The Tomato Stand

I love John Lewis Food Hall. It is the easiest place to spot single men and since they're coming from Soho and Harley Street - they're just my type.

I say it's the easiest way to spot single men because of these key observances...

Most likely his hands are exposed. If he's holding a basket or reaching for the squishiest avocado, you can easily see if he's wearing a ring.

If he's carrying a list... he's taken. What guy do you know that carries a list to do some grocery shopping at lunch time? Probably not a single one.

Is he with his girlfriend/wife/etc? Grocery shopping is an intimate time for couples. They often go together.

What's in his basket? Meal for one?

This isn't to say that I only go to the Food Hall to catch fellas. On the contrary, my eye is on the food, not the people. JL has some of the best ingredients and I often can't find them anywhere else - not to mention the bakery section is to die for. (Baklava people... baklava.) I only discovered this menagerie of career driven men about a year ago, and have been in a couple of relationships so the theory was never really put into action. But last week it all fell into place.

I was hanging out by the tomato stand admiring produce and about to grab some pasta when I bumped into a gentlemen who was standing right behind me.

I gave my apologies and laughed at my stupidity and scuttled out of the way to find some linguine. I looked back to get a better look of the person I'd just trampled on and saw he was dressed in smart/casual office attire carrying a basket in his left hand filled with... 4 ready-meals. Interesting, my mind thought. Then a quick glance at the empty ring finger, very interesting.

This happened in a brief second then I quickly looked back to the rows of pasta and pondered if I should get spinach, whole wheat, or regular pasta. I bucketed the spinach (to get my five a day) and made my way to the queue.

Sometimes the JL check-out queue is around the store but luckily it moves pretty quickly. I dilly-dallied around the chocolate biscuit section before adamantly abandoning the custard creams and moving to the end of the queue.

I'd been standing for about 10 minutes without moving too far, so I decided to check the time since I'd probably been out for at least 45 minutes of my 1 hour lunch break. I dug around in my bag and couldn't find my phone. I checked my pockets, my coat pocket, my bag again, my back pocket and nothing.

Oh my god, I hope I didn't leave it in the dairy section. I think I checked the time there last. Did I put it down when I picked up the sample of pain au chocolat?

I felt around my pockets again when I got a tap on the shoulder.

"Excuse me, miss, are you looking for something?"

Hellooooo guy from the tomato stand...

"Oh yes," I said in surprise and trying to suppress a smile, "I think I left my phone somewhere. I thought I put it in my bag, but it doesn't seem to be there. I'm always leaving it around."
I was still feeling my pockets and looking around in embarrassment.

"Oh," he said whilst looking around on the floor. "Well, do you want me to ring it?"

"Good idea, please do."

"Okay, what's your phone number?" he said, and smiled.

I could only grin back. Realising this could possibly just be a friendly gesture, and what the heck, he's cute; I gave him my number and he promptly called it. I felt my bag start to vibrate and dug my phone out from under the latest hardback I was reading.

"Ah, here it is! Thank you so much -"


"Gavin, yes, thank you. I'm Josie"

And we shook hands then made our way to separate check out counters. He told me to give him a call sometime.

I haven't, but I might.


Bobby is hard for me to write about. At times, I thought of completely leaving him off the blog altogether, but then I wouldn't be doing my history justice. Friends of mine still wonder what the hell I was thinking when I took him back after the third time he dumped me (THREE TIMES!). I still don't have an answer for that.

I thought he could make me happy. Knowing what I do now, I'm determined to think that whilst we were dating and we did have fun, I was more keen on the relationships I was making with his friends than I was with him. He introduced me to my small town in Bedfordshire and I thought by losing him, I would lose everyone.

If only I'd realized then that my new friends liked me better. I struggled through an on/off relationship with Bob for 9 months, but during those months, I met Cathy, my dear fellow craft-crusader and a family of small-towners that will forever be in my heart. I didn't need Bob, even though he made me feel like I did.

He'd somehow managed to make me feel like I was always unhappy, and truth be told, I was, but didn't want to admit it. I was used to having to work in a relationship. I was adamant to not let this relationship fail.

Also, around this time with Bobby I was naive. I was very naive. A little word on immaturity in relationships (and I'm still figuring this one out) - when we are young we tend to think of love and happiness as an achievement that we are constantly battling to possess. After George, everyone was interesting and the next guy I was certain was going to make me happy and fulfilled no matter what it took. Honestly, I look back and just shake my head.

I credit it to not knowing how to be happy and to never being happy with myself. But I must say, that now that I'm older, I fucking love myself. I really really do. I don't give a shit if I sound big-headed or weird. I am an amazing woman. I've been told so on many occasions and I personally believe that while a man may find similar, he will never find better than me.

It's not arrogance. It's survival.
Where would I be if I were constantly dwelling over my faults (which are numerable)?

So, all this self-realization (borderline preaching) finally allows me to write about Bobby. I'm not going to dwell on the hardships we went through. They're not interesting. So here's how we met:

Having a job in London and living in the outskirts of Bedfordshire gave me two lives. In London, I was Tess McGill working hard for that corner office and keeping my life professional (or as professional as a single woman can be in the heart of England). In Bedfordshire, I was that small town girl. ‘The American’, since most people here only knew one. At home, I slipped back into my Southern drawl a bit. I was comfortable here. I felt at home.

But because it is a small town the company tends to be a little less diverse and it seemed everyone knew everyone, except me. And that went both ways. I hardly knew anyone and because I was with George for so long while living in England, hardly anyone knew me. So, getting into the singles scene with all new acquaintances was simply too easy.

Everyone inquired after this ‘new American girl’ in town. I was surrounded by people wanting to get to know me and I was all too happy to get to know everyone. My first two dates with Bedfordshire-ites were less than promising, but ever the optimist, I donned my best Friday night outfit (black skirt and black lacy top) and hit the town.

It was my new friend Katie that first introduced me to Bobby in early September.

Bobby was a friend of her sister’s and because her sister was so close in age they all went out together frequently.

I remembered the first night I went out with all of them I’d seen him and thought to myself that he wasn't very handsome, but I loved his name. Bobby Robins. It had a nice ring to it.

Bobby was tall with dusty blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He was wearing dark blue jeans and a light gray t-shirt and some trendy pointed shoes. For some reason I found him comical. He was always smiling and loved listening to other people’s stories. He had extremely good posture and talked with that very English accent you get out in the counties.

Ah yes, Reginald, I think I shall take tea today.

Capital, Charles, simply capital. I will tell the missus.

He was sitting just next to me and I kept leaning in to try to start a conversation. He spoke to his friend mostly and I kept trying to nudge my way in.

"Have you heard the new MGMT album?" asked his friend.

"Yea, it's great, I've got Electric Feel on repeat," I said - but no one heard me and Bobby kind of talked over me with his answer. His friend kind of caught on that I was trying to make conversation, but I wasn't sure Bobby could even see me at the angle he was sitting.

I felt like a total loser. Bobby and his friend talked for what felt like an hour and I just sat there, literally trying to nudge my way into the conversation by any means possible. I even put my elbow on the table and leaned really close to Bobby's outstretched arm. I realised as I looked from his shoulder to his hand that his fingers were enclosing around my gin and tonic. Whoa now! Mitts off my booze motha fucka! He pulled the drink to his lips and took a large swig.

“Oh, I’m sorry, but that was my drink,” I said in the most polite English way possible.

He swallowed the remainder of the glass and burst out laughing. Coughing a bit on the apparent hilarity of the situation. I was a bit miffed. I think I was looking a bit Scarlet O'Hara - very unamused with one eyebrow arching up.

I sat patiently waiting for him to stop choking and finally say, "Oh my, I'm terribly sorry. Please let me buy you another one." He gave me a big grin. "I'm really sorry. I had no idea you were even there."

Sigh, oh well. I never turn down a free drink and I was happy to get the chance to finally speak to Bobby Robins so I followed him to the bar.

I wasn't my usual self that evening. I was really nervous. I started talking about things and then forgetting where I was going with it and then making up the rest of it. I was just thinking to myself, lies... this is all lies. I'm vomiting lies! I think I told him I lived in Italy for a while. I've never been to Italy. What the fuck am I saying?!

He didn't seem to notice though and the music was really loud so I'm not even sure he could hear me. So, it wasn't too big of a deal I was blabbering complete and udder bullshit. I can definitely tell you that I could in no way, shape, or form make out a single word he was saying, except for the occasional, "You know what I mean?" In which case I would reply, "Yea, totally".

We spent half an hour "chatting" away and laughing about my travelling lies that we nearly didn’t get each other’s names. Well, I knew his, but he'd never been introduced to me.

I'd just drank my 5th gin & tonic and three is my limit (if I'd had a meal, which I didn't). So as I sloshed around the remaining G&T in the melted ice at the bottom of my glass I just simply smiled and giggled and batted my lashes and thought to myself. I wonder if I lean in closer he'll try to kiss me. So I kept leaning in as if I couldn't hear (which wasn't a complete lie), but I was conscious that I was leaning really really far, or at least it felt that way.

“Oh my, where’s my manners? I’m Bob or as most everyone here calls me Bobby.”

“Oh yes, nice to meet you Bobby” [sticks out hand] “I’m Josie.”

The way Bobby grabbed my hand, smiled, leaned in and said, "let's go have a seat somewhere... [raising his eyebrows] quieter," had me grinning ear to ear.

Butterflies, drunk goggles, a full glass of gin & tonic - extra lime - and a silly cheesey grin plastered on my face. I must have looked like a total sucker.

We looked for a table closer to the back but with the crowds of people gathering around to dance everywhere we had to abandon our mission for intimacy and decided to get back to the chatter of our friends.

I swayed between the tables and small stools to find an open one directly across from Bob. I was wearing my sexy black leather heels and the mini skirt made my legs look miles long on the short stool. I kept switching my crossed legs like that hot lady in a white dress in that movie in an interrogation room. I can't remember what it's called.

I was just doing my third switch and about to rest my elbow on my knee and do a little sexy eye contact action but I lost my balance.

I really lost my balance.

I fell off the stool mid leg cross and fell over.

When you're laying on the floor after a lot of gin two things come to mind.

Did anyone see that?

Answer: Yes

What do I do now?

Answer: Play it cool

Play it cool. Yea play it cool. I stood up pretended to dust myself off and took a bow. I got a couple 'wa-heys' but that wasn't so bad. I was mortified though. I'm pretty sure you could see my underwear. Oh God! I'm pretty sure I'm wearing the panda pants tonight.

...digressing a bit - I wear silly underpants. I do this because it's the best birth control I can think of - not that I'm some uber slut, but there's no way you're going to want to take your jeans off if you're wearing white britches with pink teddy bears on them. It's a fool proof policy and it works a charm...

I straightened my skirt a bit and give a bashful smile to Bobby. He moved to the vacant seat next to me and said "nice pants".

Date Time: Bobby Robins and I dated on and off for 9 months. Each dating session lasted 1-3 months.

Overall Appeal: For the name alone he got a 9.5, looks - 6, manners - 5, conversation - 3.

Would I date him again: Fuck no! 9 months of hell. He's a complete blow to the self esteem. I was so upset about the 2nd time he dumped me that I lost 10lbs - which coincidently boosted my self esteem. No regrets there, but no turning back either.

Goodnight kiss: that night no, and I remember it taking about 3 weeks after to finally get one.

Oh, and Bobby, if you're reading this, I know you know it's you. You're a fuckwit. I hope you have finally 'sorted your life out'. And just in case you're still not quite sure this whole palaver is about you - I hope you're happy with that bull-dyke you now call a housemate and your problems with erectile dysfunction. [insert grin]

Dominic & Internet Dating

One of my best friends met her boyfriend online and I have loads of friends who love to tell the stories of how so-in-so met so-and-so online and now they're married with a dog and nice flat, 2 kids, swimming pool, holiday home in Kent, etc.

So with that false impression and completely unrealistic mentality I logged on to gumtree, where not only can you buy used laced curtains for £.99, but you can find a husband… supposedly.

And since I was only looking for a date I figured I had nothing to lose, and possibly slightly more to gain.

Putting my own profile up never appealed to me. The thought of some old pervert (forgive me) wanking over my photo gave me the creeps. Nevertheless, I posted a nice conservative yet fun picture of myself from a night out and added a little bit about my silly self.

The replies came flooding in! I was shocked! But then I found out that most of them, although funny and personable in their replies, took it a step too far by adding a picture of their penis… yes people… I pretty much downloaded over 10 pictures of male genitalia. I immediately freaked out! As soon as the picture came up I closed and ran away from my computer. After clicking 'open' on the next few files I held my breath and closed one eye fearing that it may harness the next form of Satan on my desktop.

I decided to try my second strategy which was to look at other people's posts and then reply to those. Strangely, there are a lot of Indian princes looking for someone to spend money on. The thought of this did appeal to me. But I soon found out replying to those I just got more genitalia.

I finally found an interesting post from two guys looking for a couple people to chill with - specifically two people that didn't have a 'shed with spares'. I of course had no idea what this meant and felt inquisitive. So I sent over an email.

Dear 'SoulMatt256',

I'm here looking for someone to chill with too. From what I can see, I have no shed with spares so I believe I fit your criteria. My criteria is quite simple: must not be a serial rapist, extreme killer, fetish happy, fuckwit, dimwit, unemployed, live with parents, poor dental hygiene, poor hygiene in general, or have ever been referred to as a 'weird one' - although that last one is conditional.

Care to have a drink?


It turns out – Dominic – is Irish and loved my joke about the criteria (which had my alarm bells ringing, but I silenced them after I realised I was a bit OTT). He and his friend wanted two ladies to go out to dinner or have drinks with. The 'shed and spares' meant male genitalia of course. And after seeing that they clearly had no intention of sending me risqué attachments, I replied that I have no friends to go out with (at this time most of my friends were already taken) but I'd be happy to go out for a drink or have dinner with you.

Dominic worked in London too so we decided it would be safest (neither of us were quite sure the other wasn't a serial rapist/aggressive killer) to go for a quick after work drink in town.

Ever since I watched The Quiet Man (one of my favourite films) I've wanted to date an Irish man. Don't judge me. I don't know why this strange obsession happened or why after years of it lying dormant in my bones that it manifested into a full blown date with a total stranger… but it did. And I was going on a date with Dominic McIrishsurname.

Okay… before we go any further let's talk a little bit about me. I'm brave. I'm sometimes too bold and should probably keep my mouth shut, but sometimes I am shit-scared. I'm not exaggerating. My mom once put me in a giraffe costume when I was about 11 for the church sing-a-long 'Noah's Arky'. At first I loved this spotted posterboard creation. I slipped on some black spandex pants, put on a zoo t-shirt and persisted to walk around the trees and pretend I was eating them and rubbing my belly. (There are pictures I was that happy about it!). But when I was 11 I was a bit chunky... well... the kids called me 'Tubberware'. So when the time came to go up on stage to sing I stuck my little neck over my head and then high-tailed it out of the church screaming with my long neck slowing me down as the wind caught it. So, no matter how brave I may think I am, I'm easily psyched out and will run at the slightest pinprick of fear.

And now, I agreed to go on this date with a perfect stranger and I am about to get murdered in some back alley of London. I can see it now

'Wow, this is a nice date. Yea, maybe it would be a good idea to go to drinks at this 'quaint little place he knows'.

BOOM! Dead!

That's what I was really thinking. That is why I texted (yes, I'm a coward) that I wouldn't be able to make it. I was feeling ill. Then I changed my phone number.

So I never went on that date. I'm so sorry to disappoint my readers, but I just chickened out.

Not to fear though. Dominic comes up again later and it's worth the wait to find out more to this story.

Because I've been asked a million times

Are these true?

yup - I just changed the names and like every good writer I elaborate but not to the extent that it's a blatant lie. So far everything I've ever lied about has come back to bite me in the ass, so no point - this is going to bite me in the ass anyway - but at least I'm honest, eh?

Why are you doing this?

[sigh] I'm still not quite sure if I can give that a good answer but these things I know for sure:
1. the stories are too bizarre or entertaining to keep locked away
2. I have a writing obsession (I carry a pen & notebook everywhere and without them I go a bit mental - to the point where I'm asking strangers for pens and writing on burger wrappers. You think I'm kidding? My notes are proof.)
3. Some men out there will learn from this
4. Some women will realise that the date they had with Jim wasn't so bad after all - and maybe they'll give him another shot like he deserves.
5. My mom will be proud of me. Hi mom!
6. It will keep me from repeating the story over and over again with friends
7. I kiss and tell.
8. I'm doomed to be a singleton (Crazy Aunt Josie who lives in London with 8 cats) I might as well seal my fate by scaring off men with the threat of a public review.
9. I'm running out of room on my bookshelf for my dating journals - blog seemed like a good idea to write shit down.
10. I'm really hoping it gets better and if I entertain a few people on my little road to happiness, then it will make me all the more content when I get there.

busy busy week for me - will have a new date posted asap - my little run-in with internet dating!

Banana Man

I'd like to introduce you to my Banana Man – he's a semi unattractive guy - a bit pudgy, brown hair - that works in the office directly across from mine. He eats a banana everyday and wears a sweater with stripes on it. Sometimes he looks over to the office across from his and sees me. I wave my banana at him, and he waves back, we smile and eat our bananas together.

One day last year he stopped waving, he stopped looking over and he started eating oranges.

Then I moved desks to the one further down the building and have since never seen him again.

Ed – The Date

I remember distinctly how attracted I was to Ed – because I just so happened to snap a picture of him and I before we parted ways, which is pretty fortunate since I was intoxicated beyond belief and kind of only remembered him because I saw the scurrilous flirting in text message form. "Mayb ill c u l8r sxy dnrsnse" (yea, I couldn't figure that one out either). But when I found the picture in my camera it all came flooding back.

When I looked at the picture I compared it to this one… and it was pretty close. I even had a second opinion.

See what I mean? If you're a guy and don't see what the big deal is – look at the fine angles of his chin and neck and his soft styled but kind of messy hair… I really could go on but I shouldn't. There's always time to come back to this after you read about the date, so moving on…

I was to meet him on the way into town and we'd have a couple of drinks in the local pub so off I went listening to Vampire Weekend (Edward Cullen – Twilight… get it? Clever, aren't I?) I at least didn't go out in heels this time. My pub outfit was a bit Minnie Mouse if you ask me looking back on it. To be honest I do not know what the hell I was thinking when I wore that but here it is anyway.

Hair – two low buns (pigtail style) with a thin black elastic wrap/headband

Black t-shirt with white poka dots

New dark blue skinny jeans (one size smaller than my last pair)

Black & White Converse shoes

Red lips! And that Amy Whinehouse eyeliner flick – but not so trashy

I was walking into town and about 10 minutes into my journey and I saw him coming from the other direction. He was wearing a fitted tweed jacket and a derby – which I thought looked really sweet on him. I got the chance to admire it up close and from behind as well because he walked straight passed me and up the hill towards my house. I just stood there in the middle of the sidewalk gobsmacked. He just walked right past me!

Now, I'm not the kind of girl who likes to go chasing after a man, so I had no idea what to do… So, I walked on to the pub. I figured he would call, text, or turn around eventually – so the best I can do is be where I'm supposed to be – at the pub… having a drink. And if he never showed up, I think I would have been fine with that. I was a bit gutted that even if he didn't recognize me, he didn't check me out either – so as my mom would say, "fuck'um".

Lucky for you, he called. The night continued.

It turns out he went all the way to my block of flats and then called to see if I was planning on coming out anytime soon. Smart ass. When I told him I was at the pub, I waited 20 minutes for him to show up which was plenty of time to get a drink in.

Being a lightweight has its perks…it's many many perks. But one of those is that when your friend is late, and you get a sneaky double from bartender, most of the time you can get through an entire glass of rum & coke before your friend even shows up. Which means you are in a chipper enough mood to not be annoyed when him/her when he/she sits next to you and doesn't apologize for making you wait – which brings me to Ed…

After the date with Larry, I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Ed didn't remember what I looked like, but apparently he snapped a picture of us on his phone that night as well so he didn't have a hard time picking me out. The red lipstick did throw him off a bit though, but he was pleasantly surprised so he said.

Since he was late (and a dude) I thought that maybe he would buy the first round, but Ed believed in equality (which is a polite way of saying he was a cheap bastard). To be fair I still had a quarter of my drink left, maybe he thought I would be fine with just that, but he never asked so that gave him a strike in my book. He ordered a pint of lager and we decided to take our drinks (I bought another – single this time) and our conversation to the comfy sofas in the back.

The conversation was good. We bantered back and forth about my Americanisms and discussed jobs, travelling and tattoos. He thought I was funny and complimented me often and even said I had a striking resemblance to Angelina Jolie [snort] but anyway I was really enjoying myself. We'd been talking for nearly 2 hours by the time we'd finished our drinks. I was happy to see he didn't drink like a fish, but looking back it was probably because he couldn't afford another one.

There was a faint smell in the air and at first, since we were in a pub I thought nothing of it, but now that we'd moved away from the bar and to the couches, I was surprised I could still smell it.

"Do you smell that?" I asked while sniffing the air.


"It smells like [sniff] like [sniff] a sandwhich."

"Haha, no, I don't smell it."

"Maybe it's the leather chairs."

"Hey, do you want to watch a film?" he asked.

It's a bit late and the cinema is a bit of a stretch from here, but what the hell?

"Yea, which one do you have in mind"

"Well I've got a couple of DVDs at the house if you want."

Ooooooh, you meant DVD. Hmmm. "Okay, yea sure."

For all of those people wondering why the hell I went home with someone I'd just met, let me give you a little tour of my mind.

  1. I'm a trusting person – if someone says we are going to watch a film, I genuinely believe we are going to watch a film… maybe we'll have some light chitchat and a cuddle, but we will be watching that film – I could probably write an essay on it afterwards
  2. I'd technically had 3 shots in the span of 2 hours – for a lightweight who most likely didn't eat dinner because she didn't have time after doing her hair, that's a lot
  3. He is really really cute… come on… things are going so well!
  4. I carry a concealed weapon

So with all that resting peacefully in the back of my mind we trudged off to his place.

He lived in a gated block of flats – they were really nice. The footpath was lined with small trees and all the doors were painted dark green with silver numbers on them with a knocker. I pictured myself walking hand and hand with him after shopping in town. Maybe we'd have a dog with us and we could take him to the fields just beyond the second row of flats. [humming in my head and swinging my arms a bit - really silly grinning] We came to number 18 and he opened the door.

The foyer was lined with shoes – I did a quick count and it was way more than mine and some of the shoes looked quite femine. He didn't mention having a female flatmate but I assumed it was his flatmate's friend or something. I could just see the living room from where I was standing and someone was in their watching TV so when Ed directed me up the flight of stairs to his room I thought nothing of it and was pleased I didn't have to make introductions and polite small talk with a stranger. I thought it was cute that he didn't want his flatmate to embarrass him in front of me.

And then I heard someone crying… no wait… was it laughing?

Ed opened the door to his room and there on top of his bed sat a gangly, shaggy haired boy in glasses laughing himself into tears and rolling around.

"Ed! Ed! You have to see what I found on your computer"

If you are like me then you are thinking – porn! Oh my God, what have I walked into?!

"Josie, this is Carl, my flatmate," he said guiding me into the room. "What did you find?"

Carl clicked play on the screen and the three of us sat on his bed (which doubled as a desk chair for his computer) and watched the clip.

To explain this in words will likely not do it any justice – or maybe you'll see it exactly how I did… The clip was of Carl, Ed, and one of their other friends in Ed's bedroom. Carl was on the bed passed out and Ed and his friend were hitting him with a pillow and poking him. Carl was moaning for them to stop, but the two – obviously hammered – went on relentlessly for seven minutes… I laughed politely, not wanting to appear stuck up, but that was just strange to watch.

And then Carl said, "I've got to show this to my mum… MUM!... Mum!"

A woman's voice comes from downstairs.

"Mum come here and watch something!"

Carl's mother, a rather large woman in a rather large blue dress lumbers into the room and takes a seat – not right next to the screen, not beside me – on me! The woman sat ON me! I could see it coming. I swear I could even hear the beep beep beep as she backed up, but in all my shock and confusion I couldn't utter a word to stop her, and she sat on me.

"Oh dear!" she said, "I didn't see you there."


"That's fine, I'll move over. I've already seen it." So once again, I sat through seven minutes of some drunk getting tortured by pillows, and although I didn't find it funny yet again, everyone else was doubling over with laughter. I guess this one was above me. [ahem]

After the laughter subsided, thankfully Carl and his mother left and Ed popped in a Family Guy DVD to watch. His room was comparable to a dormitory. The one small room was an office, lounge and bedroom all in one with the bed doubling as a desk chair and a sofa. I must admit I was really uncomfortable sitting on that bed. It was enormous for one and Carl was here just 30 minutes ago watching movies on Ed's computer…

And I was on his bed… it's a first date! What am I doing here!

So I sat cross-legged in the middle of the bed and watched the show. There was a lot of awkward silence and then Ed decided to ease the tension a bit, but there was that smell again… omg I think it's him… he smells like pastrami… what did he have for lunch?

"Would you like a drink?" he asked.

"No, I'm fine."

"I'm going to have one, are you sure, I've got blackcurrant squash?"

"No thank you, I'm okay." and the smell is off-putting.

He got up to grab a drink from the mini fridge and must have gotten quite hot with all the moving around so he decided to take his shirt off.

[stunned] Now I was getting the chance to fully see the tattoos on his back… and it appeared to be a lot of flowers (okay, they're pretty, I guess that's cool… a bit emo, but I dig it)… oh and the word 'Amore'… now that's a bit…errrm… I decided not to say anything about it and be a silent observer as he sat next to me. It was still a bit uncomfortably silent but I tried my best to pay attention to the show and laugh when the canned laughter did. Out of the corner of my eye I saw he was enjoying it and every now and then risking a glance my way. I smiled a bit when I caught him and he giggled.

He'd finished his squash and was situating the pillows when I felt his hand rest on mine. I was flustered and getting short of breath and at a complete loss for words. I went to say something but forgot what it was so it came out as kind of a moaning, "uuuuuun". I didn't have time to be embarrassed though. He hiccupped and then appeared to throw-up in his mouth. I pretended I'd been looking down when he looked at me and then he swallowed it.

Eeeeeww! Did that just happen? I think he drank his juice too fast and then got a little over excited. Or maybe it was bad pastrami. Oh God! There's that smell again.

I was stuck there. I knew he wanted a kiss, but there was no way in hell I was going there. He leaned in and pretended nothing had just happened. He had both of my hands in his and his eyelids looked heavy.

"I should probably get going," I said. "It's late, and I have work in the morning."

"You can stay here," he said with a look of surprise.

"Ummm, no. Thank you, but that isn't necessary or appropriate. I have my own flat and we've only just met."

"But it's cold, you'll have to walk up there 30 minutes, all on your own."

Well, gee thanks for offering to make sure I get back safely.

"I'll call a cab," I said.

I gathered my shoes, threw on my coat and waved goodbye to Carl's mom who was digging in the kitchen cabinets. Ed decided the least he could do was walk me to the end of the road where the taxi could pick me up. It took 10 minutes for him to arrive and I felt my toes and arms were going to fall off from the chill, but I didn't want to touch Ed, no matter how nice and warm he looked. He smelled like pastrami. I didn't know if that could rub off on me, and I didn't need to risk that right before bed… fuck it I'm taking a shower anyway, come here and keep me cozy.

The cab finally made its way to the end of the road and before I got away Ed pulled me close and nearly kissed me on the lips had I not ducked out of the way and pecked him on the cheek first.

"I had a nice time," I said. "See you around."

"Yea, we'll have to do this on a weekend sometime when you don't have to go to work."

Translation: so you can sleep over… no thank you dickhead.

Date time: 5 hours.

Overall appeal of Ed: 8 for looks (2 point deduction for smell and tattoos – he was lucky it was only two) 6 for conversation, 2 for manners

Would I date him again? Yes... and I say that because despite the fact that he lives with a strange young man and his mother, and the fact that he smelled of lunch meat and vomited, and that he didn't notice me passing on the street and he's incredibly cheap and bit sleazy... okay so I was going to say that maybe he was just having a bad night, but no... no.

Goodnight kiss: No... and frankly the more I think about it... eeeeuuhh... let's just not think about it.

Larry - The Date

Fresh out of a 2 year relationship and on my first date in nearly 4 years - freedom was the word of the hour! life's too short! get your freak'um dress on! (if you don't know that one, please listen)

As you can see from the serious use of exclamation marks I was excited beyond belief. I was going on a date with a hottie. I was checking myself out in every mirror in my tiny flat (and working out which lighting made my skin look healthy and not sickly pale olive).

The date was set for a nice restaurant in my quiet little hometown so I knew I didn't have to dress up too much. He'd likely be wearing jeans. As much as I wanted to pull out one of my precious LBDs and sexy heels, I knew jeans and a nice top were probably best.

And so - we have date outfit Number 1

(I promise I'll start taking some pictures - but I was freaking out and running out of time!)

Black lace top with black silk camisole underneath

dark blue skinny jeans

black heeled ankle boots (okay so I decided to go with sexy heels after all – they’re just so me – I had to!)

black jewely looking earings (kind of elaborate but small so not tacky)

hair - bangs/fringe (forgot to mention that I'm an American living in England) clipped back and loose hanging curls

"smokey eyes" went slightly array but managed to reel it in with a black eye pencil -hopefully the redness will subside within the hour!

I'd love to say that he was very punctual, met at my door with a gorgeous smile and opened the car door for me... but in reality... neither of us have a car, so I walked the 20 minutes alone into town listening to MGMT Electric Feel in the frosty November weather in 2 inch heels (not drastic, I know, but a 10 minute walk downhill in that condition is terrifying!).

Thank God he was on time. It's on the list. If you're late I'm bored and that sets the wrong tone for the evening. Don't get me wrong... if you let me know you are running late, you are off the hook, but after 10 minutes I'm usually on my home or to the pub to find something better to do. A wise person once told me, "Early is on-time, on-time is late, and late is unacceptable". So, I try to be 5 minutes early wherever I go.

But it's a moot point - he was fashionably early - and he was ticking boxes.

nice fluffly ungelled choppy hair

nice navy sweater/jumper

nice light coloured jeans - not 90s light, but more like faded diesel light

and... oh my god... are those... are those... mandles? (Please see definition 1)

Oh no, no, no. Calm down, he deserves a shot, do not strike him on footwear! You are far too picky! ... okay, maybe we can change him?

“Hello Jill!”

… and then he spoke. Wow, if you want to completely crush a my every dream for a future with a man, saying the wrong name is the perfect start.

“Hi Larry, and actually it’s Josie – not Jill”

“Oh [apologetic surprise]… Oh! [sudden realization], you’re not Jill?”

“[annoyed confusion] No… I’m Josie” – then I made a little giggle as if to brush it off my shoulder and put him at ease. No worries, right? Easy mistake. We only just met.

“Oh, oh Jesus, I’m sorry… wonder where I got Jill from?”

…and then he appears to be thinking. It’s at this point I realize our short introduction outside the restaurant is taking a while… and it’s cold. “Shall we go in?” I say.

“Yes, sorry, here” he says and recovers by opening the door for me and putting my coat on the rack.

We order some red wine and I take a very big gulp and then start coughing. He was taking off his beautiful navy sweater and at first I was pleasantly surprised to see he had nice abs, but then he pulled his green undershirt down which read: I can be your private dancer. And would you know... I managed to find it online (see here).

“Are you alright,” he says with a look of concern as I struggle to calm the coughing.

“Yes,” I manage to say, “just went down the wrong pipe”

And so he hits me on the back a bit as if to dislodge the offending liquid. It was a bit alarming. There’s me, choking back shock/horror from the shirt, almost in a fit of giggles because I find the whole situation a bit comedic and all the while being bludgeoned to the point where I’m bracing the table for stability and we haven’t even ordered yet!

I never know what to order on a date. I wish all menus didn’t include the price on the side so I could just pick something that sounded good. I didn’t bring much cash with me and judging from the profession he displays on his attire, I’m assuming he’s a bit hard up for cash as well.

The carbonara has two meats, obviously more expensive, so scratch that. The salad will make me look like one of those prissy bitches. I’ll probably get spaghetti Bolognese all over me, so that’s a no. Ah, vegetable ravioli. Perfect.

And he orders the Bolognese so it’s this point that I just had to ask...

“So how long has it been since you’ve been on a first date?”

“Hmm, about two weeks – OH! That’s where I got the name Jill from! Fuck, that was really bothering me. Yea, so anyway, about two weeks, you?”

“About the same,” and I sipped my wine.

Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at dinner conversation, get to know you questions, a little sarcasm and casual flirting, but that night it was all new. I’m a bit shy with crowds and people I don’t know, but one to one, I can usually talk about anything and go on for ages, but that night... all I could think about was the stuff I’d done with George – I’d just gotten back from Amsterdam recently (with him), was thinking of moving to London (with him), just gotten out of a huge relationship (with him), I was fucked for light conversation. And the pole dancer wasn’t making anything easy.

Instead of filling the gaps of silence with some banter or light chitchat, he found it fitting to look right into my eyes and smile ruefully. I really like that smile, it’s cute, a bit dangerous and with the choppy hair it makes him look a little like Josh Hartnett, but what was initially kind of sweet, got a bit uncomfortable (to say the least).

Is there something on my face? OMG do I have a wine mustache? (yes, in my inner dialogue I use words like OMG)

I casually felt around the corners of my mouth and rested my chin on my palm. He was still staring. I moved my fork around the table so it sat opposite the knife and sighed a bit. He was still staring. I looked up at him, pursed my lips with a little smile, raised my eyes brows and looked around a bit then back at him (as if to say... okay dude, stop staring). He was still staring.

“Where’s the restroom?” I asked.

“Just in the back,” he said smiling.

And I rushed off with mobile phone in hand.

I sat on top of the toilet and scrolled through my phone list. Oh my God, who do I call, I have no friends! I think Amy is away, Jess was at a movie tonight... yes, I can call Meg.


“Meg, it’s Jo. You have to save me. I know I haven’t spoken to you in ages, but I’m on a date and this guy is freaking me out... plus he’s wearing mandles! I need you!... Oh, George and I broke up by the way, it wasn’t working out. Speak soon, bye.”

Meg never called back – maybe because we’d only met once or twice and the fact that she was a mutual friend of mine and George, but I was desperate, and I didn’t build a lot of friendships in my time with George. If she’s out there, and she’s reading this – you are a bitch... there I said it. Karma is a bitch too and you’re likely to meet her before me so good luck with that you heartless cow.

The dinner was at the table when we came back and although Larry had a hard time talking before, he had no trouble chatting whilst stuffing stringy pasta into his mouth. I’m really being a bit hard on him but come on, really? Did he really need to discuss his recent rugby injury and barbarically stuff his face? No. At least the wine was good... it was very good. I think I had more than half the bottle.

Date time: 2.5 hours of pure hell.

Overall appeal of Larry: 6 for looks (he may be a Josh Hartnett, but mandles people!) 2 for conversation, 2 for manners (it's not polite to stare!)

Would I have dated him again? No, but lucky for me he never called again. I’m guessing things with Jill worked out better.

Goodnight kiss: YES! - and I think it was probably the wine's fault


I saw Ed from across the room and I think I creamed myself.

It was around the time before Twilight hit cinemas and the books were increasingly popular. I'd just finished the 3rd book and was probably romanticizing a bit too much (okay...waaaaay too much) I think I even broke up with George because he was so far away from the leading character Edward (that and the heavy drinking probably didn't help). I was also in the state of mind that my very own Edward was living and breathing and waiting patiently for me to stumble into view.

So I stumbled in the local club dressed in only God knows what (I was out on the pull and I have a very un-shameful way of showing off my bare back – small chest you know… so we can get away with that. I do however remember that I had pulled off the smokey eye effect really well that night and combined with about 3 different cocktails and some wine at dinner I was staring down every fine looking piece of flesh walking by. And Ed just so happened to be the finest one I'd seen all night. In fact, I think he looked alot like Edward Cullen - especially through these nifty cocktail goggles I just spent £40 on.

I had my eyes on him. I'm not bashful about eye-flirting – in fact I do it every morning on my walk to work to passing male strangers. To this day I'm not sure if I'm checking them out or if I'm just curious to see if I look alright that day. I wrote this for you once said, "I try to fall in love at least 5 times a day before lunch", and I've always found it fitting because of my obscure habit. Later in life I'll probably realise that this has something to do with my insecurities, but I won't think about that now...

On this particular night, with the alcohol giving me just enough (if not too much) courage, I walked straight passed him giving him 'the eyes' the whole way.

Now I'm always shocked when this stuff works. I genuinely am. He grabbed my arm before I could walk away and said 'are you giving me evils or eyes'. I gave the noncommittal response, 'I'm not giving you evils,' and then laughed it off a bit feeling completely embarassed that I was blatanly caught - but that's okay because the Mai Tai kicked in.

'Nice shoes you're wearing,' he said.

I love when people compliment my shoes so I gave and excited, 'thanks!' with a huge open mouth smile and said, 'I like your skinny jeans'.

'They're skinny jeans?'

'Yea, I like a challenge,' and then I just stopped talking covered my mouth and looked at him wide eyed. Slut! Oh my God I'm such a slut! Try as I might to shake that one off and pretend it didn't happen (it was loud after all) the damage was done, I said it and was instantly thrown into the category of 'girls that will likely give head on a first date'.

To which he replied, 'oh my God I think I got a chubby.'

Yea… we pretty much got on like wildfire from that point. I like guys that can make me laugh and he was so hot and I was drunk off my ass on pink liquids. My giddiness was getting really annoying. Even I could tell, so as all first encounters should end… I went home. How I Met Your Mother once said, "nothing good can come after 2am, so just go home". So we exchanged numbers, hugged, and then made our own ways home... well he probably did, I think I ended up in the back garden that night, but I can't remember. [shrug]

A little help from my friends...

before I go too much further - if you are reading this and have any design skills what-so-ever, get in touch with a layout design for this - I'm shite at it.

in the beginning...

I feel like I owe you an explanation for this… Like I need to tell you why I decided to do this, and why I decided to do it this way. Without getting into too much detail, it all started with the back corner table at Café Rouge with Jane Austen and a glass of pinot noir… which I never drink, but I was being lazy and asked the waiter to bring me his favourite red. He has shit taste.

Anyway, as I was reading over my favourite line from Northanger Abby “friendship is the best balm for the pains of love” or something like that… I noticed Larry (I didn’t know his name at the time or else I might have written him off – I’ve never been fond of names that are synonyms for nights of pist mayhem - but that's neither here nor there).

Larry had sandy hair, cut choppy and brushed to the side as if he was frustrated at some point that day. He was giving me a couple of glances over his coffee cup and I think I was a bit smitten with his nice dress sense and casual appearance and he had a sweet smile when he caught me looking at him.

So I decided to pretend I was bold and I closed my book and gave him a couple of looks while I sipped my wine.

And this, my friends, is how it’s done. Listen up boys if you are reading this because I’ve never seen anything so smooth. Larry looked me dead in the eye, put down the spoon he had in his crème brûlée, moved it to the opposite side of the table and pushed out the open chair in front of him. Then he motioned to me – ever so subtly with a tilt of the head... but completely blatant.

[insert inward girl scream] holy shit holy shit holy shit. Just breathe… what the fuck is that! Now you need to know this about me... and I mean you NEED to know... crème brûlée is the king's pajamas... it's the one dessert that makes me swoon (I'm not exaggerating.) Ordering a dessert can be the make or break part of the date - I always share - but if a guy wants a trifle - don't bother saving his number in your phone. Exquisite taste in dessert is on my checklist... yes... I have a checklist.

I glanced down at my closed book, took a slow sip of my wine and gained some composure after my initial shock.

And this, ladies, is how you get a date. I smiled at him (a bit coy – you know the way), stood up, gathered my things and slid my business card on his table as I walked by…

3 hours later I got a text about my dinner plans on Saturday.

Newly single, and impressed that it worked I was very eager. I wondered how or if I could keep this bold charade up. I was scared shitless, an emotional train wreck after breaking up with my last boyfriend, and to be honest, incredibly self conscious - especially about my weight (which I think I’ll never get over no matter how thin I am).

But I was turning a new leaf – after my last boyfriend (we’ll call him George), after George, I didn’t want a guy to make every decision for me… blah blah blah, becoming self righteous and confident and an independent woman and shit… I decided if I wanted something, I probably deserved it and should do whatever it takes to get it.

So… what did I want… company, some entertainment, free meals at nice restaurants, and kisses… lots and lots of kisses.