Task: Just stay safe gorgeous girl (lots of love, from Mum x)
When going on dates with complete strangers, in a city I rocked up in just three hours earlier, I like to think of my pre-date safety check as pretty rigorous (though not foolproof);
- Full LinkedIn and Instagram stalk
- Seek clarification on whether he drives a White Bronco
- Whatsapp my Mum, who is 4,912 miles away with a six hour time difference, as much information as I have about my chosen candidate (largely obtained from my stalk)
- Ensure my “Find My Friends” app is working, so that my girls can follow me via the power of the internet
Pretty comprehensive, you’ll agree. But the more dates I go on in the US, the slacker I’ve been getting. My stranger danger guard has been lowered. That, or I’ve just been swept away by southern hospitality. Where I once sent my girls photos of my potential murderer’s driving license, now I seem quite happy to hop into their Dodge Challenger, naively believing their Tinder, Bumble or Happn profile act as a safety check. Silly girl. No doubt on publishing this post I’ll be inundated with worried messages from my Mum. Sorry Mum, I’ll be more careful. Love you. Don’t forget to Sky+ X Factor for my return!
The first of my foolish safety fails was actually a misunderstanding. I’d suggested going out on Magazine Street in the Garden District of New Orleans. It was walkable from my hostel and my date lived two blocks over, so I presumed he’d walk to meet me outside my oh-so glamorous dwelling. Obviously the tourist in me failed to realise that in America you always drive – regardless of how much alcohol you plan to consume, how short the distance you need to cover is, or how shit-scared your date might be.
Needless to type, casting agent Shane arrived by car.
After suggesting that we walk, Shane informed me that my particular block wasn’t the friendliest and that we were better off driving. Eeeeeeek!
I gave myself whiplash getting into his Chevrolet pick-up, so quickly did my head spin around as I cased the vehicle for potential murder weapons. So far so good, I thought, there didn’t appear to be anything dangerous. Other than his big bare hands. *Gulp.
I only shat a brick twice during our three minute car journey to our first bar; once when a police car pulled us over to appreciate my date’s apparently old and rare automobile, and then again when I tried to get out. The old-style handle meant I couldn’t – I was grabbing at bits of door like I was after gold tokens in The Crystal Maze’s Crystal Dome!
Really, I was just grateful he didn’t bring the dog that I saw in his profile pictures – the Leatherface of the dog world. I’m equally glad that he didn’t go wild with the drinks. It would be a bloody shame to not be murdered by a stranger and then end up in a drink driving accident, what with me being such precious cargo and all.
I was rattled a second time when I got into an Airbnb host’s car in San Antonio, Texas. He had to move his gun holster out of the way for me to sit down. I had literally just met him, and I spent the entire journey sweating massively in my grey, not forgiving around the armpits, H&M T-shirt thinking, where the hell is the gun that goes in it and p.s, is my Lidl deodorant even working?
Likewise, when I stayed with a family friend of a family friend in Kerrville, said friend silently removed a stun gun from his glove box at a drive-thru McDonald’s. It transpired he thought another car “looked suspicious”. I thought he was going to murder me! I almost dropped my Big Mac Meal.
Then there was the time a date and I were getting some late night corndogs and I lazily suggested I’d sit in the car whilst he did the honours and fetched them. My date said he’d lock me in for safety. Hairs went up on the back of my neck, arms and nipples. Not because of my date, but at the suggestion that this New Orleans back street was so dodgy a grown woman needed to be locked in the car. At that point I leapt out of the passenger seat and into his arms, Scooby Doo-style, then remained glued to his side like Copydex. Perhaps it was a safe area and he just wanted to cut to the cuddle stage of the night, I’ll never know.
But the ultimate scary movie-style moment was in Washington DC. I met my date in Georgetown and the first thing he asked me was “do you want to see the Exorcist steps?”
“Absolutely not” is what ran through my mind, but “sure, why not?” is what came out of my mouth.
I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty creeped out. They were by some portaloos and a skip, so the place understandably had “crime scene” written all over it. Fortunately, sweaty armpits aside, I lived to write the tale and we went on to have a phenomenal date.
*Several dates have asked if they give off a murderous vibe (bit awks). I think it might be because I spend the first five minutes of any date repeatedly asking them if they are going to murder me.
**I should probably work on my first date chat a little more.