Date with Smidgen

October 25, 2011 § 36 Comments

Uncut version from yesterday’s Times:-


The man of the date before last, the one whom I call Smidgen because he was just a smidgen on the horizon a while back, asked me for a second date.


The first was relatively recent and ostensibly made to discuss a project we have in common.  It took place in a cafe, and as the hours passed, I began to feel a certain disenchantment.  Then a few days later, another email came through and the disenchantment gave way in my mind to a certain enchantment once more.  I switched gear and decided to think in terms of the positive things, of which there are plenty, rather than the negative.  These include his age – near enough to mine, give or take a couple of years (a huge plus).  Humour.  Warmth.  Intelligence. Proximity.  No ex or late wife with whom he is in love.  Really, all good.


So I made an effort.  Make-up; scent; even contemplated a beauty treatment or two, but thought that might be tempting fate, so passed.  As I walked into the cafe, he was sitting at the front waiting for me gallantly imagining I didn’t wish to penetrate the crowd alone.  He gave me a huge hug, which I swear lingered a tad longer than a mere hug has any right to do.  It was a good first step.


“Oh, Simon might join us,” he mentioned jovially as we wandered through to a quieter table.  Simon is a friend of his whom I don’t know.  This was less good.  I wanted to say, Why?  But just smiled and said, “Great,” though I didn’t mean it for a moment.


Before Simon arrived, we started talking animatedly.  Body language experts would have had a field day because body language was out in force that night.  Even after Simon arrived, Smidgen and I were the Body Language equivalent of a goddamn airline safety card: the little taps on each other’s knees to make a point, like the oxygen mask falling automatically; a lingering, locked look, like the clunk-click of a safety-belt; a squeeze of a hand, like the little puff to the life-jacket.  Text book.


Conversation roamed all over the shop, and beneath it the usual sub-text going on in my mind.  Why on earth did he bring his friend?  What exactly is Simon bringing to the table?  Moral support?  It’s not as if Smidgen and I don’t know each other well enough to meet up on our own.


Or am I so stupid that I need to give up all pretence of intelligence?  Was Simon his decoy?  His buffer?  Had I read every Body Language sign, in primary coloured pictures that even the functionally illiterate can understand, all wrong?


After nearly four hours, and with Simon firmly ensconced with his umpteenth glass of red wine and not looking as though he was going anywhere fast, I decided to cut my losses and feign exhaustion.


As I left, I was the beneficiary of a second lingering hug before going home alone, the personification of Confusion.

§ 36 Responses to Date with Smidgen

  • drchick says:

    Hi there plankton,

    Confusion seems to be a new way of being. I can totally understand why you’d be flummoxed. I have just had an experience that has left me totally confused… A man declaring untold things via text (after having disappeared on me many months ago abd reappearing out of the blue), making a plan to meet just last Friday and despite my numerous attempts to find out if we were still meeting etc etc on that Friday, I received a one word text ‘gadaffi’ ( you see he works in news). And nothing since. The audacity and the ability to send out confusing mixed messages is totally beyond me.

    Watch yourself around this one!

  • Sarah says:

    That’s weird. Try and get it out of him sometime why Simon came along. Were they hoping for a 3-some? 🙂 (jk)

  • drchick says:

    I have to say I have never been treated so disrespectfully before. I guess being a middle aged plankton this man thought it is alright to play with my feelings. And even though, I would love to be in a relationship, I would much rather be alone (most of the time) than in some shitty struggling relationship with an emotional cripple.

    The fact that anyone can think it alright to send out such confusing messages and leave it at that is just totally beyond me. This man even claimed that he needed to be cautious around dating (I presume for him), but I ask where is the caution around me and my heart. Look after your heart and do not allow the suggestion of a twinkle deter you from the reality!

  • drchick says:

    oh and believe it or not, he works at the paper where your column is!!

  • rosie says:

    Gadaffi or no Gadaffi and even if he’s the busiest newshound in the West the man’s an arrogant prat. If he contacts you again just reply ‘sorry, life’.

    • drchick says:

      Isn’t he just?!? I’m a doctor and spend my time delivering babies… My friend said that next tone he gets in touch I should say ‘placenta’ or ‘c-section’. Excuse my language but what a complete fucker. Am I angry? Yes. Do I ever want a man like than in my life? No.

      • Elle says:

        A one-word text is insulting from anybody, but from a journalist, somebody who works with words as their profession it beggars belief!

        If he contacts you again text back “Currently tied up delivering a baby boy without a brain. Will probably grow up to be an emotionally constipated columnist at newspaper X”

      • plumgrape says:

        I have a word, just one for a plankton woman I love and adore: “diaphanous”. It says everything. Everything about her is like diaphane. But can she pick up a phone and talk or better still even text just a single word? No. No further away than her mobile she carries with her all the time, she is so paranoid about her feelings, worried about an ex-husband she is supposed to have divorced, it’s as if she were catatonic. Go figure!
        My mother says that she does not know how to discuss. I think missing the education she has lost the plot, paranoid about pre-conceived notions of how a relationship should be or is!

  • rosie says:

    Gaddafi even…

    • drchick says:

      hi rosie and elle

      Thank you for your comments. I am still totally amazde that he thinks it is alright. He is a man who can speak a thousand words and all of them beautiful (he works in designing the news you see…) but his actions are woefully lacking and speak louder than all the books in the British Library. The funny thing is that he got back in touch and started this whole charade after disappearing on me almost 6 months ago and I being a fair and obviously foolish soul decided to give him a second chance as everyone deserves that and everyone can fuck up once. But to do it again and in such spectacularly rude fashion with such cowardice and disrespect only serves to show me that this man deserves all women to be warned well away from him. Asshole with a capital A.

      • drchick says:

        And his name even begins with an A.

      • Lydia says:

        I think we can all think up apporpriate lines given today’s news on Gadaffi. Surely you can some up with something alluding to how you might sodomise him with a knife? Sticky end? I need something ruder I think. We need a good Times headline writer

        I have a very strict rule with me. I go by what they do not what they say. This is the sure fire route to avoid the time wasters, those not genuine and the like. By our deeds are we known. There is a type who says all sorts, promises all sorts but their conduct is not consistent with how they say they feel about you (if you really want someone you get in touch, I’ve kept in touch with men from iran, islands, jungles.. If you want someone youare in touch. If you’re not that keen you aren’t). If there is inconsistency between words and deeds go by the deeds. Cut off the contact and then you will protect yourself from being hurt.

    • Bambi says:

      Ha, Rosie – touché!

  • jane says:

    Oooer- this is a bit weird. Can think of no reasonable explanation as to why he included Simon if he is keen on you as more than a friend. Is he trying to set you up with this bloke? that’s what it sounds like to me…ask him (you can couch it in a jokey way)

  • Barry says:

    He may just be frightened of you, the HUGS are a giveaway …. I feel you may be surprised and get another date , this time deux a deux …if i’m right ,please go home with him if he has the courage to ask you ….as a refusal often equates to a smack in the mouth .

  • MissBates says:

    Well, for f**k’s sake.

    Seriously enough to make one contemplate the nunnery.

  • Erin says:

    Don’t read too much into this – it could be anything. Simon could have invited himself along at the last minute (that happened to husband and I a while back. It had taken forever to get a mutual dinner date together with my hairdresser and his partner, and we show up and this oaf neighbor of theirs had invited himself along and our friends were too polite to say no.) Is Simon single? Could you have been an unwitting set-up to meet Simon? Maybe after the first date, the no make-up, etc, Smidge figured you weren’t interested but thought so much of you as to want to fix you up with someone else. Maybe he is interested but wanted a friend to “check you out”, although that would be totally high schoolish and slightly disturbing. The scenarios go on and on.

    I would not let this drop or have a chance to go cold. Sounds like the attraction is there. Why don’t you ask him to dinner and a movie? That is definitely a date date and one normally would not construe it as work or casual. You need to find out this man’s intentions. Is he just a friend? Is he interested? Is it possible he is gay? Please make the next move here, dear P. You’ll always be left wondering if you don’t.

    • fi says:

      This sounds reasonable and a sensible approach. It could be anything and the best thing is to meet up again and during that time simply ask why Simon came along last time.

    • plumgrape says:

      I remember Helen the sister of a good woman friend. Well I really liked her, but a good male friend of mine asked that he be able to ask her out and I graciously acquiesced. Needless to say not much happened over any period of time between Helen and Rodrick but did anyone say anything to me or pick up a phone until it was too late? So now Helen is water under the bridge. Is it rude to say: “fucking women”?

      • Margaux says:

        Surely ‘fucking friend’ is more appropriate ? Your friend could have let you know that he hadn’t exactly ‘got lucky’ !

  • Mezzanine says:

    Hey Ms P

    Could be he asked Simon to join the party to get his opinion of you. Don’t we ask our friends for unbiased opinions on prospective boyfriends? Maybe Mr S has plans for you……….

  • Lyla says:

    If I were Smidgen I might have possibly recognized myself in The Times by now and brought Simon along in order to confirm my suspicions. So far you seemed to have glossed over this possibility despite a legion of your commentators pointing this out. Do you not factor this in?

  • EmGee says:

    I suspect that Simon was a last minute addition to the party, because Smidge got a case of the jitters and needed a back up if his date either didn’t show up, or he got your messages mixed up and ‘you just weren’t that into him’ after all. I mean you said it yourself, that your enchantment started to fade during the last encounter, and he may have registered that, having no way of knowing that enchantment levels rose again at the thought of another meeting.

    Not sure why this seems like such a mystery, however, there was no polite way of giving Simon the send off, either apparently. I’ll bet there will be a next time, and it will just be the 2 of you. ❤

  • june says:

    Well plankton who knows with men, i really think they dont think like we do.

    I felt with that man i met who texted me afterwards and announced he wanted a lover, i had no idea what he wanted, sex had never been mentioned previously, he wasnt in least bit suggestive, god knows how he thought i d kn ow that was on his mind, we hadnt discussed anything intimate. I just cant fathom how mens minds work at all.

    Perhaps he likes you as a person but not in the romantic sense or perhaps he just wants to take things slowly, time will tell.

    • T Lover. says:

      “Don’t think like we do”.

      Would someone explain?

      Women are born with an EPROM – a genetic device which stands in the way of logical thought.

      • Mezzanine says:

        And are men born with an MORPRE – a genetic device which stands in the way of understanding women?

      • Troll says:

        Which man in his right mind would want to understand women?

        The best policy is to try NOT to understand, stand back and celebrate the difference.

  • leftatforty says:

    You can spend rivers of ink and hours of mushing up your brain trying to figure out what his intentions were; perhaps this, perhaps that.


    Just go with your gut instincts, it doesn’t matter how confusing the whole thing seems. And my guess is that you already know why he brought Simon. Mixed messages are no more than that: mixed messages.

    Who has time for those?

  • Mark says:

    The Simon conundrum is easily explained. Clearly Smidgen wasn’t thinking of this as a “date” as such, more as a gathering of friends where the “more-the-merrier” rule applies. As such Simon was provided for your additional entertainment.

    I was quite surprised to learn (many years ago I assure you) that women on dates actually prefer your undivided attention rather than a range of congenial companions.

  • LLondon says:

    He’s just not that into you. EOS. Sorry.

  • drchick says:

    Lydia. You’re right. Have broken the contact for this exact reason. Was furious and hence needed to vent. A foolish man and perhaps I a foolish woman for wanting to hope that the deeds would match the talk! You’re right. If you want to keep the contact you will. I did and tried to this effect but wasn’t reciprocated. So time to close the door. Thanks’

  • plumgrape says:

    I’m missing something here with the acronyms: EPROM, MORPRE? Sorry don’t get them. I do see that these are sensitive matters, mixed messages or not. Why can’t you just say you would like a lover? I would think addressed to an individual it might be perceived as a proposal, No? Doesn’t it say “I want you” not someone else elsewhere, No?

    • Lydia says:

      If they aren’t interested in having a lover you presumably have to assume they are celibate and just want someone to chat to. You certainly could probe a bit – they just might want sex every fortnight and no other contact in which case you might as well be charging but if they mean lover as in also partner and girl friend nothing wrong with that.

      Lover might imply I want sex and nothing more and I will never marry or commit to anyone again and I think it is always worth finding out early on if someone is in that category if your own desire is a marriage with someone.

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