Dates from Hell . . .
He stared into my eyes from across the dinner table and we both knew instantly -- implicitly -- that we would never, ever see one other again. Thank. Effin. Jaysus. Bad dates, I've had a few, but this one took the biscuit.
We met at a house party in London at around 6am on a Sunday. He was smart (well, he knew where the booze was hidden and he helped me find my handbag); funny (he laughed at all my jokes) and handsome (I think).
I spent the following week imagining our new life together: Sunday strolls in the park with our dog; meeting his family; Christmas in New York ...
So when I later found myself sitting in front of an astonishingly boring David Cameron lookalike who spent the better part of the evening talking about tracker mortgages, I also found myself wondering how large the window was in the ladies' bathroom and whether I needed to reconsider my levels of alcohol consumption.
When he went to the bathroom I quickly texted my friend who had insisted on updates. 'Halfwit', I typed out quickly before popping the phone back into my bag.
And then it dawned on me. NO! No. No. Nooooooo!
I had sent the text about him to him.
I furiously pressed down on the off button and dismantled my phone in a bid to stop the text from arriving in his inbox. I was even considering fleeing the scene when he arrived back at the table.
"I don't get it," he said, eyeing me suspiciously.
"The waiter," I answered, "total halfwit."
The waiter, I hasten to add, was a consummate gentleman with a huge disarming smile and an endearing Spanish inflection.
"What's wrong with him?" he asked.
"He's an idiot," I blurted out, my face flushing red. "He doesn't know the first thing about wine and, er, he ... can't speak English ... that well."
Silence -- interrupted only by the arrival of the charming waiter, who deftly delivered our main courses before gliding away to serve the next table.
We continued the meal with clipped conversation and I spent the rest of the evening praying that the waiter would make some kind of monumental cock-up and/or I would spontaneously combust.
I have no doubt that I am the subject of this gentleman's best worst date story, just as he is mine.
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but on a bad first date you're more than happy to pass the opportunity to make amends.
There is a point on a bad date from which there is no return, no matter how much red wine you put away.
It is at this point that women can indulge in a spot of naval gazing. "Not again." "Will I ever meet somebody?" "Will I have to settle for second-best?"
Not I. After this experience, the saboteur in me now finds bad first dates strangely enjoyable -- disasters can't be fixed so you should at least have a bit of fun kicking around the wreckage.
Bad dates are a great opportunity to realise what you don't want, so kick back, order dessert and make all the faux pas you like, because the likelihood is that you'll never, ever see them again. Besides, at least you have a funny story for your work colleagues on Monday. As Rhodri Marsden, founder of crapdate.com, says, "whether you disliked the other person, they disliked you, or you found some kind of grim solidarity in your mutual loathing, that unique social discomfort tends to be seared into your memory forever."
And even celebs have their own versions of their most awkward first dates ...
>Amanda Brunker "I never really dated to be honest. I was mostly a serial monogamist. I met my boyfriends the old Irish traditional way of getting very drunk and snogging them! I did ask one bloke out once. He was a musician (shall remain nameless) but I had fancied him for ages and had been single over a year so I was kinda desperate and a bit needy. I broke my golden rule and asked him out. The evening of the date I got so nervous, I puked twice before he picked me up. Then I drank so much with my nerves, he had to carry me to a taxi and dropped me home. I think we went out once after that... but I never really got over the mortification."
>Amanda Byram "When we met he was sweating profusely. He kept going inside and outside. I thought, 'is he doing drugs? Something's really wrong here'. I asked him if he was alright and he said, 'I'm really sorry, I googled you and I'm really intimidated'. Then he proceeds to start talking about things I had said in interviews in the past. It was horrendous."
>Nadia Forde "I went on a date once that I thought went really well. As we were saying goodbye, he said he would like to see me again, before adding, 'I didn't think I'd like you'. I was like, 'really?'."
Then he said 'Oh God, I have a bad way with words ... I'm just saying ... I had loads of fun and I didn't think I'd ... actually ... like you. You know, as a person'."