“Isn’t it too soon to be going to a dark alley… on our first date?” My mischievous eyes met his, expecting a witty response. Looking blank, he answered: “no, the coffee shop is just through here”. Well, this looks to be a ‘fun’ date…
Following my usual dating pattern, in the autumn of 2015, I came out of hibernation, ready to date. Fed up of the usual dating apps, the idea of going to a professional Muslim matchmaker was daunting, but I was talked into it during one of my many “well, we better get serious now” chats with my girlfriends. The matchmaker was highly rated, and she personally vetted all the men. The vetting process was unclear, but I guess not getting dick pics after a brief conversation would be sufficient; my phone was fast running out of storage space.
We were greeted by our professional matchmaker in her office – an Indian garment shop in East London. Fighting the pungent smell of clothes fresh from the Indian subcontinent, we made our way through the shop floor to her ‘private consultation room’ where we received our warm welcome: a lecture for being 30 and unmarried. Soon we were left to our own devices to look through numerous lever arch files of ‘potentials’ – think Tinder swiping exercise, albeit on paper. We giggled our way through the profiles, quickly forgetting why we were here. Instead, being the mature adults that we were, we spent our entire time taking photos of the silly profiles that made us laugh – from men in suits with Krusty the Clown bow ties, to those posing as though they had accidently sat on a cactus plant. On our way out, we thanked ‘aunty’ for her fantastic service and promised to contact the handful of potentials we had considered suitable – or not.
I had thought that was the end of my adventures with the matchmaking aunty, however a week later she called. She managed to guilt trip me into agreeing to meet an excellent match. 38, unmarried, professional and good looking – well, what harm could it really do? Shortly thereafter, I received a WhatsApp message from my match. His display picture appeared to be his face photoshopped onto the front cover of the Vogue magazine; the narcissism made me want to throw up a little in my mouth, but in my moment of madness, I decided to give him the benefit of doubt.
Having exchanged a handful of dull messages, the big day finally arrived. Communication over WhatsApp can be challenging at the best of times, so I planned on keeping an open mind. Our walk through the dark alley however confirmed my suspicions that despite his claims of being ‘really funny’ over WhatsApp messages, he was seriously lacking in that department.
As I stopped to give change to a homeless man, Mr Vogue felt the need to express his view that the homeless were lazy and played the system. Trying to keep a lid on my building rage, I ‘joked’ that he was full of empathy and compassion. We eventually found light at the end of the alley, but I certainly couldn’t see one at the end of the tunnel – and this was just the beginning.
I watched with dismay as we walked past the Costa and the Café Nero towards an unknown grimy café. I’m all for supporting small businesses, but I’d prefer to have coffee in a place that didn’t look like it hadn’t been cleaned since Pakistan lost the cricket world cup in 1999. I could feel my heels sticking to the floor as I walked to our filthy table; I was on edge – I don’t like germs. No, really, I don’t.
I sat down awkwardly on the metal chair, folding my coat onto my lap, with my big bag placed on top for good measure. Mr Vogue didn’t seem to notice the filth, the hand sanitiser I was gripping onto for dear life, or my very obvious distress.
What I learnt about Mr Vogue during my 3 hour ordeal:
- He woke up at 5am daily and went to the gym to workout – this was mentioned at regular intervals. He particularly focused on his legs, which by the way were as thin as my pinky finger.
- Several times during our one-sided conversation, he expressed his view that he was quite good looking and received a lot of female attention. I’d say he was average on a good day, but that didn’t stop him from telling me that he often had to tell women to “calm down” around him.
- He had ‘rejected’ 46 girls, but couldn’t explain why.
- He was shorter than his claimed 5’10 height. I stood much taller at 5’9 (with heels), but I’d still have been taller at 5’6 without my heels. Perhaps his narcissist personality took up an extra 6 inches, and another 2 inches for his micropenis would take him to his 5’10 wholesome height.
- He maintained that he was funny – maybe the ‘leg day workout’ was the joke?
- He sounded as though he had swallowed a bucket of helium. He had the ability to make my ears bleed.
What Mr Vogue learnt about me, based on the 3 questions he asked me in the 3 hours we spent together:
- Yes, I had siblings
- Yes, I enjoyed my job
- Yes, I liked chocolate
After 3 hours of intense torture, Mr Vogue suggested we go for dessert. For his safety, I politely declined. Thoughts of murdering him in the dark alley were already starting to emerge.. I’d probably lose my practicing certificate and not be able to watch the latest Bollywood movie in prison; no, he really wasn’t worth it.
As we stood to part ways, I looked down at him and uttered the most romantic words I could think of: “for someone that spends a lot of time in the gym, your legs are tiny…”
Needless to say, no. 47 received her rejection WhatsApp message the following morning. It was of course, gratefully received.
The Accidental Lawyer