‘Mum, it’s about time someone looked after you. You do everything for everyone, go find a man who will love you to bits.’
My daughter was insistent I get back into the dating game, being in my mid-50s and having been single for seven years.
I did like the idea of meeting someone but, being quite old fashioned, I had been reluctant to try online dating.
With her encouragement I decided to give it a go. And before I could change my mind she set me up on Plenty of Fish.
It had been ages since I’d dated; in fact I’d given men a wide berth for quite some time after an ex said he wanted to break up so he could go off to have a baby with someone, as he ‘needed an heir’.
Even though I’d been hurt before, I was determined that I wasn’t going to let it stop me from enjoying myself any longer.
Plenty of Fish was hilarious. I had loads of young men chatting me up; they must have thought all older women were well off and would be their sugar mum. I could see right through them.
Then, out of a select few in my inbox, came ‘Mr Fantastic’. He was full of charm and said things like, ‘Let me sweep you off your feet’, ‘I want to treat you well’, ‘I am a gentleman who appreciates a lovely lady,’ and so on.
He was 17 miles from me, in a coastal resort. From our initial messages, we appeared to be a good match so we agreed to meet up the following week.
I hopped on the train that hugs the coastline and enjoyed the scenic ride. Mr Fantastic met me at the station.
At first glance, he looked pleasant enough. He was quite my type: Tall, dark and handsome. He had, however, hidden his 20-pints-a-night-beer-belly in his profile picture.
He was holding a bunch of flowers that looked as if he had swept the floor with them.
Already, I was regretting the date. If he could manipulate his profile to hide his true appearance, I wondered what else he’d glossed over.
Still, I couldn’t turn back. I painted on a fake smile and hoped he’d redeem himself by planning a romantic date for us – perhaps a nice Italian restaurant.
We left the train station and we walked the short distance to the shopping centre. He chatted aimlessly, and was obviously nervous, so I felt a bit mean for my initial judgments.
To make amends, I went along with the chatter about his new shoes that squeaked.
That was until he asked the dreaded question: ‘Do you fancy Withy’s?’
Did I f***ing fancy Withys? Wetherspoons! Stuff being polite, at this point I wanted to cut and run and catch the train home.
‘Or’, he said excitedly, ‘We can go to Maccy D’s. I’ve got a voucher for a free Big Mac.’
He said he earned £150k a year – I thought he was a cheapskate
My stomach lurched. I looked at him with such pity and he read me wrong. ‘You can have the Big Mac!’ he said. ‘I’ll get something else, don’t you worry.’
I was lost for words and before I knew it, I was being ushered into Maccy D’s – as he’d so eloquently called it – and asked to wait at a table while he ordered at the counter. I asked for a flat white, with plenty of sugar.
He brought me back my order with a McChicken Sandwich Meal.
As I chewed the rubbery burger, I wanted to cry. He was talking about his ex wife and how he was still in love with her.
‘Did you ever treat her to a McDonald’s?’ I asked witheringly.
‘Ooh yes, it was her favourite place on earth,’ he replied, all smiles. ‘In fact, we used to sit at this very table.’
I shifted about in my seat. ‘But then she met someone else and divorced me,’ he sighed, a faraway look in his eyes. I bet she did…
Then, he told me about his £150k a year job working at a huge factory that was a household name.
And here he was, splashing out on a McDonald’s, one of which was a freebie in return for filling in a questionnaire online.
He said he earned £150k a year – I thought he was a cheapskate.
I’d had enough.
Prior to my embarking on this ‘date of a lifetime’, I had asked my oldest daughter to rescue me if things got strained. We’d agreed I would send a row of XXXX’s in a text message if I needed to get away and that she was then to ring me with an excuse. Any excuse but make it snappy.
I headed to the ladies and sent my daughter the longest row of X’s imaginable. I then sat back down at the table and my phone rang.
‘Oh sorry, I’d better get this call as it’s my daughter.’ I grabbed my phone.
‘Mum, come quick,’ her panicked voice said down the phone. ‘Dad’s had a heart attack and he’s laid on the floor asking for you – come now, please.’
I was speechless. Of all the excuses she could have come up with… It was so off the wall, I wondered if perhaps it was true.
I found my voice. ‘Oh my God! Where is he?’ I asked. ‘On the floor,’ she shouted back.
I tried not to laugh. ‘I mean is he home? Have you phoned the ambulance…. Look I’ll get there soon as I can,’ and I hung up.
‘I can drive you to wherever you need to be,’ said Mr Fantastic. I got up and gathered my things as quickly as I could. ‘I’ll get a taxi,’ I called over my shoulder as I exited McDonald’s.
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My ex-husband was absolutely fine and I laughed so much at the excuse my daughter had used.
Mr Fantastic did message me that evening to enquire as to my ex-husband’s wellbeing. I informed him he was fine and that it had been a bad case of indigestion – from eating a McDonald’s.
I didn’t hear from Mr Fantastic ever again.
I wasn’t put off Plenty of Fish but the next two men I met might have been even worse than this date. One said he had a ladyfriend already and asked if I’d be up for a threesome, while the other was into nudist colonies.
I came off the site shortly after and haven’t bothered with dating since; I have a fantastic life regardless.
So, How Did It Go?
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