Singapore's worst dates: An evening with Aperol Andy
The Brunch Download
As the news broke yesterday of our Singapore Circuit Breaker extending by another four weeks from the original 4 May deadline, I found myself sinking into a mild panic. Six more weeks of being totally alone? No other human being to touch or hug or simply linger inconspicuously in the region of, for another SIX WEEKS? How was I, a premium-level extrovert with a love language of physical touch, ever going to survive this emotional apocalypse?
Regretting all the times I showed immense reluctance when my mum tried to arrange my marriage, I paused on my self-pity and asked myself, do I truly feel bad for being alone right now? Could I have done anything differently since I'd moved to Singapore a year and a half ago to find love? Had I already missed out on somebody amazing during my time here because I was too busy judging them for useless things that may not have mattered? Why didn't I just date the guy with the weird mole? We could've had that removed.
As I was reflecting on the possible existentialism of my single status, I was suddenly struck by the memory of one my most recent pre-CB dates and I knew. I knew that whilst I didn't have all the answers to the questions above, I definitely did have the answers to this week's column. So I present to you guys, in Week Three, a true story of my very, very bad date with Aperol Andy.
Swiping until my fingers turned into a puffer fish, I was just about to accept the fact that a life of spinning wool was ahead of me, when finally the little yellow bee on Bumble vibrated and shouted through the screen, ‘IT'S A MATCH!' I immediately rushed to re-read his profile (I was swiping right on a bin by then) and thought of my opening line. I hated this whole independent woman thing on Bumble, where the woman types first. I got to give birth AND ask you out? What kind of equality is that?! Anyway, with a lack of options and the fear of Baby Ganesh leaving me to die alone, I put on my best writer hat and sent him a charming, sweep-him-off-his feet message, that I knew he couldn't resist:
"Oh hey there."
He was 6'3, half Canadian, half Swiss, tanned with a million watt smile and an intellect to boot. A technologist working in infrastructure remodelling and automation (I ain't sayin' I'm a gold digger, but I ain't messin with no... one who doesn't fall into my dad's pre-approved list of ‘safe' professions with ‘good futures'), it felt like he was the ideal catch.
The phone pinged back a moment later:
"Oh hey there to you too." And we were off.
Two weeks later, our communications sporadic and a lot of weird ‘I'm not sure if I'm ready to meet' messages from him (who could've known where this was going? Red flags? Where?), we finally decided that it was time to stop running from this truth and put a venue on it. So, Sunday December 7, 2019, 8pm it was. Employees Only. Date Night. It was time for my Christmas gift to come early. I know that sounds creepy, so let's keep going.
As the date evening rolled around, I decided to meet one of my best friends and always trusted partner-in-crime Gareth, for a pre-drink next door at Birds of a Feather. It was my first date in Singapore in a long time and I was nervous and needed a pep-talk. I tugged on the bottom of my short, black dress and ironed out the creases with my hand — a uniform I've worn on every first date I've ever been on in my adult life. Nothing beats a simple black dress, cinched in at the right places and right to the knee. If it was good enough for Audrey, it's good enough for me. Gareth and I chatted about the date, he calmed my nerves and reassured me I did not wake up looking like a troll. We discussed leaving our careers behind and selling glacier water for $200 a bottle (that's a real business you guys, don't steal our idea) and escaping to the beach for an early retirement. This was my go-to before a date always. Find a friend to help ease the nerves either before or after, so you always go in or come out feeling fabulous.
Then the clock struck 7:55pm and I headed over to Employees Only, my heart between my hands, ready for true love.
Immediately, I was put off by the fact that he was FIFTEEN MINUTES LATE to a venue he'd chosen. I have been late to many things, but never a date and I do not take kindly to others doing so too. It's like a job interview for your heart. If you can't show up now, when will you show up? At the altar? I DON'T THINK SO, BUDDY! The bar was not yet full, so the waiters and bar-staff came over to set me up with a cocktail, chatted briefly about my upcoming suitor, and helped me develop a code phrase for if I needed saving. Now that's the kind of service you'd tip for.
Finally, as the clock struck 8:20pm, he sauntered in, looking nothing like his photo and everything like an episode of MTV Catfish. He was tall, awkward, and gawky with braces on his bottom teeth, thick-rimmed glasses and a flamboyant demeanour. Not saying that's not hot to some, but it definitely was a misleading advertising violation. He swanned over to our table and spotted me. I smiled cautiously.
"HALLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL!" He declared, his hands opening like a sunflower ready for pollination. The bartender within earshot looked over and raised an eyebrow in our direction.
Oh boy, here we go, I thought to myself.
"Hi, nice to meet you in person. I'm Rahat!" I tried anyway, scolding myself mentally for being so judgmental right off that bat. HE COULD BE THE ONE, I reasoned.
"Hey! I'm Andy. This place is super ca-ute right?" He cooed back in my direction, flipping open the cocktail menu. Ca-ute? Was I on a date with a Kardashian?
"Sure is! Would you like to order a drink first?" I pushed through.
"Yes! I literally, LOVE Aperol Spritz! I'm going to have an Appy for sure!"
An Appy? AN APPY? Isn't that the name of a children's juice box?! Mama, come save me.
At this stage, I was definitely starting to wonder if my date was perhaps more into a certain testicular-gendered species than what I had on offer. I had yet to see this much fabulousity ever come out of a heterosexual man who was into voluptuous Indian women. He motioned for the waiter and asked for the ‘Appy'. The only issue was, they didn't have one. I watched his face crinkle into existentialism, a wave of absolute despair crashing over his eyes.
"No Aperol? Oh my god, what is this, a barn? Ok, I'll just have the elderflower citrus cocktail. And a side of your mashed potatoes, please. You want anything?" He handed the menu back to the waiter. Had this man just ordered elderflower and mashed potatoes? On a drinks date?
As the night continued, he told me his work in IT was strenuous and exhausting, as he was an SME (subject-matter expert) in his chosen field. A former Technology Strategy Consultant myself, I wanted to chime in and ask questions as he spoke, but quickly realised I was attending a condescending soliloquy in lieu of a date.
"I work with ‘servers' and ‘hardware', do you know what that is? They go on this big thing we call a ‘mainframe', which is just like one big computer I try to fix!" Aperol Andy mansplained, his hand cupping the elderflower cocktail glass as if it was about to run away from him at any moment. It wasn't, but I sure was.
"Oh wow, tell me more about that!" I cried inside as I spoke.
Thirty-five minutes of infra-talk later, I knew this date was over before it had begun. He had gone through his life history, how and why he'd moved to Singapore, how he was an expert in his field, his penchant for Aperol and why it reminded him of summers in Italy with his very, very fabulous friends from Milan, and of course, why Canadian maple syrup was better than sex.
Then, he suddenly paused, his third cocktail in hand and boldly made a declaration.
"You know I might be moving to Japan next month! Would you come?"
I blinked in confusion.
"You're moving to Japan? And you want me to come?" I repeated.
"Yes! All my other girlfriends have been Japanese and I think it would be so great if you moved too! We could totally make it work!"
GIRLFRIEND? Hold up playa, not today. Also what did he think? I would move to Japan and turn into a petite, delicate alabaster woman? Brown don't get down like that.
"Yeah, I think um, I can't cause, I can't. I have a thing. Here. I have a thing here with my job. With PR. I have a campaign with a celebrity and I can't cancel." Yeah cause that was the reason.
"Girl you're so atas!" He shrieked, digging his fork into the mashed potato and chomping with a smile.
I was dying. I was literally dying on this date, with every bite. I needed an out and FAST.
"So you only date Japanese girls then?" I tried, hoping he'd reject me first so I could go home and not cry about it.
"No no, girl. They're just typically the only girls who've dated me! I like EVERYONE. I DATE EVERYONE." He grinned like a Cheshire cat, as if to reassure me that I too, had made this difficult, difficult cut.
Truth be told, I was slightly offended he'd swiped right now. Was I just everyone? Was he also using the garbage-bin methodology of swipery? How rude. Focus Rahat, YOU DIDN'T EVEN WANT HIM!
"Errrr, everyone?" I asked, my pride overlapping my curiosity.
"Yassssssssssss everyone. Man, woman, trans, bi, gay, straight, fat, thin, short, I'm into all y'all!" He snapped his fingers in a cursive ‘S' direction. This man had more sass than a cloud platform (SaaS — software as a service? Tech joke guys? Keep up now).
"Oh so you're quite inclusive in your dating style?" I probed. Why, only Baby G knows.
"Yes! I mean as long as you're not butt ugly. I'm into it. I'll go one at a time, two at a time, three. I'm down for WHATEVER. You wanna do a chill group sesh? I'm in. Just let me know a week in advance so I can book out some time from building my personal business. I'm down, I live across town, I'm gonna get with you right nowwwwwwwwwwww!" He bopped his head lightly as he moved from side to side, singing the last line.
What in the name of the holy spirit. WHY COULD I NEVER find a normal dude to go out with? Why did they always have to have pet rocks, salient fetishes, and personality pendulums that swung in every direction? I thought I needed an exorcism, because clearly the spirit of some emotionally unavailable loony-bin spinster had overtaken my body and was now keeping me from finding love.
He continued for another five minutes, detailing his many, many sexual endeavours and polygamous relationships as I felt more and more like his mashed potatoes.
"Well! THIS HAS BEEN NICE!" I suddenly interrupted, a little too eagerly and totally off-topic.
I blinked furiously at the bartender and mouthed the words, ‘COCKTAIL RED' at him. The SWAT team assembled at the speed of lightning.
"I'm really sorry but we're going to need this table back now because we have other patrons coming in." The waiter came over, handing him the bill.
THANK YOU JAMEEL! I don't know if his name was Jameel, but it was a cool name and this guy was cool.
"Oh that's cool! I think we had such a great time anyway!" My Aperol Andy spritzed, putting the bill in the center. At this stage I was willing to pay the whole thing to get out.
"VUNDERBAR!" I cried, thrusting my card down.
$42.35 later (thank god he'd paid for the elderflowers), I had bought my freedom and avoided a kiss goodnight. My pre-Christmas date was over and so by the looks of it, was my potential.
After that, the poor bar guys offered me a free shot and a chance to see their resident Psychic on the house who sits out front. Turns out he and I can both see the future, because he told me there was certainly none with that guy. Instead he told me to keep focusing on myself and spend some time alone. Thanks pal, you did this to me. Jokes.
So do I feel better off alone in quarantine than stuck with potentially the wrong man (and maybe five to eight of his closest acquaintances)? For sure. Am I still going back on Bumble tonight and hope the next one is monogamous? For sure.
We have hope yet! So keep your spirits high (I mean it, put the alcohol bottles on the top shelf ya boozers!) and browsers open for next week's column! That's all this week from the Brunch Download.