Chapter 2: Social
3 weeks or so after the Virtual Speed Dating Night, I decided to open Hinge- the dating app that was collecting dust (metaphorically of course)
Swiping through and I liked a profile; Dark haired, 6ft rugged scientist and only 3 miles away. I swiped left and it immediately came up that I matched with Callan. I received a message:
I have lost count of how many times I have had to unmatch, block and report due to the heinous things some guys can say on dating apps (oh there is a blog on that alone to come!) but I didn’t remember so I decided to continue on this blank page.
We chatted for a few days, nothing extraordinary. Simple, friendly. Lockdown restrictions had just been lifted into Phase 1 and we could now met a person from another household outside so I was surprised when after a short time of talking that Callan asked if I would like to go on a socially distant walk with a coffee. I didn’t feel excited or have butterflies at the thought of this date like I had with my last first date with Jay but I couldn’t think of reason to not go. I was on furlough and he was a key worker so we decided a day during the week, where to meet and get a takeaway coffee and a park in between our flats that we could walk round.
We swapped numbers to take the chat to Whatsapp and I gave him my Instagram which resulted in a message from him:
Ben is a very good friend of mine. Bit of background; one of those day drinking Saturdays with my Gay Best Friend, I gave him my phone to play on my Tinder while I watched the end of the Six Nations game. Thinking he was funny, he was swiping on … let’s just say guys I wouldn’t swipe on until he came across Ben’s profile. A profile I had seen across all the dating apps before. Ben is extremely buff, handsome and had an array of outdoorsy/ adventure photos which is why I had always thought “not for me“ but Shaun loved it. Since this time, we have found out that straight Ben has quite the gay fan base. This match by Shaun did result in chat and then a date. We got on great and over a year later are still friends. We had been in touch a lot over lockdown with both being single and him being kind enough to check on me after being so unwell, we have a great friendship.
I message Ben immediately and he says “I like Callan.” Very neutral, Ben would never deliberately sway an opinion and he will sit back and let me make my own mind up… and I’m sure he brought the popcorn out for it!
The day of the date arrived. The weather didn’t look promising but not sure if that is why I felt hesitant. I went for my favourite leggings, my new trainers, a nice top and popped my pac-a-mac in my bag. It was a first date first. I walked 2.6 miles to meet Callan.
I spotted him easily as I walked up. His ebony hair and beard against his pale skin, bright red rain coat and long legs in black skinny jeans the rolled up where they met his scruffed cons. Indie Rock and Roll type fulfilling my 16 year old self fantasies.
“Sorry I’m a little late…and I’ve been caught in the rain” I said.
“Time keeping is my thing” he said a little smug as he titled his head to the café door.
We ordered coffees and he picked out the sweetest muffin going. I noticed the height difference being in my trainers rather than the usual first date staple of heels. We walked along the canal and had the usual first date chit chat about where we grew up as the grey clouds grew thicker.
We finally get to the park and the arrival makes me feel a sense of relief. Not sure if it is the swans or the fact my coffee has now kicked in. As soon as we arrive at the park he brings up Ben.
“I can’t believe you know Ben by the way.” There was questioning to the tone.
“Yeah he’s a good friend”
“If I had a body like his I would be a total shagger!”
“Hmm” I respond, glad he is 2ft in front of me and couldn’t see my WTF face I will have involuntarily made at this comment.
“I actually thought he was gay for ages.” Callan laughs.
“He’s just not laddy.” I say sharply. I’m not impressed with what comes out his mouth and his toxic masculinity. I hold back on going off on one.
“I don’t know how you can be friends with him and not shag him.”
I sense his insecurity but I refuse to respond. “Shall we walk up to the maze bit?” shrugging off his clear intent to get more details about my friendship with Ben.
As we walk to the maze, he brings up competing with Ben at the gym and I say something about goals and quickly turn the conversation to a story of mine from years ago. It starts to rain.
“Let’s stand under the trees” he says and we quickly walk up to a quiet part with tall leafy trees.
I hope he doesn’t try kiss me I think to myself when we arrive and I pop my Pac-a-mac on and tie my hair up. The coffee will have worn my lipstick off so hoping I’m looking as tired as I’m starting to feel and he won’t. At least I can use Covid as a reason should I need to back away.
“So what’s your type?” he asks.
“Intelligent, funny and kind” I say with a smile.
“You can’t sleep with a personality!” he says with his voiced raised.
“Well I have” I shrug and ask him the same question back.
My golden hair is hidden underneath my hood now but he knows I’m blonde. Maybe he is trying to say I am not his type. I’m ok with that.
It’s still pouring so I am going to stand 2 feet away from him and under this tree for a bit longer. I ask him if he has been doing many zoom quizzes during lockdown. I start to tell the story about a Girls Night In quiz I did for a friend’s birthday. We all had to dress up as a Barbie from whatever we had in the house. I did a few rounds. I had everyone taking part send in baby photos and I took hen party ideas so the last 2 rounds while we were tipsy were “Polish or Porn” and “Labour or Love”. This story seemed to open a door that I had not expected. He mentioned he had played a game which they all had to say their numbers (How many folk they had slept with) and how he had been dreading it getting to him. He laughed as he said this, hinting his number was high.
The rain stopped and I suggested we walk back. I said I’d walk his way as I wanted to go to a supermarket that way.
As we walked back, he said how he lived above an old man pub in the area called the Park Bar. I said I knew it but wasn’t a place I went to. He then went on to say that on first dates, he always made sure they go there last so at last orders he can say “Let’s go upstairs and have more at mine”. He said this proudly so I sharply and proudly said “Not a chance you would have got me there on a first date that’s for sure”.
“I think I would.” He smirked.
“Absolutely not.” I said firmly.
For the next 30 minutes as we walked to the main street, every conversation ended up with him talking about sex or a hook up. He mentioned one girl he took upstairs at the Park Bar even though he didn’t even fancy her cause he knew he would “def get it”. I was relieved as we approached the cross roads and it was time to go our separate way. Oh we can’t hug bye cause you know, Covid. Shame.
I couldn’t wait to get home for a shower to wash of the rain and the several inudendos he had made during the 3 hour (felt like 12) hour date.
Later that evening I received a whatsapp.
He messaged back …something about being wet …. And then I can’t even remember. I didn’t respond and crawled into bed with Grimm Fairytales to sleep the whole day off.
The next day, a Friday (like it matters during lockdown and on furlough) he had messaged to say he told his friend Zoey all about me and sent me a picture of the 2 of them. She was a stunning RED HEAD. I actually recognised her as I see her out running a lot but I didn’t say. He then said she said I was really pretty and he was having a boys night on zoom that night. I replied that she was pretty too. I felt relieved that the boys night would mean I wouldn’t get any messages. Or so I thought.
Later that day, Ben messaged to say Callan had messaged him on Instagram to say I’m really great and I clearly really like Ben. Again, is this him trying to dig for more on our friendship? Ben replied in the best way I could have imagined and said “Yes. She is very into literature and that’s something we have in common.” Ben knew Callan wanted him to tell me he messaged.
Later that evening, I had a Zoom chat with my girls who are all happily coupled up and laughed at my experience. I told them his story:
When me and my flatmate first moved in together, we had a little fridge for beers and we had this game that every time one of us brought a girl back, the other had to buy a fridge magnet!… I got 12 magnets in 2 months! He got annoyed he had to buy so many.
HA I replied asking when this was. Expecting it to be when they had just turned 18 and were in their first year of uni.
“Erm… not last year but year before” he replied.
Oh ….so when you’re in your 30s. Cool…… Bleugh.
We all laughed and said goodnight. I poured a wine and curled up to watch Jurassic Park: Lost World. Bliss. The movie was coming to an end, you know when the T Rex is stomping around the city? Out the corner of my eye, my phone lights up and I see Callan is trying to call me on Whatsapp. I ignore it. He calls again as a video call. I ignore it. He calls again just as the movie finishes. Out of absolute curiosity I call him back. I can hear guys laughing in the background and I ask him what’s up. He slurs down the phone. Now, I’m not talking a tipsy or even drunk slur. An absolutely paralytic man is slurring down the phone and I don’t understand a word he is saying. I tell him I can’t make out what he is saying and that I am going to bed. He says ok but 5 minutes later he tries to call again. I happily press the red phone icon and put my phone n silent as I set my alarm from my morning gym glass (via zoom of course).
I wake up before my alarm. I pick up my phone to cancel the alarm and notice Whatsapp notifications. I open it to see there is 2 from my group chat with the girls and 27 from Callan. He tried to call me on Whatsapp 27 times between 01:30 and 02:30. 27 times!!!
All calls didn’t fit in the one screen shot. I send to the girls and Gemma responded immediately saying this was absolutely psycho behaviour. I agreed.
It was 20mins or so before my class on zoom started so I was sipping a coffee and getting my weights out when my phone pinged. I picked it up. It was surprisingly Callan. I wonder if he even slept.
He responded with just Aw Ok. 3 hours past and I see his name ping up on my phone again.
WHY is he speaking to me like this?? I never should have mentioned the hen party games I made the girls play on Zoom for Rachael’s birthday. He also mentioned that all the boys were slagging him off for trying to make a booty call while the quiz was still on last night. Ew, hate to think what he was saying if I could have made it out.
I want this to end. I need to speak to Ben first as I’m not actually sure how close they are and don’t want him in any kind of awkward position.
I know what you’re thinking at this point it can’t get any worse. Well, then he sends me an image on Whatsapp. I hesitate to open it. Surely he hasn’t sent a dick pic….surely. Luckily it isn’t but it’s still vulgar.
The final nail in the coffin. I had to google what a dental dam was…
This guy is a sex pest. I respond with a gif of Britney Spears. Her teeth her clenched and she twitches her eyes. My favourite result after typing awkward into the GiF search bar.
He said to take what I will from that. I never responded. I messaged Ben immediately leaving a voice note of all this saying there is serious red flags and I won’t be seeing him again. Ben responded and was like yeah he always talks about his “conquests” at the gym. Ben only goes to the same gym at the same time as him but they’re not friends outwith apart from sharing Instagram likes now and then.
It’s a warm Saturday and my best friend has come over to sit in the garden, 2 meters away. I make a huge batch of sangria and we laugh about the past 48 hours and this was my reminder of why I went off dating apps!
Callan sends messages throughout the day. I even get a photo of him at the gym. He’s topless and his 6 pack is on show. He tells me Ben took this picture of him.
I realise at this stage that not only is he a sex pest but having a hook up while we are meant to be socially distancing is his absolute goal (wanting what they can’t have thing) and there is a weird obsession and competiveness with my friend Ben and that he wants to sleep with me as he thinks he will have one up on Ben.
The next day I message to say it was nice to meet him but I didn’t think we had much in common so wouldn’t be arranging another date.
He was genuinely shocked and tried to argue his case. I just said it wasn’t for me.
I’m pretty sure the sort yourself alludes to masturbation. I never responded. The next day he posted a photo of himself naked at the top of a hill on Instagram.
Remember he said we had matched but he said something inappropriate? I should have left it at that.