Guest blog by Sam Avery, The Learner Parent
I’m not a fan of blind dates. I’d only been on one in my life and it was a disaster. Conversation was awkward, she spilled a drink on me and I spent half the night wondering where I recognised her from. As I tried to kiss her goodnight I realised she looked just like me. I never saw her again unless I looked in the mirror.
‘You need some dad mates,’ suggested my wife one night as we cleaned the kitchen.
‘I’ve got mates,’ I countered.
And I do have mates. It’s just that not many happen to be dads. So understandably, they’re not that keen on visiting a soft play centre with me and the twins for two hours. They’d much rather spend their time doing something more uplifting, like bashing their genitals flat with a brick, for instance.
‘It’s good to mix with other dads,’ she said. And of course it is. I knew she was right. But truth be told, I couldn’t be arsed with any more mates. I barely saw the ones I had now the kids were born so the last thing I needed was another buddy that I couldn’t make time for.
‘I chat to loads of dads on Instagram,’ was my piss poor reply.
‘It’s not really socialising if you only do it on the toilet, darling.’
A good point, I conceded, silently so as not to lose ground. I carried on pretending to wash the dishes.
She began again: ‘My mate Siobhan’s husband doesn’t get out much either.’
‘Lucky him,’ I said.
‘He seems nice.’
‘Spit it out, love.’ I was getting irritated.
‘Maybe you two should get together one week?’
‘Not for me, thanks.’ I’d started my answer before she’d finished the question.
‘But he’s soooo similar to you’, she argued.
‘Sounds like a prick,’ I snorted.
‘What I mean, if you’ll just let me speak,’ she said, ‘is that he thinks this is a terrible idea too.’
Hmm. That was interesting. Maybe we were similar. Perhaps we could bond over this forced friendship like some kind of double Stockholm Syndrome? I agreed begrudgingly while inside feeling something that resembled excitement. Not full-on-about-to-go-on-a-roller-coaster excitement but more like the feeling when you spot an empty parking space on a busy high street.
Our respective wives passed on our digits. I didn’t want to make the first move so I waited. The next day I get a text:
‘Hi Sam, it’s Gav here. Siobhan’s husband. Fancy a trip to the park with the kids sometime?’
I fought the urge to reply instantly because I didn’t want to look keen. Then I remembered that I wasn’t seventeen and chatting to my high school crush – I was a married, balding man in his late thirties, stood in the kitchen eating Jaffa cakes in his pants.
Maybe it was the seventh Jaffa cake that was causing the sudden butterflies in my stomach? Feeling slightly giddy I managed to wait a cool seven minutes before replying with a suitably cautious:
‘Oh hi Gav!!! GREAT to hear from you! Be AMAZING to hook up this week lol’
Hook up? I thought. You sound like you’re sliding into his DM’s on Grindr.
To compensate, I started composing a follow-up text. Something much more reserved, more British:
Thank you for your correspondence. I sincerely hope that we can synchronise our schedules in order to enjoy each other’s platonic company this coming week at a neutral location to be determined and agreed between us.
Sam Avery (Mr)’
As I deleted this hunk of guff before sending, his reply came through.
‘Nice one. 1pm at the gates?’
Perfect? I thought. Fucking hell, Sam. Why not just put ‘dreamy’ and get it over with?
He sent me the thumbs up emoticon, bringing a clear and masculine end to the conversation.
The date day approached. I began to get nervous. But why?
Worst case scenario would be that we wouldn’t click so wouldn’t meet up again. We weren’t likely to have some huge fall-out and start a blistering row on the roundabout about Brexit. (Although any regular park-users will testify that with toddlers in tow, the Leave vs Remain debate often does become quite toxic when it’s time to head home.)
Best case scenario is that I’d make a new friend and the kids would have fun.
And I’d love to tell you some hilarious outcome from our dad-date but the truth is, it was a very pleasant day. We talked about the kids while they marauded round the park together, we laughed at our parenting fuck-ups and agreed to meet up the following week.
We met up regularly for a while until they moved to another city.
Now my wife’s trying to pimp me out to all sorts of other dads like some piece of meat. And you know what? I don’t actually mind at all.
Sam is currently on a UK tour. More info can be found here.
His book, Confessions of a Learner Parent, can be purchased here.
For more about Sam, check out his website, or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.