Dave was my first foray into internet dating. For some time we had been chatting using the site and then our relationship took a step further and we glided seamlessly to MSN Messenger.
He finally showed me a photograph of himself, (warning to ladies and gents thinking of internet dating: if they don't upload a photo, ignore the hokum about them being shy - they're generally married or incredibly unattractive...this I have discovered time and again ever since) and he reminded me immediately of my favourite uncle, Bill, but a younger version - such dark eyes; gentle face, muscular shoulders.
He told me he was a chef, and tantalised my taste buds with suggestions of exotic concoctions which made my mouth water. As I was a very big girl with an equally big appetite at the time, I was more keen than most to meet with this man.
I am still a bit of an old-fashioned 'gel' at heart and so I hoped and hinted that he would ask me out on a date. He told me he found me attractive and liked my personality, and so I waited for what I deemed the inevitable: a date...Nothing. Absolutely bugger all. In the end, I got fed up of waiting and, throwing the traditionalist values away, came out with it: Why don't you ask me out for a date?
I got the oddest answer in response: he didn't ask women out on dates. That was it, full stop. They had to ask him. As I felt pretty desperate at the time, I broke with my principles and asked if he'd meet me at a pub in a few evenings' time. He readily agreed. I danced (or should I say, 'lumbered') round the room with excitement and next day, rushed to the Famous Factory Store and bought some incredibly unflattering (in retrospect) pin striped trousers and a jumper. I looked like a monochrome beach ball.
I was so nervous that day. All my work colleagues quizzed me about the potential man of my dreams. My mother asked lots of questions; demanded every contact number I could give her; where I was going; what brand of condoms I was planning on using (I made that bit up), until she was satisfied that every base was covered for my safety. I felt 14, not 35. My mother seemed quite impressed by my description of Dave. She always thought her brother was a very handsome chappie (especially as there is a strong family resemblance between them) and her approval was metered out hesitantly.
I multi-mapped the pub's directions and proceeded en route, to get hopelessly lost, as is my wont. If I was an inventor, I would devise a box that could be attached to the boot of my car, or the rear windscreen which lit up at the touch of a button, declaring, SORRY, I AM LOST. PLEASE DON'T GET CROSS WITH ME. I think it would be a best-seller, actually. Getting lost added to my nerves, and by now, I had been forced to turn the CD player off so I could concentrate, and was onto my third cigarette, after only 15 minutes. I suddenly realised I would stink of fag smoke and fumbled, with one hand, for my perfume which I sprayed liberally over my head and face, almost choking on the over-powering pong. Not a particularly auspicious start to my first date, really...
I finally pulled into the pub car park at the same time as Dave. As soon as my feet hit the tarmac, in my Nine West wedges, I realised I would now be towering over him by a minimum of five inches. And he didn't have the dark eyes of my uncle - it must have been the lighting (or he wore coloured contact lenses) and his was not a broad-shouldered, muscular build - he was what I might quaintly term, 'petite'.
"Arice der, Agnes!" came the dulcet tones of a very Scouse accent. "Adda recognizzzed youse anyweeeerrr."
"Er herrler, Dave," I replied, unable to keep the poshness from my voice (I always become ever so posh when I am nervous.) "So delightful to meet you. I wouldn't have recognised you, I must admit. You look...er...different to your photograph." We walked together to the pub entrance, and I affected a Quasimodo-type stoop in order to compensate either for my too high heels, or his lack of stature.
It was mineral waters all round. I didn't drink at all, and he didn't drink if he was driving. Weren't we mature adults?
I'll hand it to him: he was very friendly; put me at ease straight away; chatted amicably in order to break the ice, and gave me lots of opportunities to ask questions. So I did. Because I am nosey...and I made the grave mistake of asking about his work as a chef.
Well, his days of being a chef such as we watch on The F-Word or Ready, Steady Cook, were long over. He now held the grand title of Development Chef for a company which made ready meals for big supermarkets. What he didn't know about mashed potato wasn't worth knowing, and I can quite safely say, that I, too, now know everything about pulverised starch. I listened seemingly attentively, not glazing over too obviously, to tales of cubed spuds being intensively heat blasted, rinsed, dramatically cooled through refrigerators, pumped full of E numbers and preservatives (all to strict percentages) and finally mashed and piped into trays for him to taste and work out whether an extra 0.07% of salt ought to be added or removed.
After 45 minutes (I tell no word of a lie), there was silence and I realised it was my turn to say something. "Err, um, do you ever work with chicken?" I asked.
A further thirty minutes later, I had been told everything I needed to know about pre-cooked chicken. However, I have no idea what I needed to know, actually, as my brain went onto screen-saver and I mentally prepared my shopping list, worked out which clothes needed to be ironed for the week ahead, wrote a letter to my solicitor and fretted about losing some weight so I wouldn't have to keep financing the coffers of Match.com.
At the end of the lecture, I generously offered to get in another round of water, only for Dave to decline graciously and inform me that he had to be in bed by 10.30pm as he was a creature of habit, and didn't like to stray from his routines. I was more than happy to leave, too. My next question was going to have to be about boil-in-the-bag cod steaks and I didn't think I could stand the excitement much longer.
NB. I have lost all the weight now. And I still don't have a bloke, so I might as well go back on the Dr Fatkins Diet.