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It was late afternoon on a bright summer’s day and punters were out in their droves, seeking beer gardens in which to soak up the sun. I slouched against the wall of the pub we’d agreed to meet at, as the minutes stretched into a just-about-forgivable eight-minute tardiness.
The longer I awaited my Tinder date’s arrival, the longer the queue grew outside the pub’s small door. I joined it pre-emptively. When he arrived – taller than I expected, with cropped mousy brown hair, wearing a blue t-shirt and shorts in the heat – he was perturbed by the people ahead of me. He offered a brusque “Hello, how are you?”, before heading inside, bounding past the patient customers and beelining for the overwhelmed host.
“Hi,” he said, snatching the host’s attention from the group she was currently finding a table for. “I have a table booked for 4.30.” He spoke in a deep northern voice, and I recoiled with cringe as the line of people turned to us, the queue-jumpers, with disdainful eyes. I considered whether it was too early to ditch – it wasn’t, and I should have – but, unfortunately, I persisted.
I’d never experienced an ick so pronounced and instantaneous before, but I was spurred on by how nice he’d seemed on Tinder, so I decided to stick around for the first drink. We had similar interests, including the same sports (rowing), and we were both moving to London at the end of the summer. He was a good conversationalist over text – funny, even – but I quickly realised that this didn’t translate to real life.
He kept speaking over me, and said “You can’t really think that!” when I challenged one of his political views. When he mansplained rowing – which I’d competed in at a higher level – my muscles tensed with agitation. I swigged my drink, smiled and nodded politely as he spoke, eager for the date to end.
As I suggested we leave after the first drink, he batted me away with a toothy grin saying: “No, no, I’ll get the next one.” Because he ordered via the app, I couldn’t slip away when he went up to the bar. Instead, I accepted the drink, and started plotting my great escape via a trip to the loos – but I was both too nervous to go through with it, hopeful that things might improve.
“I think northern accents are horrible,” he said at one point, nasal and without irony.
“Oh really?” I responded, in my Sheffield accent, baffled that he didn’t think he had one, too.
“Yeah,” he said. “My dad luckily drilled it out of us when we were young, though.”
He then asked me to guess where he was from, and I got it right first time, based on that ‘non-existent’ accent.
As the hot sun started setting on our beer garden table, so too did my hopes of this ever working out. It was arrogant remark after ignorant comment, punctuated by subtle (but sinister) asides indicating his views of the world. The repeated complaints about the quality of the service were also a massive ick.
When I suggested we leave after the second drink, he asked, “where shall we go next?” in response. I winced at my inability to shake him off, and his inability to take a hint.
“Let’s go for a walk?” I suggested. I led the way to my house. “This is me!” I said, and ran inside before he could attempt to follow me.
I headed to my bedroom, flopping onto my bed and opening my phone to swiftly unmatch with him on Tinder.
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