An Adventure with Mr Popcorn Teeth (Part I)

‘I don’t watch Bollywood’ he says casually, as we approach the traffic lights at the Redbridge roundabout. ‘But… the only way I could be convinced, is with a blowjob’ he adds, with a hint of mischief. My insular cortex registers my immediate disgust, and my upper lip begins to curl in response to the mental image of his miniscule, circumcised penis. Almost immediately, I’m distracted by the sun. Streaming golden through the windscreen, the soft rays of sunlight land gently upon his heavily discoloured teeth. A wave of nausea washes over me, as I realise that the yellow biofilm of dental plaque making sweet love to his chisel-shaped front teeth, resembles one of Britain’s favourite cinema snacks – Butterkist sweet popcorn.  

‘…and what exactly did you think he would want from you, if not a shag?!’ screams the mean girl living in my head. ‘Seriously woman?! Who the fuck goes on a road trip for a first date with a stranger from Tinder?!’ she demands. Oh. Shit… I think, as the penny finally drops that I could be in trouble… is it too late to jump out of the moving vehicle?

It’s not long after Harry’s first departure (see here), and I’m running low on oxytocin. I’m back on dating apps, but quite frankly, it’s a shit storm. This time, Muzmatch, the ‘halal’ dating app for Muslims seems to be the worst offender.  Amongst Britain’s finest, I find: my married neighbour, falsely claiming to be a single man looking for a wife; 61-year-old bucktooth Bilal fantasising of giving me ‘the champagne lifestyle’; another neighbour claiming to have won the sperm race 15 years later than he actually did; and, of course, the various ‘pious’ men with usernames such as Bismillah (in the name of God) that are more interested in knowing the size of my bra than completing ‘half their deen’. Now, I’m not saying that every man on Muzmatch should have been swallowed, but if these men are the prize at the end of the race, you’ll find me walking backwards.

Fed up with Muzmatch, I join Tinder. Let’s just say, it’s somewhat different. I’m fascinated and terrified in equal measure by the bluntness of the bios. Here, you’ll find everything from 50 Shades of Daddy Doms to Booty-Call Benjamins. As I battle my way through the sea of STDs, I stumble upon a seemingly ordinary profile. I pause. I hesitate. I swipe right.

It’s a match. ‘Great, another Brown boy, just what we need’ says the mean girl in my head. Adam is quick off the mark and before I know it, I’ve spent over an hour chatting with him about a Route 66 road trip across the US. ‘It’s 2am, I should sleep’ I finally say, as my eyes begin to strain. ‘Sure. Would you like to meet for a coffee soon?’ he responds. ‘For the love of God – please no coffee dates. I’m so bored of them’ I whine. ‘What would you prefer?’ he enquires. ‘I don’t know. Something fun. Adventurous! A crazy road trip with a stranger! Omg Imagine being stuck on a road trip with someone you don’t like!’ I say, suddenly bursting with crazy ideas.

‘A road trip??? Are you sure? I’ll do it – but where?’ he shoots back. ‘Ooh, an adventurous Brown man – I like! I don’t know where. Not too far out. One night away max, in separate rooms of course’ I clarify, before he gets ideas. ‘How about New Forest? they have a really nice spa hotel’ he suggests. I quickly google search the hotel and I’m sold. ‘Cool, next week?’ I suggest, refusing to back down. ‘Sure’ he replies. ‘Oh, and before you go – here’s the deal. I don’t want to know much about you before we meet. I’m not even going to tell you my name. Let’s make this adventure fully weird!’ I say, as I exit the app for the night.

Over the next few days, Adam insists on a videocall before securing a booking. He’s convinced that I’m catfishing him. Oh, she’s no catfish, she’s just a stupid woman with a death wish mutters the mean girl in my head. ‘No. It’s going to kill the adventure’ I say firmly, refusing to entertain a videocall. Instead, I book my hotel room and tell him that I’m going with or without him. ‘Ok… can I at least have your name so I can ensure the rooms are next to each other?’ he says. I give in, knowing that what he really wants to do is call the hotel to see if I’ve made a reservation, and maybe even run a check on LinkedIn.

It’s Friday morning and I’m all packed and ready to go. As I make my way to our meeting point, I wonder which of my close friends should know about this adventure – you know, just in case he’s a serial killer. I scroll through my WhatsApp list, and quickly realise that they’ll all kill me, so I decide to tell them when I get back… if I get back.

Last warning. This is NOT how we want to die says the voice of reason in my head. Too late, I whisper, as his car pulls up outside my local Costa Coffee shop. He is on the phone as he steps out of his car. OMG he’s a human trafficker, he’s on the phone to finalise the deal! What will they pay for me? I wonder. Shut up will you and let me assess the situation barks the mean girl in my head. ‘Hi’ he whispers, as he opens the boot of his car for me. I place my overnight bag in the boot and step away whilst he finishes up his call. He is at least 5 inches shorter than his claimed 5’11 height – I’m definitely taller than him. My internal Jackie Chan comes to life as I examine his body for weak points. Meh. He’s built like a teaspoon says the mean girl. Let’s dislocate his joints with a round kick to his left knee she volunteers again. Maybe even an elbow strike to his… ‘sorry about that – why don’t you sit in the car and let me grab you a latte. Medium, extra hot yeah?’ he says, interrupting my internal discussions. ‘Oh. Erm… yes, thank you, five sweeteners, please’ I say, quickly shutting down the plan to cause grievous bodily harm.

‘So, tell me, is this the weirdest date you’ve been on?’ I ask, settling in for the three-hour drive.  ‘No’ he says, piquing my interest. I raise an eyebrow, to which he responds: ‘so the weirdest one was where I matched a Pakistani lady at 3pm, she messaged me straight away to ask if I wanted to come over to her house. I was there by 4pm, we had sex, and we never spoke again’. I shudder. ‘That’s grim’ I say. ‘Yeah, I know. I wouldn’t do that again though’ he says, clearing fibbing. ‘So, you love Salman Khan and Bollywood?’ he asks. ‘Absolutely’ I beam. Before long, he’s talking about blowjobs again, I assume, trying to figure out if he’ll be getting lucky tonight. ‘Well, I don’t know about a blowjob, but I’d happily slice off your penis and shove it down your gob if you annoy me’ I say, straight-faced, whilst staring at his popcorn teeth. ‘Ooh, you’re a violent one’ he says, as he lets out a nervous laugh.

Having checked into our respective rooms, we head out to a local Italian place for lunch. No longer fixated on blowjobs, he doesn’t seem to be the worst company I’ve had – even if he does chew like a rodent, offers the mean girl in my head. He tells me about his family, his work in finance and talks about wanting to get married to a ‘decent’ Brown girl. ‘Nothing like the woman I once met for a date. She ordered a bottle of Champagne after having a bad day at work – clearly had no Islamic values! You don’t drink do you?’ he asks. I place my cutlery down and pick up my napkin, slowly blotting my paper-thin lips. ‘No… though, I’d say your 4pm shag doesn’t sound very Islamic either’ I point out, in a measured tone. ‘Fair enough, good point’ he says, changing the topic swiftly.

‘So, do you have savings?’ he asks. I look momentarily confused. ‘It’s so important to have savings and be financially careful’ he continues. I laugh, ‘Erm… don’t tell me you’re a Guju? All that money talk!’ I say, somewhat uncomfortable discussing my finances with a stranger. ‘Yeah – what about you?’ he asks. ‘Punjabi – we have big hearts and spend freely’ I say, no doubt, giving him palpitations.

As we finish our meals, the waitress brings the bill and places it in front of him. I notice him shift uncomfortably as she asks whether he needs the card machine. ‘Yes please’ I say, cutting through the awkward silence and reaching for the bill. ‘You drove, so I’ll get this’ I say, as I politely smile at the waitress. ‘You sure?’ he asks, no doubt hoping I won’t change my mind.

‘So, what next?’ he asks, as we leave the restaurant. ‘Did you bring a bikini? Maybe we can hit the jacuzzi?’. ‘Bikini…’ I laugh… ‘No’. ‘Oh, that’s a shame…’ he says. ‘Maybe you can wear my t-shirt… or if you’d prefer, we can take a walk in the forest?’ he says, as an afterthought.  

Well, you called this an adventure, didn’t you? Taunts the mean girl in my head. What’s it going to be then? Murdered in a forest in the middle of nowhere or sitting in jacuzzi with his dirt, oil and microscopic particles waiting to assault your open pores??

What would I choose? Stay tuned to find out.

Until next time…

The Accidental Lawyer

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My Forever After (II)

I sit up in bed and look over at Afreen as she peacefully sleeps in the adjacent bed. Murderous thoughts infiltrate my mind as I replay the incident from earlier that afternoon…

<flashback: near death experience>

I know I’m in trouble the moment that I hear Afreen’s voice. The latest victim of her endless chatter is our diving instructor who is yet to notice that I’m missing. Caught under our diving glass boat, it’s not long before I realise that being rescued is now out of the question – I need to fight for survival.

What seems like an eternity later, having freed myself from the clutches of the deadly Red Sea, my hands firmly grip the stainless-steel boarding ladder like a boa constrictor choking its prey. As I pause to catch my breath, I feel slightly deflated by the thought that I hadn’t actually turned into a mermaid under water (yes, a childhood dream that I still carry around as a soon-to-be thirty-seven-year-old adult), but I’m also secretly excited by the unexpected adventure. I quickly turn to the girls and tell them that I almost drowned. Tamara’s reaction is of natural shock, but I notice a wave of confusion wash over Afreen’s face. Pausing to gather her thoughts, she replies: ‘oh… actually… I saw you from the glass below… and did wonder why you were under the boat…’.  My eyes widen with horror as the tinge of excitement swiftly exits my body. ‘Wait. You saw me struggle UNDER THE BOAT… and you didn’t think to raise the alarm?!!!’ I snap back. ‘Erm… well… I thought you were having fun… oops, sorry…’ she says, looking appropriately guilty.

<fast-forward: planning a murder>

As I survey her still body that night, I wonder whether suffocating her with a pillow will be as easy as it seemed in the ‘90s Bollywood movies. Pillow in hand, as I contemplate my next move, my phone buzzes. ‘Oh, fuck right off’ I whisper irritably, as I notice a message from Ahmed. We haven’t spoken in over six months, what could he possibly want now? As I start reading his messages, I’m instantly puzzled – he is being overly nice and apologising for hurting me. Hurt? Why would I be hurt? ‘Can we please be friends – like, as in just friends, I do really like you…’ his message reads. I’m utterly confused… we weren’t exactly dating in the first place, but I neither have the energy nor the crayons to explain this to the dimwit. His message has irked me though. My body temperature starts rising in response to my growing rage and I fire back a furious response. ‘Frankly – no. I invest in my friends. I take friendship seriously. Who are you even? Who is the real Ahmed??! I can’t figure you out, so no, sorry – we can’t be friends’ I say without stopping for breath. Of course, I’m aware that his vocabulary is limited to a handful of two syllable words, so I’m not expecting a reply.  Within a matter of minutes however, Ahmed manages to answer all my questions with four simple words…

‘Ok… basically, I’m married’.

 If you haven’t read part 1 of the story – catch it here.

<ten months earlier>

It’s definitely not a date this time I tell myself sternly as I pull on a casual printed dress that shouts ‘zero effort’. Minutes before I leave, I receive another change of location request because he is running late. I take a long slow hiss of indrawn breath and wonder why I’m entertaining this moron. The pervert within me however raises a knowing eyebrow but I quickly dismiss the internal suggestion that his dimples may have something to do with it. Hot or not, there is no denying that this man’s personality is as disappointing as a grey sprinkle on a rainbow cupcake.

I make my way to Aldgate East wondering how our non-date will go. I chuckle to myself as I imagine turning up in a bridal outfit to freak him out. As I exit the station and catch a glimpse of his lushness in his blue checked collarless shirt, my irritability is swiftly overthrown by an avalanche of lust as he once again grows on me like a cluster of E. coli on room-temperature ground beef. As the mischief in my eyes collides with his, I know that staying annoyed will be a struggle.

We walk to Big Moe’s American-themed Diner where I strategically opt for a kids meal to make space for my favourite dessert – an orgasmic fresh Belgian waffle with a drizzle of delightful Nutella… ummm…  I’m somewhat surprised by the energetic pull between us which seems to run deeper than the physical attraction. The conversation flows like a dream and as I make my way home that evening, I begin to wonder how this gorgeous, funny, one-dimpled, intelligent fine piece of ass can be as dull as dishwater over messages.

Over the course of the next three months, Ahmed and I meet several times. I’m never quite sure what to make of him, but I do conclude that he is definitely not dating material – his communication skills around our meetings still give the impression that he has precisely one brain cell that dings arounds in his skull like a Classic Windows 98 screen saver. Frustrated by his communication style, I think of cutting him loose on more than one occasion – but just then we meet, and I’m reminded of how insanely in sync we are.

It takes a while before I see the first sign of vulnerability. One evening in Spring, between our silly chats, he tells me about his father’s recent fall and his worries about his parents’ health. I also let my guard slip a quarter of an inch as his concerns echo my own for my parents. We spend the rest of the evening having our first mature adult conversation and I begin to wonder whether I have really misjudged him – that is of course until I don’t hear back from him for several months.

Fast-forward: October 2019

‘Ok… basically, I’m married’.

I place my phone face down on the bed and exhale. Thoughts of killing Afreen now seem a distant memory as I try to process what I’ve just read. Fuck. The lack of consistency over messages now makes perfect sense – how did I not figure it out?! Deciding that he was simply not worth my time, I grab my phone to block his number. I’m surprised to see that I have a further 64 unread messages from him – so his vocabulary does extend beyond ‘hey hey’, ‘haha’, ‘lol, joker’ and ‘sure thing’ – the utter prick, I mutter under my breath as I lean back and start reading through his messages.

As I get to the end, I have an uneasy feeling that he really isn’t in a good place. Don’t you dare even think of being kind to him says the mean girl in my head… don’t you fucking dare. Wait, hear me out – I try to reason with her. He didn’t have to reach out several months later and admit this… what if he is suicidal – do I really want to push him over the edge?! I lower the mean girl’s volume in my head and remind myself that I wasn’t emotionally invested so I could afford to be kind. ‘Well, I won’t spell out how fucked up this is, but right now… I think you need a friend’ I quickly type and hit send before she has time to intervene.

‘Dude – no, just no’ replies my close friend Binal when I send her a WhatsApp message to tell her what just happened. ‘But he has a child – what if he is suicidal?’ I say. ‘You can’t take on another project. Wasn’t Oskan enough of a project for you? and anyway, you don’t want his wife coming after you’ she says, holding her ground. ‘I hear you B, but this will be a quick one – a few weeks and he will be gone, I just need to make sure he is okay’. ‘Okay fine– you do you, but please be careful’ she says, knowing the stubborn Leo had made up her mind.

Ahmed and I meet at a Costa Coffee shop in Holborn the week after I return from Egypt. I’m not my usual chatty self, and neither is he – he looks troubled. I wrap both hands around my mug of green tea and hold it close to my chest– a sure sign that I’m feeling awkward and uncomfortable. He starts with an apology, which he repeats several times during our conversation. ‘You know, you could have just told me that you were married, practically all my male friends are… that was silly’ I finally say. ‘I know…’ he whispers.

Over the next few weeks, I learn more about his situation. I see raw honesty like I’ve never seen before – it’s almost like watching someone go through a spiritual cleanse. ‘I hate to say this, but I actually think he is good for you’ says Binal when I tell about personal things I’ve shared with Ahmed during our chats. ‘It seems you’re both helping each other and have developed a genuine and rare friendship’ she concludes.

Two years on and I can’t imagine life without him – we are family. Ahmed became the boy best friend that I always wanted – a bit like Martin from primary school who helped me chase racist trashy Trevor (with the dirty nails) through the playground and held him down whilst I kicked him in the shin. He is the type of friend that I can threaten to divorce every Thursday evening, but I know he will still be there to give me his rubbish dating advice on Friday morning. He knows my secrets and boy do I know his… I’ve seen him sad and I’ve seen him happy – making love hearts from herbs on his wife’s pizza (pass me the sick bucket). He is the sort of shameless friend that will buy you an Easter Egg but then eat it himself when he has his 2am craving for something sweet.  Ahmed is the guy that I’ll turn to at midnight with a request for an urgent call back. When he jumps out of bed and calls, I will ask him the most important question he has been asked all year: ‘would you kiss a fat man’s hairy belly to save my life?’.  Of course, he will say ‘no’ and when I get offended, he will say: ‘Bubbles, I know you. If I agree to kiss his belly tonight, tomorrow you will ask me to kiss other parts of his body – so let’s not… now go to sleep’.

Ahmed is far from perfect. He almost always runs late; he refuses to turn down the collar of his coat; he will lose things you get for him – including his personalised guitar pick (but will never admit to not being able to find it); it’s a miracle if he will ever remember your birthday – even though it’s only twenty-four hours after his, and he certainly should not be the person you call after you’ve run over your ex – he will waste time trying to get you to confess to the police rather than grabbing the shovel like your girlfriends would.

Ahmed – you are living proof that good people can sometimes really really fuck up – but I’m glad that I had a moment of madness and chose to stick around. Thank you for being my anchor. Just know that if I ever have to choose between you and Salman Khan, I will at least take three steps towards you before running to Salman Khan – that is how much I love you. Oh, and I know you would kiss every fat hairy belly in the world to save my life…so… whatever.

Happy Birthday Dimpz x        

The Accidental Lawyer

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Death by dating apps

My earliest memory of online dating is the Indian matchmaking service shaadi.com. Founded in 1997, I viewed it as only being suitable for losers. As a teenager with questionable morals, I spent time on shaadi.com making fake profiles of people that I abhorred – oh, there were many. I’d give them various contagious diseases to see whether they would generate any interest. Astonishingly, I found that people ‘back home’ were still willing to marry them. My good deed was completed with the virtual match being given the phone number of their future spouse. Don’t judge me, I know I was a mean little shit..

Fast-forward a decade, coming out of a serious relationship that didn’t end in sunshine and roses, I found that ‘meeting people naturally’ was no longer a thing. You see, when you’re Muslim and you don’t drink or hang out in bars, the chances of meeting someone new reduces significantly. Prince Charming is unlikely to come looking for you whilst your mouth makes tender love to chicken breast at your local halal Nandos.

If you want to find Brown men, your only option is to head down to your local Shisha lounge. Clutching your asthma inhaler in your left hand, you’ll acrobat your way through the crowd to your 21st century Muslim Don Juan, the ‘Seducer of East London’ i.e. Abdul with the gold tooth. You will find him manspreading over a germ-infested red sofa, letting out silent, but deadly farts. Bad-boy Abz will be ‘chillin with da boyz – innit’, and if you’re wearing your lucky red knickers, he may just undress you with his cold, empty, leering eyes. Blowing smoke rings in your direction, he’ll say “alright buff ting” as you walk past, noticing that bit of coriander stuck between his teeth – no doubt, a remnant of the fish curry that his mother cooked for his dinner the night before last.

I soon came to terms with my fate. I would join the loser brigade and turn my attention online. Thankfully, Muslim online dating had improved by leaps and bounds since my teenage years of searching for life partners for the diseased antagonists in my life. We now had ‘Muslim Single Solution’, ‘Single Muslims’ and dating apps such as ‘Muzmatch’ and believe it or not, ‘Minder’.

Ready for my new adventure, I joined the dating sites and apps. Following a little trial and error, I set my profile to read as follows:

Ok so here is the criteria [split into mandatory and desired requirements]:

Mandatory –

  1. Must have an original non-tampered British passport with a security chip (protection against fraud).
  • Must have a sense of humour that goes beyond reading jokes on the back of a Penguin chocolate bar.
  • No history of domestic violence please – slap me once and I’ll punch you twice.
  • Must be family orientated. That means being more than a lodger to your family.
  • Ideally someone not on benefits; ambitious enough to have a job?

Desired:

  1. Ideally Salman Khan or maybe a look alike.. but don’t worry, Jonny Lever’s will not be discriminated against.
  • DBS cleared (enhanced preferred).
  • Ideally come from a family that won’t set me on fire for dowry.

I thought I had it all covered. Online dating can’t be that hard, can it? What could even go wrong?

Well, it seems that a lot can go wrong.. find out more in the next dose of dating disasters..

The Accidental Lawyer

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