Pulling up to the house, Frankie was concerned. The gate hung askew and the grass grew long enough to hide in if you had to. “I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt” she decided, getting out to open up.
Frankie had been chatting to Tony for about 6 weeks now, they had met on a “Dates for Divorcees” dating site. It gave the impression of being an upmarket dating site and they had hit if off quickly. Tony seemed ideal, he owned a house, liked to cook and designed websites for a living. This ticked her boxes. Frankie had always liked creative people, she found them interesting.
Stopping behind an old Peugeot she noticed the paint was peeling off the bumper and the driver’s door was a different color to the rest of the car. “I wonder whose car this is?” she thought to herself, assuming that Tony’s car was in the closed garage.
The house needed some TLC. It hadn’t seen paint in years and the yard was treasure trove of rusted tools, water tanks and other unrecognizable shapes. Tony had told her it was an ongoing project and she wondered which part he was currently working on, it looked neglected. The bell didn’t work apparently as no-one came to the door when she pressed it. Giving up she knocked. Hearing footsteps her instinct whispered, “Last chance to run…”. She didn’t.
“Come in, come in” the gentleman said enthusiastically, waving a dishcloth towards the inside. “Tony?” she asked when he didn’t introduce himself.
“Yes, in the flesh.” He nodded towards the back of the room.
The first thing she noticed was that Tony must have used an old photo on his profile. The 2nd was the smell. She balked putting her hand to her mouth. “Do you have animals?” she asked politely. Tony didn’t have to answer, 3 large, rather dirty German Shepherds ran into the room barking. “That settles that” she thought, expecting him to send the dogs outside. He didn’t.
Tony glanced around a grubby lounge, the furniture had seen better days and the TV still had bunny ears. Tony headed into what Frankie assumed was the kitchen, she hesitated then followed. She could smell food cooking and realized she was really hungry. An old man was seated at the table. “Hello?’ she said surprised. “Dad?” Tony shouted, he looked up.
“This is Frankie.”
“Hi” she said sweetly. He grunted an answer and Frankie wondered why he would invite his dad to join them on their first date. His dad barely looked up and looked like he needed a good scrub.
“My dad will eat with us then be off to bed and we can get to know each other” Tony leered.
“What have I let myself in for?” Frankie asked, pushing one of the dogs away from her and wiping the hair off her slacks as she sat gingerly at ancient grubby table. She regretted wearing her new red lingerie.
“So your dad lives with you?”
“Yes it’s his house. Well its mine when he dies” Tony smiled. To her absolute horror Frankie realized he was missing two teeth. One at the top and one at bottom, both in front. She thought to herself, that really is something he should post on his profile. Gross.
To avoid looking at him, Frankie checked out her surroundings. The kitchen must have been a cheerful yellow at some stage it was now urine yellow. The tabletop was sticky, as was the floor. Dog hair covered everything. They were lying on their muddy blankets eyeing her. At least they all looked fat and healthy. Tony chatted away oblivious to her disgust.
“You are my 4th date from the internet, I just love the anonymity and access to beautiful woman [pronounced wimmen] like you Frankie” he said sincerely grinning. He seemed to be waiting for a response, so she smiled at him.
“How many dates have you had? Did they turn out well?” luckily he didn’t wait for an answer just carried on, he obviously loved the sound of his own voice.
He busied himself turning pork chops and pulled baked potatoes from the microwave. Frankie caught sight of the pan he was using. Grease was permanently glued to the sides in various shades of black and brown. Countless meals cooked in it and very little access to soap and water. Frankie felt her hunger dissipate and felt her lunch making an appearance which she quickly swallowed.
“How the hell and I going to get out of here?” She wondered. She considered saying she was ill but wasn’t a good liar. She was regretting now not arranging with a friend to call her so she could make a fast getaway.
“Wine?” Frankie pulled the bottle of good red out of her bag’ looking forward to a glass. ‘I’ll fill up on that’ she thought.
“No! No, I have already chilled a bottle for us.” Tony pulled a bottle of ice cold red plonk from the fridge, looking particularly pleased with himself. A connoisseur, he was not. Wiping two greasy beer glasses off on his pants, he poured the wine and lifted his glass to cheers. “Amazing” Frankie muttered under her breath.
“Thank you” he beamed. The evening was nothing like anything she had ever experienced, she sipped her ice-cold plonk with a shudder. Tony set the table, around her and his dad, using his sleeve to wipe off the dog hair which wasn’t very effective. Mismatched placemats and soiled cutlery and he was done. So was she! She had to get out of there before he dished up!
Picking up her phone she tut-tutted, shaking her head “It’s on silent” she announced, “taking the call”.
“Him mom. Really! Now? But I’m out with a friend…” she furrowed her brow trying to look as sincerely upset as she could.
“It’s what? Purple and blue? Can’t it wait to tomorrow? And no-one else can take you?” Frankie avoided Tony’s eyes. But just then to her horror her phone rang, sounding loud and shrill in the quiet kitchen. She looked at Tony whose mouth made an “O” in shock.
“The call must have dropped. I’m so sorry I have to go.” Frankie said, rejecting the call from her mom. She could clearly see on Tony’s face he didn’t believe her. Picking up her bag and her good wine, she practically ran out of the door, scaring the dogs. Diving into her car, she pulled away making dust, threw open the gate and hot-footed it down the road without closing it.
Frankie felt bad, but not bad enough to spend the evening watching someone chew through lousy food, with a few too few teeth, drinking ice-cold imitation red wine!
After stopping for a takeaway, Frankie made it home, poured herself a lovely Chablis and ate it with perfectly grilled calamari. Looking around her clean, minimalist home she wondered how Tony lived like he did.
Opening her “Dates for Divorcees” profile she was ready to check for another potential date when she was shocked to read that Tony had done a “Rate The Date” and given her 0!! He gave her a 0?! She was on the point of responding when she decided that this was not for her. If she couldn’t meet a decent guy socially then so be it! Going through the motions, the last thing she did on the site was hit delete! Profile gone. Tony gone. Opportunities with men like Tony – also gone.
Only 4 requirements now ran through her head from then on: Job, Car, House and Teeth!