“You know this song that go EVERY FREAKY DAY AND EVERY FREAKY NIGHT?” My date – a Spanish lifeguard – asked, staring at me manically across the table. He didn’t even bother to wait for my reply, before launching into his own version of the song. “It go like this: EVERY FREAKY DAY, AND EVERY FREAKY NIGHT, I WANNA FREAK YOU BABY IN EVERY FREAKY WAY!! Yes, HAHAHAHA, this song I LOVE! EVERY FREAKY DAY, EVERY FREAKY NIGHT! HAHAHAHA!”
I just sat there, balancing an abnormally large watermelon on my knees – the watermelon he’d mysteriously bought me as a ‘present.’
And this, I thought, this is why I don’t do dates.
Meanwhile, my date had moved on to the next number in his spontaneous one-man-show. Terrifyingly, he was now accompanying his ‘freestyle’ with what could have only been described as ‘air drumming.’
He suddenly stood up, violently pushing his chair back and attracting the attention of the entire restaurant. He gestured wildly with his hands, miming playing the drums into thin air. He nearly sent two waitresses flying in the process.
“You know this one too? It go: OH I THINK I FIND A CHEERLEADER! Hahahaha! I THINK I FIND ME A CHEERLEADER... CALLED CARA!!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!”
Deep down, I had known that accepting the offer of a date with this apparent lunatic was not my wisest move.
It was 2015, and I was living and working in Ibiza for the summer. Ibiza came a year after I had received my anorexia diagnosis and followed what had been the worst 12 months of my life. While in those harrowingly dark early days of my illness, I had missed out on so much living. And so when I moved to Ibiza, I vowed to say ‘yes’ to every experience that came my way. Even dates with clearly insane lifeguards.
I mean, on paper, he wasn’t even my type to begin with. He looked like Justin Bieber, who I know is absolute BAE to many, but I’m more of a ‘Richard Madden in the Body Guard’ kinda gal myself.
To be honest, he didn’t exactly ‘woo’ me from the offset, either.
There I was one siesta, lounging on the beach, minding my own business, when I spotted the most BEAUTIFUL man I have ever seen in my life. Pushing six-foot-two, he was gorgeously tanned in the Spanish sunshine, with a generous handful of wavy brown hair and intense hazel eyes. He had the kind of chest you could grate cheddar on. He paraded up the beach, t-shirt in one hand, and hopped up into the lifeguard tower, where his blonde mate waited for him.
I had to attract his attention, and fast. Imagine taking THAT home as a souvenir!!!
I stood up slowly and stretched, right in-front of the lifeguard tower. Then I made my way coyly down to the sea, ensuring that I perfectly co-ordinated my slinky hips with my wiggling backside (harder than it sounds – the ‘sexy walk’ is something I am yet to master. I usually end up looking like I’ve obtained a serious running injury that requires quite urgent medical help).
May I also just point out that trying to ‘wiggle’ an arse you don’t have and ‘slink’ hips that you definitely don’t have is basically an impossible ask. A year of anorexia had left me with no curve whatsoever, so in reality, my attempt at this ‘sexy swagger’ probably just resembled an ironing board sneaking off for a sulk.
But I tried. God knows I tried.
Down at the shore, I paddled for a few minutes, casting sneaky glances at the lifeguard tower. By now, he had put his sunglasses on, but I think he was looking at me???
YES! My plan was working – hehe!
A few minutes later, I heard approaching footsteps behind me.
I could have exploded with smugness.
“Hola?” Said the voice belonging to the footsteps.
I exhaled, called upon my most ‘charming’ smile, and turned round in what I hoped was an alluring manner.
... And blinked.
The God’s blonde mate stared back at me.
“This for you,” he stated, holding out a plaster.
I gawped at it, stunned.
“But... But I don’t need a plaster?” I stuttered, utterly perplexed.
“It has number on it. MY number,” the blonde said proudly, turning the plaster over to reveal a scrawl of digits.
I have to say, until that moment, I had never been chatted up via a plaster before, so kudos to him for the, um, originality?
Well, that backfired, didn’t it?
The God slunk off, probably to find J-Lo or another other-worldly being to sit on his throne of perfection with. And I was left standing face-to-face with a man that kept randomly clapping.
But I agreed to go on a date with him, because it was Ibiza, afterall, and anything was possible. Despite his ‘inventive’ ways of asking women out, he might have turned out to be the love of my life.
... Absolutely no chance.
Back on the worst date EVER, the ‘concert’ had thankfully finished, but the weirdness was only just beginning.
“So where abouts on the island do you live?” I enquired in a desperate attempt to cull the singing.
He pointed at the beach in the distance.
“By the beach?” I replied, confused.
“No, HAHAHAHAHA, ON the beach.”
I must have looked even more baffled than before, because he elaborated: “I work on beach, I live on beach, and I sleep on beach. I am HIPPY, HAHAHAHA.”
Things were going from bad to worse, not helped by the fact that the watermelon was attracting the whole convoy of Ibiza’s mosquito population to my legs.
“You join?” He said, pointing at me with such vigour that he took out a glass of water.
“YOU. You sleep on beach with me. We have PARTY! HAHAHAHA!”
As I felt another mosquito suck the blood – and indeed the life – out of me, I knew that this had been a terrible, terrible mistake.
While my date entertained himself by upgrading his air drumming via the aid of a fork and the drinking glasses, I drew my work phone out of my bag and raised it to my ear.
“One of my guests has FALLEN DOWN THE STAIRS?” I cried.
I don’t think my date quite understood the severity of the made-up situation, because he responded with a louder than usual, “HAHAHAHA!!!!!”
“Okay, I’ll be there in five minutes!” I said, pretending to end the call. I turned to my date. “I have to go. Sorry.”
He didn’t even appear to notice until I had almost made it out of the restaurant.
“CARA!!” He bellowed. “YOU FORGET MELON!!!!”
I didn’t turn around.
As you can imagine, that incident alone pretty much put me off dating for life. It would be uplifting to say that that was just a one off, but sadly, it was not.
I went on a date with a chef who got WELL aggy with me when I dared to make a joke that involved me claiming his job was easy.
He spent a FULL HOUR angrily muttering under his breath and showing me a montage of photos on his phone of various animal shapes he had carved out of fruit.
“Do you still think my job is EASY?!” He eventually snapped, after showing me a video of him fashioning a scorpion out of grapefruit.
I also went on a date with another Spanish guy who spent the entire evening chanting Manchester United songs at me.
And to be fair, it’s not just my potential partners who have caused the nights to take a bit of weird turn. On more than one occasion, my own nerves have resulted in some VERY odd evenings.
When I was about 19, I went on a date after work, and was that nervous that I had to get my boss to come with me and wait. My old boss and I had the same surname and used to joke to new staff members that we were father and daughter. I ended up introducing my date to ‘my Dad’ rather than ‘my boss.’
Fortunately, he was too polite to enquire as to why I’d brought this father/boss hybrid on our date.
It was a bit different with Josh (my ex) because we knew of each other anyway, due to working for the same company. We first met on a work night out, so it wasn’t awkward in any way. However, when we went on our first ‘proper date’ – just the two of us – I was that anxious I couldn’t eat. Josh had thoughtfully booked a table at a vegetarian restaurant for us, which was to be followed by a cinema trip. I felt sick with nerves, so we ended up not going for a meal, instead sharing a bag of Pick & Mix while watching The BFG at Cineworld. Dunno why he married me, tbh.
It seems odd now, given the fact that just the other day I inserted spaghetti up my nose and whipped him with it ‘for banter.’
But despite my initial nerves with Josh, the thing that I will always remember is how much he made me laugh, right from our very first meeting. In terms of dark humour, we just clicked within seconds. It was like talking to a chubbier, male version of myself, and it was brilliant.
Last week, I went on a Tinder date.
Don’t even get me started on Tinder. That’s another article entirely. I mean... WTF?? Seriously... WTF? That’s all I have to say.
Why do men have pictures of themselves holding dead fish...?
ANYWAY... I have always been a bit dubious about Tinder after reading a startling news article about a girl whose Tinder date proceeded to try and eat her. Like, he was a full-on cannibal. So yeah, that put me off a bit.
I did ask my date before I met him if he was A) secretly 70, B) had a taste for flesh, or C) terminally boring.
He answered ‘no’ to all three of my pre-date grilling Q’s, so I thought, okay then, let’s roll with it!
“Just remember, DON’T be yourself,” was Josh’s advice as I set off.
I’m 28; I’m too old to pretend to be something I’m not. I know I’m a bit ‘quirky’ and it takes people a few meetings to actually ‘get’ me... But this guy did NOT get me AT ALL.
A lot of things I say are said in humour, to take the piss out of myself. Feel like this was totally lost in translation on this date.
Don’t get me wrong, he was LOVELY, and not a cannibal, so that was an immediate bonus. But in terms of there being that ‘spark’ ... Nah. And believe me, I KNOW he felt the same!
I could just tell when I was chatting away about making Superman capes for my hamster and having a giant, ‘to-scale’ soft toy Togepi on my bed that he was mentally wishing himself far, far away. He looked as confused as I had while on that date with the lifeguard.
We were worlds apart.
He had his shit together, whereas I do not.
He can keep houseplants alive, whereas I even manage to ruin artificial ones.
He likes coffee and cocktails, whereas my ‘bev’ of choice is an orange Fruit Shoot.
He invents software and apps, whereas I write books about pixies.
He favours all of these cool, boho bars in town, whereas my fave jaunt is Pizza Hut.
He seemed to be the sort of man who would thrive in a long term relationship, whereas I don't want another relationship for as long as I live. I LOVE being single and dating and putting myself first.
To put it bluntly, it was a match made in HELL.
When I got home, Josh was sprawled on the sofa in his Snorlax socks, playing Pokemon Go and eating mini chocolate Weetabix from the box.
“I evolved my Charmander. Wanna see?”
Now THAT’S my kinda guy!
He might be my ex, but his personality and bantz are to die for. I completely and utterly DETEST him 99% of the time, but he certainly set the bar high when it comes to the dating game!
I’ll be honest though, as fun as dating can be, my favourite dates of all are the ones I take myself on. When it’s just me and my notebook and pens, lost in a new city somewhere in the middle of Europe. They’re the evenings during which I discover my true self and leave basked in indescribable illuminating happiness and self-assurance.
No date, no person, no fancy bar in town can teach me about myself and leave me on a high in the same way a bit of blissful solitude and self-love can. ❤️
Cara Jasmine Bradley