Incompatibility

Tricky isn’t it when you have gone through all the nervous anticipation of a mutually rewarding first date, only to discover that you really can’t face a second one?  How do you break it to him or her that you’ve had enough? You could, of course, fax or text the Dear Jane/John bombshell. But do you really want to dump a shed load of manure on someone a bit like yourself – single and not loving it.

This was the scenario I faced when Geraldine and I had to go our separate ways. It wasn’t just the facial hair issue, even though I have struggled since puberty with growing a decent beard. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to kiss a woman with a five o’clock shadow. No, it wasn’t that. How can I put this delicately? She stank – literally, I practically gagged when we first met. How we got through an evening meal was a stroke of genius on my part.

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The Bengali Mahal does this spectacular tableside display with cubes of lamb, beef or chicken. The pyrotechnics and the sizzling curry sauce were sufficiently diverting, so we enjoyed our food without worrying about the trifling matter of halitosis and body odour. I did all the talking, but she seemed to be lapping it up, along with seconds of the lamb, which I found a bit rare, but each to his own. Anecdote followed amusing anecdote. She chortled in a coy way and her eyes were rarely away from mine as we reached pudding.

The pineapple kulfi was so good that we both went for the mango sorbet straight after. Replete with a satisfying meal inside us, the waft of Indian spices in our nostrils, and exotic fruit on our palates, why wouldn’t I forget my initial olfactory assault? The words “Let’s do this again” were spoken and meant. I pecked her on the cheek, hailed a taxi for her and walked home with a cheerful disposition, foolish innocent that I am.

As I neared my doorstep, the unease escalated to near panic proportions. That smell, not a twang of perfume that hits you with a mallet of pheromone, but the real deal. I like earthy, but there is earthy and then there is fetid swamp. And the peck on the cheek was an act of reckless adventure, coming so close to a mouth that had never knowingly said the words dental hygiene and understood what they meant. The wine had played its part, but lust was complicit in my foolishness. Her body was curvy and loosely swathed in a light material that tantalized.  She moved with a brazen indifference to the stares and catcalls, and who really needs shoes? Enough, I had to phone the dating agency straight away.

“Hi, this is Derek. I’m afraid my first date with Geraldine will have to be the last.”

“That’s OK, Derek; orangutans are not everyone’s cup of tea. Will we keep you on our books?”

This story was first published on the helium website before I realised that ‘How to say no to a second date’ should be filed under creative writing (rather than genuine ‘how to’ guides).

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