Chapter 9 - I need a hero.
Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the Gods?
Where's the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn
And I dream of what I need
I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero
'Til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight
Bonnie Tyler knew what she wanted, and to be fair, I don’t think she was asking for too much. If I had to use one adjective to describe my dating experiences, I would probably choose “surreal”.
Surreal: having the qualities of surrealism; bizarre
Synonyms: unreal, bizarre, unusual, weird, strange, freakish, unearthly, uncanny
The thing about being in the middle of it all is that sometimes it only becomes obviously surreal when you take a step back and start looking at things from an outsider’s view. The thing about my date with Barrie though, was that I was fully aware I was stuck in surrealism from about 5 minutes into our date. Barrie worked in finance in the city, and he was quite funny online. We didn’t really have that much in common on paper, but I’d long since given up on meeting the guy who ticked all the boxes. He seemed keener on me than I was on him, and I didn’t really fancy him from his photos, but he did have a good sense of humour.
Barrie had impressed me with his choice of first date; rather than suggest a coffee, which was becoming the norm, he suggested we went Go-karting. I liked the idea, but was also conscious that perhaps it wouldn’t be conducive to interesting (or any) conversation, so I asked him to suggest something a bit quieter, and he came up with the Sea Life Centre. Perfect! My first job at the age of 17 was at a Sea Life Centre, and I liked the idea that he might also be interested in the Natural World, so I was looking forward to the date. We met outside the Sea Life Centre and exchanged a very awkward “hello” – in hindsight I was now tired of the whole dating thing and wanted the man to go that extra mile and really show effort, so I held back with my usual charismatic self and waited for him to step into the driving seat… and waited… and waited. Hmmm.
The first display we came to was the Asian Short Clawed Otters (yeah, yeah, otters in a Sea Life Centre, don’t even get me started) and I was hooked. Not by my date, who shuffled about behind me, but by my four legged friends. I turned round at one point to try and engage Barrie in conversation, but he was staring wistfully at a tank of fish so I left him to it. As we entered the tunnel I tried again to start up some witty banter, and remembered that he had said he liked scuba-diving. Suddenly the fishy-fact-floodgates opened. As I tried to look interested, Barrie set about pointing at one fish after the other, telling me their Latin name (which I could have read myself on the interpretation panel) followed by their common names. I waited patiently for some amusing anecdote of these sea creatures; perhaps he had had an interesting encounter with one during his scuba diving sessions? But no. It was a fishy list. Cheers mate.
At one point I think his confidence started to grow, but my interest was waning, so when he suggested we went for a coffee I said perhaps we could just stand near the Otters and wait for their feeding time. We were now approximately 30 minutes into our date, and I had seen no sign of this entertaining or even humorous bloke that I had chatted to online, and I was feeling really fed up and deflated. It was with great relief that the Otter chap appeared, and I concentrated on what had turned out to be the most interesting part of our date.
Barrie didn’t ask to see me again, and I didn’t offer either. Perhaps he got the message; he certainly would have done when he noticed that I deleted my account as soon as I got home! Maybe a little harsh, you might think, but I was really fed up by this point. As far as I was concerned, I had tried and failed, but I was still holding out for my hero, and a wet fish simply wouldn’t do.