I recently had my shortest ever date. It lasted a grand total of six minutes. And it was still too long.
I am not quite sure why I agreed to meet Irit. She was a nagger even on the phone. But there was something appealing about her JDate mugshot that led to me to grant her an audience.
We met on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon, the last day of July. And as Irit approached the agreed meeting point (the corner of Gordon and Shlomo Hamelech), a waddling breach of the Trade Descriptions Act, the cumulation of recent dating disappointments at once got the better of me.
“I just can’t do this anymore,” I wailed to myself, even as I was squeezing Irit’s chubby hand. “Yet another wasted hour and a half, with my brain switched off and my tongue on autopilot.”
Until that infamous afternoon, I had always been the perfect(ish) gentleman on blind dates, not budging until the ninety minutes were up (this had always seemed to me, for no good reason in particular, the minimum decent amount of time to give someone, however little interest I had in the contents of their cranial cavity and/or underwear).
On this occasion, however, as I slouched back in the moulded plastic café seat, I could not have made it any clearer to Irit, however unconsciously, that I just did not want to be there.
My initial faux pas was asking Irit to remind me where her father – estranged from her mother I seemed to recall, from our single telephone conversation the previous week – lived in the States.
“That must have been another woman,” came the reply, without so much as a smidgeon of humour.
It had been. And while I managed to come up with some feeble, muttered excuse for that blunder, the daggers were clearly about to turn to tears – I was similarly, it would seem, the final straw in Irit’s dating disappointments – when, next question up, I mistook her folks’ Jerusalem-area moshav for the other’s mother’s Yavneh kibbutz.
“Look,” I said, with a completely unjustified air of defiance, “you are not the only woman I have spoken to . . .”
“It is just insulting,” Irit cut me off, clearly determined to twist the knife even further in my, now nearly fully flaked, veneer of decency. And she was, of course, entirely justified (why oh why hadn’t I heeded my own advice to keep notes?!)
85 minutes now seemed like a very long time indeed – an Israeli woman in revolt and one I had no interest in placating – and there was only one thing for it . . .
“Look, Irit, you don’t have to stay. I’ll get the drinks.”
And, while far from proud of my performance (even our Cilla would have had difficulty laughing it off), I was feeling more relief than guilt as Irit took me up on my offer, getting up and departing the scene. Indeed, I supped my iced coffee engrossed not in self-loathing but in Yediot’s air conditioner ads, and still with the presence of mind to get Irit’s untouched order removed from the bill!
But had I behaved any better (if less deceitfully) than the dread Odelia, who had blown me out with a babysitter-mayse before we had even taken our seats?
Rather than be driven to this, or nasty porkies à la Odelia, an instantaneous shake of the head and direct, Simon Cowell-style “I don’t think so (You Are Not Mike’s New Talent)” must surely be a better way, for all concerned, of terminating a date with about as much of a future as a certain chinless Syrian.