So I have to admit, when I agreed to take the finale of this crazy challenge Stateside, I didn’t really put a great deal of thought into how exactly I was going to find my American dates! I have friends in New York from University and from travelling, who I was planning on visiting while I was out here, and just assumed that they would be able to find someone suitable provided I gave them enough notice.
What I was forgetting was the reality that no matter where you live in the world, the older you get, the less single friends you have! And so as my flight to New York drew closer, I began to panic about how exactly I would go about finding Date 29. I had managed to find twenty-six Blind Dates in England, and two in Madrid, surely it couldn’t be that hard to find one date in New York – the singleton’s capital of the world?!
And so I turned to CouchSurfing. I thought it might be a slightly safer way of sourcing a stranger. If the people on the site are safe enough to share apartments with, surely I could find myself a reliable blind date in the same way. And so I posted a speculative post on the New York CouchSurfing discussion board, hoping that someone normal-seeming might either put himself forward, or be able to recommend a friend.
I was honest about my Challenge, and included a link to the blog, and just a few hours after putting up the post, I got an email from a girl called Francesca. She was on CouchSurfing under a different alias, and suggested she had two guy friends who might make interesting dates. One was a ‘nude model, renowned for being well-endowed’! The other was a journalist who had carried out a similar project himself.
Obviously I asked to be put in contact with the guy with the huge kn*b 😉
No, no …. Intrigued by this other journalist, and his ‘similar project’, I asked if I could contact either of the guys on Facebook. Neither Francesca nor the nude model apparently had Facebook pages, however the journalist did have a page himself, and so I added him, noticing that his page didn’t allow friends, I could only ‘follow’ him, along with maybe 65 other people.
Francesca continued to email me, asking me how many of the dates had been ‘conversions’ (a phrase I’ve stolen from one of the guys Miss32 and I met at the Love & Lust event!). When I told her I hadn’t slept with any of them, and that it was simply a First Date experiment, she carried on with the questions, asking me how many guys I had kissed, and telling me she wouldn’t tell her guy friends the answers. I was pretty candid about the success of the dates, knowing all the information is already up on the blog anyway, though I did find her line of questioning a little weird.
And then her journalist friend began to email me, and it all got very weird.
At this point, I should probably say that I think I was being ‘Catfished’ – where someone creates multiple fake profiles online.
I might just be being very overly cautious, and perhaps the girl, the journalist and the nude model do all exist independently, and just come across a little odd over email, however some of the messages I got definitely rang some alarm bells, as did the fact two of the three people didn’t have Facebook accounts. Maybe that’s an American thing, but in England almost everyone I know under forty (and a lot over forty) has a Facebook account, and if they don’t, it’s normally because their other half has caught them using it to cheat!
I carried on chatting to the journalist, but his line of conversation was all really rather odd! He told me that his ‘similar project’ (which is yet unpublished) involved him using CouchSurfing to shag his way around the world, inspired by a genetic condition which caused him to have an extremely large penis. (Can you see why this whole thing was worrying me ever so slightly?!) He went on to praise me for being ‘open-minded’ on account of my own Challenge, and then when I didn’t reply emailed me several times to ask me if I wanted to meet for coffee while I was in New York, even if I didn’t want to count it as a date.
I have to admit, journalistic curiosity almost got the better of me, and I almost agreed to meet with him (in a public place, obviously!!) however something I underlined very early on in this challenge (and which underpinned my original decision that the blind dates should be referred by people I know) is that if you’re a single girl dating, your personal safety always has to be your first concern.
It was during a conversation last Friday night on our date at The Ivy when the Superhero Alter-Ego showed his true colours, and insisted on finding me a date in New York. He has dual American-British citizenship and had studied at University at Dartmouth, and so has a number of friends in New York. Within a day he was confident that he had found me something, and when I touched down at JFK on Sunday afternoon, the first text I received was cryptically from Date 29.
It was obvious from that first message that The New Yorker was going to be a smooth character! He agreed to ‘pick me up from my apartment in a car’ – which oozed charm, and insisted on drinks before dinner. I decided to make the most of my free-time and get in a Bikram class before the date, and so we agreed instead to meet at 34th and Madison Avenue.
Due to some poor map-reading skills on my behalf, I was staying in an apartment in the centre of Harlem, a place where it is impossible to get a cab! After twenty minutes trying to catch a yellow car, to no avail, I texted him to let him know I was running late, and he changed the plans. I was to meet him at the Hotel Gansevoort on Fifth Avenue.
Finally I managed to get a cab, only to realise my mistake.
I normally either do my make-up, or top up my make-up on the Tube on my way to dates! The Tube has internal lighting. A taxi doesn’t! Spot the seasoned London dater, out of her depth in New York! I was completely fresh-faced from my yoga class, and ended up desperately trying to do my make-up in the multicoloured glow of the advertising TV in the back of the cab! I knew all the lines were in the right place, but I had absolutely no idea what colour I had bronzed my face! I just had to hope that my judgment had been correct in the colourful glow, and that I didn’t turn up on my date looking like an Oompaloompa!
As I got out of the cab outside Hotel Gansevoort, a man rushed towards me and called my name. ‘Get back in the cab, we’re going somewhere else!’ he said, bundling me back into a taxi. Change of plan – he’d got a last minute reservation at a sought-after location, and decided we should do drinks at the other Hotel Gansevoort, in the Meat Packing District.
Inside the cab we exchanged pleasantries. The New Yorker had been the Superhero Alter-Ego’s roommate at Dartmouth, and was originally from Alaska. He wasn’t much taller than me, but was attractive and well-built, with caramel skin and a shaved head. Interestingly he’s the first non-white blind date I’ve been on out of twenty-nine, which might not seem strange, but I have a lot of friends who aren’t white, so was surprised it has taken this long to have a blind date with someone from a different ethnic background.
We discussed what he knew about my challenge, and laughed about the fact that The Hero had been my Date Number 27 (and I’d already had another date in between the two dates!). At the Hotel Gansevoort, we took the elevator to ‘Plunge’, the rooftop bar, complete with swimming pool, and stunning views of New York City.
It was straight onto cocktails, and by the time our table was ready across the street, I was two cocktails in, and feeling at least a tad wobbly! Apparently Catch was the place to be on a Monday night, and so not wanting to be outdone by his college buddy (the Hero had somehow secured a booth at The Ivy on a Friday night at next to no notice!), The New Yorker admitted to using his CEO’s name to secure a table. The restaurant was buzzing, and we settled at a comfortable table towards the back of the crowded restaurant.
As its name would suggest, Catch specialises in all things fishy, and so we enjoyed starters of sushi and oysters, followed by seared tuna, crab spaghetti, moule mariniere, and lobster mashed potato (which The New Yorker teased me for stealing all the lobster out of!). We followed the smorgasbord of fish dishes with a mixed cookie platter, and The New Yorker allowed me to introduce him to my favourite tipple – rose and lemonade.
Rather amusingly, The New Yorker is now under the impression that all Brits love rose and lemonade – or rose and Sprite as it’s called over here! Though I did try to stress several times that I just have the palate of a child, and that even my closest friends tease me for my teenage drinking antics! I’ve even been known on occasion to make ‘Turbo Rose’ – mixing it with Smirnoff Ice instead of lemonade! Maybe one day I’ll grow up!
He actually texted me this morning, telling me he was feeling rather worse for wear and blaming ‘my concoction’ – though I maintain his rose and Sprite contained very little Sprite, and his headache may be more down to the odd array of cocktails which I ordered and then made him finish for me!
The date was really good fun. I had no idea what to expect from a New York date – other than the cliched images of The Empire State building or Central Park in the movies – and it was really fun to embrace my British accent, and go on a proper New York date! The New Yorker was easy-going and a really interesting guy, and we chatted easily about work, and travel and university.
I very nearly nicknamed him the ‘Dapper Gent’, or ‘Mr Monogram’, on account of his outfit. He was by far the most well-dressed date of the Challenge, and even had his initials embroidered in the cuffs of his custom-made shirt, something I delighted in teasing him about! (A ribbing which he endured very good-naturedly!)
The difference I noticed between The New Yorker and my British dates, was the way he took complete command. Right up to the point where he sent me home in a pre-paid car. Everything was planned, and I simply had to follow. Not in a patronising way – he let me order my own food! – he simply knew what he wanted, and that confidence was refreshing and attractive.
We met – as I got out of a yellow cab on 5th Avenue, New York City
I wore – my dating staple – a white and black polka-dot fifties-style dress, a black cardigan, black and gold ballet pumps
He wore – a custom grey suit, and custom shirt, complete with his initials on his left-hand cuff (which was wider than his right, to allow for his watch)
We drank – vodka and soda, rose and lemonade, French Kiss, Mango Madness, some kind of crazy cherry cocktail which came served in a jam-jar.
We talked about – university, sororities and fraternities, hazing, travel, Alaska, family, work
The date lasted – four and a half hours
The date ended – in a private car, which I was sent back to my apartment in by The New Yorker
Marks out of ten – A really fun date – 8.5/10 When I first thought about a New York date, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted a ‘stereotypical’ tourist date in New York, or a more authentic New York date experience – but I can do the tourist thing any time. It was really fun to go on a ‘normal’ New York date, with someone who lives in New York, and he pulled out all the stops to make the most of a Monday night in the Big Apple.
Next Date? The final night of my twenties …. this Sunday night in Los Angeles!