The Bad Dates Edition: Irish Shane

Courting a variety of men through my palm-held dating world meant when the shit show of a date with Welsh Nick – or should I say Welsh Nip…or Welsh Ick – happened I was relatively unabashed. There was, sitting there on the match section of my dating beehive, an extravaganza of attractive potentials condensed down into hopeful thumbnails. One such potential suitor was Irish Shane. He was called ‘Irish Shane’ because ‘Shane’ wasn’t enough of a memorable tagline – his identity was embroiled in that telltale four leafed clover he included in his bio.

Right from the start I knew I would have lots of fun with Irish Shane. He was a good craic (Irish vernacular for the Irish themed blog) and we got on really well over messages. It quickly progressed to WattsApp, moving off of the dating platform and into a more personal space. It is probably worth mentioning Irish Shane finished off the end of a very busy week of dating. I’d met Giles (he was so hot he didn’t need a nickname) on the Tuesday, sacked off Keen Dan to meet Giles again on the Thursday, Kidney Sam was on Friday and now it was time for Irish Shane to bring in Saturday. Like God, I planned to rest on Sunday.

Irish Shane and I had agreed to meet early in the afternoon in London. He had selected a lovely restaurant along the river near Paddington station; he had scoped out my journey into town so he could find a suitable venue which would not be difficult for me to find. This date was approximately one month after Welsh Nick’s and it was, in my estimation, one of the hottest days of the year so I didn’t need to worry about my fuzz-ball hair, but I did need to be concerned about upper lip sweat. The memory of my bleeding Achilles were now well and truly buried as I slipped my little size 2’s into some cute sandals to compliment the white smock dress I had selected as my fourth and final date outfit of the week.

I suppose the sense of foreboding came on in waves with this one. I was, by now, well accustomed to the dating scene so I had zero nerves. But…and this is a BIG but…as the train whizzed into the station I happened to catch a glimpse of my legs shining with moisturiser in the 2pm light. I suddenly realised with startling clarity that they looked, from that angle, like a mottled marble effect merging patchily between orange and white; a half melted Solero. I had asked Helen to spray tan my nude body ready for my Tuesday date with Giles and she had very thoroughly talked me through the upkeep in order to maximise the tan shelf-life. It had been fine only the day before when I had my evening date with Kidney Sam but now they were very definitely past their best. To make matters worse, I was wearing that white dress which did nothing but create a very stark canvas against which my dappled knees stuck out like a beacon. Still, I would beam a smile at Irish Shane and dazzle him with my wit…the very last place he would be looking would be my tie-dye shins. I put it to the back of my mind.

Wave number two then hit with it’s heavy onslaught. I knew that, although Irish Shane and I got on well, I hadn’t fancied him as much as I’d fancied Giles and I had now enjoyed two successful dates with the latter. Irish Shane was certainly on the back foot. Still, I couldn’t hedge my bets on Giles based on two dates. Just as this mental game of dating-chess in my mind seemed to end peacefully, my phone pinged in my handbag. It was a message from Giles asking to see me again. I smiled. Damn it!! He was really screwing poor Irish Shane over with a message like that, especially when I was on my way to meet the poor loser right now. Pangs of guilt hit me – but who did I feel guilt towards? Doomed Irish Shane or the guy I definitely preferred…because he was just so much hotter?

Luckily, the anxiety was quelled by a new kind of worry: my train had just pulled into the platform and I now had to skedaddle to this restaurant Irish Shane had picked.

The walk along the river was pure bliss. London had come out in celebration of lockdown lifting and the atmosphere was buzzing all around. I looked super summer cute, my wavy hair was billowing about my cheeks and the vitamin D was enough to put me, and my fawn mottled legs, in a damn good mood.

The good mood was short lived. Wave three attacked harder than the previous two. Where the effing hell was he? I sauntered nonchalantly past the restaurant which was located on the other side of the road to the path I walked down but I could see no Irishman anywhere. I checked the time – I was bang on to the minute. OK…this was not a crisis. I would simply overshoot the walk, continue down the road and turnabout in five minutes to walk back.

Well, this awkward game of back-and-forth lasted 15 minutes. The people in the restaurant either thought I was a stalker or that I had been stood up. At some point Irish Shane text me to say he was two minutes away to which I, of course, responded with a casual ‘no problem – I’m not there yet either!’ Except I had been there a good 12 minutes and I could feel my shoulders and arms were now burning beneath the blemished fake tan. My top lip was probably devoid of any make up and I daren’t move my arms for fear of the wet patches that could now be dampening the pits of my dress.

Eventually I decided walking back and forth was merely spreading the issue more thinly and I’d be better served finding a place to wait – preferably in the shade – and simply pretend I had just got there myself. I pulled my phone out (is there any more standard way to make it seem like you’re totally cool with an anxious situation than pretending to be engrossed in your phone?) and leaned against a gate to wait for Irish Shane’s arrival. Some ‘Two minutes x,’ this had turned out to be!

I correctly presumed he would arrive from the same direction I had come from and kept turning my head surreptitiously to the right so I could see if he was at last on his way from behind my sunglasses. A few red herrings sauntered by and then, finally, up Irish Shane strolled.

OK, so he was quite short. As a general rule I like tall men but at 5ft it isn’t really a dealbreaker. He was wearing a blue, short-sleeved shirt and blue board shorts. It was an inoffensive ensemble. Kind of typical of a guy in his thirties with little idea about fashion. However, as my eyes rolled down past the hem of those sky-blue surfer shorts they happened upon white socks…not sport socks…just standard white socks. And BLACK sensible trainers. Now…I know this is super shallow. I know that judging a nice guy on one tiny element of an otherwise perfectly acceptable outfit choice says more about me than it does about Irish Shane. But that is the person I am; I’m shallow and I judge men based on their shitty trainers. I’m not even sorry about it.

The problem is, dear reader, that this aspect of Irish Shane’s general appearance wasn’t actually the worst bit. He walked toward me totally unaware that he was being judged harshly by the creosote & cream woman before him – he had Ray-Bans and a little dark facial hair which made him a little better from the neck up. And that’s when it happened. He smiled.

A string of deepest brown teeth emerged from behind his full lips. It was game over for him from that very moment – before he had even spoken to me. Those teeth were the exact shade of a latte and there was nothing that could be done for him from this point on. Mentally, he had been written off. Brown teeth = no minge. Those were the rules. If he didn’t like it, he should have brushed more thoroughly and drank less brown coloured stainers.

The strange thing, though, was that from that moment I actually relaxed. I felt I could be really good friends with this guy. He was so interesting: well travelled, really funny and I suddenly realised as he paid for our steak dinner that I was having a blast. I was a little tipsy – I’d expected the date would travel in this direction based on our conversations and the fact he was a true Irishman in every sense of the word, and I didn’t want the date to end. So we carried on to another bar for another drink.

And then another bar for another drink.

And then another bar for another drink.

By the time we had reached what would be our final drinking stop I was so drunk I could hardly speak. I had, stupidly, tried to keep up with him as I drank my white wines and he necked his beers. His brown teeth were a distant memory but, so too was my dignity. He turned to me eventually, eyes at sixes and sevens, and told me he thought I probably needed to go home. I nodded my consent and stood up on my jittery satsuma legs to begin the trek back to Paddington.

Fortunately there was a cool breeze and the walk started to bring me back to my senses…only just for long enough though to feel myself being spun around on the spot and pulled into a death-kiss. Before I knew what was happening, Irish Shane had gone in for a kiss. It wasn’t a good one. He kind of pawed at my mouth exuberantly for what felt like a lifetime. At one point I even opened my eyes to see a statue of Paddington Bear staring at me in judgement. His eyes seemed to speak to my soul, disappointment at my behaviour poured out of that painted stone bear as my mouth moved to Irish Shane’s fast rhythm. Eventually, he pulled away and said ‘I’ve been dying to do that all night.’ My eyes only took in the beige flashes of his teeth as his lips moved over them to form the words.

Thrice Irish Shane stopped me in the street to kiss me that way. They were sobering embraces and even typing this now it literally makes me cringe so hard that I was seen doing that….in London…during COVID-19…with a perfect stranger…who had caramel teeth.

I fell asleep on the train home that night and I don’t remember getting back to my little flat. When I awoke the next day, miraculously, I didn’t have a hangover – the Gods must have taken pity on me for all the spin-cycle kisses I’d had to endure the evening before. But I did have a text from Irish Shane to check up on me and to state the fucking obvious:

‘I think we drank a bit too much last night!’ It was ended with a winky face emoji.

No shit, Sherlock! We drank so much I was surprised I wasn’t puking my guts up right this moment. As I read and re-read the message the most unfathomable, irrational and deep rage overwhelmed me. How dare he!? The very nerve of this auburn molared little alcohol-giver getting me so drunk. I actually fell asleep on the train – that was his fault too! My god I was incredulous. Not only did he have the audacity to get me drunk but he’d pretty much paid for it all too! Bastard. And he’d kissed me – multiple times – in that drunken state he had gotten me into. The smallest circle of hell is saved for people like that.

Now, somewhere in the recesses of my rational mind I knew that this was totally unfair on Irish Shane. I would like to clarify that I 100% knew I was being irrational and it was actually my own fault completely that I had gotten so drunk. But that insignificant detail meant nothing to me. I blamed him. I blamed him totally and I would never, ever see him again.

Helen and Kat pinged the group chat off looking for feedback and I gave it to them. Ranting and raving for three minutes+ about how I’d been so drunk and it was all Irish Shane’s fault.

Helen, of course, gave me the harsh slap of reality I clearly already knew. That it was noone’s fault but my own for getting so drunk. Yes, it was stupid to have been in that state on the train and I had to promise I would never do that again. But to blame it on Irish Shane was ridiculous. Which it was. I accepted that…on the phone. I said all the right things – I laughed at how unreasonable I was being. I said I would text him and be nice. I told the story again, this time acknowledging all the lovely aspects of the date.

But inside I still brewed with a rage so deep it was inexplicable. Damn you Irish Shane – damn you, you lovely, copper-toothed Irishman. I can now laugh at the situation and totally see that the blame lies squarely with me that I tried to match a hardened beer (and Guinness, based on those fangs) guzzler toe to toe in the alcohol arena. It was really like the drinking version of Anthony Joshua vs Justin Bieber. But it has taken me a lot of time and work to get to that place.

I won’t bore you with the details of how I managed to sack Irish Shane off. Let’s just say it was very polite and drawn out and I’m sure the door would be open for me to ask for a second date if I ever decided brown smiles were my thing…or even if I ever got over my own shallowness and realised he was a truly great guy and I could do a lot worse. But the moral of the story is this: If a man flashes you his smile and you feel a wave of nausea at the shade of his canines it’s probably best to pursue a sober friendship and not bleed the poor schmuck dry of all his cash as you get drunker and drunker. Kissing in the street, as romantic as it is in theory, is NEVER anything but a cringe in practise. Falling asleep on the train…well that’s just plain stupid. Still, all’s well that ends well…I’m still looking for my Mr Right and I can only hope Irish Shane has found a lovely lady to sample all the alcohol’s of the world with. A lady who likes hessian smiles and black trainers with white socks.

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