The Twitter Date, Part 4 – Revelations

Lucy has had one date with Al, who bravely asked her out over Twitter.  If you missed it, click here to
read from the beginning.
In spite of the fact that Al sports a full-on lumberjack-style beard, and has a background that is the polar opposite of Lucy’s safe middle-class upbringing, she thought he was rather sweet.  And from some of his messages it seems like a pretty safe bet that he liked her too:

“Good morning, beautiful. How are you today?”
“I had an idea for a future date, if I get lucky enough to have more with you”
“I am looking forward to date number 2, and seeing your gorgeous smile”
“I have taken a real liking to you.”
Lucy doesn’t understand girls who always go for men who treat them badly. To her, there is nothing more attractive than a charming guy who finds her desirable and has the confidence to say so.  In a polite, non-sleazy, non-aggressive way, of course.  Though most of the guys Lucy has come across on dating apps seem to miss this important caveat – which is why Al seems like such a rarity.
So she accepts his offer of a second date.  They agree to meet in Eastbourne and spend the afternoon messing about by the sea before going for a drink.  In other words, a whole afternoon and evening together – a terrifying commitment so early on.  Lucy makes sure to book a flexible return train ticket just in case she needs to run away in a hurry.
Al’s waiting at by the barrier as she gets off the train.  Lucy is relieved to find that he’s just as handsome and charming as she remembered.  This isn’t always the case.  Sometimes after one date and several wines, a girl can have completely reinvented a man in her head by the time she next sees him.
The only thing that she didn’t quite remember is just how alarming his beard is.  That thing should have its own postcode.  If she gets too close to it she may well start having nightmares about suffocating to death in a container full of Christmas trees.
There’s another moment of panic as she realises she is going to have to get into Al’s car.
“I’m sure I shouldn’t be doing this,” she laughs nervously.  “Sensible girls do not get into strange men’s cars.  What would my Mum say?!”
“Admittedly, I am pretty strange,” Al jokes.  At least, she hopes he’s joking.
The car is a nice, safe Audi.  Lucy decides serial killers and rapists probably don’t drive Audis. She gets in.
They drive a short distance along the coast from Eastbourne to the pebble beach at Birling Gap.  The weather is glorious – a balmy 22 degrees with not a cloud in the sky.  A handful of people are lounging on the shoreline in swimwear, determinedly making the most of the rare British sunshine in spite of the stupid pointless stony beach and bone-chilling murky sea.  It’s not exactly the bloody Mediterranean, Lucy observes.  But I guess some Brits will take anything they can get.
She hopes Al might be one of them.  She’d like to see what he looks like with his top off.
They begin to walk along the beach.  Lucy tries her best to look elegant and ladylike as the stupid fucking pebbles slip and slide beneath her feet.   Al is full of compliments, telling her she looks pretty and that he likes her hair.  At one point she slips and he reaches out a hand to steady her.  His is warm and reassuring, and the momentary contact makes Lucy’s stomach do a little squiggle.

“What do you think of the beard today?” he asks hopefully.
“Still don’t like it, sorry.”  Well there’s no point in pretending.
“Even though it’s shorter?”
Lucy is confused.  “It’s shorter?  It looks exactly the same to me.”
“Yes!” Al is outraged.  “I trimmed an inch off it!”

As far as Lucy is concerned, a beard is a beard.  It still thinks it looks like Al has a hedge glued to his face. Which is a shame, because it’s a handsome face.
“For our next date I’ll trim it even shorter,” says Al.
Next date?  Lucy likes the man’s confidence.
“Don’t do that just because of me,” says Lucy, hoping he will entirely ignore this last comment and do it anyway.
“It’s ok,” he replies.  “I was thinking of trimming it for summer anyway.  I’ll just grow it back in the winter when I need to keep my face warm.”
Lucy laughs.  “So that means we can have a passionate summer fling and then I’ll dump you in the autumn when the beard comes back.”
“Bitch!” Al teases, his warm brown eyes crinkling affectionately.

Beyond the pebbles, the tide is far out, revealing a broad stretch of seaweed-encrusted rocks criss-crossed by channels and rock pools.  Lucy and Al step precariously from stone to stone across them, stopping occasionally to peer into the water to look for crabs.

Al’s all about the serious questions today.  “What are you most afraid of?” he enquires.
“Getting old.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll look after you,” he promises. “And when you get really incapable I’ll happily run you over with my truck.”
Wow, what a sweetheart, she thinks, this is definitely my kind of guy.

“You’re lucky,” he adds, “I’ve come along at just the right time to prevent you from turning into a crazy cat lady.”
“Oh I’d never be one of those,” says Lucy.  “Crazy maybe, but not a cat lady.  Don’t like pets.  Too much fur-shedding.”
“You’ll like my pet then,” reveals Al.  “He doesn’t have any fur.”
“You have a pet?” Lucy asks cautiously.   “What is it?  A goldfish?”
“Actually…”  Al pauses.  ” It’s a bearded dragon.”

Shit shit shit.  The man has a fucking pet lizard.  Just when things seemed to be going so well!  A goldfish she could have handled.  But a reptile?  A living one, and not just refashioned into a pair of shoes?

Also, what is it with this man and beards?

She hesitates. “A lizard?”
“Yes. His name’s Barry.”
Of course the lizard is called fucking Barry.  You can’t make this shit up. 
“Um,” Lucy says.  “I’m not sure about a lizard. Where does he live?”
“He’s very sweet,” says Al.  “He lives in a tank in my house, and I feed him live crickets.”
Lucy shudders and makes a mental note never to go to Beardy McLizardface’s house.

They continue to pick their way across the rocks.  Al drops another bombshell.  “Actually he’s not my only pet.”
Wait, what?  There’s more?
“I also have a stag’s head.  His name’s Sebastian.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I found it by the side of the road. It’s a full skull with antlers attached.  So I took it home and put it on the wall. I didn’t even clean it. It’s still got mud and grass on it and everything.  It’s really cool.”

What the fuck just happened?  This sweet, thoughtful guy has turned out to be the type of nutjob who picks up roadkill, puts it on his wall and gives it a fucking name.   Lucy would turn and run but the slippery rocks won’t allow it.

“I don’t get it,” says Lucy.  “Why would you want to bring a dead thing into your house?”
“I think it’s beautiful,” says Al. ” I have a stuffed boar’s snout too.”
Holy crap give me strength.
“A what?”
“It’s not the whole head, just the snout, mounted on a plaque.  I found him in an antique shop.  I’ve put glasses on him so he looks really cool.  Today he’s wearing opera glasses.  Last week it was 70s disco specs.  He likes it.”
“He?  It’s just a stuffed dead boar’s nose.”
“No, he has a personality.  His name is Seboarstian.”
What. The. Actual. Fuck. 

So Al shares his home with Sebastian the dead deer, Seboarstian the dead pig (see what you did there, Al), and Barry the very much alive bearded dragon.  Why can’t the man have a normal hobby?  Like sports?  Or video games?  Even a mild porn addiction would be better than this.

Lucy doesn’t know what to do.  She still really fancies the action hero hearthrob side to Al, but could she possibly cope with a guy who is also a collector of weird and dead things?

They head for the nearest pub.  It’s a typical country pub, so in keeping with the rules that all pubs seem to follow there’s a taxidermied fox on the windowsill.

“Another friend for you,” she points out.
They sit at the last available table and Lucy gratefully accepts a much-needed large glass of wine.
“I don’t like it,” she says.  “It’s weird to stuff dead animals and keep them in your house.  Why not just bury them?”
She takes a slug of wine and looks up.  Realises they are sitting directly underneath a huge stuffed boar’s head.  It’s wearing a sombrero.
Lucy wishes she had ordered the entire bottle.
Two wines later, things have improved again.  Al tells her a funny story about how he and his mates were out in Hastings when they saw a drunk driver abusing his girlfriend.  After the police came and took him away, they noticed he had left his windows open, so they filled the vehicle with crisps.  When the man came back an hour later, his car was full of seagulls.
Lucy likes Al’s naughty sense of humour.

Al also tells her more about being in the Army.  He was in an engineers regiment.

“Does that meant you were behind the scenes?” Lucy asks.
“No, I was on the front line.  I was actually part of the capture of Basra when I was just 18.”
Lucy is impressed.  This is a man who must have been through an awful lot.  Perhaps it’s no surprise that he has one or two quirks.

And for an army guy he is incredibly thoughtful and gentle.  Certainly not your typical boorish macho twat, all swagger and bravado and misogyny.
Al drops her back at the station.  It’s time for the moment of truth.  To kiss or not to kiss, that is the question.  Or would have been, if Shakespeare had had Tinder.

In spite of the unsettling revelations Lucy has had a lovely afternoon. Maybe it’s the sunshine, maybe it’s the wine, maybe it’s Al’s chocolatey eyes and earnest admiration for her – but Lucy finds herself drawn to him.
She’d quite like a kiss but she’s still not sure about the beard. Or the bearded dragon.

On the other hand, she has had a very enjoyable day.  And Al has been extremely sweet, and very open about his attraction to her.  She’d like to give something back.  Maybe she should wait and see if he makes a move…?

But she knows he won’t.  He’s so gentle and nervous about getting it wrong that if she leaves it up to him he will give her a respectful peck on the cheek and Lucy will get back on the train feeling rather let down.

So at the the ticket barrier she turns to say goodbye, leans in, and kisses him briefly on the mouth.

Al is momentarily taken aback. And then he realises what’s just happened and goes back in for another with confidence.

It’s the first time in her entire life that Lucy has kissed a man with a beard.

This must be how a eucalyptus tree feels when it’s being munched by a hungry koala.  It’s soft yet scratchy, a little damp, slightly musty, but not altogether unpleasant.  And to Lucy’s great relief, she doesn’t get hair in her teeth.  Which was genuinely a real fucking worry.

But the train is in the platform, so the kiss is brief.  Lucy swipes through the barriers, and Al heads home to his freaky menagerie.

(To find out what happened next, click here)

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4 Comments

  1. 3rd September 2018 / 11:04 pm

    Oh holy crap, I’m crying!! The sombrero did it for me… jeepers, my tummy muscles hurt! This is pure gold! I don’t mean to laugh at your (or the poor stuffed animals’) misfortune, but my word, you’re brilliant! I’m going back through your blog whilst waiting on the next Ben instalment and this is some of the best stuff I’ve ever read! Please continue enriching our lives with your writing, it’s bloody brilliant!

    • Lucy
      Author
      3rd September 2018 / 11:08 pm

      Wow! I’m not bloody brilliant, you are – for such a lovely comment! Thank you SO much! You’ve got me at the end of a tough day and you’ve just totally turned my mood around! Thank you Lindsay 🙂

      • Lindsay
        4th September 2018 / 11:24 pm

        Aww, bless you! I hope your day improved (or at least that today was better!). I honestly have been giggling at the sombrero’d boar and your ‘another friend for you’ quip periodically throughout the day today, too funny! I was in tears reading it. If you get a chance after your Kenya adventure and if you haven’t already been there, see if you can get yourself to South Africa, my beautiful home. I live in the UK now, but go back every year as I can’t be away for too long… Africa is in my blood!

        • Lucy
          Author
          5th September 2018 / 10:02 pm

          Thank you again! I have been to South Africa, but it was many years ago now. I’d love to go again, I have a friend who married a South African who I keep saying I will go and visit but I never have. I shall add it back onto the list!

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Names and some minor details have been changed to protect the innocent. And sometimes the guilty.
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