Before I tell you about my date with a 21 year-old, I wanted to remember what being twenty-one was like for me. And see how much I’ve changed …
I was in my second year at Cambridge. I celebrated my birthday with a night out in Reading with my best friends (where they gave me a list of 21 Challenges to complete throughout the night), and then again in Cambridge with a masquerade party at Trinity Vaults – an underground bar.
At 21 I devoted all my spare time to ski racing – on plastic slopes in the UK, and abroad in Tignes, where I spent the majority of the winter dating a seasonnaire by the name of Frodo (who I’m still in touch with, and who tunes into the blog regularly from his new home in Colombia!). I spent the summer in South East Asia, enjoying probably my most memorable travel day canyoning in Southern Vietnam with a female friend.
That year I was still finding my feet after losing my parents, and was carrying at least a stone of extra grief, which I couldn’t seem to shake, despite swimming every morning, and gymming in the evenings. Though a student diet of pesto pasta and pesto cheese toasties probably didn’t help all that much!
I was head of a drinking society – the Cambridge equivalent of a Sorority – and knew roughly who I wanted to grow up to be, but was still very much guided by other peoples’ preconceptions and popularity.
Looking back, I still recognise a lot of 21 year-old me, but there are definitely things I would change. In particular some of my outfit choices (see below!)! But I still like to claim that hoop earrings, and big chunky silver jewellery were part of the fashion back then. I had no confidence in my body, or my looks, and would cringe at the idea of getting naked in front of a guy.
Not that you would necessarily guess that from the hilarious pictures I found from 2004. Like most twenty-something girls back then, I paid far too much money to have a ‘professional’ photo shoot taken of myself (the over-priced naughties version of phone selfless!)
And yes, before you ask, the full length photo is most definitely (badly) photoshopped! Looking back it’s funny what you think looks sexy … and what you’re told looks sexy, as there was a female photographer telling me to strike these poses! I’m genuinely so embarrassed of one of the tops I saw fit to wear at the shoot (and the resulting cleavage display from the Hollyoaks-like pose, that I’ve had to very uncreatively edit it, for fear this post might end up as part of a very different experiment!)
Anyway … that was me nine years ago! And I’m proud to say, I’ve changed a lot since then. Hopefully for the better!
But as I look back on those cringey photos, and remember that year of my life, it puts into context just how long ago it was, and exactly how long nine years is!
Which is probably something I should have thought about before my date with Tyler Durden … who, you’ve guessed it, is 21.
I mentioned him briefly before. He’s a guy I’ve known for about six months. A friend of friends, we’d never really spoken much, but I’d always mentally acknowledged how attractive he was. Six foot four, rugby-player build, FIT face. Think Abercrombie model or Hollywood lead man. The type of guy you double-take at. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again … he didn’t look his age! Which is normally my problem when it comes to my cougar-tendencies – a topic of much hilarity amongst my female friends. When I first met him, I’d put him at a far more acceptable twenty-five … and by the time I realised his real age, the damage was done. I’d already decided I fancied him. Not that I ever thought anything would happen!
And then one night when we were out clubbing with mates we ended up kissing. And this is perhaps where the ’21’ aspect of this date is first properly introduced. Because the first time I kissed Tyler Durden was on a nightclub dance floor, snogging drunkenly like we were teenagers! It would appear thirty really is just a number where I’m concerned!
My date with Tyler Durden wasn’t planned with Tyler Durden. Which is interesting when you realise just how ’21’ the setting for the date ended up being. My date with Tyler Durden was actually planned with the Skype Date. But those of you who read this blog carefully will remember I slipped in an anecdote about just how bad my real-life date with the Skype Date ended up being, the night before I went to America. And so, despite me booking the tickets whilst I’d been on the phone to The Skype Date, I decided to just be honest, and admit going on a second date with him (after the first disastrous one) would just be too awkward.
Which left me with two tickets for a Bastille concert … and no one to go with. Enter Tyler Durden!
I have the music taste of a teenager. Something which was underlined a few days ago, when a friend my age admitted to never having heard of Bastille. When I’d seen the tickets go on sale, I’d paid over the odds for them, and not worried about the four-hour return trip to Portsmouth to go and watch them.
Knowing I would be coming back from America (and my finale of the 30 Dates) on a massive come-down, going to a Bastille concert a few days after my 30th Birthday party seemed like the perfect pick-me-up. And even more so, when one of the most attractive guys I’ve ever met (let alone kissed!) offered to accompany me.
The logistics of it all weren’t great. As a 21 year-old, in his final year at university (yes you’re allowed to groan at that point … I know I am slightly!), Tyler Durden doesn’t have a car! And so, I began my date with the 21 year-old, by driving an hour back from work to collect him from my village, only to drive back the exact same way, en route to Portsmouth. (Way to make a girl feel like a babysitter ….)
I’ve always said going out with a guy who can’t drive would be a massive turn-off. And it’s something I still stand by. Obviously this was just a one-off date, and he can actually drive, he just doesn’t have a car … but I would hate to be in a relationship with someone who didn’t drive, and who I would have to drive around. Maybe that’s a weird thing to be picky about, but I see it as rather emasculating for the guy … and I guess I quite like the novelty of being driven?
Anyway … I drove … three hours from my office, to home, to good old Pompey, and after a bit of a stress trying to find somewhere to park, we found our way to the Guildhall – a beautiful venue in the central square of the town.
Not knowing any of the support bands, we headed to a quiet bar inside the venue, and settled on a well-worn sofa. I cuddled up comfortably on the sofa, and we chatted easily for a couple of hours as we waited for the headline act to appear on stage.
Driving to the gig was definitely a mistake. As I sparingly sipped my one legal alcoholic drink, I realised how much more fun it would have been to have been drinking. Tyler Durden was drinking amazing smelling mixed fruit cider, which basically tasted like squash (yet another sign I was basically on a date with a child!), and I wanted to be doing the same! Not worrying how small my glass of rose and lemonade needed to be to still pass a breathalyser test!
Now, I’m not someone who needs to drink to socialise. Nor am I suggesting you can only have fun with a drink in hand. But that evening – particularly after the stress of the drive and finding parking, I would have loved to have downed bottles of the squash-like cider and made a big night of it. As I knew Tyler Durden I felt safe around him, in a way I wouldn’t necessarily trust a blind date. But as it was, I was restricted to diet Coke most of the evening, and because I wasn’t drinking, he was also taking it easy. Despite the drinks situation, conversation was easy, and (apart from the standard jokes about how long ago it was since he left school), you would never have noticed the nine-year age gap from our conversation. In fact one of the reasons I’d originally assumed Tyler was 25 was because he came across so mature in conversation.
Finally the building fell into hushed silence as Bastille’s crew set-up the stage, and we filtered into the main hall, to stand a few metres away from the stage.
This was where the 21 aspect came in. Though genuinely not in a bad way. Tyler Durden was up for standing close to the stage, jumping up and down to the music, and dancing like a fool without caring. Completely unwittingly, (and despite the fact the venue had seemed packed with teenagers), we’d managed to stand in a section of the crowd filled with people in their thirties and older, so I actually felt on the youthful end of the scale as I jumped up and down to the music, and teased Tyler in between the songs.
We laughed at the audience members around us barely moving to the music, and sang loudly and out of tune with smiles on our faces.
The show was amazing. Low key and personal, it was a treat to see one of Britain’s most popular bands in such close proximity. Dan, the lead singer, wove his way through the crowd during ‘Flaws’, and as well as performing most of their album ‘Bad Blood’, they covered a few other popular songs … some of which were far more my generation than Tyler Durden’s.
I’d never been on a gig date before, and the setting genuinely worked well. When you’re squeezed together in a crowd there’s plenty of opportunity for invasion of each others’ personal space if you want to, and you have to get close just to hear each other over the music. As we pressed against each other in the crowd, I kept wondering if he’d wrap his arms around me from behind, or move to kiss me again, but it seemed his last PDA had been fuelled by a lot more alcohol!
The date worked well because we went for a drink before heading in to see the band. And whilst the two-hour drive down to Portsmouth was tiring, it was a good opportunity to chat.
I genuinely came away from the date thinking it was one of the best I’d had in a long time. Ok, so the guy being incredibly hot was obviously a bonus, but he was also really entertaining, and funny, and we just got on easily. The music was great, and it genuinely was the ‘come down treat’ I had been looking forward to, after the excitement of New York, Los Angeles and my birthday party.
Whilst the age gap was ever-present in our conversations – mainly by us making jokes about it – it wasn’t noticeable from the perspective of what we talked about. I don’t feel I could particularly distinguish the conversations I had with Tyler Durden from those I’ve had with older dates, except perhaps when I remembered that the housemates he talked of were university friends, and that the nights out were actually student nights. If anything it wasn’t the age gap, in so much as the life experience gap. I work full-time. He goes to university. Which is interesting, as when we first met, he was working full-time in university holidays, and so those differences weren’t so evident.
The big ’21’ aspect of the date, for me, though, was what happened next.
We agreed to see each other again. We were both really upfront about wanting to stay single, and not being in a relationship. But we both acknowledged how well we got on, and how fun the date had been. And so after a really candid conversation (and perhaps a bit more snogging) we decided to meet up again. As I’d paid for the Bastille tickets, it was agreed that Tyler would take me out for dinner.
And then he basically went AWOL!
Not in a Henley Boy kind of way. But just in a teenage boy, can’t be arsed to text you back kind of way. I’d text to ask a simple question, and have to wait five days for a response … often after asking a second time. It made me realise that I’m just too old for that kind of game play and chasing. Especially when I’m not even trying to go out with a guy!
In the end, I had to send a (probably far too adult text) asking what was going on. Only to receive a (far too late) text explaining that he’d started seeing someone at university and hadn’t known how to manage the whole situation!
21. Enough said.
So it turns out I won’t be seeing the 21 year-old again. And he won’t be treating me to dinner.
Which means, I drove two hours out of my way, to then drive another three hours round-trip, to collect a guy, to go on an awesome date with me, for which I paid for the tickets.
Ironically dating a crazy hot 21 year-old didn’t make me feel like an accomplished Cougar (or whatever big cat reference we decided applied to 30-somethings??? Lynx??)
In fact, dating a crazy hot 21 year-old had inadvertently made me feel like a Babysitter!
Oh well …. onwards and upwards (in age at least!!)
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx
- Why Every Single Girl needs a Tyler Durden Character (30blinddates.wordpress.com)
- AGE – Oxford Speed Dating (30blinddates.wordpress.com)
- AGE – Playing the Age Card (30blinddates.wordpress.com)