Dates are the fruits of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), which is believed to have its origin in northern Africa and western Asia and now are widely cultivated in many regions of the world. The history of date cultivation can be traced back to the period of ancient Egyptians who used to prepare wine from date fruits, which were also consumed in the fresh form. Even the Arabs started cultivating date palm from 6000 BC and they introduced this fruit to most of the other regions across the globe.
Nowadays, dates are one of the widely used fruits across the world. They can be eaten fresh or they can be pitted and filled. Yes really. Filled dates! The commonly used fillings are walnuts, cashews, almonds, candied orange, marzipan, cream cheese, tahini, etc. Dates are among the most indispensable ingredients in both Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. They’re also processed into various products, such as, date syrup, date spread, date cubes, etc. But WAIT! WAIT!! This is not what I wanted to write about!
I meant dates as in a pleasant evening out with someone you might fancy. Let me tell you about a few of my most memorable dates. You need to know that I generally prefer female company more than that of males and though, so far these days, I’m not that fussed about finding a woman to share romantic times with, I do appreciate the company of my closest female friends. There’s me best mate Janette and my lovely neighbour Jo and really good friends Dawn and Natalia all of whom I would happily spend time with and then there’s the ones who escaped – the actual dates to which I refer below.
Since I split with my ex in 2002 I’ve ‘enjoyed’ a few dates along the way and all of them have been fun in a ‘looking back several years after the event’ sort of way.
Firstly there was the gorgeous work mate Michelle F of whom friends assured me that despite her being young enough to be my daughter, was, hot to trot for older men and fancied me rotten. It was clear as day, apparently. OK, we got on well and enjoyed each other’s company for a few dates but the day that it was allegedly clear as, got foggy pretty soon - to the point where she couldn’t see me anymore.
Pas de probleme, next came Sylvie D, the French internet friend. Sylvie D kindly invited me to Paris one chilly December and route marched me from the Eiffel Tower to the Moulin Rouge, via every Parisian quarter and stupendously lengthy boulevard in-between. She did all this aided by her stocky pit pony legs, mountain goat sandals, a particularly grubby purple raincoat; dried egg on her stubbly chin and a desire to display her manic depression symptoms to me, all in one single day. During our first (and only) evening meal we shared, she demonstrated how she could easily drink a bottle of red wine in one mighty gulp and burp like an uncouth sailor on speed. Ooh la la! The next day I hid among the towering grey-green graves and dark leafy whirlpools of the Cimetière du Père Lachaise to escape her company. Aaah ze romance of Paris. One thing for certain she couldn't run as fast as the Metro trains I escaped on!!
Sometime later in my life there was another young woman co-worker, in her late twenties, at an office I used to work for in a big financial company. Heléne S was stunningly cute and petite and French and her every movement and speech pattern used to drive me into a frenzy of Franco-lust. Yes of course she was just twenty-something and had a bottom that should be deemed a national treasure and a full mouth you just ached to kiss over and over but one day, quite out of ze bleu, she just upped sticks and went nord to Glasgow wizout a backward glance. Oh Heléne! En realité, she probably thought I was some old perve and old enough to be her grand-père. It was just unrequited lust from afar. Sob. Sob.
To top these escapades I then somehow found another internet friend in England, who lived in the fine city of Leicester. This was a forty- year old nurse who worked with old people in a ward that dealt with the more severely mentally challenged of the aged population. Violet the nurse was always extremely stressed and hated, with a vengeance, the ultra demanding relatives who came to visit at the hospital where she worked. Violent Violet, as she became known to me, could be very witty in her emails to me but the constant mention of knives hidden about her person did worry me a little. However, one can so easily mis-judge a person and I agreed to meet this lady for a curry one balmy summer’s evening in the Leicester city centre.
It was our first date and she was pretty pissed as we said our first shy ‘hellos’. She admitted that she had been drinking for Dutch courage. I think the courageous drinks were more 100% proof Hibernian whisky than a delicate sip of mild Dutch advocat. As she lit her first cigarette of the evening I ducked for cover lest I be consumed in alcoholic flames. Thirty three more opportunities to duck offered themselves throughout the evening.
The actual meal at the Taj Mahal turned out to be quite pleasant until I realised that I had been conversing with someone sound asleep for the last half hour. I thought she was just being a bit quiet and subtly contemplating the delicate nuances of her Saag Aloo and exotic rice. I suppose a wet fringe dotted with pilau rice should have alerted me to her docile state. She recovered marginally after the waiter slapped her round the face with a perfumed hot flannel.
We walked hand in hand back to the station. After the walk we kissed a fond goodnight under the flickering sickly yellow light of Leicester’s litter strewn railway station concourse. How to describe the joy of that first kiss? It was like kissing a pound of liver through an environmentally friendly plastic bag whilst experiencing a distinct littery gust around the ankles. As our hands reluctantly parted company at the station barrier she threatened to head-butt a particularly insistent homeless person and, love struck, I took the last train home back to Nottingham. I hardly slept that night and fitfully dreamt, Macbeth like: of daggers before me. The following day I lost all internet facilities - for a month. Darn, and that was my one way of contacting her! My loss I suppose.
Sonia was an animal lover and proceeded to inform me, over her large glass of untouched white wine, that she had never found a man that could quite compare with her pussy. I bit my lip to the point of rupture. Welcome to Nottingham Mrs Slocom. The large glass of wine lasted her the full four hours of our date and, during the re-fermentation process, I learnt how interesting a growing collection of Royal Crown Derby china paperweights could be in one’s life if you really embraced the passion of collecting such ephemera. My turn to nod off methinks. To stay awake I had three pints of best beer. At the point of leaving the pub and heading home on our separate ways the previously light showering of rain had turned into a torrential downpour. I made my drenched excuses, gave her a polite peck on her wet cheek then me and my soaked espadrilles scuttled and slithered gracelessly off into the night and to the safety of my bus home.
I have had a few other dates that went slightly better than those above and I love my easy friendships with my neighbour Jo and best mate Janette and Dawn & Natalia, and you know what, that will do me fine ta. Anyone fancy a date? I have a spare box right by me. They’re a bit sticky though. Now, did I tell you about my collection of rare sea shells? This pinky green one comes from Skegness and this one…. Are you still awake? Hello?