During the early nineties, I briefly dated a work colleague's son. I met him at a work dinner. He had come along as his mother's 'date' which I (and everyone else there) thought adorable.
I won't lie: he was attractive, in a tall, dark and handsome kinda way. He had a lovely smile, was well-mannered, appeared capable of holding a conversation and he clearly loved his mum, so my first impressions of him were pretty high. By the end of the dinner, I was quite taken with him.
After dinner, a bunch of us ended up at a nightclub. He and I had been talking - getting to know each other - and after watching everyone on the dance floor situated on the lower level of the club for a while, I turned to him to comment on some of the dancers only to find him holding a long-stemmed red rose which he immediately handed to me, smiling as he did, and, well, I was officially smitten.
Later, when he (and his mother!) dropped me home in a shared cab, he walked me to my door and kissed me goodnight. I went to bed that night thinking I'd done it: I'd potentially found my new boyfriend.
I was, however, also a little wary about getting involved with him because a) he was my work colleague's son (enough said); and b) he was in the process of getting a divorce and had two young kids. To be honest, I wasn't bothered at all about dating a guy who had been married before, and I'd always loved kids so that wasn't an issue either, it was just that I questioned whether he was ready for anything serious? I was looking for a long-term relationship, not to be someone's transitional fling.
He called me at work the following week and asked me to his place (which also happened to be his mother's house) that coming Saturday night to watch a video with him. 'We'll just grab some dinner out beforehand and pick up a movie on the way home,' he suggested. I couldn't wait. A cosy movie night in sounded good to me. I pictured us grabbing some food at the local cafe, maybe even a pizza place, then snuggling up together on the couch in front of a nice, romantic movie. Perfect.
Saturday night arrived and I was beside myself with anticipation. His mother greeted me as I walked through the door, but left soon after. 'Let's go grab some dinner,' her son suggested just minutes later.
You can imagine my surprise when we pulled up to the local shopping centre, outside the entrance to the food court. 'Is the video shop here?' I asked.
'No,' he said smiling. 'We'll grab dinner here first then pick up the movie.' Hmmm. Okay, I thought. Not quite the casual cafe or pizza restaurant I imagined, but ... whatever.
As we walked up and down the food court, assessing all that was on offer, he asked what I felt like eating. 'Maybe some Thai?' I suggested, my mouth watering at the thought of some chicken satays or red curry with rice.
'Hmmm,' he replied, frowning, perusing the prices. 'Looks a bit expensive.'
I opened my mouth to reply, but couldn't. Nothing would come out. I can't remember what we ended up eating, but it certainly wasn't Thai food.
But hey, I figured, maybe things are tight with the divorce coming up and all that? And besides, I assured myself, it was supposed to be a casual night in. That's all. This is what most 'couples' did, right?
The movie wasn't the romance film I'd imagined we'd watch, but we had a nice enough night nonetheless. Hey - I saw a film, at least. I drove home feeling ... a little disappointed. But, you know, I figured it was early days yet.
Later that week, he called me at work and asked if I wanted to meet him for lunch? He'd come to me, he said. Well, I thought, perhaps he felt bad about the Thai food thing and was going to make it up to me? I worked on a busy street, spoilt for choice on places to eat. Just a couple of doors down was a nice Italian restaurant/cafe. I figured he'd take me there.
Instead, he suggested the local cafe/deli. Which was fine: there were tables and chairs there and the food was also pretty good. In fact, I ate there regularly. It was just ... nothing out of the ordinary.
We enjoyed a pretty nice lunch and a chat. I pushed the disastrous movie date from my mind and wondered if things would improve from here. A new beginning, perhaps?
A few days later, however, when I went back to the deli to grab a spinach and cheese filo pastry for lunch, the owner called me over. 'I'm sorry,' he said, looking apologetically at me. 'The gentleman you were in here with the other day?' I nodded in acknowledgement. 'Well, he left without paying the bill.'
I should have paid the guy right then and there, but out of principle, I didn't want to. My date was the one who was supposed to pay - after all, he invited me to lunch! - and I was damned if I was going to be out of pocket. I assured the owner I would make sure he paid - and soon - and hot-tailed it out of there, red-faced with embarrassment.
As I spoke to him on the phone, warning bells were going off in my head. He's a cheapskate. Dump him! But he apologised and ensured me he would pay. I ascertained it was probably just an honest mistake. A mistake anyone could make. Right?
I had to chase him for over a week to fix up the outstanding bill. He didn't seem to see the urgency in my request. At all. From memory, he eventually delivered the money ... to me! I'm pretty sure I insisted he go to the deli owner and pay!
So by now, I was not so enamoured by him any more.
I gave him one more chance when he called me out of the blue a couple of weeks later at the eleventh hour asking if he could see me. But once again, he didn't want to take me out anywhere - just hang at my place and watch a movie (a movie I'd already chosen and he complained about, so he decided to go home when I wouldn't change it). Funnily enough, I never saw him again after that.
Sometimes a connection can start strongly, only to peter out as quickly as it started, eh? *sigh*