52 First Dates – A Fairytale Ending

© Bernardo Baldiviezo 2011

For anyone’s whose even remotely followed 52 First Dates, you’ll know that I was a perpetual hermit who, upon moving into my 30s, decided to start looking for a husband. I’d sat back for so many years thinking ‘they’ll come along when I least expect it‘. Of course, that is a complete lie, and after a decade of singledom, I decided that enough was enough.

So, I embarked on 52 First Dates; a quest to go on one date per week for a year maximum until I found the one. It’s all about numbers, you see. I mean, how can you expect to meet your soulmate if you only go on a few dates every year? You have to either be extremely lucky, happy with staying single, or – in the worst scenario – you have to settle. Now, I don’t agree in settling one bit, so surely, 52 men would be enough to find the one?!

As luck would have it, Date #10 (aptly named Mr Toronto as he flew from Canada for a date) was the one. We’re now coming up on our two year anniversary and I have news – we’re getting hitched!! Next May, 2014, my 52 First Dates saga will come to the ultimate end – marriage. I went out with one clear goal; to find a husband. And I have!

So folks, if I can do it, you can! Get out there, meet as many people as you can and one day, that soulmate will pop into your life and change it for the better, forever.

52 First Dates – That Four Letter Word

© Bernardo Baldiviezo 2011

Can you believe that it’s been 15 months since I went on Date #10 and met Mr Toronto? I can’t quite believe it myself, time seems to have flown past. Now it’s time for that VERY important four letter word – VISA.

Over the past year Mr T. and I have jet-set back and forth between London and Toronto. To be fair, it’s mostly him coming here, but that’s because his aviation company flew here regularly over the summer and so Mr T got a free ride to the UK. Get in! well, he had to work, but still. Plus, an extra little perk of him working was having a free hotel room, albeit Gatwick’s Hilton’s sparse offerings, and it was preeetttty nice!

But, there was one thing bugging me all along, where could this go? I didn’t want to do long distance forever, and though I’d kinda got used to being far away from each other, there comes a time when things have to change, when things have to get a little more serious. But what can be more serious than saying ‘I LOVE you?’. I’ll tell you. Saying, ‘Lets get a VISA’.

Luckily for me, Canada’s a commonwealth country and so they have the young person’s working visa which you can apply for up to 30. Luckily for me again, Mr T is 28. However, being cabin crew he needs his passport for work and we’ve had to wait a LONG time until he could take annual leave and get a long enough period to send his documents off to NYC, in the middle of Hurricane Sandy, I add. But, today he got it back and there, stamped neatly in its pages, was the visa, all approved, all ready to go from December 1st 2012.

I have to say, getting the visa was highly stressful, largely because there is no official to ask and no official to check your documents. You have to work it out yourself, plead for help from friends who have similar visa processes and hope to God that you’ve got everything right. We made mistakes. We fucked up a few times. But, it’s done. And now this 52 First Dates story can continue its happy ending as Mr Toronto becomes Mr London.

52 First Dates – Dealing with the Two L’s

© Bernardo Baldiviezo 2011

Today, I said it. I said something that I daren’t think possible when 52 First Dates began. I told Mr T I loved him.

We’ve been circumnavigating around the issue recently with a lot of ‘I miss you a lot’, ‘I wuv you’ (please don’t judge me – we all know that in the privacy of txts adult language turns to dirt and mush).  The thing is, with a Long distance relationship, the Love word is very easy to throw around. In fact, the word is easily thrown around in whatever relationship you’re in and it can quickly become a term with no real meaning. But, with the distance of 6,000 miles, a face to face ‘I Love You’ isn’t that possible. Plus, I’d been a bitch on the phone last night and spent the twilight hours worrying if he really, actually, knew how much he means to me. So, I said it, I meant it, and life is a whole fracking lot better now it’s been said.

I can’t quite believe that I found love due to 52FirstDates. Nor can I believe that it happened so quickly; Date #10 after all. Nor can I believe that I’ve fallen in love with a man who lives 6,000 miles away. I’ll say that again – 6,000 MILES! Claire is now on Date #31. To be honest, I think you might have found me hanging by a noose if I was on level pegging.

Long distance relationships and love is a complicated affair, but whilst I was adamently against it at first, it’s actually worked in our favour. We are thrilled to talk to each other, excited to plan our next trip, relieved that in our current state there’s no way to take each other for granted. Ok, the physical issue is enough to drive ones horn to a permanent erection, but with the blessed iPhone, Toronto is just a phonecall away. Apple has pretty much solved by dating disaster.

However, the word love is a certain milestone within a relationship, and now it’s been said, what next? Milestone One; You start dating. Milestone Two; You say Love. Milestone Three; You Move in? You Get Married? I do know that for a long distance relationship to progress, something has to change so that its no longer a long distance relationship. But, whatever happens, I set out on 52FirstDates to find a husband.  And, now it seems, I might have only gone and bloody well found one!

Breaking My Long Distance Phobia

© Bernardo Baldiviezo 2011

I’ve always believed that long distance relationships don’t work. Not that I’ve had any experience and my views are completely unfounded, but somehow I believed it was a one way street to hurtville. I mean, how can you develop any kind of relationship when you’re not actually living in close enough proximity to see one another face to face, and more importantly, body to body? It has all the requirements to go straight down the drain once the initial honeymoon months fade, and as your wandering eye starts to flit to other fine specimens of the male form, what’s there to stop you from bed bouncing whilst your lover overseas has no idea? So strong in my belief was I that I actually, and very bluntly, said to Mr Toronto even before we met that I wasn’t willing to commit to a long distance relationship and I didn’t know if we should even entertain the idea of dating because where could it go? Oh, how wrong I was.

Long distance relationships seems like they could be a modern thing. With travel allowing people to journey and explore the world like never before, it’s more than likely that you’re going to fall in love with a suave and mysterious man from overseas. The wonders of Skype, Whatsapp and the Internet allow you to have a pretty fulfilling relationship, and with the ease of travel it’s not hard to fly here, there, and everywhere in seeking your love. And, for Mr Toronto, being an air steward certainly helps in terms of both being able to travel and having an entirely different concept of distance; I mean, a trip across the pond is all in a days work for him and he doesn’t think anything of it.

But the long distance thing isn’t a modern concept, it’s just easier to maintain in the 21st century. Yes, next generation transport has made the world a smaller place, but you can look at it the other way too that, as you got back in time, distance is all relative to the speed and ease of the transport you have. I’m sure Elizabeth Bennet felt that Longbourn was a million miles away. And she couldn’t pop onto Skype either to enjoy a quick interweb chat with Darcy’s gorgeous face. Think of wars too, where men were sent away, often for months and years, yet they managed to maintain their love affairs; distance really does make the heart grow fonder.

So, having now entered into a long distance relationship, I can truly say that my mind has been changed. In fact, for a hermit like me, having my space but being able to text, chat and call my beau is a God send. Of course, I miss him and think of a time when we can be together, but having the distance maintains the spark and freshness for the entire thing. And for the hermits, Pan Am’s and Mr Toronto’s of this world, a long distance love affair should not be discounted at first glance as it could be the start of something great.

52 First Dates – First 10 Roundup

© Bernardo Baldiviezo 2011

If you’ve been following 52 First Dates you’ll know that the ultimate goal is to find a husband. I don’t mean to date 52 guys and get married at the end of it, I mean to find someone with whom I want a future with. I’m not a naive fantasist who’ll get married within three months, but really, what’s the point of horrific dating rollercoaster ride otherwise?  The first ten really were an exciting journey of highs and lows. Date #1 saw me snogging the face off a very hot but young Cypriot lad, and though we both made plans to see each other again, nothing further came. Date #4 set my world alight but, as with so many dates, the feeling wasn’t returned and I was left with the ‘why didn’t he like me’ angst. #7 and #8, whilst I wasn’t damning in their write-ups were pretty dire in retrospect, and #9 got to three dates before we both realised the simmering spark had died out.

52 First Dates however isn’t just about dating lots of people to find the one, it’s also about changing the mindset in relation to dates. The more people you meet, the more you realise when a spark really is a spark rather than a vague ember. The feelings you had when someone was great on the date and then never text – well that happens the opposite way around too and you suddenly have a little more compassion for the boys that perhaps werent so into you but didn’t know how to tell you.  It’s easy to have a great date before going home and realising that whilst they were great, it wasn’t going to work longterm.

As of now, Date #10 is still the major player and, having met a month ago and talked every day via Whatsapp and Skype, I’m heading to Canada on Friday. I can’t wait to go if I’m honest as this is a man who I can see myself with forever. For the hermit in me the distance isn’t actually an issue, yet, and the future will be what it is. He’s even deleted his Grindr profile and that’s as good as getting down on one knee.

However, this isn’t the end for #52firstdates and Claire is currently full throttle in her attempts to find a husband. Meanwhile, there’s a long way to go until I’m in my wedding best and betrothed…..and I feel like the story is only just beginning.

Date #10 – 52 First Dates – The Tale of Mr Toronto

This week has been rather a rollercoaster. At the start, the dark clouds of depression began to roll in, making me feel inadequate, uninterested and fog filled. At the end it was smiles, passion and more laughter than I’ve had in a long time.

Mr Toronto and I have been chatting for some time after he initially found me on a lesser used mobile app, Jack’d. We texted daily, he called me a couple of times, we shared more than a few intimate photos, but I never thought it would come to anything, I mean, he lives on the other side of the world. But Mr Toronto is intense, intense enough to fly across the pond to come and see me in London. Intense enough to scare me a little as a certain good friend knows. But though I may have been a little wary at first, his persistence paid off because date #10 started on Monday afternoon and finished only a few short hours ago!

The thing with Mr Toronto is, not only does he work in the aviation industry, but he’s spontaneous too so a quick standby request and he was in London in no time. In a 52 First Date’s first I’d shared the blog with him, wanting to make it clear that I wasn’t doing this just to bed him and improve diplomatic relations. It was good reading fodder for his journey, and a few questions out of the way and all was fine. Our dating ideas were changed rather due to his accommodation plans falling through, and after creating enough fireworks for the entire street to think Eid had come early, I persuaded Mr T not to look for a hotel; as long as he got out of my way in the day so I could work, he could stay the week.

And so, an unexpected holiday romance began. We talked allotments, I made him watch The Great British Bake Off, we were woken by Cecil the cockerel at 8.30am. I made stupid faces like a gurning champion, farted in bed and wore my £4 faded Primark trackies round the house, and amazingly he still found me attractive. He cooks. He’s interested, or at least pretends to be, when I go off on a geek fest regarding gardening, bugs, or my aquarium….though I haven’t unleashed the Harry Potter geek on him yet. He has an incredible body, one which makes me feel out of shape rather. I love that we watched Final Destination 5 together and laughed at the stupid gore whilst filling our gobs with popcorn, ice cream and, for health’s sake, a tuna sandwich. I love that he has the dedication to keep his faith, yet the independence to not be led by it. I love that I was completely myself for the entire week and felt like a best friend, but of course with benefits, was in the house.

So, what next?! Well, there’s the possibility I’ll go to Toronto to see him and, before we even met, Mr T already had plans to become Mr London in 2012 for his career. Would I move for love? of course. Is this love? of course not – yet. As far as 52 First Dates is concerned I’m not at all sure. Mr Toronto makes my heart smile, and the last thing I want to do right now is go on a new first date. As such, there may be a stop gap in proceedings whilst we work out where this might head. But, for now, date #10 has taken a little piece of me with him on his flight back to Canada and I’m hoping that I’ll see him again.

Date #9 – 52 First Dates

© Bernardo Baldiviezo 2011

After the shameful dates of #7 and #8, I’ve been wondering if I once again needed to become a little more discerning in my choice of meet. There’s one thing for going on 52 dates, but the drive of ‘needing’ a date has led me to go and meet men which, perhaps in normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have met. Not that this is a bad thing mind you. With my long list of criteria, being forced to meet alternatives is a good thing. But, having had two dates not go so well, I was feeling a little dismal.

I decided to be productive for Date #9 as, though we had spoken for many months on Grindr, no date had ever been set and I was wondering if I might, like #5, have a last minute cancel. So, I headed into town – shopping, reading in the park and the six monthly sexual health MOT was in order – though perhaps the latter might not be the best idea just before you supposed to be going on a date if bad news is received. With a clear screen and a bag burgeoning with condoms (where have freedom’s gone?! Getting free condoms from the health clinic is one thing, but having them in Soho bars is surely far better for the safe sex message), I headed off with slight anticipation for the latest man in my life.

Date 9 was, and is, sexy with a smile (I’m smiling about him as I write). 25, hair stylist, local to me due to my Grindr coverage, and pretty much out which I highly respect in the asian community. It’s a good sign when five minutes in you’re already wanting to kiss someone. I introduced him to Patisserie Valerie and flirted over cakes in Compton Street, despite the rather abrupt and poor waitressing (Marshall Street and Spitalfields have MUCH better service). We bantered about his bling, about his Saturday night drunken antics, about the fact that we’ve been chatting on Grindr for months yet have never really taken the opportunity to meet. We drank Pornstar Martini’s at Freedom and flirted more, me knowing that I really fancied him now as not only did I still want to kiss him, but I didn’t dare touch him either – a common trait when I like someone. I now know more about styling than I ever have in my entire life, but with the knowledge also comes a sexy guy who is so passionate and enthusiastic about his job that you can’t help but be enthralled. It’s normally me that’s chatting away like a rampant budgie on dates, and it was refreshingly blissful to sit back and simply enjoy the company of someone who’s on your wavelength and is a lot of fun to be around. Also, his love of tea scores brownie points, and when you factor in a love for a good strong cuppa after a pissup before bed, there a major points involved.

Living in the same direction, we both headed home on the Central Line, not having had a kiss and knowing that a mid-carriage snogathon couldn’t really happen. We talked all the way, making the 30minute journey feel about five minutes and there was a notable appearance from Meera Syal (she’s lives in my hood dont ya know). I complimented his bum when he jumped off for the overground, he complimented mine by text a few minutes later. I really hope I see him again, because I could have quite happily spend the entire night chatting away. And its safe to be said, any amount of unexciting dates are worth the feeling that I have right now.

Date #8 – 52 First Dates

© Bernardo Baldiviezo 2011

They say that if you fail, try try again, and after Saturdays dismal failure I was very keen to get another date in pronto. I’d been speaking to Mr Investment Banker for a few months now and had largely held off because our initial communications had surrounded meeting up for a random shag. He was on gardening leave from his job, horny as hell, and thought we’d have a great time. However, whilst he had a great body and was South Asian so just my type, with 52 First Dates a bid to find love, the last thing I needed was another notch on my bed post and a new fuck buddy to confuse my befuddled head.

Over the past few months however, we’ve chatted more, he agreed that yes, he was a horny fuck, but a relationship could be on the cards, tick tick in my books. And so tonight, amongst London’s burning riots, dark looming clouds and the city alive with sirens, I decided to meet this rather handsome, pocket sized man for a drink or two.

The date was good, but interluded with quite a few moments of silence. We sat side by side on a bench outside a pub looking out at screaming police vans, not exactly good body language from the outset. We were approached by countless tramps, one of which was dressed almost as well as we were, and other than the odd glance at each other’s face, we talked, but at our drinks rather than each other’s faces. Some potential f-buddies are simply not suitable for more than bed bouncing, a fact that was clear by our lack of mutual interests, his seriousness compared to my silliness, and the fact that our lives are vastly different. I mean, he gets up at 6am, and I’m rarely in bed before  2am, this was never going to work.

After strolling the streets around Spitalfields hunting looters – we found none, though the police presence was high – I thought that I might get a darkened alleyway snog just for snogs sake. I mean, this is date 8 and I haven’t snogged since date 1. However, a hurried goodbye and a rather fumbled, quickly turn a cheek kiss into a limp hug on his part, showed me that he far from fancied me and I should’ve just jumped on at Liverpool Street rather than walking him back to Bank…confirmed by his then decision to go to Moorgate, possibly to avoid further kiss attempts from me.

So, an enjoyable evening came to an end. I never look back at these failings with regret, he’s a lovely guy, we’re just not suited and he didnt fancy me an ounce. Onwards….here’s to date #9!

Date #7 – 52 First Dates

© Bernardo Baldiviezo 2011

Whilst I was filled with a little hope after date #6/Federer lookalike, I soon realised that it wasn’t going to happen. Yes, we chatted like old friends, but being worried he was going to go in for the kiss, in addition to looking in the toilet mirror hlafway through the date and asking myself whether I fancied my date or not, probably reveals my disappointed answer. I liked date #6 a lot, and I suppose I was trying to create a spark. However, from dating history I know that if it’s not there from the beginning it simply doesn’t work for me…and so onto date #7 I went.

A Grindr find, date #7 was a Middle Eastern Aussie. He was hot. He seemed fairly upfront and honest, and after he failed to find any Bel Ami boys on his holiday in Prague we decided to meet up. If I’m honest, I was disappointed. Sometimes you meet someone and know within seconds it’s not going to work. He was still hot, still Aussie, still Middle Eastern, but I could tell that our approach to life differed hugely. He didn’t get my banter. He seemed rather uninterested, and whilst a nice guy, there’s no creating a spark when you don’t have fuel or kindling. The most notable occurrence of the date was that there was a squashed fly on the window by our cafe seats; slightly off putting when ur trying to enjoy tea, cake and some stagnant conversation.

There’s not too much further I can say. We ate cake, we window shopped in Liberty’s, but I was all too keen to get away and see my friends for some evening boozing. And with the coming week’s social calendar already bursting, I’m hoping that I find time to slot date #8 in!

Date #6 – 52 First Dates

© Bernardo Baldiviezo 2011

The one thing you realise when serial dating is that the demanding effort needed isn’t for the dates themselves, it’s for the prep work. Finding men, chatting them up, vetting them to the best of your abilities to ensure that they’re not complete weirdos actually takes a long time. 52firstdates started well, and now I realise it was because of the prior prep, readying men to actually meet. It seems that, unlike me, people have lives to live and can’t actually just date at the drop of a hat. And though dates were rolling to start with, the past few weeks have been a little stagnant to say the least. However, Claire and I seem to be mirroring each other, and she too has had difficulties. Whether luck was on our sides, or the simple motivation of her sixth date last night spurred me on, I finally managed to confirm a lovely number six for tonight.

I met Date #6 on Gay Romeo, a new site suggested by a twitter friend. Sardinian, 27, independent and a great smile. After the debacle of the past few weeks I was slightly unsure of whether I’d ask for a date because I was just in need of one or whether I actually felt it would go well. Saying that, a slight blip in my highly strict criteria was much needed. Being both east end boys we decided to skip the suffocating atmosphere of central London and instead head to Canary Wharf. And having never been there in my 12 London years I was amazed how nice it was.

Date #6 was beaming constantly. Funny and with sparkling eyes his thick Italian accent made it a little difficult to understand at times. However, in these moments I was just taken in by his uncanny resemblance to tennis star Federer – his eyes, his teeth, his broad face, and the way his mouth was slightly contracted when he spoke. We wandered along the river, looking at architecture and the slivers of sunlight streaming through the clouds. We had a coffee in Costa, before we took again to the city slicker skyline of soaring buildings and pristine parks. At one point, amongst the pine trees of a sculpted space I was slightly concerned he was going go in for the kiss. Date #6 has the possibility of becoming a great friend, and we all know what that can be a foundation for. Was the spark there? I’m not sure, and I was cautious of a kiss that could lead him on. But, if this were the Bachelor he most certainly would not be going home.

Of random note, halfway through our date I ended up being interviewed by a team from South Korea making a documentary about London. As Date #6 phoned a friend I ended becoming the face of London for Korean children to learn English too. That or I’m going to be used on war propaganda. It was slightly surreal, especially for midway through a date, but hell, my face can now be enjoyed by kids across Korea (cue sick bucket).

All in all, Date #6 was lovely, and even if no husband comes from it, it was a fantastic evening with a new friend exploring new places. Were there raging fireworks? No….but we all know the emotional turmoil that comes from that. For now I’m happy to want date two, and get back on this dating bandwagon.