In spite of her failed dates with Pablo the Venezuelan and Pierre the Frenchman, Lucy’s still convinced that a foreign guy is a much better prospect than all the hopeless British fuckwits who litter the dating apps like spat-out chewing gum.
So, still keen to find a replacement for Charlie as soon as possible, she goes back on OKCupid to look for, if not a boyfriend (she’s pretty much given up all hope of that), then at least someone who can help with, y’know, the itch.
Lucy likes OKCupid because it allows you to fill in as much information as you like. There are endless questions you can answer and boxes you can fill in, to give a really good impression of who you are and what you’re interested in. Of course, most people barely bother, so Lucy seeks out the ones who do, the ones who show they’re committed, articulate, have personality, intelligence, and can spell.
One of these is Jorge, who despite being from Colombia has written a lengthy profile in near-perfect English. He’s funny and interesting, with an excellent turn of phrase, and it seems they have an shitload of shared interests in common. What’s more, he’s 6’4, with a full head of dark curly hair, and while not pant-wettingly handsome, has a pleasant, smiley face. As for the rest of him, well, Lucy’s not sure, because his photos are all headshots.
Lucy’s not sure what to make of this, because not having any full-body photos is usually a hint that the person is on the larger side. And while a little bit of squishiness around the edges is fine as far as she’s concerned, there is a limit to what Lucy, with her sportiness and her own deep-rooted body insecurities, finds attractive.
But she reckons that at 6’4 Jorge should be able to carry off a few extra kilos, and since his profile really is very nicely-written, she decides to take a chance.
There is, however, one topic on Jorge’s profile that gives her cause to hesitate. As well as including standard information like his taste in music and his interests, he talks about sex. A lot. In fact there’s a whole section about his preferences, how he considers himself a ‘dom’, how he’s kinky, he likes giving pleasure, how he’s ‘GGG’ (Lucy has to Google that one), and so on.
Normally Lucy would swipe right in horror at such blatant evidence of fuckboyery, but this time she pauses.
Is it so terrible that he’s upfront about sex? she wonders. After all sex is important. It’s important to her too, so why not be open about it? And he does so in a very intelligent, matter-of-fact manner that doesn’t come across as creepy; his whole profile is simply articulate, relatable, and refreshingly candid.
In fact when Lucy thinks about it, if Charlie were to write a dating profile, it might look not dissimilar to this. And yet if she had seen him on a dating site with this sort of profile, she’d have swiped left and missed out on so much.
So perhaps she should give Jorge a chance. Because in many ways he seems to have a lot of Charlie’s good qualities – but is happily free of that major dealbreaker – a wife. In fact, he could actually be just what Lucy’s looking for.
OKCupid tells her they’re a 95% match. And Jorge has sent her a friendly, non-creepy opening message, so she decides to be brave, and replies. They chat for a while, and he’s just as intelligent and sensible as his profile suggested, but of course it’s not long before he steers the conversation round to the elephant in the room.
Could she meet him? Should she be brave? He does seem normal and decent, so maybe she should take the risk? After all, don’t they say the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else?
But Lucy’s not quite ready to say yes. She needs to make her position clear first. Doesn’t want him getting the idea she’s only looking for a hookup.
Well that was a pretty good reply, to be fair. No defensiveness, no ridiculousness – he listened to her point of view and responded sensibly. He really doesn’t seem like a fuckboy, so maybe she should go and meet him. Just to see. Even if he doens’t turn out to be the love of her life, he could prove to be an excellent fuck buddy.
But there’s just one last thing she needs to check…
Excellent. No string of women in every port. No wife. Jorge could be just what Lucy needs right now.
So she nervously agrees to meet him. Fortune favours the brave, right? What’s the worst that could happen?
But on the way to the date she’s bricking it far more than she ever normally would. What if he’s creepy in real life? What if all he wants to talk about is sex? What if he’s too pushy and invades her personal space like Cain did? What if he’s expecting her to shag him right away?
Still, it’s too late to back out now. She’ll just have to wait and see.
When she arrives at the bar, Jorge is waiting just inside the doorway. Tall, as promised. Thick, dark, curly hair and a smiley face, as his photos suggested. Significantly obese, with a large belly overhanging the waistband of his trousers, as Lucy feared.
“Hi,” he says in a soft Colombian accent, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “Do you fancy going round the corner and getting pizza?”
Lucy’s confused. If he wanted to go to the pizza place nearby, why did he ask her to meet him in this bar? Was he checking her out first? Did she pass some kind of test? If he hadn’t liked the look of her, would he have stayed in the bar for one drink and then scarpered?
She needs to make an instant decision. Her initial impression is that she doesn’t fancy him, so maybe she should just suggest a drink instead. But it’s after work and she’s about to die of hunger, and Lucy’s never been the kind of girl to turn down pizza. Plus he seems nice and chatty, so she’s sure they can manage to keep a conversation going for at least the length of time it takes to scoff one. It’ll be fine.
They walk round the corner to the pizza place where, as if sensing her anxiety, the waitress swiftly comes to take their order. Lucy immediately requests a large glass of wine to calm her nerves.
“I’ll just have water,” says Jorge. “I don’t drink.”
“What, never?” Uh-oh!
“Nope. I’ve never been drunk. I don’t like it. I like to be in control all the time.”
Huh, thinks Lucy. Is this a red flag? Is ‘dominant’ a socially-acceptable way of saying ‘controlling’?
When the pizza arrives, Jorge tucks in while asking Lucy All The Questions: about her job, her interests, the places she’s travelled to, what her passions are. Lucy talks while her pizza gets cold and Jorge finishes his in less time than it takes Sean Bean to die in everything.
He finishes his last mouthful, then confidently locks her gaze. “You know, you’re so smart and beautiful, why are you single.”
Lucy looks away, a little annoyed at the question, but mostly just fucking embarrassed. His confident flirting makes her deeply uncomfortable. What is UP with that, by the way? Why does a guy liking her always make her want to run away?
She decides the easiest way to handle this is just to attempt to put him off by being brutally honest. She goes on a mini rant about guys on dating apps: how there aren’t enough good ones, how there are loads of great single women so competition is fierce, how this leads to guys getting away with bad behaviour, how lots of men aren’t interested in settling down, how most of them are just useless.
But her attack doesn’t seem to have the required effect.
“You seem like a really sweet person,” he muses. “I can see you’ve been hurt before.” Is this some kind of line to get her to trust him?
“Are you saying I’m jaded?” she asks.
“Maybe a little.” Well duh, obviously.
“I guess it’s hard not to be if you’ve been single as long as I have. But I’m still hopeful – I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t. I have friends who’ve married people from apps, so I know it works. It just hasn’t worked for me – yet.
Deeply twitchy now at the interrogation, and desperate to actually eat her damn pizza, Lucy fires questions at Jorge. He tells her about growing up in Colombia, how he’s travelled and worked abroad a lot, how he has a 14-year-old daughter who lives with her mother in London.
He has his phone on the table, and every so often it pings with a message, which he looks at and swiftly replies to. Lucy frowns. This is pretty poor date etiquette, she thinks. It’s lucky she’s not interested in the guy, or she’d be even more fucked off.
Jorge spots her peeved expression. “I’m sorry about the texts,” he apologises. “My daughter keeps messaging, and I don’t want to leave her hanging.”
Lucy’s dubious. Surely even a 14-year-old can wait an hour for a reply? And how does she even know it’s his daughter anyway? Could he be chatting to some other woman while he’s on a date with her?
But he does seem sweet and genuine, so she decides to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“So my profile didn’t put you off then?” Jorge asks.
“Well, it did a bit. I don’t like it when men lead with sex. I get that it’s important but too many guys are only after one thing.”
“Some women too, to be fair,” he shrugs.
“So I’ve heard, though I don’t date women, so I wouldn’t know.”
Jorge tells her a story about how he was travelling for work and matched with a girl on Tinder. She suggested she come to his hotel room with a blindfold on. When he answered the door, there she was, blindfolded, and they had sex without her ever taking it off. Lucy is flabbergasted.
“But that’s so fucking dangerous! Who would do that?”
“Some women like it. It’s super hot. I’ve actually done it twice more since then. Yes they know it’s dangerous, but that’s why they like it. The thrill, the taboo. It scares and excites them.”
Call her vanilla if you will, but Lucy thinks it sounds batshit mental.
“So if my profile put you off,” Jorge continues, “Why are you here?”
With the confidence of a woman who definitely doesn’t give a shit about impressing the guy in front of her, she tells him why she was inspired to be brave. “I dated a guy who’s in an open marriage, and your profile reminded me of him.”
Jorge is intrigued. “Non-monogamy is an interesting one. Is that what you’re looking for?”
“I see how it can work in theory,” Lucy says, “given how many relationships fail because of infidelity, or the sex going stale. But no, it’s not for me. I can’t share. What about you?”I think I could do shared play if my partner was there too, but not separately.
“You mean like sex parties? Threesomes?”
“Yeah, that sort of thing.”
“I’m not sure about that other. I’m not remotely interested in seeing other women naked.” Even the thought makes Lucy squirm.
“Have you ever been with one?”
“Nope, the idea grosses me out, to be honest.”
“So you’re a 0 on the Kinsey scale?” asks Jorge.
“Yes. 100% straight.”
The conversation has got far more sexual than Lucy’s normally comfortable with on a first date, but she feels weirdly OK with it. With his gentle, curious manner Jorge doesn’t come across as creepy or predatory, and Lucy feels safe discussing these topics with him because she knows this isn’t going anywhere. They’re just two adults having an intelligent conversation.
The waitress comes to clear their plates, and asks if they’d like anything else. They’ve only been there an hour or so, and Lucy’s ready to go home, but she feels like it might be rude to leave so soon. She can stay for a second drink out of politeness, surely? So to avoid hurting his feelings she orders another glass of wine, and Jorge just has more tap water.
“So what would be your idea of a perfect second date?” he asks boldly.
A shiver of discomfort passes over Lucy. She can’t be certain, but she thinks she knows where this might be going. Flustered by the question, she can’t quite look Jorge in the eye.
“Ummm… I guess maybe a nice dinner? Or an activity?”
“So not the theatre or cinema?”
“No, because you can’t talk to each other.” She takes another emergency gulp of her wine, cringing with dread at what she’s pretty certain is coming next.
“So dinner then…” Jorge muses. “Y’know, I’m going to nick these ideas for our second date.”
Oh God, please make him stop.
Fully red with embarrassment now, Lucy doesn’t know how to respond, so she says nothing and takes another gulp. Jorge must clearly sense that something’s up, but he ploughs on regardless.
“It’s just really nice when you meet someone you just connect with, y’know?”
Please don’t ask please don’t ask please don’t ask…
Lucy wants to retreat but her back is against the restaurant wall. All she can do is watch the car as it hurtles in slow motion towards that devastating crash.
“I think you’re lovely,” Jorge pushes on. “I know you’re successful and intelligent and beautiful but you also seem like a really sweet person. I bet you make a really great girlfriend.” He pauses and the silence drifts in like a dead jellyfish washing up on a beach.
Lucy’s going to have to speak now. He’s left her no choice. She needs to shut him up somehow.
“Well, I’d like to think so. Of course I have my own brand of crazy, but don’t we all?”
“You don’t seem crazy to me. I’d really like to see you again.”
Bollocks. There it is. Oh God what do I say? Argh!
Still struggling to make eye contact, and tomato red, Lucy mumbles into her drink.
“Umm… I think you’re a lovely guy but I don’t see this being a thing.” Fuck, how do I let him down gently? Do I say we should be friends? No. Be honest. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.
She tails off guiltily and the dead jellyfish shifts and bobs as another wave of silence washes over it.
Jorge shrugs. “I thought you might say that. It’s OK. Shall we get the bill then?”
And so they do. Terrified that he might still be gentlemanly enough to offer to pay, Lucy gets her card ready and places it firmly on the plate the second the waiter puts it down. No way could she handle the even more terrible guilt of letting him pay for dinner.
But even so, all the way home she feels horrible. He was nice, intelligent, well-travelled, they had stuff in common! He’s probably great in bed. So why the fuck didn’t she fancy him?
When she gets home, the guilt is weighing so heavy that she’s forced to apologise again.
Ok, yes, terrible message. Four ‘lovely’s in two sentences?! But, y’know, she was stressed as fuck, so it’s understandable, right?
Not for the first time she wonders if she might be broken. Why does not fancying someone make her feel guilty? Why can’t she like the guys who like her? Why do other people seem to have no trouble finding relationships, while for her it seems impossible?
Even her therapist didn’t seem to have answers to these questions. All she can do is keep calm and carry on.