a phone box, I'll only be able to phone the following people for help:

1) my mum (same mobile number since 1993) (she's often out the country though)

...

2) My school-friend Michelle's parents (I dialed their landline a lot in my teenage years, number is seared into my brain)

3) The Saturday Swap Shop number (defunct since the 80s)

I'm screwed. Especially if Michelle's parents are out.

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I'm classy me, so I do enjoy a nice Piña Colada once in a while (not so much getting caught in the rain, but I'm getting sidetracked).
Anyway, this came up in conversation the other day and the Smallest Daughter was rather taken with the drink's name.

So, if you come round ours and wonder why on earth SD keeps cheerfully bellowing "PENIS COLARTA!" and giggling herself stupid, well, that's why.

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During the Great Fire of London, Samuel Pepys buried some of his most treasured possessions in his garden, to protect them. For homework, Smallest Daughter was asked to write about—and draw herself—burying her most treasured possessions.

I sent in the following note with her artwork:

"Hi Mrs F.

...

I did explain that burying is appropriate to save inanimate objects only. However, SD was absolutely insistent that her family is her most treasured possession. So, that's why she's drawn this slightly disturbing picture of her burying us all in coffins in the garden, in case you were wondering.

Best wishes"

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If you fancy a creative challenge tonight, why not grab a nearby person* and draw a lovely tattoo on them? If you do, don't forget to report back!

Here's Mr Boyfriend with his tattoo (note that this was before he'd actually seen what I drew for him)

*legal disclaimer: don't forget to ask their permission, especially if you don't know them.

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