Every therapist I’ve ever dated has been completely unhinged — and this muthafucker was no different.
His name was Quinn and he came from old money (we’re talking townhouse in Knightsbridge, related to minor European royalty, does his weekly grocery shopping at Harrods-rich.) He practiced integrative therapy at the Priory, AKA the mental hospital for rich white folks. I didn’t care about any of that when I agreed to go on a date with him. His body, which looked tighter than a bow string, was what I was after. Summer thirst can get so serious that even riding on a bus bumping into potholes can send a brother into a right tizz (which is why, dear reader, I only travel by bus.)
Quinn was cute, according to his profile photos (we had met on Grindr.) He had cartoonishly vivid green eyes, biceps that looked as round and robust as tennis balls, and a booty that possessed the rock-hard perkiness of a gifted go-go dancer. I was instantly sold on the fantasy of an exquisite, Adonisian bussdown.
Dating in the digital age, however, can be an emotional and spiritual death zone. There are so many entry-level issues to get past before you can kick it – does he look anything like his photos? Is his hygiene on point? Is he a dog murderer? – and so on, all of which boils down to the following basic equation: will the sex be worth the stress? Because that’s why I came to kula at this particular buffet. My philosophy is super-simple; I don’t bizness about your bank balance or race or buckwild religious affiliations or body weight. If the dick ain’t dope, I will very quickly, and efficiently, dip and dash.
From jump, there were niggles to navigate. He wanted to meet in Mayfair for dinner, which I thought a bit stuffy for a simple date, and I was right. Quinn suggested a gourmet burger, which I misread as Gourmet Burger Kitchen, a marginally better version of McDonald’s. I didn’t care for this choice, but I rolled with it, fantasizing about the potentially acrobatic sex that would follow afterwards.
As I schlepped from Peckham to Mayfair on a humid July evening, I thought; Why does this dating racket feel as depleting as playing racquetball in quicksand? It didn’t make a lick of sense.
A dear friend of mine has this theory that most people are mediocre at best, quoting Lisa Simpson’s inarguable line that if everyone in the world was special, no-one would be. As the bus reached Piccadilly I had to concede to this depressingly accurate assessment of humanity in general, and Grindr users in particular.
I agreed to meet Quinn outside one of those dreary Orientalist galleries where everything costs more than a mid-range Bentley, but possesses the tatty quality of a decrepit hoarder’s snicker snackers, as Modern Family’s Gloria Delgado would say.
As I was desultorily examining a particularly hideous vase displayed in the window in pride of place, a deep male voice behind me said, ‘I have that exact same vase at home. Isn’t it gorgeous?’
I turned around to face Quinn, smiled falsely, and gave him a hug. He smelt of mothballs, but under his dove grey sweater his body felt firm.
‘God, you smell wonderful,' he said. ‘What is that scent?’
‘Soap,' I said.
He laughed a loud, goat-like laugh, and I thought, Oh, shit. Who the fuck laughs like that?
‘Shall we go and eat, beautiful man?’ he said, putting his arm around my waist, and leading me down the street.
Reader, his photos were not accurate. Although he had clearly been striking at one point, he had undergone an obscene amount of poorly executed plastic surgery. Trim though he was, his cheeks had a synthetic bloatedness which lent his face the aesthetic energy of Alvin the Chipmunk.
At this point, as far as I was concerned sex was completely off the table. But I was curious to study this strange man (clearly, bad-mindedness knows no bounds), so I went along to dinner with the aim of treating the whole endeavour as an anthropological field trip.
The restaurant, busy and loud, was a hyper-tony venue for what was supposed to be a casual first date. Impeccably-dressed doormen ushered us inside, and a tuxedo-clad maître d’ rushed to help me remove my leather jacket, and led us promptly to a booth.
‘What a delight to have you back with us, Dr. Andrews,' said the maître d’. He was a svelte middle-aged white dude with diamond-sharp diction. ‘And you’ve brought a rather handsome young guest this evening.’ He looked at me the way those hard-boiled shop girls in Pretty Woman scoped Julia Roberts pre-glowup. Does this man think I’m a prostitute? I asked myself as I sat down. There were worse things to be.
‘Thank you, Tony,' said Quinn, making himself comfortable in the booth. ‘This is…' he turned to me, ‘I’m sorry but I don’t want to mispronounce your name. Diary, is it?’
‘Diriye,' I said, tersely, annunciating my name in all its Somali splendour.
‘Dee-ree-yay?’ said Quinn.
‘No, Dee-rih-yeh. It’s phonetic.’
‘What does it mean?’ asked Quinn, his eyes aglow with exoticist intrigue.
‘He who brings warmth and inspiration to all around him,' I said, grandly. Of course, my name meant no such thing. In Somali, Diriye simply means warmth, but I enjoyed having a bit of fun with hapless folks of all races who had trouble pronouncing my name. In high school some kids gave up and simply decided to call me ‘Dee’ because the pronunciation of ‘Diriye’ kicked their asses with its outsized unwieldiness.
‘Isn’t that just wonderful, Tony?’ smiled Quinn, turning to the unamused maître d’, who looked at me as though everything about me, down to and including my name, was anything but wonderful.
‘Can I get you the drinks menu, sirs?’ said Tony.
‘We’ll have a bottle of Krug to share,’ said Quinn.
This immediately made me nervous. A good bottle of Krug champagne cost over £600. I had come on this date determined to go Dutch, but now my ass cheeks were starting to sweat.
‘Right away, sir,' said Tony. ‘Someone will be back shortly for your order.’
After Tony had left, I glanced around the restaurant. It was dimly lit, had poor acoustics, and was loud. There were bland but expensive-looking abstract prints on the wall, and the air was thick with the scent of attar and Thierry Mugler cologne. A group of boisterous Arab lads were seated in the next booth, and they no doubt shared the same rooty-tooty postcode as Quinn. The Arab lads looked at me and, perhaps realizing that I was a hapless, Haramic Muslim on account of my obvious homosexuality, laughed among themselves. I could feel my face becoming heated. Quinn didn’t seem to notice any of this.
‘You’re a writer then, Deeriah,' said Quinn, sliding round on the curving seat until his shoulder was against mine. The Arab lads shot me a weirded-out look. I was ready to fight at this point as my stress-levels had spiked. Why did I agree to this hostile, compromising situation?
‘It’s Diriye, and, yes, I’m a writer.’
‘And what do you write, Deereeyay?’
‘Short stories, mainly,’ I said.
‘How fabulous,’ said Quinn, ‘What kind of short stories do you write?’
‘Really louche, delicious shit,' I said.
Quinn burst into his deafening, goat-like laughter. Everybody in the restaurant looked our way. My first coherent thought of the entire day was, I’ve got to get out of here. I gathered my jacket, ready to hepa. Quinn grabbed my arm and looked at me with those insane green eyes, and said, ‘Are you going out for a smoke?’
I thought, Just say yes, dummy, and dip. Instead, I said, ‘No, I’m just looking for my phone.’ Reader, this was not going to end well.
I fished out my phone, and pretended to check urgent texts, but by now my mind had melted from anxiety. I put the phone back into my jacket pocket.
‘I’m just going to powder my nose, Deedeeyay, and I’ll be right back,' said Quinn, getting up. ‘Don’t go anywhere.’
As soon as he left the table, I grabbed my jacket, ready to hit the road. A pencil-thin waiter arrived at that exact moment with the £600 bottle of champagne in an ice bucket and two flutes.
‘Where’s Dr. Andrews?' said the waiter nervously, not rushing to rip the foil and pop the cork, perhaps sensing my inability to pay for the champagne.
‘He’s gone to the bathroom,' I said.
‘Oh, dear,' sighed the waiter.
‘Why ‘Oh, dear?’’’ I said, irritably. He was right I couldn’t afford the champagne, but he didn’t have to be rude about it.
He quickly glanced left and right, leaned in, and said in a hushed but intense tone, ‘I’d be careful if I were you.’
‘What do you mean?’ I said, feeling slightly panicked.
‘Dr. Andrews is…'
And before he could finish his sentence, Quinn returned from the bathroom, looking alternately dazed and alert. I wondered what he’d taken.
‘Your Krug, Dr. Andrews,' said the waiter, deftly popping the cork, and pouring the drink for us. I desperately wanted to know what he was trying to warn me about.
‘Thank you, Giorgio,' said Quinn.
Giorgio nodded and withdrew wordlessly.
Quinn raised his glass. ‘To new adventures,' he said, knocking back an entire glass of the champagne and smacking his lips. ‘Oh, that tastes sumptuous.’
I thought I could not find this man any more repugnant than I already did, but I was wrong, dear reader. Buckle up for this bullshit.
‘Are you alright?’ I asked like the gormless moron that I clearly was. The man was starting to sweat and his eyes were flung wide open like those of Ursula the sea witch. He looked like he was going to have a heart attack.
‘I just took a couple of quaaludes to even me out,' he said, rocking back and forth like I had seen multiple patients doing in the mental hospital that once sectioned my ass. Apart from seeing Leonardo DiCaprio’s dickhead character lose his nut in The Wolf of Wall Street after popping this particular drug, I had never seen anyone take ludes in real life. I mentally filed this particular mess under hot white nonsense, and called for Giorgio the waiter.
‘I think he’s having some sort of brain episode,' I said to Giorgio. ‘What do I do?’
‘This is what I was trying to warn you about,' said Giorgio, trying to help Quinn up as he got down on all fours and started barking and yelping like a deranged border collie.
‘Oh, shit,’ I said, struggling up from behind the table.
Quinn was now in full dog-mode and was panting and howling and freaking the fuck out of all the other diners. The Arab lads who were taking the piss earlier looked shook, and were now loudly reciting verses from the Quran to ward off this devilishness.
Mortified, I tried to help Quinn get up. He looked at me with utter contempt and said, ‘You’re the worst person I’ve ever met, Diary. Just dreadful. Utterly dreadful. And that is my professional opinion.’
I grabbed the bottle of champagne, looked to Giorgio and said, ‘Put it on his tab.’
And with a £600 bottle of champagne in hand, I left the restaurant and caught the bus home, got drunk on the top deck and vowed to never to go on a date again.