Now that things are over with Charlie, it’s time for Lucy to get back in the dating game.
Well they do say the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else, right? And where better to find someone to get enthusiastically under than good ol’ Tinder?
So Lucy fires up Tinder for the first time in well over a year, restores her archived profile, adds a couple of more recent photos, and gets swiping. And before long she matches with a tanned Argentinian named Pablo.
The Foreign Advantage
Pablo says he’s only 5’9, which probably means he’s really 5’7 and shorter than Lucy, but she decides to give him a chance anyway because he has really excellent hair – all black and glossy like the horse in the Lloyd’s Bank adverts. And because he undoubtedly speaks perfect Spanish, and Lucy would love to improve her language skills, and what better way to do that than by getting her very own private tutor?
Besides, Lucy thinks dating a foreigner might be the way forward. For too long she’s put up with British men and their basic inability to communicate or even function like normal adults. The way they use crappy text speak, or call her ‘hun’ and ‘babe’. The fact that the ones who come on super strong aren’t actually that interested, while the ones who are genuinely keen never say a bloody word. The way they chat promisingly for days or weeks and then just vanish into the ether. The way that many of them seem to be narcissists or misogynists, with no charm or sense of respect for women.
Recently, at a 40th birthday party, Lucy met a tall and very attractive Italian man. Smart and articulate, he impressed her with his knowledge of science and politics before taking her confidently by the hand and leading her onto the dance floor, where much to her embarrassment he kissed her in front of many of her friends. Later he led her to an upstairs bedroom, where he attempted to persuade her out of her clothes, and when Lucy politely declined, accepted with good grace and continued to kiss and flirt with her until it was time to go home.
Unfortunately, shortly after the party he returned to Italy, but the experience has whetted Lucy’s appetite for something a little more, well, exciting, than the pale and stale males she’s been matching with thus far.
Fuck it, she thinks. British guys are useless. It’s time to find a better breed of man. One who will be practically guaranteed to treat women with respect. And definitely won’t be a Brexiteer. Maybe a confident, romantic Argentinian is the answer.
Pablo gets off to a strong start. He replies quickly, his English is considerably better than that of many of the morons Lucy comes across on dating apps, and he wastes no time in asking to meet for a drink.
But she knows better than to get her hopes up at this point. They haven’t met yet, and anything could happen. So when she develops a stupid summer cold the day before the date, she doesn’t mind. A cold is great excuse to leave early if Pablo turns out to be boring. A quick text in advance to warn him – her get-out-of-jail-free card deftly played – and the stage is set.
Pablo offers to come to West London, leaving it up to Lucy to pick a venue. She offers him her three favourites to choose from, and almost too predictably he opts for the same wine bar where she had her first date with Charlie. The wine bar where they ended up squished too close into a corner, and where Charlie surprised her by leaning across the table and kissing her before the first carafe of wine was even empty.
Is it weird to go back there so soon after it’s ended? she wonders. But eventually she decides that it’s a nice bar, and she has nothing but happy thoughts of her time there with Charlie, and besides, it’s important to reclaim these places and make new memories. Maybe this will become her lucky wine bar. Maybe in years to come she will say this is where she had her first date with her hot Argentinian husband.
In an echo of that oh-so-hot first date, they meet outside Shepherds Bush tube station. Pablo is easy to recognise: about the same height as Lucy, stocky, and with that full head of dark hair that seemed so promising on his profile. Except unlike in the photos, where he had a normal, symmetrical haircut, he now has it bizarrely shaved on one side and longer on the other; the two sections divided by a mathematically-precise side parting and the long section combed to the side and held firmly in place by an entire jar of hair gel. He’s wearing a blue suit and looks very, well, Argentinian, and Lucy doesn’t fancy him in the slightest.
But she remembers how she didn’t immediately fancy Charlie until he charmed her with his charisma and his confidence, and so she gives Pablo a kiss on the cheek and reserves judgment.
There are a couple of free tables in the bar – a corner table and a high one with bar stools. The corner one seems just a tad too cosy and intimate for a first date, so she opts for the bar stools, where they can sit across from one another at a safe distance, with no risk of personal space invasion.
The waiter comes over. Decision time: glass or bottle? Lucy sizes Pablo up. He seems friendly and not creepy; he’s not terribly chatty – at the moment it’s Lucy doing most of the silence-filling – but maybe he’ll warm up.
Bottle it is. Lucy’s hungry and her never-satisfied stomach is angling for some bar snacks too, but Pablo doesn’t seem to be interested. Fuck’s sake. She orders olives as a restrained backup. He’d better not fucking eat them all now.
“So how long have you been in London,” asks Lucy.
Pablo tells her he moved to London for work about two years ago after studying and working in Belfast for five years. “I came over here not knowing anyone and speaking very little English,” he tells her.
Lucy’s impressed. She likes a man with gumption and a sense of adventure, and it takes a fuckload of get-up-and-go to fly across an ocean and make a new life when you don’t even speak the language. The furthest most Brits travel is to the Costa del Sol or the Greek Islands, where they continue to eat KFC and drink in ‘Irish’ pubs and shout loudly at the locals in English. But here’s a guy who isn’t fazed by the unknown; who is taking life into his own hands and making shit happen. Lucy feels inspired – maybe it’s time for another adventure too – back to Africa maybe? Or somewhere else? Could Argentina be on the cards?
The wine is good, and Lucy’s drinking fast while Pablo does most of the talking. This isn’t ideal – at this rate they’ll finish the bottle soon and they’ll either have to end the date super early (awkward AF) or get another – which Lucy doesn’t want to do because in spite of Pablo’s interesting background she still definitely doesn’t fancy him.
She tries to slow herself down by eating the olives, carefully spearing each one on a cocktail stick and eating it whole, and then attempting to remove the stone from her mouth without looking messy. She swiftly eats them all, and then worries she might look greedy. But she’s hungry, and Pablo didn’t want food, so what the fuck’s she supposed to do?
“Do you have any hobbies?” she asks to keep the conversation going.
Pablo tells her he likes dancing and goes to salsa classes. Because of course, he’s South American, they probably learn to salsa before they can walk.
“But surely if you dance salsa you don’t need to be on Tinder?” she asks. “Aren’t salsa classes full of single women? If you can dance and you’re not creepy surely you’d clean up!”
“I have met a couple of girls there,” he tells her, “but nothing that lasted.”
Lucy wonders whether she should take up dancing, or whether the fact that she has the grace of a baby buffalo, and is so used to doing things by herself that no man could ever hope to lead her, would ruin her chances with any snake-hipped hotties she might hope to find there.
Of course because Lucy has tried just about every-fucking-thing in her search for love, she has actually tried dancing before. She’s been to a couple of salsa classes, two swing/lindyhop classes, and quite a lot of Scottish ceilidhs. But every time she’s found that they’re entirely full of couples, hopeful single women just like her, and creepy older men hoping for a chance to feel up girls. And then she’s forced to dance with these men, and allow them into her personal space where they definitely don’t fucking belong, and put her hand on their sweaty backs, and… Nausea rises in her throat. No, maybe dance classes are not for her.
With her usual unfiltered candour, Lucy tells Pablo this. He says nothing. Perhaps he’s one of the sweaty ones. Shit. She tries to backtrack.
“But I was thinking about doing a Ceroc class. I’ve heard more men go to those. Though I’d probably scare them off with my terrible moves ha ha…” she tails off lamely and reaches for another olive.
Perhaps it’d be better to change the subject. “So what’s Argentina like?” she asks.
“It’s very green, and we amazing landscapes, and fantastic wine and steak.”
Lucy rather likes the sound of this. Even though she doesn’t fancy Pablo, she wonders if she can hang onto him and cultivate him into her first ever Argentinian friend. Someone non-creepy to go dancing with, practise her Spanish on, and maybe one day he will invite her to hang out with his family.
Pablo tells her a bit about Argentinian politics, which naturally progresses into a conversation about Brexit. Unsurprisingly he’s engaged and well-informed – and yet in spite of all these qualities the chemistry just isn’t there.
Still, she thinks, it proves one thing. Even if this particular guy is not for me, foreign men really could be just the thing. These guys have travelled, they have get-up-and-go, they speak multiple languages so they must be intelligent. And Lucy’s always wanted to learn another language and live abroad for a bit. Maybe her new rule will be that she’ll only swipe right on non-Brits.
She tells Pablo about her own travels in South America, and how she learned some Spanish there, before realising with terror that he might ask her to actually demonstrate. Fuck! She hasn’t had nearly enough wine for that sort of bravery.
But to her great relief he doesn’t. He’s probably heard far too many drunk Brits slurring ‘dos cervezas por favor’ and ‘donde está el baño’ to encourage that kind of thing.
They finish the wine and the waiter comes back over. Another one? There’s an awkward pause while they each wait for a sign from the other. But Lucy’s had enough. Pablo seems like a perfectly pleasant guy, but she simply doesn’t feel any kind of sexual attraction to him. Perhaps they could be friends, but for now she’s had enough small talk and she’s ready to go home.
Feeling grateful that she’s already laid the groundwork for an early exit, she blames her cold, says a polite no thank you to another drink and takes her leave. She’s sad that it didn’t work out, but at least this Argentinian didn’t make her cry.
Coming soon: Lucy’s not ready to give up on her foreign dream…
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