Helen is probably the greatest friend I ever had. She is a really good mixture of being super fun and therefore has a wealth of life experiences to draw from in her advice and she is also brutally honest which, I think, everyone needs in their life. She’ll never let you go out looking like a piece of shit so when she says something looks good you know it genuinely does. This is the best kind of friend.
In a recent discussion around a woefully misguided choice I made (involving yet another arsehole of the greatest magnitude) we were debating the intricacies of me having failed in taking her advice. Another friend in our group, Kat, was present. The three of us always have very frank, unapologetic conversations. We seem to be on the same page and understand that a hardy helping of the truth is always said with love, even if it is not always delivered kindly.
During this particular discussion Helen stated ‘I really feel sorry for people who aren’t friends with me.’ Kat and I, of course, immediately berated her for the arrogance of the statement but, you know what? She was absolutely right. I feel sorry for people who don’t have a Helen. She’s honest because she cares and listening to her has never seen me far wrong…except for this one time…
Helen fervently believes that there is a man out there perfect for me. I must admit, I am starting to lose the faith with this as the onslaught of utter tripe I have involved myself with leave much to be desired. My friends have encouraged me on dating apps multiple times but these always feel so inorganic. And don’t get me started on the amount of times I have heard ‘Just give him a chance!’ Do you know where giving men a chance has got me? Fucking nowhere – that’s where.
I have also been set up on blind dates a few times, mainly by Helen as she reaches down to the bottom of that very deep barrel and digs out the dregs of society that no other self-respecting female wanted. Predictably, these usually end horribly. The ultimate example of these terrible, terrible set ups is The Hand Rapist. He will never be known as anything other than this; it’s become his single story, his only identity.
Helen lined up the initial set-up well. She said she had a friend who she’d known for years who was ‘absolutely lovely.’ I know this is said a million times when friends are setting you up but this was Helen, so I knew it was true. However, on reflection I can see that he wasn’t so ‘absolutely lovely’ that she chose to retain him for her own personal use.
‘I don’t think you’ll want to rip his clothes off but he’s a really nice guy and I think, as long as you think he’s attractive, that side of things could come.’ As sage women in our thirties we are at a point where we understood fancying the pants off a guy often leads to a short-term saga and the longevity is actually found in the growers, not the showers.
I agreed to the set up on the basis of a picture I was sent. The picture was black and white and the man staring back at me had a friendly, kind face. He seemed like the kind of person who wasn’t going to break your heart and I had made it my mission to at least try not to saddle myself with another abusive prick. Occupationally, he was in mortgages (I find the minutia of the detail around this boring so I don’t actually know what he did but I know it was mortgage related). Helen passed my number to THR and I must admit, from the moment he started messaging me, I had high hopes.
THR was witty, intelligent and gentlemanly. He seemed to know lots about literature and he was making an effort to get to know me. There were no sexual undertones to any of his messages and I was really looking forward to our first date; my only concern was that I wouldn’t fancy him. Helen agreed, saying she thought we would get on well but she knew there was a possibility I wouldn’t find him attractive and that would be an understandable end to proceedings.
Date night came around and we agreed to meet in the same place I had met Steve (Windsor is a pretty limiting location for the après work tipple and romantic rendezvous). I arrived first so I waited at the bar and ordered a glass of wine to steady my nerves. The butterflies in my belly were manageable – mostly because I knew there was a very real chance I wasn’t going to fancy him and that felt oddly liberating. I was donned in my date-night best though, just in case I did have the socks knocked off me by this guy.
I’m poised, red wine cupped in my little bejewelled hand, waiting expectantly for my potential future husband to walk into my life. There suddenly appears from around the corner, swaggering past the pianist belly first, a very jolly looking gentleman of circa 40 years old, woolly jumper pulled tightly over a protruding gunt and sandy hair billowing in the breeze. I tried to hold my face in some semblance of welcome but I actually felt my vagina shrink inwards like a concave raisin. In that split second I knew he had no hope of being anywhere near my labia.
Don’t get me wrong, he was good company; he had compelling conversation and he was very sweet. We went for dinner (a tell-tale sign I wasn’t interested in him) and he ordered a bottle of nice red wine. In fairness, I realised I was enjoying his company. Yet the sight of him did absolutely nothing for me. He was like a personality Mount Vesuvius but with an appearance of a galactic black hole. It was quite the dichotomy and, let’s be honest with ourselves, no one wants to wrestle with their libido midway through dinner on date one.
The date rolled on and I found myself cruising further and further into inebriation as I gulped my way through the unending hours. What had begun as a pleasant evening spent in good – ugly – company, was very quickly becoming dull and painstaking. It was becoming clear his affection for me was deepening as he began telling terrible jokes that would have offended a Christmas cracker. Sensing my lack of appreciation, he pressed on.
‘So I think we should finish up here and head into Windsor for a clubbing sesh,’ he hopefully suggested. I hate the word ‘sesh’ – always have, always will. Say ‘session’ you uneducated fool – the extra syllable costs nothing! I also hate ‘cheeky’.
Too drunk by now to hide my boredom I casually responded ‘Sorry, I’m working tomorrow so I need to go home.’ It was a Friday night – no work tomorrow.
‘OK, fair enough. Well, I live relatively close to you. Why don’t I order us an Uber?’ It was so innocently posed by THR, as if he was doing me a favour. I’m ashamed to say the prospect of not having to pay for a taxi home hit me in the heart strings and I eagerly accepted the offer. I let him pay for the food and wine and happily gave away my postcode as I mentally ran through the awkward drop-off moment when I closed the taxi door in his hopeful little face, turned my back and walked away from him forever.
As we got into the taxi I suddenly remembered my inherent aversion to being in a taxi when drunk. It makes me want to throw up with immediate effect (probably a throwback to that taxi journey when I was 16 and opened the door mid-motorway). I was also very aware of THR beginning to encroach on my personal space which did nothing for the nausea. I pulled my hair over the sides of my face – perhaps if I covered my peripheral vision the gentleman to my left might spontaneously disappear…? No such luck.
The Uber careened around a particularly precarious corner and I put my left hand down on the pleather seats to stop myself from sliding across into THR’s loving embrace. Drunk, I found comfort in the feel of the cool leather on my now sweating palms. I repeated the mantra in my head ‘Just get me home. Just get me home!’ This was partially because I didn’t want to chunder like a loser in the back of the taxi but mostly because I was in a confined space with someone who now made my skin crawl. I would like to add here that he was such a lovely guy and this review is doing him a total disservice…his only crime at this point was that I didn’t actually fancy him.
In the turmoil of my desperate, drunken inner monologue I didn’t notice THR’s little white hand spidering its way like a creepy-crawly across the shadowy wasteland of the central reservation. Determinedly focusing on the views from my window, I unexpectedly felt the hideous sensation of his cold, moist little finger begin snaking it’s way over the top of my own. I froze up, eyes widening in horror as he laced his five digits across my hand. Tentative at first and then weaving with confidence, he entrapped my little left hand, ensnaring it in a vice-like grip. Unsure what to do, I let my hand lay there within his, limp. This was the start of The Hand Rape experience.
Encouraged by my silence, he began to stroke the side of my thumb with his own, and then brought my hand to his waiting, saliva damped lips for a kiss that sent shivers down my spine. Still looking out of my own window, I had not acknowledged any of this action – it was as if I was a mannequin, rigid except for the floppy arm being claimed by THR.
I heard the tell-tale click of seat belt being dislodged and the sliding of jeans on PVC. He was now infiltrating my battle space. I felt his hot breath blowing tendrils of my own hair into my horrified face as he whispered into my ear, ‘I don’t want the night to end here.’
I turned to him, giving him the side-eye as full frontal was too dangerous, at a total loss for words. I smiled meekly into the darkness of his puffy face. ‘What do I have to do to get an invitation in?’ He probed.
‘Not be a fucking cringey creep!’ was what I wanted to reply. But all I could muster was a vague ‘It’s the first date. Not tonight.’ I swallowed back a sick-burp. I didn’t want to upset the guy and I was aware that he was friends with Helen and came highly recommended.
‘Do people even worry about that anymore?’ he persisted. I might add that my flaccid hand was still imprisoned in his at this point.
‘I do.’ I retorted. I was getting annoyed now. How dare he think I would put out on the first date? I mean, I would totally want to if I didn’t feel violently sick at the very aspect of his existence, but I never would!
‘But we’ve had such a good time. Do you want it to end now?’ The violation on my left hand was indecent. Yes, Dear God! End it now! End it all, now!
‘Helen would kill me if I let you come inside my flat tonight.’ It was a feeble argument but I thought the reminder of a mutual friend might make him feel some form a shame at this haranguing.
‘She doesn’t need to know.’ I swear to God, he was trying to be seductive. It dawned on me that he thought I was being coy. He thought I was playing hard to get. I needed to make it clear that I was most certainly NOT being either coy or playing hard to get.
‘Not tonight.’ My tone was forceful enough that we spent the remainder of the journey in silence. However, my hand was sacrificed in the battle and remained a prisoner in his palm.
Mercifully, we pulled up outside my flat a few minutes after this lovers tryst. He was still definitely in my personal space, still thumbing away at my lefty. Guilt washed over me, and awkwardness, and desperation to be as far away as possible. I knew he would want to say a few words as the night came to a close just as much as I wanted to be back in the hearty hearth of my home, scrubbing my hand with bleach. I decided, in my drunken state, that the only way to close this up swiftly was to give him a peck on the lips, give a brief précis of what a great time I’d had and then hot tail it up the driveway post-haste. THR had other ideas.
I turned my head to his, smiling sweetly. My lips were immediately set about by his own as he fumbled his tongue into my mouth for a concluding snog. Years of training told me compliance would see me through so I waited for him to terminate the transaction, numbing my mind to the raid. As he pulled away he slowly opened his eyes, expectant – jubilant even – that he had rocked my world so skilfully on the journey home. I clambered awkwardly from the taxi, never looking back as I escaped and made a mental note to never ever speak to this man again.
The next morning I awoke to a barrage of messages asking me to please confirm I had made it to my house safely. He had dropped me literally to my front door, but now seemed concerned I had not managed to make it further than that point. I confirmed I was alive lest he think the decent and romantic thing to do would be to return in search of my presumably rotting corpse. I proceeded to ghost him like I had never ghosted anyone before.

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