The Tourist


It had taken a while but by midsummer I was starting to feel like I was a little more comfortable with dating and meeting people. It had been truly enlightening – whether it be learning about my preferences, my boundaries, my turn-offs or even just a better understanding of the opposite sex in today’s dating world – which, combined with my growing confidence from a shit tonne of work on myself both mentally and physically, led to me feeling more brave, more bold. And it was fun.

I was also being a little more picky about who I was swiping for on the dating apps and as I was updating my profile pics to better reflect my sunnier, slimmer disposition there was a definite shift in the type of guys I was matching with, and they weren’t bad to look at.

The first one I really noticed the difference with happened to be a tourist. In Vancouver from England for a couple of weeks to visit a friend, he was a hot blonde 29 year old. Hot Tourist (his nickname probably could have used a little work) and I had been messaging for a few days and at first I was a little reluctant to meet him considering he was only in town for a holiday. Was I happy just to have a short lived fling or should I be holding out for a potential relationship like I thought I wanted? But I figured it couldn’t hurt to get a few more dates under my belt, they were all learning experiences right?

So after some very funny, flirtatious and suggestive texting, we eventually found a time that worked for my work schedule and for his vacation schedule (who the hell is so busy when they’re on holiday?) – the night before he flew home. So that short fling had just become a very, very short fling. Oh well. I decided I’d go meet him and see how it was, if I wasn’t feeling it I’d leave. But essentially I went in knowing that is was pretty much going to be a sex date.

I wasn’t sure how that felt, the sex date part. I inherently felt like it should be wrong, that I should feel guilty, as if somehow it made me a bad person. But what was the harm in going to meet a hopefully nice guy, spend some time with him and maybe enjoy some extra curricular activities? Why was that a bad thing? Provided we were both on the same page, and careful in terms of protection, it didn’t seem like it should come with the same social stigma that somehow seemed ingrained in me. That feeling that sex, particularly sex with a stranger that had no potential of developing into a relationship, was dirty and irresponsible – where did that come from? At what age or where in life are we, particularly as women, taught to think that sex is such a bad thing.

I decided to push past those thoughts and figured if anyone actually gave me attitude about it I’d be likely to scream “I WAS CELIBATE FOR THREE YEARS, AND I WANT TO HAVE SEX! LEAVE ME ALONE.”

So with that put to bed, as it were, I met up with him after a work event I was at with a girlfriend. He was out with his friend so I decided to take my friend too and, when another friend texted me about drinks, the five of us ended up meeting up around 6pm on the patio of a local bar. It was a pretty random start to a sex date, but it eased me into it at least.

It turned out to be a fun night. Four of us were Brits so there were shared cultural references aplenty and my Canadian girlfriend found the humour hysterical. Throughout the night I was trying to gauge what Hot Tourist was thinking, as it really was just like five friends sat round a table chatting and not a whole lot of chemistry between the two of us. In all honesty I was glad the other four were there, as Hot Tourist was pretty to look at but didn’t have a whole lot of chat. Slowly but surely, five became four, became three… until it was just Tourist and I.

Oh but before that happened, and I’m not even sure when or how but I ended up taking pics on my phone – I can’t help myself – including getting one taken of me and Hot Tourist. This would become a standing joke with my girlfriends, once I shared it with them the next day. From then on I was routinely asked if I had a “sex selfie” for them post-date. Weirdly I ended up with them way more of those types of pics than you would think reasonable.

Back to the night, Hot Tourist and I finished our drinks and headed back to mine. It’s strange how quickly you can become comfortable with someone you’d never met until a few hours ago. I always think that on dates. Though, obviously, I use the word “comfortable” loosely… But we definitely became comfortable in the elevator. It was like a switch. He’d made no attempt at physical interaction until the elevator doors closed.

There’s something about that elevator, honestly. Those elevator doors close and apparently all inhibitions/insecurities are left on the ground floor as we up head to my floor. I’m sure some of the guys would have left their clothes there as well if they could, such is the speed with which situations seem to change in that moving metal chamber.

We get into my apartment and by that point Hot Tourist had now found his balls after being fairly quiet all night and took charge. I didn’t hate it. It was more than just a little hot and I’ve come to learn that’s definitely my preference when it comes to the bedroom. I take charge in every other aspect of life and can find it hard to relinquish control. Not so in the bedroom. I’m sure there’s some psychoanalysis research into that but all I know is it’s the place that I’m the least bossy and actually want someone to tell me what to do.

Prior to this period in my life I had never even had these realisations about my sexual preferences. It just was. My sex life just was the way it was. I never thought much about what I really liked or didn’t, what I’d like to do more or less of. I’d have said I had a good sex life with my ex, but I realise now it was never something I truly had a good understanding of from my own personal perspective. Most of my sexually active life had been with him so you end up growing together in that respect rather than figuring out your own stuff in isolation. And that changes it for sure, or at least it did for me. So I was now finding these new found preferences fascinating.

Hot Tourist did a great job of taking charge. Swiftly followed by a great job of promptly falling asleep. Like, I mean out cold, dead asleep, right after, before I even came out of the bathroom, possibly before I even got into the bathroom which is ten feet away. I genuinely wondered if he had narcolepsy. And now thinking back that’s all I really remember, is just the whole thing being swift. Which I’m not sure any guy wants to be his lasting legacy.

Earlier in the evening it had been mentioned that he still had to pack before his flight the next day and as his friend had left from the bar he had thrown in a comment about “if you’re not back by 8am I’ll send a search party”. I’d laughed because at that point I wasn’t even sure the sex date was going to happen, let alone him staying out til 8am. But when I woke at 7am for work, Sleeping Beauty (he did have lovely, luscious blonde locks) was still dead to the world. So I had to do that awkward “hi, morning, remember me, yeah you’re in my bed, you need to get up”. After I’d had a shower and done my make up, of course (insert hair bob emoji here).

Somewhere in the midst of his sound sleep he’d changed back to his quiet and reserved self, not the persona he’d put forward in his pre-date texts or his post-elevator doors closing actions, so the whole ten minutes he took to get up and get out were slightly awkward, almost painful.

Once he’d finally gone, I went to put my rings and earrings on before leaving for the office and there on my dresser was a pile of loose change. His. Those coins stayed there for a good two or three weeks. I was reluctant to put them in my purse for fear it would feel slightly like payment.

And who wants to be worth $11.35?

Next post…

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I’ve Never Liked Cats


What’s more distracting when you’re fooling around with someone – the surprising colour of their penis or their cats watching you intently throughout? I never thought I’d find out the answer to that question, but here I was.

As was Canada’s want every 1st July, I’d thoroughly taken to donning some red clothing and celebrating my new home’s birthday on a yearly basis. Actually, that’s a lie, my closet contains almost NO red and yet somehow I still manage to muster a celebration. This year I started the day off on a hike with friends – because the west coast way of life had got me in its grips by then and I was in full on exercise and outdoorsy mode. After an early morning grind, we spent a rainy few hours in a rooftop hot tub drinking beers before deciding on plans for the rest of the day.

We prised ourselves from the hot tub and continued celebrations at a party the owner of my kickboxing gym was throwing in his apartment. He was attempting to date my girlfriend so we’d got the invite – your friend being pursued by someone can be fun for you at times too. It was a lively, interesting group, a few of whom I knew but there were a couple of people I’d never met. Including a friend of the host’s who was a pretty hot, 36 year old Vietnamese Canadian guy that worked in sales, had a thing for motorcycles and seemed to be up for a pretty big night.

I talked to him a little in the couple of hours we were there, while meeting everyone else, chowing down on some BBQ and making plans for our next move. We had another party we had to go to and were meeting up with other friends for that, so we headed off, leaving behind my girlfriend who was having all the moves put on her by the (clearly in love with her) gym owner. Not long after we left I’m told rounds of body shots began, which we realised was instigated purely as a way for him to flirt with her further. Bold strategy, sir.

As we headed onto the next stop, I never really gave Vietnamese Canadian (his short term nickname) another thought but as we left we threw out the invite for them all to join us at our friend’s house party – it was going to be a complete free for all so the more the merrier.

It was only late afternoon at this stage and we probably should have made a stop for some proper food. The BBQ had been great and I remember there being an incredible amount of guacamole but seriously, who eats enough at a party? But as sensible adults the only stop we made was for more booze as we met our other friends and headed toward the house where the next party was.

The weather had cleared up so everyone was in this great big back yard, perfect for parties. There was a tonne of people, a fire pit, beer pong table and an incredible amount of booze. What a way to celebrate Canada.

As night fell and more people came and fewer people left, we got a text from my girlfriend saying the ones left at the first party were going to cab it to where we were. When they turned up the body shots had most definitely taken effect.  But really, who were we to talk? I’d switched to gin and already made a sizeable dent in what had been a full bottle.

From discussions over said gin, as well as friends “Tindering” for me – is it even a verb? And why do they treat it like a game? It’s my actual life! – there was definitely a thought in the back of my head that it would be nice to “meet” someone that night. I would use the word hookup but that would make it seem like I had an intention of something happening which, given the amount of gin I’d consumed, I knew was probably not a great idea.

So when Vietnamese Canadian turned up with my friends I was more than a little secretly pleased. The body shots he’d consumed meant he was all of a sudden much more familiar, and flirtatious, with me than he had been before. We ended up chatting by the back fence, can you say romantic?, and got on pretty well. We spoke about our upbringings and families, travelling and work. Turned out he currently worked in sales but really wanted to get into acting – they don’t call Vancouver the Hollywood of the Northwest without it resulting in way too many wannabe actors being here.

Before we got too far into the hopes and dreams chat, our friends (the gym owner was his friend and the girl he was chasing down like a getaway car was my friend) said they were thinking of leaving and due to some car/key/other logistic that my gin-addled brain couldn’t follow, my conversation partner  said he needed to go with them. Quickly they all suggested I go too and that gin soaked brain of mine thought it was a great idea. So after a seemingly never-ending round of goodbyes with my friends asking if I was sure I wanted to leave with him, we were all in a cab headed back towards downtown.

I should have seen it coming but we weren’t even 5 minutes into the cab ride and gym owner and my girlfriend clearly had designs on heading home together, so Wannabe Actor (new short term nickname) took his chance and suggested we did the same. In the cold light of day now, I look back and know I should have just gone home but he seemed like a nice guy, he was a friend of a friend and they knew where I was going. Having ironed out whatever the logistical dilemma was that we’d all had to leave at the same time for, he and I carried on in the cab to his place.

To preface the next part of the story, I never felt in danger, I never felt unsafe but there was something that made me incredibly uncomfortable almost from the get go when we arrived at his place.  But what happened next also provided two of the weirdest/wtf anecdotes I have from dating. So, you know, every cloud…

The first thing was that as we walked through the door he started saying “hey, I’m back!” and I’m thinking, um.. you could have mentioned you had housemates. Turns out housemates would have been a better alternative. Instead it was two Siamese cats. I’m more of a dog person. And, honestly, a single guy having two cats? It just seemed a bit… odd. But ok, to each their own.

He got us some drinks, cause of course that’s what we hadn’t had enough of by that point, and we started fooling around on the sofa. Try as I might to relax and enjoy it there was something stopping me. Make that two things. The two cats had barely left his side since we walked in and were now sat at adjacent corners of the sofa. Watching. Actually staring. I kept thinking they’d get bored and go do whatever cats do. Seriously, I’m really not a cat person, I don’t even know how they keep themselves busy. But no. For the entire time we were on the sofa, they were about 5 feet away, glowering at me.

As if that wasn’t distracting enough, when Wannabe Actor then decided to move things to the next stage and whip off all of his clothes in what felt like a very hurried but rehearsed fashion, the cats were the last thing on my mind. While wondering what the rush was and also why every last article of clothing had to come off at once (he clearly wasn’t one for the tease) something else caught my eye. Well, I mean it was pointing right at me.

Now, call me sexually inexperienced or sheltered, but for the life of me I couldn’t work out if I was just way more drunk than I’d even realised or if his penis was in fact ombre. I mean it was proper dark, almost black, at the base and then almost white at the tip. It was the perfect ombre, just on a penis. So perfect that I found myself considering that if my hairdresser had been able to achieve that level of blend on my ombre hair I’d have tipped more than 20%.

Was that normal? Was it a Vietnamese thing? I mean, he was tanned but that darkest dark was a surprise. Is ombre a normal penile feature? Was it like vitiligo of the penis? Should I be concerned? Honestly, everything and anything was running through my head.

Then I spotted the damn cats again and that was it. Game over. Lights went on. I had the WTF am I doing here moment. It was time to leave. (Note, quite some time had passed since he’d done his stripper move so it wasn’t like clothes came off, my face fell and I ran. It was a little more subtle, though maybe only marginally.)

I made my excuses, ordered a cab and got the hell out of there. On the way home, I really did start to wonder what the hell I’d been doing, why I’d gone back with him and generally questioning my choices. Let’s just say I was tired and emotional and I’m pretty sure the cab driver was imagining all sorts of traumatic scenes that I’d just fled. Little did he know it was a pair of staring Siameses and a shaded penis.

After a few catch up conversations the next (very hungover) morning with friends, I was reliably informed that such a dramatic shade scale was not all that common on guys. I had found the ombre unicorn, if you will. It didn’t feel that magical but Ombre Catman (new, long term nickname) would go down in history for sure.

A few weeks later, with the cats and blended member a fading (pun intended) memory, Facebook messenger pinged on my phone to bring all those memories jolting back. Ombre Catman said he was sorry he hadn’t been in touch before now, he apologised for how drunk he’d been and hoped I’d let him take me out for a date.

I was pretty close to saying no, but prior to the weirdness back at his place, he’d seemed like an alright guy. And at that point, “alright” was a step up from “meh” so I said yes. He also somehow slipped into conversation that a few days after that night, one of his cats had died and he was devastated. I felt bad for him. Losing a pet is awful, of course, but I also felt so guilty because I’d been cursing those cats every time I told the story since that night.  So, hoping cheering him up with a date might alleviate some guilt, I agreed.

A few days later he picked me up after work for a picnic on the beach. He’d planned it all with snacks, a blanket and wine and in the car we quickly brushed over the events of the Canada Day night, both admitting we’d had more to drink than was wise and definitely more than would have been preferred for a first night together. It was agreed to leave it in the past and start afresh. I was grateful for that.

It was a gorgeous summer’s evening on the beach and it was busy with other people enjoying the sunset and families making the most of warm nights to tire out the kids. The chat was good and while I wasn’t sure I could entirely see the sense in him giving up his successful career to try and pursue an acting career, with no real background or basis, I did actually think there was some potential with him.

At least, I thought there was maybe some potential, until he thought it was appropriate to try and slip his hand down my shorts as we lay on the beach.

There had been some flirtatious touching and play fighting, but despite agreeing to leave the events of our drunken night behind it seems he obviously thought we could just get right back to it. I was surprised he didn’t whip all his clothes off again to be honest. Worse still than just being a surprise to me, it was compounded by the fact that there were people right by us! Families. Kids. People. With eyes! Stroke my arm all you want buddy, but to try and get your hand down the waist of my shorts and between my thighs in the cold, public, light of day, you’re going to need a lot more than a bottle of rose and some cheese.

He seemed taken aback that I was taken aback. As if, the events of the other night had somehow made it ok, like it was his to go after again. I was confused. Should I feel bad? I mean, we had fooled around the other night and then I agreed to go out on a date with him. Was I leading him on? Had I been giving him other signals? Was I just  playing hard to get? Pretending to be a prude? I couldn’t help but answer no to all of those questions.

Why is it, as women, we’re made to feel like we can’t say no. Or we can but need to expect that it’ll get pushback, it’ll be questioned, ridiculed, negatively received. It’s so rarely just accepted. Again I never felt in danger or unsafe, but I just felt a bit icky.

He apologised, half heartedly, more in a “I know you don’t really hate it but let’s all pretend here” type way and laughed. I think the laugh made it worse.

Thankfully the sunsetting of any potential between Ombre Catman and I coincided with sunset on the day and I ensured we were packed up and on our way back to the city as soon as the sand underfoot would let me. I’ve never liked cats and that hasn’t changed.

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Second Dates Can Be As Bad As First Dates. Who Knew?


Despite my resolution to move away from the quiet guy sphere after a few less than stellar dates, one of those meh dates came back for seconds and I figured maybe it was worth another try.

It was the second date guy from the Friday evening, and he asked if I wanted to go out for dinner. Even before we got to the date it was all pretty bizarre, to the point where I did wonder why I was going, more than once. He insisted we go to a specific pizza place, which was fine as their pizzas are great, and he suggested 5.30pm. Now, I’m hardly a late night rager but even that was early for me to be going out for dinner. I was going to ask if we could make it later but I realised it could work in my favour if he was still not lighting my fire I could escape without my entire night ruined. Though as one of my girlfriends queried “How old are you? What is this? Some Early Bird special?” She had a point.

One thing I didn’t mention about my first date with this guy was how it ended once I cut it short.

As is always the case when you’re wanting to get out of somewhere quickly, the server took an age to come over (one of the reasons I disliked the place he’d picked for the first date so much is the service) but when she did I was expecting the normal exchange of “can we get the bill?”, “sure, together or separate?” One thing I love about Vancouver is that splitting a bill between all parties, either in equal portions or based on what each person had, is something almost every food and drink establishment offers and it’s great for when you’re out in a big group of friends. However, it causes a little more awkwardness when you’re on a date, especially a first date, and one of you actually has to basically out loud determine who’s paying. It’s always a fun cliff hanger!

In this instance however, he cut the exchange in half by declaring “can we get the bill and we’ll pay separately”. Well alrighty then.

The ‘paying on a first date’ debate is lengthy and controversial and seemingly culturally influenced – my North American friends have a different take than us Brits – and really there’s no right answer. For me, I will always offer to pay for myself on a first date and if he declines my offer I’ll happily let him pay. After that, while you’re still in the early dating stages, I prefer taking it in turns to pay rather than splitting bills.

However, while I’m comfortable paying for my own, there is always something attractive about a guy picking up the bill, it’s not so much about the money for me but more about them taking charge, making a decision, wanting to show their values. To make it so blatantly clear he had no intention of paying the $12.60 for my two gins, it was more than a little off-putting.

For some of my friends, that would have been enough to never reply to another of his texts, never mind not even consider a second date, and meant they were openly sceptical that I was giving it another chance. I believe the phrase “By Felicia” may have been used more than once about him. I apparently love a red flag though, so happily went on a second date with a guy who was financially ungenerous and wanted to eat dinner at 5.30pm. Who says I make poor choices?

If there was ever a second date to give my friends an “I told you so” opportunity, this was it. I can genuinely say the best thing about the date was the pizza. The chat was stilted, I realised quickly just how different we were (and not in a good way), he was awkward with the server, and I always think how someone interacts with a server says a lot about them as a person. So it was less than ideal and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I made up a story about needing to go and see a friend who was in crisis afterwards. I hate lying and I was going to see a friend after but the crisis part and urgency with which I needed to get there were maybe slightly / definitely completely embellished.

Rather than have to endure a similar wait as we did on date number one, as our plates were being cleared away I quickly asked for the bill at the same time. It caught him off guard but he got himself together quick enough to shout after the waitress “she had the dipping sauce, you can put that on her bill!” Wow.

As I picked my jaw up off the floor, the waitress looked over at me as if to say “sorry if that’s your date” and when we were doing the card machine dance she pointedly said to me with a smile “ok and yours is $33.29, including the dipping sauce”. Love a bit of server collusion on a date. Before the receipt was even printed I was putting on my coat to leave. I felt rude asking for the bill so quickly and being in such a blatant rush to get out of there. I felt rude despite him really not displaying any manners of his own, I couldn’t help it. I’ve realised sometimes I’m too nice. It’s not something I ever thought I’d say about myself, but in dating I realised sometimes I needed to be a little more assertive.

To quell my (misplaced) feeling of being rude, I said yes when he asked if he could walk me to my friend’s. I’d tried to be vague about where I was going but when I pointed in a general direction he said that’s where he was going too. Well, great. We walked in awkward conversation while I was preoccupied with trying to decide how I was going to give him the brushoff, knowing I was likely going to need to do it in person, here and now.

I intimated that we were getting close to my girlfriend’s place and as I suspected he said “so can we hang out again?” (“for you to not pay again?” I finished in my head). At that point I bit the bullet and launched into the story I decided I was going to go with. I know I said I hate lying and I really do, but I had also learnt the value in knowing when it was just easier all round and he seemed like the sort who wouldn’t take “I’m not feeling it” very well.

I explained that an ex had recently got back in touch which was confusing things for me and I didn’t want to string him along (an actual event which has since taken place – I must have brought it on myself). He looked questioningly at me and said “so why did you even come on the date? When did this happen?” I said it had been over the weekend and I’d thought about cancelling but didn’t want to be rude and I know realised it would be too difficult to keep dating other people. He started asking when I’d dated this guy, what he wanted, why we’d split up, what I was going to do and finished with “so how long should I give you?”

Wait, what? No, no, this isn’t a temporary (albeit fake) situation. This is me telling you we’re done. I told him I wasn’t sure and thought it might be best for us not to see each other again. We’d come to a standstill now outside my friend’s place and as he turned to go he said “ok, I’ll check in again in a week”. Um, what? No! I said we shouldn’t see each other again. And what was this? A business meeting that has follow up tasks?!

I fell into my friend’s apartment, already spilling the story as she opened the door and Unbelieving Cheapskate, as he was now known, was talked about at length. For some reason, his questioning of my story had really shaken me. I don’t think I should be able to get away with lying, I really do hate it as a practice and yet I was affronted that he’d even dared question it. And was annoyed he’d made me lie even more with all his damn questions. Jeez, I’d built up an entire fake ex in my head by the time we were done.

My girlfriends laughed and took the opportunity to throw their “Bye Felicia” advice in my face, which I had to take. Though I still argue that knowing when something is not worth pursuing and when something maybe just needs a little bit of time is a tricky balance. They say fireworks are bad, they’ll just fizzle. They say you should be able to tell right away if there’s something there. But presumably based on that first piece of advice, it shouldn’t be with fireworks? Well I don’t bloody know what the happy medium looks like. Yet.

What I do know though is that Unbelieving Cheapskate is true to his word. 8 days after our date, I got a text “it’s been a week, is there any update?” Genuinely could have been the content of an email from my boss. For once, I did the unthinkable for me and didn’t reply. Bye Felicia.

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