I’m a massive advocate of online dating. I’ve been using it for years and gone on countless dates (wow, that kinda makes me sound a little pathetic). I am an online dating, blind date expert. I hear what you’re saying,“having loads of first dates isn’t an achievement. It’s about having second ones.”
This is very true. But you can’t have a second date unless you have a first one. And yes, there are a lot of concerns. The hot man in the picture shows up to your door at 3.00 am and he’s actually about 30 years older (this has happened). They could steal money from you (this has happened). They could have a gun and shoot you in the face and leave you eye swinging back and forth from its socket (this has NOT happened…..yet). For me, the good far outweighs the bad. The magic of online dating has been instrumental in providing me with some awesome experiences.
Suliman Oman 2015
Pulling up in a black Ferrari and then saying ”I don’t like where your hotel is, I’m going to change it,” is a pretty epic first impression. He drove me all around the capital city and showed me the main sights and explained a bit about them. He, then, ordered my bags to be taken to Grand Hyatt Hotel, because I was too amazing to be in a two star accommodation (damn right). God bless oil rich Arabs who’ve never done a day’s work in their life… or Allah, rather.
Hert Barcelona 2012
Hert was also a writer. He was from Amsterdam and was on holidays. I told him, I’d show him around the city. But I got really sick with the flu and couldn’t move from my bed. Hert, showed up at my door with a big bag of fruit and juices and told me to call him when I got better.
Paul Dundalk 2015
I missed my bus stop because I fell asleep on the bus and ended up 30 miles north of where I needed to be. Did I panic? I did not. I used Grindr and found Paul, who let me stay on his sofa. I did have to listen to Celine and Whitney barking all night long (his pet dogs).
Each time you meet someone for the first time, it’s a risk. You may not like them. Even worse, you could really like them, but they don’t like you. Or, you could be so nervous, you drink too much, and vomit all over yourself in the bathroom (happened).
But, while it’s impossible to quantify all of these experiences or even remember all of them, I recently had one that I just had to write about. Dr. Remi and his motorcycle.
I’m travelling around India, against medical advice and my health insurance is a bit sketch, so it’s important I don’t do anything stupid. Responsible Remi with the blackest eyes showed up at my hotel with his motorbike. He offered to take me to a party that everyone on the online dating app seemed to be talking about.
Me – I didn’t know India had gay clubs.
Remi – We don’t.
Me – But this is a gay club?
Remi – It’s a gay night.
Me – Well, yeah, same difference.
Remi – You have to be discreet.
Me – Right. So no making out with guys.
Remi – No. Well…. Yeah, that should be OK. But nothing else…
I sensed he had an active imagination.
I jumped on the back of this motorcycle. It should be noted that the club was 50 minutes away and it was necessary to cross the city, a huge bridge/motorway and some country roads. Absolutely beautiful scenery but a bit fucking terrifying. No one notices traffic lights in India, no one wears a helmet and there was an electrical thunderstorm.
We had to stop the bike and seek refuge under a tree while the rain became particularly heavy. We could just about see each others faces with the light from a passing cars.
Remi – We are going to be late.
Me – Oh, no. Sorry. How long is the place open until?
Remi – About 2. But I didn’t think it would be this far to pick you up.
Me – Oh, right. Well, thank you for offering. It was very nice .
A flash of light from a car lights up his face and I can see him smiling.
Remi – Why are you staying in such a hotel?
Me – Oh, man. I have no idea. There is no place to get food.
Remi – There is no place to get anything. How did you find it?
Me – Internet.
Remi – It looks like the rain will stop in a minute. Do you like India?
Don’t answer honestly… You will be offensive… again.
Me – Yes. It is great.
Another flash of light from a truck, he doesn’t look convinced.
The rain stops, we get back on the bike. I hold on for a dear life, and we go across an enormously high bridge with the lights of the city all around us. My hand are holding on the handles at the back of the bike, but we zoom past all the cars and bikes I notice that the bike passengers have their hands around the driver. I thought this would maybe a bit to forward to I continued to keep them gripped tightly behind my back.
Speed bump after speed bump and I started to get nervous. He couldn’t see me but he knew it.
Remi – Put your hands around me.
Me – Oh, OK.
So I did.
Remi – Better?
Me – Yes. Much better.
If this is Indian flirting at 50 MPH, I love it.
So we get to the party. A lot of Indian gay guys shoved into one room. Not a whole lot to report. I met a guy who told me Ireland wasn’t a country and another who was apparently addicted to peanuts.
Being the palest person in the room, I felt like a bit of a novelty and also like a ghost wandering around the living. But the only person I wanted to talk to was Remi. Having earlier confessed (before we met face to face) that I didn’t really have a thing for Indian people, he was trying to set me up with another foreigner. But there were none. So for better or worse, he was stuck listening to me for the whole evening.
Me – What do you do for living?
Remi – I’m a doctor.
Me – Seriously?
Remi – Yes. Why?
Me – No, no. Nothing. That’s awesome.
He would be a good one to introduce to Mam and Dad. They would be proud and it’s a big step up from the last guy I met on Grindr… whose name escapes me. All I can remember is that he was a French artist who was smoking crystal meth and wanted me to help him soundproof his walls. I left quickly.
Me – I think half the world’s doctors are Indian.
Remi – Probably. What do you do?
Me – I’m a writer. Plays mostly.
Remi – OK.
90% of people always respond with OK and a strange facial expression. No one really knows what to say.
Me – Yeah.
Remi – You must feel very free.
Me – Eh… I’ve never thought of it as a freedom… but I guess so.
So, we chat and chat. I discover that he’s Catholic. Brownie points with my Mam once again. This guy is a winner. His Dad works for the exact same company as I did, in Oman. And the same place as well, so I probably know him. Weird……..
Me – Do you want to stay out? I’m feeling a bit tired.
Thinking about using my packet of cigarettes as a pillow.
Remi – I can drive you home.
Me – Oh, wow, dude. No, I couldn’t ask you to do that. It’s so far. Stay.
Remi – It’s not that far. I don’t mind. I don’t want to stay.
We debate this back and forth in a typical Irish way… like arguing over who is going to pay for a cup of feckin tea. Ultimately, he wins, and I get a free ride home.
We decided to drive slowly. There was no traffic, and a power cut (that happens all the freakin time), the only light was moonlight but that wasn’t the best part. When we drove into the city, the river was all misty and everything smelled like roses (which was a welcomed change because most cities smell like arse).
Me – Wow. The streets are all spooky.
Remi – Are they?
Me – Yeah, with the mist and stuff. And what is that smell! It’s amazing.
Remi – It’s called Queen of the Night. It only blooms at night. You can’t smell it during the day.
Me – It’s amazing.
We arrive at my hotel. It’s locked and I can see through the door that the door man is asleep (literally, in the middle of the floor).
Remi – So, I guess this is goodnight.
Me – Maybe you can stay here.
I ring the bell and the guy lets me in and doesn’t ask any questions and Remi quickly follows me. The next morning Remi exits really quickly (probably afraid that his balls would be sliced in half if anyone knew what was going on). But the best part was the hotel manager.
Hotel Manager – Good morning, Shank. (my name is Shank to everyone here…for some magical reason they stick a complimentary K at the end).
Me – Good morning.
Hotel Manager – Your brother left early for work.
Me – Who?
Hotel Manager – Your brother. He is family, yes?
Hotel manager winks at me and walks off giggling to himself. Mother did always tell me never to ride on motorbikes with boys… but like many things, bless her, she was wrong.